Aussie News - 18th February
By Adam Hamilton
INTER Dominion winner Tornado Valley is primed for a racetrack return next Saturday.
The former Kiwi was sidelined with an untimely infection the day before the Great Southern Star at Melton and missed Australia’s biggest trotting race.
“He’s raring to go again,” trainer Andy Gath said. “He’s got the race this week and then the Grand Prix two week’s later.”
This week’s race is another Group 1, the $50,000 Knight Pistol.
Gath confirmed Tornado Valley would not be heading to Menangle for the $50,000 Group 1 NSW Trotters’ Mile on Saturday week.
“No, he’s staying home. It’s just not enough stakemoney to make the trip up, especially with only 50 per cent going to the winner,” he said.
Gath is also keeping last Saturday week’s stunning Globe Derby winning trotter McLovin home as well.
“We did think about Sydney, but he can still go through his grades here,” he said.
McLovin made it two wins from as many Aussie starts when he trotted roughly at times but still totally outclassed his rivals in last night’s Terang Trotters’ Cup.
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THE Chariots of Fire wasn’t the only feature race Emma Stewart won last night.
She also snared the biggest race in Victoria for the week, the $60,000 Group 2 Terang Cup, with her emerging talent Maraetai.
Many were surprised Stewart didn’t try and qualify Maraetai for the Chariots Of Fire along with winner Poster Boy.
In a rare pick-up drive for the stable, Kate Gath took the reins on Maraetai and produced a gem, escaping three pegs at just the right time and dashing away from a good field to win easily in quick time.
They went 1min56sec for the 2680m and runner-up Cant Refuse, back in grade from the Hunter Cup, was huge after being pressured in the lead for much of the trip.
Maraetai, winner of the Tasmanian Derby last season, has quickly made the step into open-class with nine wins from just 16 starts.
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TWO major NSW Derby players produced a stirring clash at Shepparton last week in preparation for their Menangle raids.
Last season’s Breeders Crown 2YO winner Hurricane Harley and the gifted Lochinvar Art smashed the track record with a 1min54.1sec mile rate last Wednesday night over 2190m.
Hurricane Harley drew better and led, while Lochinvar Art had to do the work outside and chasing and was still only 2.6m away at the finish.
It was a crucial return to form for Hurricane Harley after his mystifying Victoria Derby final flop.
While Lochinvar Art continues to drew poorly and run monstrous races in defeat. Look out if his luck changes with the barriers in Sydney.
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NSW Oaks favourite Cheesy Fingers sharpened up for the heats of the series with a dominant Menangle win last Tuesday.
Tim Butt’s former Kiwi filly did some early work, but then steadied the tempo midrace over 2300m before zipping home in 55.7 and 27.1sec to win by 17.3m.
Cheesy Fingers, unbeaten in two NSW runs for Butt, heads the Oaks market with star Victorian filly Kualoa from the Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin barn.
The Oaks heats are part of next Saturday night’s stellar Menangle card.
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THE WA Derby is just around the corner and Patrickthepiranha looks a key player.
Colin Brown’s gelding made it six wins from as many starts this season when he led throughout in strong company to win last Friday night’s $40,000 Caduceus Club Classic (2130m) at Gloucester Park.
Driver Dylan Egerton-Green kept-up a steady tempo in front and won comfortably from an improving Eloquent Mach with Gee Jay Kay third.
Other key WA players Franco Edward (seventh) and Shockwave (ninth) found it too hard from wide draws.
The free-for-all at Gloucester Park went to Handsnwheels, but not before a stint in the stewards’ room.
Runner-up Always Arjay’s driver Shannon Sulvaljko lodged a protest, but despite only a head margin it was dismissed.
It was a big win by Handsandwheels after doing some midrace work outside favourite and leader, Herrick Roosevelt, who weakened late for sixth.
It was also good to see former buzz Kiwi pacer Mr Mojito return to winning form with a sharp win in moderate company.
It was only his second win in the past 18 months after injuries and stable changes. He’s now with Ross Olivieri.
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WHAT a golden run the unheralded Chris and Anthony Frisby team is having.
Heading the charge is Our Uncle Sam, the find of the Melbourne Inter Dominion series and Hunter Cup runner-up, but young mare Major Occasion is doing her bit too.
Like Our Uncle Sam, Major Occasion loved her winning time in Melbourne and has returned home to NSW a better horse.
She proved it by booking a spot in the Group 1 Ladyship Mile via a narrow but ultra impressive $50,000 Group 2 Sibelia Stakes win at Menangle last night.
Despite doing the work outside the leader in slick times, Major Occasion dug deep to beat another emerging young mate, Jimmy Rattray’s Arts Treasure, by a neck in a 1min50.4sec mile.
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KIMA Frenning’s hot streak continued with a winning treble at Melton last Friday night.
By far her most impressive win came on David Aiken’s regally-bred and very fast four-year-old Highthananeagle in a 1min53sec mile rate for 1720m.
He’s always had the raw ingredients to make a serious horse and is starting to put it together with four wins from his past five starts.