by Adam Hamilton
A FORMER Kiwi won the $50,000 Group Carousel at Menangle, but just not the one punters threw their weight behind.
The former All Stars four-year-old Sicario had been set for the race by Brent Lilley, won his qualifier well, led, but weakened disappointingly from the top of the home straight for seventh.
Instead it was Cullenburn, having just his second run for the Craig Cross and Luke McCarthy combination, who took a sit on Sicario, blew straight past him and held-on well to win by a half a neck in a brisk 1min54.4sec mile rate for 2300m.
Kevin Pizzuto’s outsider Always Flashing flew home with the much-improved Times Stride for second and third spots.
Earlier in the night, Cross and McCarthy combined to win the free-for-all with another much-improved pacer Replaced Eye in a 1min51.9sec mile.
The talking point was the flop of Harness Jewels four-year-old hopeful Picard, who led and stopped badly to run last.
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ENDING the unbeaten streak of buzz youngster Jilliby Nitro headlined a complete dominance of Melton’s Australian Gold heats for Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin.
While Jilliby Nitro toyed with Mach Dan in the recent Bathurst Gold Crown final, barriers and a tactical affair saw Mach Dan take the prize at Melton last Friday.
Chris Alford used gate one to lead, dictated the terms with Jilliby Nitro pocketed on his back and ripped home in 27.7sec into a wind to hold-on and win well by 1.7m over Jilliby Nitro along the sprint lane.
Mach Dan’s minor upset completed a clean sweep of the four Aussie Gold heats at Melton for Stewart, Tonkin and Alford.
They won the other heat with the very professional and exciting Be Happy Mach, who is unbeaten in three starts and scored easily despite sitting parked in a strong race.
He cruised past the disappointing and regally-bred leader, Soho Hamilton, who wilted to finish sixth.
Be Happy Mach’s stablemate Mirragon was backed into favouritism, but broke early and lost his chance before finishing fifth.
Jemstone won the first fillies’ heat in slick time, while Lightning Lana upset stablemate Treasure – who cost herself by breaking at the start – in the other heat.
On the same day, American Ideal filly Pelosi smashed the clock winning her Aussie Gold heat at Albion Park.
She put 23.3m on her rivals in a 1min53.3sec mile rate, which is the second fastest a juvenile has gone in Queensland. Only Muscle Factory’s 1min53.2sec is faster.
The speed is no surprise given she’s out of former exciting filly For Dear Life, who is from the great Honan family breed. For Dear Life’s dam, Express Post, was an awesome juvenile.
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A MIXED Melbourne Inter Dominion campaign looks to have been the making of Amanda Turnbull’s gelding Ellmers Image.
He just battled with 10th, sixth and fourth placings through the heats, but lifted for a sparkling consolation win in sizzling time.
Since then he’s raced six times for three wins (his past three starts) and two seconds.
And, judging by those past two wins in the Renshaw Cup and last night’s $75,000 Group 2 Treuer Memorial, he’s up with the best pacers in Australia.
Sure he led and his only real rival Ignatius has to chase and sit parked, but won strongly by 6.4m in a 1min58.5sec mile rate for 2540m around a slow track.
The five-year-old has the Group 1 Len Smith Mile at the end of June, the Queensland Winter Carnival riches and a likely NZ Cup/Auckland Inter Dominion raid on the agenda.
Igantius lost no admirers with a brave second at only his second run back from a let-up. He’s headed to the NSW 4YO Breeders Challenge and maybe Queensland.
Trainer-driver Jimmy Rattray has also flagged the NZ Cup/Auckland Inter Dominion trip.
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THERE was as much relief as excitement around the win of former buzz Kiwi pacer King Of Swing at Gloucester Park last Friday night.
The four-year-old totally disinterested and a shadow of himself last time in work, but gave the Gary Hall Sr great hope when after a spell he won a Pinjarra trial by over 50m in sizzling time last Sunday.
Would he show it at the races?
The answer was yes with a narrow, but strong and impressive winning return at Gloucester Park last Friday night.
Forced to sit parked with stand-in driver Stuey McDonald aboard while Gary Hall Jr is away on holidays, King Of Swing cruised past the leader and main danger Warrior Code and then held-off Destined To Rule to win by 1.4m in a solid 1min54.7sec mile rate for 1730m.
“All the signs were good at home and he seemed sharp and back to the horse we all know in the trial. But it was great to see him really tough it out and want to win tonight,” McDonald said.
McDonald teamed with Hall Sr for three wins on the night, recent Kiwi import Balcatherine being one of them in a prelude of the WA Oaks.
She looks a place chance in next week’s Oaks final where Trevor Casey’s filly Dracarys is a standout.
The other Gloucester Park feature provided a training quinella for young trainer Kirsty Elson with Jaspervellabeach beating Secret Operation in the $50,000 Champagne Classic for juveniles.
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DECORATED driver John Caldow wound back the clock to dominate last Friday night’s Shepparton card with five wins.
Caldow, who focuses more of his time training a team with wife Maree, still continues to top 100 driving wins a season.
He won the two Shepparton features, the Group 3 Trotters’ Cup aboard $28.30 outsider Jackson Square for trainer Mick Blackmore, and the 2YO Trotting Classic on he and Maree’s Andover Hall colt Andover Sun.
In the Trotters’ Cup, Caldow upstaged Andy Gath’s recent Kiwi import and favourite Il Pirata, who led and looked the winner, but raced erratically in the home straight and weakened for third.
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KIWI mare Our Step Up keeps clocking up the wins in preparation for her ultimate Victorian goal.
Steve Telfer’s five-year-old mare boasts four wins a ripper second five Aussie starts this raid, the latest in easy style at Melton last night.
Her goal is the $100,000 Group 1 Queen of the Pacific at Melton on May 18.