Amore Vita gets the job done in Victoria

By Adam Hamilton

Star Kiwi-owned mare Amore Vita overcame “feeling a bit flat” to grab a slice of Aussie harness history at Melton last night.

The Steve Dolan owned-and-bred mare joined former stablemate Maajida to become only the second female pacer to take a clean sweep of the Vicbred series, winning the two, three and four-year-old finals.

“Maybe she was a bit flat after last week, but she felt a bit doey tonight,” driver Chris Alford said, who has been aboard for all three wins.

“I really had to wake her up to get her going on the home bend, but she did it easily at the finish.

“Maybe it was the fact she was in front, too. She might have waited a bit for them. She hasn’t been in front much.”

Amore Vita won the two-year-old final for Nathan Purdon before being transferred to Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin to win the past two finals.

The daughter of Art Major has raced 35 times for 18 wins, 11 placings and $649,053.

Speculation now goes to whether she and TAB Eureka winning stablemate Encipher will race the mares in coming week or whether one or both will take on the boys in the Group 1 Victoria Cup on October 14.

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Amore Vita’s win was part of Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s continued dominance of the Vicbred finals.

They won four pacing finals. Along with Amore Vita, they saluted withtwo-year-old colt Stormryder, who made it six wins (and a second) from just seven starts, along with three-year-old colt Petracca and two-year-old filly Draw A Dream.

Petracca, owned by Danny and Jo Zavitsanos, snared his richly deserved first Group 1 when he blasted home in 54.2 and 26sec flat to win his final by 10.4m.

But it was three-year-old trotting filly Susan Is Her Name who scored the most remarkable win of the lot.

The erratic but gifted filly bungled the start and settled at least 60m from the winner, but somehow circled the field to win running away by a big space.

“She is a very serious horse this one. It’s a shame her manners can be a little bit off at times, but she’s got incredible talent,” driver Mark Pitt said.

It gave Pitt four wins on the night. He also drove Petracca and Stormryder for Stewart and Tonkin, along with Gardena Rhonda for Anton Golino in the three-year-old fillies’ trotting final.

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The All Stars’ Vicbred raid started with a late scratching and finished with second placing.

Three-year-old pacer The Real Sherlock was a late scratching from his final on veterinary advice, while two-year-old filly We Can Have ItAll was simply beaten by a better filly in her decider.

We Can Have It All led as expected and dictated the terms, but was no match for the blazing speed of Volstead filly Violet Stanford whentrainer-driver Nathan Jack cut her loose at the 600m.

“She’s got the speed most two-year-old pacers don’t have,” Jack said.

It completed a driving double for Jack, who also Wayne Potter’s The Locomotive to a runaway win in the opening race night of the night, the three-year-old trotting final for colts and geldings,

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A few months back most thought it was a “lock” that Andy Gath would win the Vicbred four-year-old entires and geldings final.

But then came the clash with the TAB Eureka which meant the likes of Catch A Wave, The Lost Storm and Encipher couldn’t contest the Vicbred series. It needs to be changed for next year.

So, there was some justice when Gath still did win the final, but with his very recent stable addition Solesseo Matuca.

Gath bought the gelding for major owner Norm Jenkin a couple of months ago and kept it secret, even from his wife, Kate.

“He wouldn’t tell me or anyone else who the horse was for three days before he thought we’d all say he was crazy,” Kate Gath laughed. “But Andy’s been proven right again.”

Kate’s daring and aggressive drive, to fight hard for the spot behind the leader in a blistering lead time, played a huge part in winning the final.

Solesseo Matuca came off the back of tiring leader and favourite Eyethink and held-off swoopers Rubins Plight and Every Hoping to win in a slick 1min55.2sec mile rate.

Meanwhile, Catch A Wave is back in work and heading towards the Group 2 Smoken Up Sprint on October 7 and the Victoria Cup a week later.

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Proven Grand Circuit player Spirit Of St Louis continued his build-up to the Victoria and possibly New Zealand Cups with another Menangle win last night.

The dual Miracle Mile runner-up held the front from gate four for regular driver Jack Callaghan and kept finding under pressure late to win by 1.9m in a 1min52sec mile. It was very much a dash home in 54.3 and 26.4sec.

Co-trainer Luke McCarthy said Spirit Of St Louis, who boasts 28 wins and almost $1.3mil in prize money, would be the stable’s lone runnerin the Group 1 Victoria Cup at Melton on October 14.

“We are also looking seriously at the NZ Cup, but we’ll see how he goes in Victoria,” McCarthy said.

Classy four-year-old My Ultimate Ronnie, coming off a good run in the TAB Eureka, impressed again when he got clear of a pocket late andcharged home for third.

Earlier, Jimmy Rattray’s exciting young trotter London To A Brick continued on his winning way with a powerhouse victory against older rivals in a blistering 1min53.8sec mile.

The son of Bettors Delight has won five on end and eight of his 15 starts.

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Some Gary Hall Jr magic was the key to Prince Of Pleasure’s minor upset in the $35,000 Howard Porter Memorial free-for-all (2130m) at Gloucester Park last Friday night.

Hall Jr surprised almost everyone by blasting out at the start and crossing main danger and favourite Galactic Star from the pole. It changed the entire race.

Hall Jr then dictated terms, skipped away on the home bend and held-off Galactic Star to win by 1.9m in closing splits of 55.8 and 28.4sec.

Prince Of Pleasure’s stablemate and former WA Cup winner Wildwest got clear late from three pegs to grab third spot.

Later in the night, Hall Jr’s partner Maddison Brown teamed with her father, Colin, to win the $215,000 Group 1 Westbred Classic final for two-year-old fillies with Xceptional Arma.

The daughter of American Ideal finished strong from just off the pace to win running away by 6.3m in 1min56.6sec mile rate for 2130m.

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What a season top young WA horseman Aiden De Campo is having with his juveniles.

Just weeks after he snared the quinella in the Group 2 Pearl final with Menemsha and Grevis, De Campo raised the bar again in last Friday night’s $215,000 Westbred final for two-year-old colts and geldings.

Remarkably, Menemsha beat Grevis in the same quinella.

But De Campo made it the trifecta when Ideal Muscle grabbed third spot. They were his only three runners in the Group 1 feature.

While some considered Menemsha lucky to win the Pearl, this time he was supreme after sitting parked outside hot favourite Waverider and putting him away rounding the home turn.

Despite doing all the work, the son of Sunshine Beach out of Kiwi-bred mare Falcons Gem, kept finding plenty for De Campo to win by 2.4m in a 1min56.7sec mile rate.

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