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Billinger in rare driving form

Image Peter Argent

Star South Australian reinsman Mark Billinger, who has been in rare driving form, landed half the card at Globe Derby Park on Saturday night with four winners – the last two courtesy of Victorian trainer Emma Stewart. Billinger had ‘armchair’ drives as Rocknroll Magic and Lovelist won their heats of the Sky Channel Southern Cross. They followed his wins on Blurred Lines and Official Art earlier in the night. Rocknroll Magic came to Globe Derby on May 22, and from gate one in a Southern Cross heat for two-year-old fillies, blew the start badly and tailed the field. On Saturday night, again from gate one, and at a $1.10 price, Rocknroll Magic began much better and took full advantage to lead throughout – and to make matters worse, the race started with a heavy shower of rain, blowing straight into the faces of horses and drivers as the gate drew away. Billinger established his advantage with 30.5 and 31.7 first quarters before sprinting home in 29.6 and 29.8 – good times considering the conditions. The filly won by 23 and a half metres from Just Wantano ($9.50) with Rockfromcorck ($28) 10 and a half metres away third. Rocknroll Magic, was bred and is part-owned by Bruce Cameron, who has a big syndicate of owners in the filly, as he does with Lovelist which won the Sky Racing Southern Cross Three Year Old Fillies, heat two. Amazingly, Lovelist started even shorter than her stablemate – she went away as a money back $1 favourite. But the result was the same with Lovelist going to the front from gate two and leading her rivals a procession, eventually winning by 21 and a half metres from Linvel Ann ($37.30) with Whats Emma Got ($11.40) a half metre away third. In a bit of a repeat, Billinger went 31.2 and 31.7 first quarters then dashed home in 28.9 and 28.4 quarters to confirm her short quote. “They are really nice horses,” Billinger said. “No doubt the barrier draws were a big advantage but they both won impressively.” Billinger said it was the second time he had driven four winners at a meeting. “I drove some pretty handy horses tonight,” he said. “Emma’s two are very well trained and talented and it was good to have the opportunity to drive them. “But I also thought Blurred Lines went really well. He’s a horse who has been driven forward but we discussed about driving him back tonight, and the result was excellent. “He settled well, then unleashed a brilliant sprint. And Jon’s two-year-old Official Art went very good. “He has been good at the trials which have been excellent education tools, and I thought he would run well, and by leading, he was able to dictate and prove too good.”

Image - Peter Argent/OSLSA - copyright