Aussie News : August 15

by Adam Hamilton

Former Kiwi trotting mare Vacation Hill has always oozed feature race potential.

The five-year-old looked every bit an Inter Dominion contender when she speared to the front from a wide draw and won the Group 3 Maori’s Idol free-for-all at Melton.

The daughter of Muscle Hill showed glimpses in her first campaign for Team Gath, but the signs are she’s come back even better.

That gate speed of hers is a serious weapon.

Vacation Hill posted a slick 1min55.8sec mile rate for 1720m and held-off reigning Inter Dom champ Maori Law to win by 1.4m with in-form pair Credit Master third and Nephew Of Sonoko fourth.

There was more former Kiwi flavour in Melton features with Mighty Flying Art stalking the big guns and finishing over them late to win a brutally run Group 3 Melton Pace final.

Big guns Yambukian, who did a power of early work to find the lead, and Spring In His Step went at it a long way from home and set-up a blistering 1min54sec mile rate for 2240m. They were both huge to finish third and second respectively.

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Two of Victoria’s pin-up pacers Lochinvar Art and Catch A Wave are poised for racetrack returns.

The glamour pair sparkled in trials last week and connections are now looking for suitable races.

Catch A Wave was first out, blasting home in a 1min52.6sec last mile to win a Melton trial last Monday night.

“He savaged the line in a 26.9sec last quarter at the end of a really solidly-run trial. It was a terrific performance,” trainer Andy Gath said.

“He probably needs a race now. There’s a $40,000 race for him at the end of the month, but we’ll look for something before that.”

Lochinvar Art had his second trial back and was asked to do a lot more when he “gaped” his rivals at Shepparton last Thursday night.

The former Victoria and Hunter Cup winner had Nathan Jack aboard when he roared away to win by 30m in a 56sec last half at the end of a 1min55sec mile rate for 2200m.

Caretaker trainer Rodney Lakey will look for a comeback race now as regular trainer David Morna doesn’t return from suspension until September 15.

Kiwis should watch him closely now connections have touted the NZ Cup as a “very likely” target.

Lochinvar Art has the Victoria Cup on October 8 and the focus then moves to a possible Ashburton Flying Stakes run ahead of the NZ Cup.

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Many of Australia’s best drivers will come together for the resurrected Australian Driver’s Championship at Globe Derby next month.

In a huge boost for the struggling SA industry, the series will be run for the first time since 2019 when Globe Derby hosts it on September 17.

Underlining the huge female influence in Australia’s driving ranks, five of the 12 participants will be females: Kate Gath, Dani Hill, Narissa McMullen, Emily Suvaljko and Grace Panella.

Young guns like Cam Hart and James Herberton are amongst the guys tackling the series.

The others are: Gary Hall Jr, Pete McMullen, Wayne Hill, Conor Crook and Rohan Hillier.

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The brilliant and untapped Honolua Bay locked in an Inter Dominion berth with victory in the Westburn Grant free-for-all at Melton.

It was his eighth successive win and his second from two runs back from a long stint on the sidelines with a hoof issue.

Honolua Bay posted a blazing 1min53.2sec mile rate for the 2240m.

The son of Somebeachsomewhere packed absolutely lethal high speed and will be a major factor in the Victoria Cup and Inter Dominion.

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There is life in those old legs yet.

While young stars are emerging everywhere in WA’s open-class ranks, old boy Vultan Tin showed them how to do it in the free-for-all at Gloucester Park last Friday night.

The Dan Costello-trained 10-year-old, who has banked over $1 million in earnings, surprised by not only holding the front from gate one, but bowling along and giving nothing else a chance.

Vultan Tin’s win was his 32nd from a staggering 208 starts. He’s been placed another 53 times.

Driver Mitchell Miller has really clicked with him and let him run quarters of the last mile in 29.5, 28.5, 28.2 and 28.7sec to win by 6.1m over emerging star Lavra Joe and the classy Jumpingjackmac.

Fremantle Cup winner Minstrel will be fitter for his fifth at his second run back from a spell, while another veteran Chicago Bull sat outside the leader and dropped right out to finish a distant last.

The feature of the night was the Group 3 Marathon over 3309m where Team Bond’s Kiwi import Himself continued his rise through the ranks with an all-the-way win.

Earlier in the night, brilliant three-year-old filly Wonderful To Fly showed she was over a minor setback to continue on her winning way.

The Shane Young-trained daughter of Fly Like An Eagle found her way to the front from a wide draw and won as she liked. She’s won eight on end and 19 of her 29 starts.

Team Bond also unveiled a lovely two-year-old when the Kiwi-bred Advantage (Hes Watching-Pascale Bromac) won as he liked on debut in a 1min57.3sec mile rate for 1730m.

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Kiwi-owned mare Total Diva caused a huge upset in Menangle’s feature race.

The daughter of former megastar pacer Terror To Love upstaged a strong field of mares in the Group 3 Ladyship Stakes (1609m) for trainer Peter Hanson and young driver Lleyton Green.

It was an all-Kiwi finish with Wainui Creek second and B K Swy third.

Last night’s free-for-all saw Inter Dominion heat winner and finalist Bundoran return to winning form over star Kiwi veteran Alta Orlando with Malcolms Rhythm third in a 1min52.6sec mile.

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Popular Victorian horseman Rod Petroff had one of his biggest thrills in the game with a Group 1 training and driving win at Melton.

It was an upset, too.

Petroff used barrier one on Used To Be Maid to sit behind hot favourite Just A Bit Touchy and used the sprint lane to win the Group 1 Australasian Premier Trotting Sale 3YO fillies’ final.

The re-emerging Chris Lang Sr snared the other Group 1, the trotting final for colts and geldings, with his promising gelding More Wanted with Daryl Douglas aboard.

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Millionaire pacer Colt Thirty One is past his best, but still a major player in Queensland’s open-class ranks.

The Grant Dixon-trained six-year-old posted the 50th win of his 113 start career and edged close to $1.07 million in earnings by winning the Albion Park free-for-all.

There was no fluke to win, either. Colt Thirty One sat parked for much of the race and dug deep to win by a neck in a slick 1min54.5sec mile rate for 2138m.

 

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