Aussie News : December 18

By Adam Hamilton

Former Kiwi pacer Himself proved the strongest when he caused a huge upset in the $200,000 Group 1 Golden Nugget at Gloucester Park.

Last Friday night’s feature proved a real war of attrition after leaders Pinny Tiger and Lavra Joe scorched through an almost unthinkable 63sec lead time for the long 2536m trip.

It set-up a track record-breaking 1min54sec mile rate, taking 0.1sec off Vampiro’s record from December 18, 2020.

Driver Dylan Egerton-Green found himself back last from gate five, but it was a blessing in disguise in a race where they never came up for air.

Himself, an $81 shot, was able to trail big gun Jumpingjackmac into the race and the pair drew away to fight it out, with Himself pulling clear late for Team Bond to win by 3.7m.

It was a big race for Team Bond, who also nabbed third with another Kiwi import, Tenzing Bromac.

Team Bond has now won three of the past four Nuggets, following success with Minstrel last year and Ana Malak in 2018.

Himself’s win surprised Greg Bond, who said pre-race: “He’s going well, but this is a big step-up and I’d think a place hope is his best.”

Himself, who won three of nine starts for Bob Butt in NZ, has since raced 12 times for Team Bond for eight wins and three seconds.

Another former Kiwi, Ragazzo Mach, showed a welcome glimpse of his best when he roared home for an upset win in the Gloucester Park free-for-all.

The Mike Reed-trained four-year-old was emergency for the Golden Nugget and sent out a $17 shot in the free-for-all, but overhauled Gary Hall Sr’s buzz pacer Prince Of Pleasure to win by a neck.

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Inter Dominion third placegetter Act Now led a complete Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin dominance of the Vicbred 4YO entires and geldings heats at Melton last Friday night.

Backing up just six days after his brave Inter Dominion run, driver Jodi Quinlan took Act Now to the front, dictated terms and won as she liked in a 1min56.9sec mile rate for 2240m.

The Inter Dominion form shone through with finalists and heat winner Better Eclipse charging home from midfield to grab second spot on the line in by far the strongest of the three heats.

Stewart and Tonkin won the other two heats with comeback pacer Major Moth and the emerging Idyllic.

Major Moth made it two wins from as many starts back from a year out with injury when he led, dictated and ripped home in 54.4 and 26.3sec to beat stablemate and Inter Dominion finalists Narutac Prince.

Idyllic’s win was a minor upset given stablemate Longfellow was a $1.35 favourite.

It’s a fascinating series given big guns Act Now and Narutac Prince will be racing for the seventh time in just 35 days when the final is run on New Year’s Eve.

In contrast, Major Moth is the fresh player and has always been considered right up with Act Now for talent.

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Champion mare Ladies In Red will return to racing.

News broke two weeks ago that Ladies In Red had sustained a hairline fracture in a hind pastern, requiring two screws and three months in a box.

“She’ll be back,” owner-breeder Bill Anderson said. “She won’t be ready for Queensland in winter, which we had planned, but will be back for the mares' triple crown and Victoria Cup later next year.

“We’re in no rush to retire her, we’ve got enough broodmares. She might race on until the end of her six-year-old career all going well.”

Anderson said he and wife Anne’s other star pacer Honolua Bay was having a freshen-up after his terrific Inter Dominion campaign.

“We’ll chat with Emma and Clayton and decide in the next couple of weeks whether we have a go at the Hunter Cup or just wait and focus on the Miracle Mile,” he said.

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Star three-year-old Catch A Wave returned from a break in winning form to kick-start a very important campaign.

While the Vicbred final on New Year’s Eve is his target, just as important is showing the sort of form to impress slot holders in the inaugural $2.1 million TAB Eureka at Menangle in September.

Catch A Wave was a one-time favourite for the race, but the dominance of Leap To Fame and stunning emergence of Captain Ravishing have propelled them ahead of him.

The Andy Gath-trained gelding returned for his first run since disappointing in a heat of the Victoria Derby on October 1.

Sure, he had plenty of class over his rivals, but there was lots to like about his dominant 6.9m win after sitting parked and dashing home in 55.2sec for a 1min58.2sec mile rate over 2180m at Kilmore last Thursday night.

It was his 12th win from just 15 starts.

Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin trained all four winners of the 3YO fillies’ Vicbred heats on the same night, headlined by multiple Group 1 winner Encipher.

Kiwi-owned filly Amore Vita caught the eye with a slashing second to leader and stablemate Petillante in her heat and looms as a major factor in the final.

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Brilliant juvenile The Lost Storm looks to have the Vicbred final at his mercy.

With his major rival School Captain out spelling, The Lost Storm looked a class above most of his rivals winning his Vicbred heat and ripping home in 55.4 and 27sec flat at Shepparton last Tuesday night.

The Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin-trained son of Captaintreacherous boasts five wins from seven starts with both defeats being inflicted by Night School.

Stewart and Tonkin won four of the six Vicbred 2YO heats run at Shepparton, including with a Kiwi flavour.

Joyful made it three wins from as many starts since joining the stable and is part-owned by Kiwi trainer Cran Dalgety.

She looks top seed in an open in the 2YO fillies Vicbred division.

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Mighty mare Tough Tilly looks set to take full advantage of Ladies In Red’s absence through injury and dominate the Vicbred 4YO Mares’ series.

The daughter of Captaintreacherous had little more than trackwork to win her heat of the series at Melton last Friday night. It was her 14th win from 29 starts.

Tough Tilly beat Ladies In Red in the Vicbred 2YO final and then missed last year’s series with a setback.

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Veteran former Kiwi pacer Mach Shard returned to winning form in the Menangle free-for-all last night.

Taken straight to the front by driver Jack Callaghan, the rising eight-year-old was always in control and beat another former Kiwi, Ranger Bomb, by 2.1m in a 1min54.6sec mile rate for the longer 2300m trip.

It was Mach Shard’s 15th win and took his earnings to $554,927.

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