Aussie News - 25th Nov

By Adam Hamilton

KATE Gath was glad she zipped back home after an extended stay in NZ with Inter Dominion hopeful McLovin.

Gath snared a win at Melton last Friday night with former Kiwi trotter Il Pirata as a $17.40 outsider, but that was just the start of things.

Just 24 hours later she dominated Geelong Cup night, winning the Cup itself, the feature trot and a support race.

Just like Il Pirata, her two feature Geelong wins were upsets. She teamed with top trainer Emma Stewart to win the Geelong Cup with Phoeniz Prince at $15.70.

Earlier, she teamed with husband Andy and $18.50 shot War Spirit to win the McNamara Trotters’ Cup.

“It’s a good way to come back home,” Gath grinned. “War Spirit disappointed me a little at his previous run so it was a bit of a surprise, but also also pleasing to see him back to his best,” Gath said.

“And to win the Cup for Emma and Clayton, who have been such big supporters to me this year, was a huge thrill. It’s good to win a nice race for them.”

Now it’s time to pack the bags again and head back to Auckland for round of the Inter Dominion next Friday night with McLovin.

Gath and husband Andy stayed in Auckland a few days with McLovin before working him last Wednesday and giving him a “big tick” to stay instead of returning home.

 

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WHILE Craig Demmler sets his sights on the Inter Dominion with My Kiwi Mate, he more quietly produced one of the great comeback stories at Melton last Friday night.

Former buzz pacer Fake Smile won the $30,000 Group 3 Gordon Rothacker Memorial final at just his third run back from more than three years away from the track with injuries.

Fake Smile won his first eight starts for three different trainers – Susan Hunter, Ahmed Taiba and Michael Doltoff – then finished fourth in the Group 1 4YO Bonanza on February 6, 2016.

He then ran third at Melton on May 27, 2016 before injury kicked-in and we didn’t see him at the track again Demmler produced him for a second at Melton on November 2, this year.

Fake Smile then did all the work and pushed buzz pacer Lumineer to the limit when a close second in the Rothacker heat on November 15.

The eight-year-old, driven patiently at the rear of the field, got revenge on Lumineer in the final when he swooped around the field to win in a scorching 1min52.3sec mile rate for 1720m.

Lumineer tasted his first defeat in five runs on the comeback trail and just the second defeat of his 14-start career when he 1.3m behind Fake Smile in second spot.

Driver Jason Lee made an early move to go and sit parked while the leader, Dee Denuto, who tired to finish second-last, carved out the last mile in splits of 27.4, 28.9, 28.1 and 28.7sec.

If both Fake Smile and Lumineer stay sound, it won’t be long before they are much needed “fresh blood” in Victoria’s open-class ranks.

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SOME big and sad news out of Queensland last week with reports harness racing will cease at Albion Park.

The famous track has been home so many great moments, including Yulestar’s barnstorming 2001 Inter Dominion win.

But it’s future has been under a cloud for a decade when the main grandstand was condemned and that year’s Inter Dominion had to be hastily moved to the Gold Coast and Mr Feelgood won the final.

A long legal battle has raged since.

But Brisbane’s Courier Mail newspaper reported last Wednesday that legal battle between the Albion Park club and Racing Queensland had been resolved and the Albion Park site would be sold.

The report said Albion Park Harness Racing Club chairman David Fowler, the well-known racecaller, said the litigation had become a significant drain on the club’s finances and was hindering any progress being made on the future for the sport in Brisbane, with RQ’s stated desire to sell Albion Park.

“It’s time to draw a line in the sand and move forward,” Fowler told the Courier Mail

“Reality bites. Racing Queensland has made abundantly clear their future plans for Albion Park Raceway, which is supported by State Government.”

He said the settlement of the litigation was made easier by RQ’s commitment to build a “world class harness racing facility”.

“The collaboration between APHRC and RQ heads towards a new future for this club and the industry in general,” Fowler said.

The Albion Park club and RQ are now focused on working through options for a new home of Queensland harness.

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IT was another big night for Craig Cross and Luke McCarthy at Menangle last night.

In the mares’ feature on the night, Craig Cross and Luke McCarthy continued their stunning form with Bettor Enforce’s slick win.

The seven-year-old daughter of Bettors Delight was superbly driven to land one-out, two-back by McCarthy as the leaders blasted a 54.8sec first half.

McCarthy swooped to the front rounding the last bend and comfortably held-off Redbank Addi and Ideal Pleasure to win well in a sharp 1min50.8sec mile – which smashed Better Enforce’s previous best time of 1min52.5sec.

One race later, McCarthy and Cross combined to win the Group 3 Tony Turnbull free-for-all with former Kiwi pacer Alta Orlando.

McCarthy won the race at the start when he crossed favourite and main danger, Ellmers Image, then dictated the terms in front.

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FORMER gun juvenile trotter Wobelee added to the comeback theme at Melton last Friday.

Wobelee was the champion juvenile of his season, but missed 13 months with injury and has slowly been working back to his best form and fitness for Chris and Alison Alford.

The now five-year-old’s latest impressive win took his record on the comeback trail to four wins and five seconds from just nine starts.

And there was plenty to like about the way Wobelee was simply too fast for classy mare Amore De Frere in a 1min57.4sec mile rate for 1720m and 28.1sec closing quarter.

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FORMER WA Derby winner Handsandwheels shot into Fremantle and WA Pacing Cup contention with a powerhouse first-up Gloucester Park win last Friday night.

Despite not racing since September 6, the 2017 WA Derby winner sat off the speed and unleashed a big three wide run in the last lap before easily holding them off to post his 24th win and edge past $500,000 in career earnings.

Handsandwheels beat the much-travelled Ana Malak by 2.4m in a 1min54sec mile rate for 1730m with veteran Our Jimmy Johnstone closing strongly late for third.

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FORMER Kiwi mare Our Alfie Romeo snared the first of a string of big mares’ features at Gloucester Park last Friday night.

There’s not much between WA’s best mares, but Our Alfie Romeo drew the ace, Ryan Warwick used it to lead and controlled the tempo for a comfortable win over other star mares Arma Indie (second) and Dracarys (third).

They went a 1min57.3sec mile rate for 2130m.

Our Alfie Romeo, a five-year-old daughter of Washington VC, has been a revelation for Greg and Skye Bond. Her 24 WA starts have netted 14 wins, six placings and almost $200,000 in stakemoney.

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