Amore Vita impresses in NSW Oaks heats

One star female leaves Nathan Purdon’s barn and another keeps stepping-up.

There is no replacing a champion like Amazing Dream, but Purdon still has two outstanding girls in Spellbound and Amore Vita.

Both will be chasing Group 1 glory at Menangle next Saturday night.

Spellbound goes to the $200,000 Group 1 Ladyship Mile and a clash with Stylish Memphis.

Amore Vita looks as big a chance as any in the $200,000 Group 1 NSW Oaks after the heats were run last night.

A few months ago Purdon touted the former Kiwi Amore Vita as having some “X factor” and being a potential star of the future.

He’s been proven spot on with victories in the Group 1 Vicbred final and last night’s romp.

Driver Cam Hart worked Amore Vita around to take the front from leader Just Hope in the early stages and the race was effectively over. They dawdled around and she blazed a 26sec flat last quarter to score by 10.1m.

Hardest for her to beat will be Jarrod Alchin’s boom local Madrid, who looked terrific winning the other heat in quicker time than Amore Vita, but not with the same ease or arrogance.

The shock was the disappointing run of buzz Kiwi filly Just Remember Me.

Admittedly she had to park, but the daughter of Adore Me was battling before the final bend and tired to finish 15.8m from Madrid in fifth spot. She just scraped into the final.

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Former Kiwi mare Fairy Tinkerbell stormed into next week’s $200,000 Group 1 Ladyship Mile with a career-best all-the-way win in the Group 2 Robin Dundee at Menangle last night.

The Team McCarthy-trained six-year-old blazed a 1min49.9sec mile to take a full second of her previous fastest time.

Fairy Tinkerbell easily held-off former classy NZ and WA mare Wainui Creek to win by 5.9m.

It’s another step-up for her to take on the two big guns of the Ladyship, Stylish Memphis and Spellbound next week.

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Former classy Kiwi pacer Vintage Cheddar left it late but made a winning Aussie debut for Team Gath at Terang last night.

It was the first win for the gelding, who tackled some top quality races in NZ, since he scored at Winton off 30m back on March 20, last year.

The seven-year-old is the latest purchase out of NZ by Norm Jenkin and there’s no doubting his talent.

Vintage Cheddar seemed to struggle outside the leader and pace very roughly around the final bend, but driver Kate Gath balanced him up and he arrived just in time to snatch a half-head win.

It was just a sprint home with closing splits of 55.1 and 27sec flat.

The feature race of the night was the $50,000 Group 2 Terang Cup won by Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s improving Like A Wildfire.

It was a superb Leigh Sutton drive to save all the ground along the inside and snatch victory by a neck over stablemate Phoenix Prince.

Connections are considering sending Like A Wildfire up to Menangle for the Miracle Mile qualifiers next Saturday.

Snaring the Terang Cup quinella added to a big weekend for Stewart and Tonkin, who won the Newcastle Mile with Mach Dan.

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It didn’t take long for Nathan Jack to remind everyone what a fantastic driver he is.

Jack spent a long stint on the sidelines successfully fighting a long-running police investigation he prefers not to reflect on and even his comeback has been drama-packed.

Just days after winning a court battle and returning to the sulky, Jack was kicked in the side of the face by a horse. It cost him driving for another week or so, including at the Hunter Cup meeting.

But Jack’s long-time supporter, leviathan owner Danny Zavitsanos, offered Jack the drive on classy pacer Mach Dan in last Friday night’s $100,000 Group 1 Newcastle Mile and Jack did the rest.

Mach Dan (gate two), trained by Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin, won a spirited early burn for the lead from Victoria Cup winner Max Delight (one) and Inter Dominion winner Boncel Benjamin (six) and it proved the winning move.

Despite having to scorch a 26sec flat opening quarter, Jack then slammed on the brakes for a dawdling 32.2sec second split.

Mach Dan then buzzed home in 54.5 and 26.5sec to hold-off the rank outsider Balraj and win by a neck in a 1min52.7sec mile.

The win gave Mach Dan the first guaranteed berth in the $1 million Miracle Mile at Menangle on March 5.

Balraj’s first run back from a spell for trainer-driver Jack Trainor was fantastic and he will back-up in the qualifying sprints next week.

Max Delight had his chance in third spot after trailing the leader.

Boncel Benjamin’s early and unsuccessful burn to lead took its toll and he tired to finish last at his first run since winning the Inter Dominion final on protest back on December 12.

The biggest shock of the race was the flop of Expensive Ego, the horse who Boncel Benjamin beat on protest in that Inter Dominion.

Expensive Ego has now been beaten and run below his best in all three runs since that Inter Dominion final.

At Newcastle he was very flat after not being involved in the early speed burn, having the one-one trail and just battling into fifth spot.

He will need to improve sharply if/when he backs-up in the qualifying sprints next week to have any hope of making the Miracle Mile field, a race he’s been second favourite to win for a long time.

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Former NZ Cup winner Cruz Bromac will get the chance to give owner Danny Zavitsanos a second runner in this year’s Miracle Mile.

New trainer Jason Grimson confirmed Cruz Bromac will tackle the qualifying sprints at Menangle next week.

Cruz Bromac made it two wins from as many starts for Grimson when he worked across to lead from a wide draw and thrashed his rivals in a very slick 1min52.8sec mile rate for the longer 2300m trip at Menangle last night.

The time was only 1.4sec outside Zennart’s 2300m track record.

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Exciting gelding Jay OK raced into the Miracle Mile picture with a narrow but fantastic win over stablemate Zeuss Bromac at Menangle last night.

Jay OK raced in terrific style from bad draws during a Vicbred campaign in Melbourne during December and was only second-up from a freshen-up when he won last night.

It looked a procession for Zeuss Bromac when he led and dictated terms with a 61.1sec middle half over 2300m, but he was simply beaten for pure speed by Jay OK, who sat outside him throughout.

Jay OK ran closing splits of 53.5 and 26sec flat to nab Zeuss Bromac and win by a half-head.

On that sort of form, he will be a genuine factor in whichever of the Miracle Mile qualifying sprints he tackles next week.

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Emerging driver Maddison Brown is making the most of her partner Gary Hall Sr’s short time on the sidelines.

Brown, daughter of decorated WA horseman Colin Brown, snared four wins and a close second in the feature race at Gloucester Park last Friday night.

Brown enjoyed success in a short stint as an apprentice jockey before switching to harness racing.

Three of her four wins last Friday came for trainer Gary Hall Sr on Diego, Gambit and Beach Start. The other win came on trotter Beefour Bacardi in the last event of the night.

Brown replaced Hall Jr aboard the aging champ Chicago Bull in the Media Guild Cup, but had to be content with a brave second to stablemate Balcatherine.

It was an all-female finish with Deni Roberts taking the drive on Balcatherine and rating her superbly to lead throughout and stave-off a very brave Chicago Bull by a half neck.

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