Aussie champ's road to the New Zealand Cup

By Adam Hamilton

It is no longer if but how Leap To Fame will tackle the New Zealand Cup.

The champion pacer returned to training on Monday after a three-week spell and trainer-driver Grant Dixon confirmed part of the five-year-old’s winter campaign would be built around getting him standing-start practice.

“Given we’re aiming at the NZ Cup, he’ll need some practice,” he said.

It’s great news for the Redcliffe club with Leap To Fame to target the $100,000 Group 2 Redcliffe Cup on June 29.

It will be only the second time Leap To Fame has ventured to Redcliffe, having won the Group 3 Patrons Purse at the quirky triangular track on June 16, last year.

“The NZ Cup is a standing start and he’s never raced from a stand, so he’ll need some practice,” Dixon said.

“It’s hard to replicate Addington (where the NZ Cup is run) and the big crowd they get, but the crowd is close to the action at Redcliffe and we think the Cup there will be as close as we can get to the experience he’ll have at Addington.

“There is also a 20m maximum handicap at Redcliffe and that’s important. Don’t get me wrong, it still won’t be easy giving away a big start to some nice horses, but it’ll be the sort of practice he needs.”

Leap To Fame, who boasts 35 wins from 45 starts and almost $2.8 million in prize money, needs to contest a standing-start race before Redcliffe to be eligible for the Cup.

That means he could be back racing in late May or at least early June with the Flashing Red Discretionary Handicap at Albion Park on June 8 a logical target.

Leap To Fame hasn’t raced since creating history as the first pacer to win the $1m Miracle Mile from such a wide barrier (gate seven).

He also became just the second pacer to complete harness racing’s “Triple Crown” – Inter Dominion, Hunter Cup and Miracle Mile – in the same campaign.

“He spelled well and seems great. Three weeks out is long enough, any longer and it's hard to get the weight off them,” Dixon said.

“I can bring him up nice and slowly and if he comes to hand too quickly, I can just back off him again for a week or so.”

Along with the Redcliffe Cup, Leap To Fame will target the $150,000 Group 1 Sunshine Sprint (July 20) and $400,000 Group 1 Blacks A Fake (July 27) at Albion Park during the Constellations winter carnival.

Dixon can give him a let-up after the Blacks A Fake and look to the Group 1 Victoria Cup at Melton in early October as a pathway towards the NZ Cup.

Beyond that, Leap To Fame has his Inter Dominion title defence in NSW from November 29 to December 14.


Related Category News

17 April 2024

Majestic Man retired - "He has done us proud"

Majestic Man, a trotter that oozed class right from his very first start, has run his last race after winning 24 races and over $850,000 in stakes.

17 April 2024

Hot And Treacherous $2.40 favourite for Nullarbor

Much-travelled former Kiwi pacer Hot And Treacherous is favourite to give the powerhouse Jason Grimson/Cam Hart combination back-to-back wins in Saturday night's $1. 25mil Group 1 Nullarbor, Western Australia's richest race.