Alta Orlando fourth in last start before The Race
By Adam Hamilton
Alta Orlando’s Kiwi raid suffered a slight setback when he disappointed in what may have been his final lead-up race at Menangle over the weekend.
The star veteran of Team McCarthy worked to the front early and held the lead, but was mauled by main danger I Cast No Shadow in a 26.9sec third quarter and just battled late to to finish fourth.
He finished seven metres behind impressive winner Jay OK with I Cast No Shadow running a mighty second after doing all the work.
It was worth trying over the mile, but maybe Alta Orlando wasn’t suited holding the lead after winning both runs this campaign by coming off a sit.
His gate speed is still a massive factor and if he draws to use it in the $900,000 The Race at Cambridge on April 14, it’s likely he’ll then look to take a trail on the right horse.
Jay OK’s win continued his terrific form for Paul Fitzpatrick with 10 runs this campaign returning five wins, four placings and almost $90,000 in earnings.
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Tiger Tara’s younger brother Stingray Tara is loving his move to Sydney.
The former Kiwi, who has success with Geoff Webster in Victoria, made it two wins from as many starts for Jason Grimson and driver Cam Hart at Menangle last night.
And it was a booming win in a good race, the $30,600 Group 3 Autumn Gift Final.
Stingray Tara won his heat of the series a week earlier, but his stablemate and fellow former Kiwi Fire Fox looked a lot more impressive winning his heat.
Fire Fox was a $1.33 favourite and led but was no match for Singray Tara’s booming finish in a 1min50.8sec mile.
Earlier in the night, talented former Kiwi mare The Honey Queen made it three wins from just five NSW runs for Team McCarthy when she beat a good field in a 1min51.6sec mile.
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She's the “Queen” of Australian trotting and now a five-time Group 1 winner.
Im Ready Jet simply outclassed her rivals to win the $50,000 Group 1 Sumthingaboutmaori free-for-all (2760m) at Melton last night.
The Yabby Dams-owned and Anton Golino-trained five-year-old has raced 40 times for 19 wins, 11 placings and over $400,000 in earnings.
No wonder connections are toying with the idea of racing her in North America at some stage.
Another trotter to impress on the night was talented but often wayward former Kiwi gelding Chinese Whisper.
The six-year-old put it all together, was ideally suited by a solid pace up front, and swooped around the field to win, running away by 8.2m in a slick 1min58.8sec mile rate for 2240m.
It was his first win in three runs for owner Norm Jenkin and Team Gath, but there’s no doubt Chinese Whisper is a potential Group 1 player if can get his act together on a consistent basis.
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A couple of former top notch Kiwi pacers Star Galleria and Turn It Up staged a thrilling finish to the free-for-all at Redcliffe.
Star Galleria, now with Ricky Thurlow in Queensland after a stint with Team McCarthy in NSW, led and just held-off a booming finish from Turn It Up.
It was Star Galleria’s second win from just three starts with Thurlow, while Turn It Up ran a mighty race from an unsuitable back row.
Another former Kiwi gelding Tommy Lincoln returned to his best form with a dominant front-running win in race three for trainer Mark Dux and young driver Angus Garrard.
It was his 14th win from 48 starts and took his earnings past $160,000.
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One of Australia’s talented and versatile horseman Micky Grantham snared a major upset in the feature race at Gloucester Park last Friday night.
Grantham teamed with trainer Stephen De Campo and Control The Moment colt Lord Titanium to win the $50,000 Group 2 Champagne 2YO Classic (2130m) as a $41 outsider.
Lord Titatium led home a monstrous trifecta with runner-up Major Overs a $26 shot and third placed Lethal Edition going out $71 in betting.
The race changed dramatically when $1.30 favourite Valedictorium was unable to lead and then galloped when looking for room behind the leader on the final bend.
Grantham was a former successful jockey before switching to harness racing driving.
He now splits his time between training a growing team of thoroughbreds with success and his passion for harness driving.
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It will always be a matter of what might have been with talented pacer Demon Delight.
But owners Pam and Russell Hockham are just happy to have him back racing and winning, like he did in last Friday night’s Group 3 Echuca Cup.
Demon Delight was one of the best of his crop as a two and three-year-old for Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin before being sidelined with career-threatening injuries.
He had more than 18 months away from the track after winning the Melton Plate in March, 2020.
The Hockhams sent Demon Delight to renowned rehabilitator Matty Craven, who got him back to the races for two unplaced runs and then moved him back to Stewart and Tonkin.
Demon Delight won the Charlton and Echuca Cups at his past two runs to take his career record to 34 starts for 13 wins, eight placings and almost $250,000 in earnings.
Whether he can continue to build on his comeback and go to the next level remains to be seen, but at the least the Hockhams and getting some reward for their patience.
It was a trifecta for Stewart and Tonkin at Echuca with Demon Delight beating Like A Wildfire and Phoenix Prince a close-up third.
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A quick road trip from Bathurst back to Melton proved worthwhile for top driver Nathan Jack last Saturday.
Jack endured a frustrating night of near misses at the big Bathurst Gold Crown meeting, then drove back to Victoria where he scored a double at Melton on promising pacers Curly James for trainer Rodney Lakey and Hi Manameisjeff for his father, Russell.
Curly James made it eight wins from just 14 starts when he led and zipped home in a 55.6sec last half without being extended to win,
Hi Manameisjeff led and posted his eighth win from 16 starts.
“He’s a lovely horse on the marker pegs. We could look at a race like the Mildura Cup, but the query is whether he’ll handle the track, especially if he can’t find the pegs,” Jack said.