Aussie News 8 July
By Adam Hamilton
IT started with dominating the heats, moved to “owning” the semi-finals and peaked with wins in a staggering five of the six Group 1 pacing finals.
That’s the Vicbred series that was for Emma Stewart and partner Clayton Tonkin.
But the dominance ran a lot deeper than just five wins.
Stewart and Tonkin also landed the “First Four” in the 3YO colts and geldings – Poster Boy beating Konan, Ride High and Major Times – and snared the quinella in three other finals.
You can add the fact they also landed first (Speak No Evil) and third (Nostra Villa) in the 3YO fillies’ final.
Stable driver Chris Alford produced some contrasting gems of drives to win four of the finals aboard: Kualoa (2YO fillies); Tell Me Tales (4YO mare); Centenario (2YO colts/geldings) and Poster Boy (3yo colts/geldings).
Young gun Mark Pitt chipped-in for the winning drive on Speak No Evil where Alford partnered third-placed Nostra Villa.
Kualoa set the theme of the night when she did all the work outside the leader, lifted after looking spent on the home bend and won by 3.2m over stablemate Two Times Bettor in a blazing 1min56.6sec mile rate for 2240m.
“She’s so strong. I had to sprint-up a lot earlier than I wanted down the back straight, then she put in a few wonky steps on the final bend, but when she kicked-back and found that metre again, I knew they wouldn’t get past her,” Alford said.
Amazingly, Tell Me Tales went even better 30 minutes later.
The win had to be seen to believed after she worked three-wide early, found the lead and then blazed a 54.3sec last half to thrash a hot field by 16m in a 1min55sec mile rate.
Even Alford was blown away. “She’s a bit special. She’s won 11 on end now and is still on the way up. She’s not just a wonderful mare, I think she’ll match it with the boys. She’s got the speed and strength.”
Australian Gold winner Centenario returned to his best and caused a minor upset – at the amazing odds of $8.30 – to beat stablemate Nostra Ideal in their final.
Stablemate Hurricane Harley, who had beaten Centenario at their previous two meetings – was sent out a $1.20 favourite from the pole. He led, went roughly for a few strides and was crossed, sat parked and weakened badly to finish 10th.
Alford then teamed with one of his favourites, NSW Derby winner Poster Boy, to led, take a trail on stablemate Konan, and narrowly win the 3YO colts and geldings final.
Konan was huge in second spot, while Ride High suffered his first defeat in six runs, but lost no admirers with a brave third in a flying 1min54.7sec mile rate.
Stewart and Tonkin capped their dominance when Speak No Evil improved off a narrow and lacklustre semi-final win to led throughout and toyed with her rivals in the 3YO fillies’ final.
Mick Stanley’s Soho Burning Love trailed the leader and ran a sound second, while Nostra Villa sat parked and held-on well for third.
Now Stewart and Tonkin take a breath with most of their Vicbred stars and reload for the Breeders Crown.
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Stories don’t get much better than the Kima Frenning journey.
And it’s time everyone knew about it after the infectious Swedish lass jagged her first Group 1 win aboard Wrappers Delight in the $125,000 Vicbred 4YO Entires and Geldings final at Melton last night.
To think Frenning hadn’t driven in a pacing race less than three years ago and, even at the start of this season just 10 months ago, she was competing in races for drivers with less than 10 career wins.
And now she’s a Group 1 winner.
But that’s just the icing on the cake of this story.
It began when Frenning dared to leave her homeland and move to Australia to chase work as a stablehand. Victoria was the logical option because they ran Monte (saddle trot) races, which Frenning had competed in back home.
“Getting a job with Aikey (David Aiken) was such a thrill and then picking up some Monte drives was amazing,” Frenning reflected.
“A few people got at me saying I should take out a driving licence as well … I’m glad I listened.
“It was really just for something different and some fun to start with, but then I started to get more and more opportunities. I was really lucky and had good support from a lot of people, most likely Aikey of course.”
The game changer was Im The Boss, who Frenning partnered to win the Shepparton and Mildura Cups.
Around that same time, Aiken had new stable addition Wrappers Delight – who had stints with Geoff Webster then Ross Olivieri – close to a racetrack return.
And Aiken had it in his mind Frenning would drive him.
A win and two mighty seconds later and Frenning found herself a live chance in the Group 1 Vicbred final.
According to the very modest Frenning, Wrappers Delight did the rest despite sitting parked throughout in a 1min55.6sec mile rate.
“I’m a bit of a passenger out there with him. He gets get keen, he takes charge and I just hang on. Despite all that, he just doesn’t stop. He keeps finding and finding,” Frenning said.
She fought back tears after the win.
