SUDDENLY Australia’s champion young trotter Wobelee finds himself under pressure and his planned Harness Jewels raid is no certainty.
It all stems from a shock first-up defeat which ended his 12-race winning streak at Kilmore last Friday night.
On face value, the five-time Group 1 winner had every chance after finding the lead without spending too much petrol inside the first lap.
Just when most expected Wobelee to zoom away from his rivals on the home bend, co-trainer and driver Chris Alford had to get desperate and Wobelee had no answers to the powerful sprint lane burst of recent Kiwi import Scallywag Sam.
It was Scallywag Sam’s first run for Andy and Kate Gath and the son of Monkey Bones zipped away to win by 3.4m in a 2min1.8sec mile rate.
It also added to the growing success formula of owner Norm Jenkin – who raced former great staying pacer Flashing Red – and the Gaths with trotters imported from NZ.
The best recent example is Tornado Valley, who has emerged as one of Australia’s best trotters. Jenkin and the Gaths also won at the Kilmore meeting with another ex-Kiwi trotter Kingdom Come at his first Aussie start.
Back to Wobelee and it would seem he needs to improve quickly and win next Saturday night’s Group 1 NSW Derby at Menangle to be sure of crossing the Tasman for the Jewels at Cambridge on June 2.
Another win of note at the Kilmore meeting last Friday came from Emma Stewart’s NSW Derby placegetter Tam Major in the $25,000 Reg Withers 3YO Classic.
Stewart had four of the seven runners and snared the quinella when Tam Major edged-out Big Bad Bruce to win by a head in a 1min58.1sec mile rate for 2180m.
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EMMA Stewart’s domination of last night’s stellar Melton card ran deep than just landing the quinella in the Group 1 Australian Gold final.
Stewart and partner Clayton Tonkin also landed first and second in the Group 3 Make Mine Cullen for mares’ with Berisari and Whirily School.
Driver Nathan Jack gave nothing else a chance when he blasted to the front on Berisari and basically cut her loose with splits of 28.9, 29.0, 27.4 and 27.4sec.
She won easily in a 1min52sec mile rate, which was just 1.3sec outside Cruz Bromac’s 1720m track record.
Berisari, a seven-year-old daughter of former Grand Circuit star Safari, has now won 18 races and close to $300,000.
Harness Jewels invitee Carlas Pixel ran fifth, but impressed on the clock first-up from a break in a race completely dominated by the leader and peg-marker runners.
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THIS year’s WA Oaks looked tricky and open, but not many would’ve seen it pan out the way it did last Friday night.
In one of the biggest feature race upsets Australia has seen, Kiwi-bred filly Our Major Mama weaved her way through the field from a tricky four-pegs pocket to overpower her rivals at odds of $139.80 on the local TAB.
It was a superb drive by Justin Prentice, who also trains the Art Major mare, who is out of former Kiwi Presidential Ball mare Pistol Packing Mama.
Punters launched on Gary Hall Sr’s Liberty Rose when she drew the pole and led as expected, but trainer-driver Colin Brown poured on the pressure for most of the race outside the leader on rank outsider Amelias Courage, who finished last and prompted an adjourned stewards’ inquiry.
The effort told on Liberty Rose, who fought hard, but could only hang on for sixth, 3.9m from the winner.
Victoria and NSW Oaks placegetter Soho Burning Love ran well below her best after a rushed trip from Melbourne. She sustained a three-wide run without cover, but tired uncharacteristically for 10th, 18.8m from the winner.
High-priced Kiwi import Our Angel Of Harlem was a hardluck story after sitting behind the leader and locking wheels in an incident which also sparked an adjourned stewards’ probe. She was just 3.1m from the winner in fifth spot.
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SYDNEY racecaller and media man Anthony Manton is loving life.
His former Kiwi pacing mare Angel In White posted her fourth successive win last night (Saturday) at Menangle and Manton will soon head to Sweden to call the world’s best trotting race, the Elitlopp, which Aussie mare Maori Time will contest.
It’s a big shift for Manton who made headlines for the wrong reasons when viewers took a real set against him as a contestant on reality TV show Married At First Sight just over a year ago.
Since then Manton has thrown himself into his work for Sky Racing as a racecaller, studio host and sometime In The Gig panellist.
“Things are going really well. Calling the Elitlopp will absolutely amazing and the mare just keeps getting better and better,” he said.
“I’ll leave the decision to Shane and Lauren (Tritton), but there’s a good chance she’ll go down to Melbourne now for the Queen Of The Pacific in a couple of weeks after she won so well again tonight.”
Angel In White pounced on the lead from gate four, cruised through a 57.6sec first half then dashed home in 27.8 and 27.3sec to win in a 1min52.7sec mile.
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NO wonder Kyle Harper loves his stable star Bettors Fire.
The high-class nine-year-old notched his 36th win from 95 starts and edged close to $750,000 in earnings when he saluted at Gloucester Park last Friday night.
Harper used gate two to lead, controlled the tempo then zipped home in 55.5 and 27.4sec to beat Our Jimmy Johnstone and Shandale in a cosy 1min59.2sec mile rate for 2536m.
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EXCITING former Kiwi mare Share The Road might have raced her way into Saturday week’s Group 1 Queen Of The Pacific with a barnstorming win at Melton last night (Saturday).
The daughter of Tintin In America improved off a fighting second in her qualifying heat to storm home and upset one of Victoria’s buzz pacers, General Dodge, in the Group 3 Country Clubs Championship final in a slick 1min56.4sec mile rate for 2240m.
The win both a thrill and relief for part-owner Zac Cornell, who is known as the owner of Shane Tritton’s recent open-class stars like Suave Stuey Lombo and Mach Beauty.
“We’ve got a really big opinion of her and hoped she just needed the run in the heat and that’s how it turned out. The was a huge win tonight,” Cornell said.
Share The Road, trained and driven by Laura Crossland, now boasts five wins from just eight starts since heading across from NZ.
General Dodge went into the race with 10 wins from just 12 starts. He enjoyed a lovely trip, but had no match for Share The Road’s booming finish and had to be content with a close second.
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IT only took two runs for Kevin Pizzuto’s new stable addition Majordan to make a statement.
Now owned by US owners Marc Hanover and Gordon Banks, Majordan broke at the start at his first run for Pizzuto then smashed the clock winning last night at Menangle.
The Art Major gelding pounced on the lead for Todd McCarthy and gave nothing else a chance, winning by a huge space in a blistering 1min49sec mile.
McCarthy had a big night, also partnering Anton Golino and Yabby Dams’ mare Glenferrie Burn to easily win the Group 3 La Coocaracha for trotting mares at Menangle in a 1min57.5sec mile.
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TIM Butt narrowly missed winning the $40,000 Group 2 NSW Trotters Oaks last night.
Butt’s filly Sassy Pants was heavily-backed to start favourite and was beaten by a head by Victorian raider Moonshine Linda for trainer Neville Pangrazio and driver Luke McCarthy.