Aussie News : April 14

By Adam Hamilton

Former Kiwi horseman Jack Trainor has an embarrassment of riches in the countdown to Australia’s premier mares’ race, next month’s Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II at Menangle.

Trainor is aiming for a remarkable fourth successive win as either trainer and/or driver in the feature.

He drove Stylish Memphis to win for trainer Mark Jones in 2021, then trained and drove the same mare himself in 2022.

Then Trainor trained and drove another former Kiwi, Braeview Kelly, to win last year.

Braeview Kelly is back on target again this year after a fantastic second at Menangle recently, but she may only be the third seed in Trainor’s stable.

Recent Kiwi additions, Manhattan and Aardies Express, have tongues wagging.

Manhattan was remarkably brave after burning early and holding off Braeview Kelly to win at Menangle last Saturday week.

Aardies Express, who boasts 13 wins from 19 starts in NZ, is set to have her first Aussie runs for Trainor at Menangle next Saturday night.

The five-year-old blazed her way to a stunning 12m Menangle trial win in a 1min51.7sec mile last Wednesday. She ripped home in a staggering 25.2sec quarter.

“She’s a serious mare. We’re looking forward to her stepping out next Saturday,” Trainor said.

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Champion mare Ladies In Red reminded everyone of her greatness with a breathtaking winning return to racing at Melton last night.

First-up since the only unplaced run of her career in a Miracle Mile qualifier on March 2, the six-year-old posted her 25th win from just 32 starts in the Blossom Lady.

It was vintage Ladies In Red, sitting parked, but blasting away from her rivals rounding the home bend and winning by 8.3m in a scorching 1min53.2sec mile rate for 2240m.

Trainer Emma Stewart will now have to take Ladies In Red to Menangle for either the next Saturday’s Sibelia Stakes or the Robin Hood a week later to qualify for the $200,000 Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II (formerly Ladyship Mile) at Menangle on May 4.

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Former Miracle Mile winner Catch A Wave showed he was on target for Friday’s $1.25mil Group 1 Nullarbor with a terrific fourth at his first Gloucester Park run last Friday night.

“Other than winning, we couldn’t have asked more of him,” Gath said. “We wanted to sit back given where he was at, but they absolutely walked up front and for him to come three-wide himself and get so close (fourth, beaten 6.8 metres) was huge.

“Kate (Gath, driver) said he was all-out on the line, but kept digging in. They ran home in 55.2sec and he made up a stack of ground out wide, too.”

Gath revealed Catch A Wave didn’t eat for his first two days after being flown from Sydney to Perth and missed a planned fast workout last Wednesday.

“We jogged him instead of fast-working him because he wasn’t eating and we thought a serious hit out could do more harm than good,” he said.

“It wasn’t an ideal lead-in to that first run, but it’s the benefit of having a lead-up race and getting over there 11 days before the big one (Nullarbor).

“He’s come through it really well. He seems great.

“And his record shows he always goes better when he backs-up week-to-week. Most of his biggest wins have come doing that.

“We’re back headed in the right direction and with another few good days, he should be at his absolute top for Friday night.”

Catch A Wave is one of three eastern state raiders in the Nullarbor, which was run for the first time last year and NSW pair Betterzippit and Spirit Of St Louis ran the quinella.

Spirit Of St Louis is back for another crack before he departs for the USA to continue his career, while Betterzippit’s trainer Jason Grimson is trying to go back-to-back, this time with the emerging Hot And Treacherous.

The field was finalised when Swandoo Racing settled on one of its own horses, former Kiwi Blitzembye, to run in its slot.

It followed confirmation Minstrel would run for Team Bond, Jumpingjackmac for Gary Hall Sr/Steve Waters and Justin Prentice Racing went with Mighty Ronaldo.

The pre-draw market shows how open the Nullarbor is with Minstrel just favourite at $4 from Hot And Treacherous and Lavra Joe ($5), Jumpingjackmac and Spirit Of St Louis ($7) and Catch A Wave ($7.50).

The barrier draw is on Tuesday.

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Former Kiwi pacer Nerano rose to prominence during the Brisbane Inter Dominion late last year and looks on target for a return to the Sunshine State in winter.

The explosive seven-year-old made it two wins from three starts back from a lengthy spell when he cruised to victory in blistering time at Menangle last night.

Nerano mile-rated 1min52.8sec for the long 2300m trip, just 1.4sec outside Zennart’s track record. He ripped home in 53.5 and 26.4sec.

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Another pacer being set for Queensland’s winter riches is Bach.

It’s an all Kiwi affair with Bach recently moving across from NZ to join the stables of young former Kiwi horseman Kyle Marshall. And you can add in Anthony Butt as the regular driver.

Bach made it four wins from five Aussie runs when he jumped in grade sharply and led throughout to win the Markovina free-for-all (2240m) at Melton last night.

He just staved-off a booming finish from evergreen former Kiwi veteran Triple Eight.

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It's been a slower start to the year than trainer-driver Chris Lang would’ve liked for talented trotter Ollivici, but he returned to winning form at Melton last night.

The classy Kiwi-bred posted his first win since a heat of the Brisbane Inter Dominion on December 5 and the 16th victory of his career.

Lang used gate four to work forward and lead and always looked in control on his way to an easy 3.9m win in the City Of Melton Trotters’ free-for-all (2240m) in a 1min57.7sec mile rate.

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