Aussie News - 24th Dec
DUAL Inter Dominion winning trotter Just Believe is enjoying a short freshen-up.
And it means we may not see him race again until the Great Southern Star at Melton on February 3.
“We’ll decide closer to it, but there’s a chance he could go straight into it. The other option is to give him a run the week before,” trainer Jess Tubbs said.
And to the burning question of a return to Sweden?
“That decision is a way off yet,” Tubbs said. “We’re just focused on the Great Southern Star for now.”
Kiwis are sweating on the decision with a trip to Cambridge for the new TAB Trot slot race being a logical target, but only if Just Believe doesn’t return to Sweden next year.
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STAR driver Kate Gath has won a spirited battle with arch-rival Mark Pitt to land her third Victorian Metropolitan Drivers title.
Gath won the crown in 2020 and ’21, but Pitt dominated to score by a huge margin last year.
In a hard-fought battle, Gath went into last night’s final eligible Melton meeting with a two-win lead.
The 40-year-old effectively put it beyond doubt when she won the opening race of the night on former Kiwi pacer Sly Terror.
Pitt was then beaten on favourites Chynchilla, Beyond Delight and Paradise Valley.
Gath had her frustrations on the night, too, being beaten on hot favourites Coravalley Star and Our Sadie Kay.
“This one is a real bonus and surprise,” Gath said. “I really didn’t think I had any hope at the start of this season and kept thinking it was just a matter of time until Pitty reeled me in.
“To go into the last meeting so close and get people talking and watching the race made it really exciting.
“I thought Pitty had a slightly better set of drives than me and it would go right down to the wire, but luck was on my side tonight.
“It’s definitely the most satisfying of the (three) driving titles I’ve won.”
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FORMER Victoria Cup winner Max Delight is enjoying something of a renaissance in the twilight of his terrific career.
The David Aiken trained rising eight-year-old followed an upset Cherry City Cup win at Young on December 1 with a narrow but terrific Sokyola Sprint win at Melton last night.
After finding wins hard for the past two years, Max Delight has now won three of his past six starts and edged past $900,000 in career earnings.
He has raced 101 times for 25 wins, 29 placings and the career-high Victoria Cup win came when he beat King Of Swing and Amazing Dream at Bendigo on October 9, 2021.
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FORMER Kiwi pacer Minstrel looks to have his mojo back.
The classy Team Bond-trained gelding made it two wins on end when he blasted around Gloucester Park to win the 2130m free-for-all in stunning style last Friday night.
Driver Deni Roberts hunted out from gate four to lead, leaving her main danger Lavra Joe to sit parked.
Minstrel was never in danger, clearing out to win by 10.1m in a slick 1min54.7sec mile rate for 2130m, with closing splits of 26.7 and 28.1sec.
It was his 20th career win from 55 starts and took his earnings past $730,000.
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ONE-TIME glamour pacer Captain Ravishing won’t race for at least six months.
Trainer Ahmed Taiba said races like the Hunter Cup, Miracle Mile and Race by Grins were out the window after the four-year-old was diagnosed with an injury last week.
“He’s got a pod lesion in a hind fetlock and will spell for at least three months,” he said.
“While it’s disappointing, it explains why he hasn’t been letting down.”
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DUAL Brisbane Inter Dominion heat winner Ollivici is having a freshen-up after disappointing in last Saturday week’s final of the trotting series.
Co-trainer Chris Lang said it was possibly the oppressive conditions – hot and very humid – on final night which led Ollivici tying-up badly and being stood down from racing.
“It really got him. I’m not sure exactly what caused it, but the hottest three days of the series were those last three,” he said.
“He won’t race for a bit now, I’m leaning towards taking him first-up into the Great Southern Star heats (February) because he goes well fresh.”
Lang said he would also consider the new TAB Trot slot race at Cambridge in April if an offer came his way.
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MIRACLE Mile winner Catch A Wave is back fast working, but is no certainty to tackle the Hunter Cup.
“He had a hoof abscess and it put us back a week, so we’ll play it by ear,” trainer Andy Gath said.
“The plan is still to go to the Hunter Cup, but it’s not a must. Heading back up to the Miracle Mile is the main target.
“We’ve got the option of running him at Melton (January 19) in a heat of the Mercury80 (1200m race) if he’s ready. He won’t run in the bigger country cups, like the Ballarat Cup.”
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A COUPLE of weeks at the Brisbane Inter Dominion certainly didn’t harm leading NSW driver Robbe Morris.
Morris and wife, KerryAnn, qualified Petes Said So and Kanena Provlima for the pacing final.
Back home, Morris made the heats of the time-honoured Maitland Inter-City Pace his own last Friday night, driving former Kiwi pacers to win all three qualifying heats.
The Lizzie Heath-trained former Kiwi Didshedoit won the first heat, then followed KerryAnn’s Hands On in heat two before Heath struck again with Bettor To Be Tricky.
Morris made it four wins for the night when he teamed with Heath to win a support race with another Kiwi-bred, two-year-old Sweet Lou filly Mini Me.
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HUNTER Cup winner Honolua Bay won’t be back to defend his title.
The brilliant pacer has battled hoof issues much of this year and not raced since the Miracle Mile in March.
“We’ve decided to give him a long spell now. He’ll be out for a few months and we’ll see how he comes back,” trainer Emma Stewart said.
And Victoria Cup-winning stablemate Act Now is also likely to miss the Hunter Cup.
“He’s had a break and they’ve been looking at breeding from him,” Stewart said.