Aussie News 25 March

By Adam Hamilton

A Kiwi raid now looks very likely for Andy Gath’s latest exciting former NZ trotter McLovin.

Just as he did with Tornado Valley, McLovin has made an immediate splash in Australia with five wins from just six starts.

The latest came when McLovin led throughout and won as he liked over stablemate Kingdom Come in the Group 3 Scotch Notch Memorial at Melton last night.

The win was crucial in convincing Gath and his wife, Kate, that McLovin was on target for an Auckland trip to tackle the Anzac and Rowe Cups.

“We’ll make the final decision in the next couple of days, but he’s made a lie of that one bad run he put in,” Andy Gath said.

McLovin won by 4.7m in a 2min1sec mile rate for 2240m, closing in 57.7 and 28.8sec.

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TRAILBLAZER Kerryn Manning has her next stable star.

It’s former Kiwi four-year-old Duke Of Wellington and, unsurprisingly, is owned by her major stable backers Merv and Meg Butterworth.

Duke Of Wellington stamped his potential with a recent third to subsequent Chariots of Fire winner Poster Boy and Miracle Mile winner Spankem in the 4YO Bonanza at Melton.

Last night he won a big race of his own and dominated it from the breeze in scorching times.

Duke Of Wellington won easily in a 1min54.6sec mile rate for 2240m in the $50,000 Group 2 Melton Plate, overhauling a gallant leader War Dan by 1.5m.

It will be interesting whether Manning plots a Kiwi raid with Duke Of Wellington now.

He’s in elite company with past Melton Plate winners including Shakamaker, Sokyola, Hectorjayjay, Tailamade Lombo and others.

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STILL on the big Melton meeting and Kiwi trainer Steve Telfer made his mark with classy mare Our Step Up blasting her rivals away in the $30,000 Group 3 Jodie’s Babe for mares’.

Driver John Caldow used gate two to lead, kept a solid tempo through a 58.3sec middle half then zipped home in 56.5 and 28.5sec to beat Reciprocity by 1.5m in a 1min54sec mile rate for 1720m.

Emerging mare Share The Road closed well late for third, while former Kiwi mare Juice Brogden was a close fourth.

Another Melton win of note came from Mick Stanley’s promising three-year-old Watch List in the $40,000 Group 3 Victoria Sires Classic.

Watch List is part-owned by a group of Adelaide Crows AFL players and the win came as a tonic after the Crows surprisingly lost their season opener to the Hawthorn Hawks earlier in the day.

It capped a huge week for Crows player and passionate harness man Josh Jenkins, who has a share in stunning two-year-old debutante winner Soho Hamilton.

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IT was another placing and not a win, but it was enough to convince Gary Hall Jr that Major Trojan is the one to beat in Friday week’s Group 1 WA Derby.

The former Kiwi pacer has been beaten in his three WA runs, but been the run of the race on each occasion.

Last Friday he was massive in defeat after sitting parked, hammering leader and favourite Patrickthepiranha and still finishing third, just 4.3m from the winner.

“I wasn’t worried about the times they were going, just the fact he was pulling on me a bit. If he’d raced kinder, he’d have won. It was a huge run,” Hall Jr said.

They went a slick 1min56.1sec mile rate for the long 2536m Derby trip.

For the third time in as many meetings, Major Trojan’s stablemate Eloquent Mach – driven by Stuey McDonald – won the race.

The eye-catcher was gifted three-year-old Franco Edward, who stormed home from last to be beaten just half a neck and was timed to run a 55.5sec last half off the track.

“You can’t go any better than that. He’s right on track for the Derby,” driver Kyle Harper said.

It was a big night for McDonald and trainer Gary Hall Sr who not only teamed with Eloquent Mach, but also veteran Whoideawasthis for an upset free-for-all win.

The eight-year-old did the work outside the leader in slick time and still scored easily in a 1min54.3sec mile rate for 2130m.

Another key winner on the night was star three-year-old filly Dracarys, owned by Trevor Casey, who thrashed her rivals in the seventh race. She’s won eight of 11 WA runs for trainer Justin Prentice.

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EMMA Stewart’s first Bathurst raid just failed to snare a win.

Filly Jo Dina improved off a moderate Victorian debut to lead and fail by a whisker to favourite Eye Can Run along the sprint lane in a heat of the Gold Tiara series. They went a steady 1min59.1sec mile rate for 1730m.

The quickest heat winner was Kerry McDowell’s Michelle Lee Mac in a 1min57.3sec to stamp her as prepost favourite for the final.

The other heats went to Happy Cruising in 1min59sec and York Minster in a slow 2min1.4sec.

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THE most remarkable win of the weekend surely went to 15-year-old former Kiwi pacer Destreos.

Just when most had written him off, Destreos thrashed his rivals by 11.4m in a 1min57.8sec mile rate for 2080m in Hobart.

It came at his 465th start and was his 101st career win.

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IT’S always great to see an exciting Tassie horse cross the ditch to win on the mainland.

The latest is the very exciting Ryley Major, who won easily in the opening race at Melton last night.

Ryley Major, trained and driven by Rohan Hillier, paced a brisk 1min54.6sec mile rate for 1720m to post his 12th win from just 17 starts.

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EMOTIONS ran high after Plan Ce’s Port Pirie Derby win last night.

The gelding is trained by former top Port Pirie trainer Peter Thompson, now best known as the father of Kate Gath.

Thompson returned home to win the Derby for the first time and it came in the week he and the family buried Pete’s mother-in-law, Glenys Tee.

“This is a really special one. It’s been a hard week or so for the family and this is a real tonic, especially for Glenys’ husband, John, who was trackside tonight,” Thompson said.

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