Aussie News : August 1
by Adam Hamilton
Forgotten Aussie superstar Lochinvar Art is just weeks away from a comeback race.
And caretaker trainer Rodney Lakey says everything points to a huge return.
The former Hunter and Victoria Cup winner stepped-out in public for the first time in more than six months when he won a Shepparton trial last Thursday night.
“He’ll have another trial and then we’ll look for a race,” Lakey said. “He did what we expected last week and will have a stronger trial next time.
“I’d say he’ll be back racing in three weeks or so.”
Lochinvar Art burst to the top and firmly stamped himself as Australasia’s best pacer with a rampaging run through late 2020 and early 2021.
A hoof issue became a major leg injury and he was sidelined for almost a year.
Then trainer-driver David Moran got him back to races early this year where Lochinvar Art had three sound runs, but they were well short of his dominating best.
“He seems like a different horse this time. He’s got that sharpness and speed back and he’s as sound as anything,” Lakey said.
Moran returns from suspension on September 15 to resume training and driving Lochinvar Art.
Nathan Jack, who drove the star in last week’s trial, will partner Lochinvar Art in one or two races before Moran is back.
The plan is for Lochinvar Art to have three or four lead-up races into the $350,000 Group 1 Victoria Cup at Melton on October 8.
Then it’s on to the Victorian Inter Dominion series in late November/early December.
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This week could be a special one for champion Queensland driver Grant Dixon.
Dixon sits on 4994 career wins and is poised to become just the fourth Aussie to drive 5000 winners.
Chris Alford leads the way on 7699, while the late Gavin Lang drove 6303. The other is WA’s superstar Chris Lewis, who is nearing 6000.
“It seems like it’s been building for a long time,” Dixon laughed.
It’s all part of a huge year for Dixon who has what he describes as “potentially the best horse we’ve had” in three-year-old Leap To Fame.
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The rise and rise of young Kiwi-bred trotter Ollivici continued with victory in the Group 2 Aldebaran Park Winter Trotters’ Cup (2150m) at Bendigo.
Chris Lang’s latest trotting star cruised to a his third win from as many starts this campaign when he scored by 6.9m in a slick 1min57.9sec mile rate.
“He’s really good … this is the best we’ve ever had him,” Lang said. “Even though he’s lightly-raced, we’re heading towards the Inter Dominion. He will be almost five by then.”
Ollivici is half-brother to former champion trotter Stent, being by Orlando Vici out of Belle Galleon and sold for $NZ51,000 at the NZ sales in Christchurch.
The other Bendigo feature was the Group 3 Wagon Apollo trot where the rejuvenated Nephew Of Sonoko booked an Inter Dominion berth with a win over reigning Inter Dom champ Maori Law.,
Driver James Herbertson made the most of a front row advantage by working forward from a wide draw to lead, while Maori Law had to make a move and sit parked.
Both went extra well with Nephew Of Sonoko holding on to win by 1.7m in a 1min59.2sec mile rate for 2150m.
Maori Law’s two runs back from a break have been most encouraging.
On the same card, the rise of young mare Treachery continued with another win in the Group 3 Jane Ellen.
The four-year-old has lived in the shadow of glamour stablemates of the same age and sex like Ladies In Red and Tough Tilly.
But the daughter of Captaintreacherous has returned with six wins from as many starts this season and used a better draw to lead and beat star stablemate Joanna in a brisk 1min54.2sec mile rate for 2150m last night.
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The Albion Park carnival is over, but the star factor lingered on with a strong Kiwi flavour on the final night.
Talented young former Kiwi mare The Honey Queen put it all together to win race three against the boys in a slick 1min53.4sec mile rate for 2138m with Chris Geary driving for Team McCarthy.
And one-time buzz Kiwi pacer Star Galleria returned to winning form for trainer-driver Ricky Thurlow in the free-for-all after trailing the leader and using the sprint lane.
The eight-year-old has won 19 races and is nearing a stake money milestone on $498,323.
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Diego was supposed to be the third-stringer of Team Hall’s three runners in the Gloucester Park free-for-all last Friday, but he landed a monstrous plunge to win.
Known more as a sit-sprinter, driver Maddison Brown held the lead on Diego from the pole, posting veteran champ and stablemate Chicago Bull on her outside, as they dawdled through a 62.8sec middle half.
The former Kiwi gelding Diego dashed home in 55.4 and 26.7sec to easily hold-off Chicago Bull and win by 2.5m.
Chicago Bull was brave after sitting parked, but looks a few lengths down on his former self.
While Gary Hall Jr had to be content with second on Chicago Bull, he got the cash in the main race of the night, the Group 3 John Higgins final on Justin Prentice’s former Kiwi gelding Mr Fantastic.
It was a powerhouse win from the son of Bettors Delight in a strong field.
Mr Fantastic has won six of his 10 starts since being bought from NZ’s North Island by WA interests and given to the emerging star Prentice.
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Much-travelled former Kiwi mare Wainui Creek has really found her groove in Sydney this campaign.
The six-year-old daughter of Bettors Delight made it three wins on end when she beat the boys in a 1min50.5sec mile in the free-for-all at Menangle last night.
Most focus was on comeback star Wolf Stride, who had been excellent in both runs back from a long stint on the sidelines with injury.
Wolf Stride had to do plenty of work and looked below his best when only seventh.
On the same card, top young driver Cam Hart kept it in the family with another feature win.
Hart drove Defiant to win the Group 3 Winter Championship final for his sister, Ashley.