Aussie News - 27 January
By Adam Hamilton
SUDDENLY this Chariots Of Fire has a serious pulse.
Just when most had conceded Australia’s biggest 4YO race to young Kiwi star Self Assured, things changed and in a big way last night.
In one of the biggest shocks for a long time, Self Assured was beaten, and seemingly on his merits, in the Group 1 4YO Bonanza at Melton.
And former Kiwi pacer Balraj not only stretched his unbeaten Aussie record to eight wins, but smashed the clock with a blazing 1min49.9sec mile at Menangle last night doing so.
Balral led, cruised through a 56.5sec opening half then showed all his speed with closing splits of 53.4 and 26.2sec. He won by 21.8m.
But let’s get back to the Bonanza where Self Assured did have to do the work outside Lochinvar Art, but never really looked like beating him.
It’s understandable why when you see the time … a 1min48.5sec mile rate for 1720m.
It’s the first time 1min50sec has been broken at Melton and took a staggering 2.2sec off Cruz Bromac’s track record.
It was a bold, daring and confident drive from Lochinvar Art’s trainer David Moran, especially when he went for home with a big lead at the 400m.
Self Assured chased hard, but Lochinvar Art was strong to the line and won very impressively with Moran giving a big very salute
“He’s a legend, a champion this horse. I’m so chuffed I’m a bit lost for words,” Moran said.
“We had a little issue with him before the Shepparton Cup, but he was fantastic this week and now it’s onto the Chariots.”
While Lochinvar Art is now qualified for the Chariots, Self Assured will have to head to Menangle to try and qualify through the Hondo Grattan or Paleface Adios.
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MACH Shard capped his Hunter Cup preparation when he scored in a brutally run Group 2 Casey Classic (2240m) at Melton last night
Driver Zachary Butcher’s patience was rewarded when he sat back while others went hard early or midrace and Mach Shard overhauled them late in a slick 1min52.7sec mile rate – just 1.2sec outside the track record set by Bling It On in the Victoria Cup last October.
NSW raider Cash N Flow looked the winner when he swooped coming to the last bend, but was just nabbed late in a massive run.
Triple Eight was far from disgraced in fourth spot after doing the work outside the leader and eventually working to the front in a 27sec second quarter.
Thefixer tried to make a midrace move, but was trapped deep in that 27sec split and just battled into fifth spot.
Mark Purdon was open before the race, saying Thefixer needed the run to top him off for the Hunter Cup so he still looks a major force next week.
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STILL on the Hunter Cup and could former NZ and WA pacer King Of Swing be a surprise starter?
He brilliantly won just his second run for the Craig Cross barn in a scorching 1min48.8sec mile at Menangle last night.King Of Swing began well, sat behind Majordan and dug deep to get past the leader and then hold-off Ignatius in a stirring battle.
Co-trainer and driver Luke McCarthy believes King Of Swing would certainly acquit himself well if they give the Hunter Cup a crack.
Ignatius ran a terrific race for second in a performance which will surely entice trainer-driver Jimmy Rattray to tackle the Hunter Cup as well.
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A KIWI brilliantly won last night’s Group 1 Dullard Cup, but it was veteran not the young gun most expected.
Oscar Bonavena was all the rage, but had to burn to make a midrace move to sit outside the leader and then weakened alarmingly late to beat just a few rivals home.
It was Temporale, so superbly rejuvenated by Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett, who stormed home over the top a hot field to win easily.
Talented local mare Red Hot Tooth led, sat on McLovin (who was rundown late for third) and ran a slashing race for second.
The other classy Kiwi runner, Massive Metro, galloped down the back straight the last time, losing all chance.
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SYDNEY plans have been shelved for emerging WA pacing star Shockwave.
The Golden Nugget winner, who locked wheels when looming as the winner in last Friday week’s Group 1 WA Pacing Cup, suffered some minor bruising in a hind fetlock in the incident.
“It’s nothing serious at all, but Kevin (Jeavons, owner) and I agreed he had to be 100 per cent spot-on to go to Sydney, so we’ll stay home and give him a little freshen-up now,” trainer Ryan Bell said.
“He’s not the sort of horse who enjoys spelling in winter, so he’ll have a winter racing campaign with a view to building him towards a crack at the Inter Dominion in Sydney at the end of the year.”
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JUST a week after winning their first WA Pacing Cup, Team Bond snared the feature race again at Gloucester Park.
Former Kiwi gelding Ocean Ridge led throughout in slick time to thrash his rivals in the $50,000 Group 2 Nights Of Thunder (1720m) last Friday night.
Ryan Warwick took the reins and just kept rolling with splits of the last mile in 29.2, 28.2, 27.4 and 28.3sec for a 1min52.6sec mile rate.
“He hasn’t been the most tractable horse, but it’s coming together now and I think he can go on and win better races,” Warwick said.
The other feature, the $30,000 Im Themightyquinn final, provided a narrow farewell win for Its Rock And Roll and trainer-driver Colin Brown.
The talented four-year-old was sold before the race and, like so many others, is USA-bound.
Another highlight of the night was the powerhouse front-running win of Barry Howlett’s Talktomeurmattjesty in the free-for-all.
The big, bold gelding blazed over the long 2536m trip in a 1min54.9sec mile rate, just 0.7sec outside the new track record set just two weeks earlier by Caviar Star in the Group 1 Fremantle Cup.
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ANTHONY Butt is confident big-spending owners Emilio Rosati have found another major race player.
Superbly-bred young trotter Elite Stride – by Muscle Hill out of their former talented US mare Real Babe – finally made it the races the first time and won by 50.5 metres at Melton last week.
“I first drove him nine months ago when Noel Daley had him and he was getting ready for the two-year-old races, but he had a little setback and went out for a break again. Everyone felt then he could be a bit special,” Butt said.
“We’ve been very, very patient with him, but it was good to get to the races and win that one the other day. I think Emilio and Mary were an anxious and interested in that as they were Line Up in the Derby. He’s their baby, they bred him.
“This colt has the talent and potential and now it’s about bringing everything together and hoping he’s got the manners, etc.
“I’ll give him a couple of runs through the Foundation series at Menangle now and the first real target for him is the Need For Speed back down here (Melton) at the end of February.”
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TOP trainer Emma Stewart snared the quirky and inaugural $50,000 Group 2 Mercury80 final at Melton last night.
It was the final of a series of races over the 1200m scamper and Always Fast survived an early fight for the lead then easily won the final.
He paced the 1200m in 81.5sec, missing a big bonus for breaking 80sec, but did it in fantastic style winning by seven metres.