- 28 January 2018
By Adam Hamilton
JUST when some were starting to write him off, Lennytheshark reminded everyone he was still a major Hunter Cup player with a dominant Melton win last Saturday night.
He was on the quick back-up from a late-closing second to Heaven Rocks in the Group 1 Ballarat Cup week earlier.
Trainer David Aiken was keen to wedge last Saturday night’s Group 2 Casey Classic (2240m) in between the Ballarat and Hunter Cups to build Lennytheshark’s fitness.
“He got stuck in Perth for a few weeks after the Inter Dominion, it was a lot longer than we hoped. We’ve been racing time to get him fit, which is why we were so pleased with how well he hit the line at Ballarat,” Aiken said.
“He loves backing up quickly so it was an easy decision to run him again (in the Casey Classic) knowing he’d be fitter again for it and thrive on it.”
Driver Chris Alford used the pole to lead easily, dictated his own terms in front with San Carlo content to sit parked and not apply pressure.
The exciting part came when Alford said go rounding the final bend and Lennytheshark, who rarely puts a gap in his rivals, left them all standing.
Sadly the sectional times didn’t work on the race, but the old boy must have run a blazing last 600m to put a big gap between he and reigning Hunter Cup champ Bling It On, who ran on well for second, and San Carlo, who battled on quite well for third.
Like so many of Lazarus’ Hunter Cup rivals, Lennytheshark will need a kind draw when nthe barriers are drawn on Tuesday night to be a serious threat.
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LEVIATHAN owner Merv Butterworth has found a winning formula.
So often Butterworth starts the careers of his most exciting horses in NZ and then, when he thinks the time is right, he whips them across to Australia.
There are so many successful examples, especially for the Kerryn Manning and Grant Campbell barn, but Our Golden Goddess now rates up with Hunter and NZ Cup winner Arden Rooney as the best of them.
Our Golden Goddess made it five wins from as many starts this campaign and landed a Group 1 for good measure in last Saturday night’s $100,000 Group 1 Ladyship Cup (2240m) at Melton.
Manning opted to drive Our Golden Goddess ahead of her other superstar mare Ameretto when the former drew the pole and latter drew to trail her everywhere.
And that’s how it panned out with Manning leading easily, “pinching” a 31.1sec second split of the last mile and then zipping home in 54.1 and 26.6sec to beat Partyon by 1.4m with Carlas Pixel third and Ameretto fourth.
Partyon did a huge job to come three wide without cover for the last 1000m in those closing splits, while Carlas Pixel somehow made up plenty of ground from a three-wide trail home in the 54.1sec last half.
The other glamour mare of the race, A Piccadilly Princess, settled back last and struggled to make any impact in beating just one rival home. She was only 7.9m though.
All the stars of the race now plot a course to the Group 1 Ladyship Mile at Menangle on Miracle Mile night, February 24.
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THIS is Chariots Of Fire changing by the day.
With dominant prepost favourite Vincent sidelined by injury and fans still waiting to see Ultimate Machete back at the races, it’s been Victorian Jilliby Kung Fu who has seriously staked his claim.
His win in last Saturday night’s $100,000 Group 1 4YO Bonanza was mind-blowing.
Jilliby Kung Fu sat parked throughout in a scorching 1min51.9sec for 1720m and ran past heavily-backed favourite Stars Align with multiple Group 1 winner Our Little General in fourth spot after trailing the leader.
“Even though he had to do all the work, I knew he’d keep coming,” driver Jason Lee said. “For him to do that was just tremendous.”
Jilliby Kung Fu’s emergence is no huge surprise given last season he won the Group 1 Vicbred final, ran a close second in the Breeders Crown final and ran second in a heat of the Victoria Derby before missing the final with a setback.
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SHANE Tritton could hardly contain his excitement when he was able snare former Kiwi pacer My Alpha Rock to train.
Tritton remembered the potential the regally-bred gelding – by Rock N Roll Heaven out of former star mare The Sparks A Flyin – showed at three in NZ.
And now with three ultra-impressive wins from as many Menangle runs for Tritton and everyone is seeing why he was so excited to have him join the stable.
My Alpha Rock won by a cricket at his first Aussie run in a 1min51.7sec then went an even quicker 1min51sec to win his heat of the rich M0 series at Menangle last Saturday week.
Then he looked like a really good horse when he worked to find the front, kept running blistering splits and still won easily in a 1min50.6sec mile.
Tritton’s team is flying, but is My Alpha Rock headed towards stable star status?
“Let’s just say Lauren and I have a terrific team at the moment and he’s one of our best,” he said.
My Alpha Rock’s task was made easier when his exciting stablemate, former Kiwi mare Reaza Grunter, was scratched with a minor blood disorder.
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PROMINENT WA trainer Michael “Mouse” Brennan headed to Gloucester Park full of hope and optimism and left wondering what more could go wrong.
Brennan had dominant odds-on favourites Im Rockaria and Cut The Ace in the two feature races, the Im Themightyquinn and Nights of Thunder finals.
Im Rockaria ($1.30) broke at the start and lost all chance with main rival Maczaffair grabbing the lead and winning as he liked for trainer Mike Reed and driver Shannon Suvaljko.
Cut For Ace couldn’t muster enough speed to lead from gate two then galloped and lost all chance when things got tight soon after the start. Outsider Argyle Red led and won easily.
The other highlight of the Gloucester Park card was Gary Hall Sr’s rejuvenated star My Hard Copy narrowly but impressively winning the free-for-all.
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IT’S been a long wait to see many two-year-olds in action in Australia this season, but an exciting one stepped-out at Leeton last Friday night.
Riverina trainer-driver Stephen Maguire produced Major Roll – a son of Roll With Joe out of an unraced Art Major mare Courlivia – to win his Leeton Breeders Plate heat then go to another level to win the final.
The gelding blasted to the front from gate three and gave nothing else a chance, winning by 18.3m in a slick 1min58.3sec mile rate and dashing home in 57.8 and 28.2sec.
It was a race record, taking 0.3sec off the mark set by Rich Virgin in 2014.
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