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Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators

Donald Harper landed his one hundredth winner at Gloucester Park last Tuesday when he drove Per Adua Ad Astra to an all-the-way victory — and he celebrated this milestone on Friday night by winning the Battle of the Codes for Telethon Pace with the $36 outsider Thereugo.

Eight-year-old Thereugo was for many years a specialist speedy frontrunner, but the McArdle gelding has matured with age and is now comfortable being driven with a sit, even though he still possesses dazzling gate speed.

Harper used Thereugo’s sparkling early speed from out wide at barrier eight to burst straight to the front before he opted to relinquish the lead after 400m to the $3.90 second fancy Euphoria. Harper eased Thereugo off the pegs about 120m from home, and the veteran pacer sprinted strongly, three wide, to get to the front the final few strides to defeat Euphoria by a half-length.

“He got to the front very quickly,” said Harper. “He was short of a run (having his first start for three weeks), so I was happy to hand up the lead. He has got better as a sit-sprinter as he has got older, and he doesn’t pull as hard as he used to.”

Harper bred Thereugo, who is now raced by his father Lindsay and his aunty Chris Nash. Thereugo is out of the New Zealand-bred mare Janice Franco, who had 110 starts for eight wins, 19 placings and stakes of $76,782. Harper trained Janice Franco late in her career and drove her to victory at $27.20 over Im Jasper The Ghost at Gloucester Park in July 2011.

Alice Kay, the $1.90 favourite in Friday night’s event, ruined her chances when she hit the arm of the mobile barrier and galloped badly at release point. She settled in ninth position and was seventh at the bell before finishing determinedly to be a most unlucky fourth.