“I can’t tell you what this means to me. I can’t believe I’m driving in a Group 1 race, let alone winning it,” she said.
“I’ve had a bit of tough past few months and this an un real feeling after it all.
“The credit goes to Aikey and Dominic (Martello, owner) for putting a junior driver like me on a horse this good in a Group 1 race.”
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WHILE it was the Emma Stewart show at Melton, it was the “Team Dixon” display at Albion Park’s feature meeting on Saturday night.
Grant Dixon trained the three Group race winners and drove the most impressive of them, buzz colt Colt Thirty One, a breathtaking winner of the Group 3 Premiers’ Cup.
It was the Victoria Derby winner’s 14 wins from as many starts at Brisbane’s home of harness, Albion Park.
And it cemented him as the one to beat in the upcoming Queensland Derby.
Amazingly, the son of Mach Three didn’t start favourite after a massive betting plunge on former Kiwi pacer Thatswhatisaid, who led as expected, but was beaten at the top of the home straight.
Colt Thirty One sustained a booming run from midfield around them to win hard-held by 8.7m in a 1min55.2sec mile rate.
Dixon’s other two winners were outsiders with Alleluia winning the Group 3 Mr Feelgood as a $42.80 outsider and Red Charmer landing the Group 3 South East Oaks at $23.60.
Kiwi filly Sociable was smashed into $1.60 in the Oaks, led and dictated, but didn’t much late and had to content with third spot.
Alleluia’s win guaranteed him a berth in the July 21 Group 1 Blacks A Fake, but it’s hard to see him troubling the likes of interstate raiders Soho Tribeca, My Field Marshal and Tiger Tara.
The Queensland carnivals steps up another notch when Soho Tribeca and My Field Marshal headline the field in the Group 2 Sunshine Sprint.
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THREE months ago trainer Mike Reed said he thought the regally-bred Bletchley Park was “a bit special.”
Such is the sheer depth of talent in WA’s juvenile ranks this season, Bletchley Park has so far proven just one of the top batch.
But last Friday night he did something amazing, gave buzz youngster Franco Edward a head start and a beating in the Golden Nugget Prelude.
Franco Edward, so stunning winning his previous three runs this campaign, sat one-one with Bletchley Park on his back and was unable to him off.
They don’t come much better bred than Bletchley Park, who is by American Ideal and out of mighty broodmare Alldatglittersisgold.
She’s the dam of Bling It On, Miracle Mile winning mare Baby Bling and so many other top performers.
Bletchley Park has now won five of his seven starts.
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TREVOR Casey’s decision to move some of horses to Western Australia has certainly reaped rewards, especially with juvenile filly Dracarys.
The daughter of Bettors Delight had three runs for the All Stars barn for a win and a second before Casey sent her across to young gun WA trainer Justin Prentice.
Dracarys made it five wins from as many starts for Prentice when she led, dictated and scored easily in the $35,000 Gold Bracelet at Gloucester Park last Friday night.
Prentice drove Dracarys himself as she ripped home in 27.4sec for a 1min58.6sec mile rate over 2130m and comfortably beat stablemate Iona Diamond, who trailed the leader.
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EMERGING open-class force Galactic Star gave Chicago Bull’s track record a shake at Gloucester Park last Friday night.
Suited by a blazing pacer set in front by gifted stablemate Vampiro – who held-on for third – Galactic Star overpowered a very gallant Bettors Fire, who sat parked, in a scorching 1min52sec mile rate for 1730m.
It was just 0.4sec outside Chicago Bull’s record.
The Greg and Skye Bone-trained Galactic Star won a heat of last year’s Perth Inter Dominion and ran a ripper fifth in the final, but, surprisingly, last Friday was just his second win from 10 starts since the final.
Another win of note on the night came from young Kiwi driver Mark Johnson, who took the reins on talented four-year-old Handsandwheels for trainer Andy De Campo.
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FORMER Kiwi Moonrock keeps showing glimpses of feature race potential for trainer Sonya Smith.
The five-year-old scored narrowly, but impressively over Tee Cee Bee Macray at Melton on Saturday night.
Moonrock smashed the clock with a 1min52.3sec mile rate for 1720m with Anthony Butt aboard.
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WHAT an old marvel Ultimate Art is.
Top class as a juvenile, the now eight-year-old entire is racing as well as ever for caretaker trainer Shane Sanderson, while owner-trainer Mick Formosa holidays in Malta with his family.
Ultimate Art led the Group 3 Spotpress Pace and won impressively in a flying 1min54.7sec mile rate for 2300m with young driver Cameron Hart aboard.
It was Ultimate Art’s 38th win from 109 starts and took him past $600,000 in earnings.