Aussie News : January 9

By Adam Hamilton 

The big brute is back. As polarizing as Expensive Ego is, it’s a delight to see him in full flight.

And that’s just what we saw at Menangle when he returned from a freshen-up after a slightly disappointing Inter Dominion campaign.

While the six-year-old is good at other tracks, he is monstrous at Menangle as last night showed.

Driven with extreme aggressive and daring by Luke McCarthy, Expensive Ego just kept bowling along once he found the lead in splits of 26.3, 27.5, 27.2 and 28.2sec.

He clocked a 1min49.2sec and stamped himself as a major Miracle Mile contender.

It’s a race he ran second in two years ago behind then stablemate King Of Swing.

There was also plenty to like about the run of top class Kiwi mare Stylish Memphis at his first run back at Menangle for Jack Trainor.

Back in Sydney to chase a three-peat in the Group 1 Ladyship Mile, Stylish Memphis led from the pole, took on a sit on Expensive Ego in that slick lead time and tried so hard to run him down.

She had to be content with a brave second, beaten just 2.5m and six metres ahead of third-placed Artillery.

“I was thrilled with her. Expensive Ego is great at his best and she just kept trying and trying to catch him,” Trainor said.

“She should only be improved by the run and she looks set for another terrific campaign here.”

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The rise and rise of former Kiwi gelding Diego continued at Gloucester Park last Friday night.

And now WA’s three biggest races await, starting with the Group 1 Fremantle Cup next Friday night.

Diego stretched his unbeaten record when leading in races for trainer Gary Hall Sr when he used the pole to set the pace and won as he liked in the $100,000 Group 1 JP Stratton Cup (2130m) last Friday night.

Talented young lightweight driver Maddison Brown, a former jockey, has really clicked with Diego.

Brown became the first female to drive the Stratton Cup winner.

He ripped home his last three quarters in 28.4, 27.9 and 28.5sec to hold-off stablemate Gambit, who trailed him throughout. It was a Hall Sr quinella.

“He’s just got better and better. Sure, he’s making the most of good draws, but he’s versatile. He’s my best chance in these big races,” Hall Sr said.

Hall Sr also grabbed fourth spot with the talented Jumpingjackmac, but his exciting former Kiwi Prince Of Pleasure had a tough run and only beat one home, almost certainly meaning he won’t make the Fremantle Cup field.

The other big talking point from the race was the disappointing run of WA’s best pacer Magnificent Storm.

He drew outside the front and drifted back early, but driver Aldo Cortopassi made an early move to sit parked before weakening late to finish 9.4m from the winner in eighth spot.

It served to understand the massive importance of the barrier draw for the Fremantle Cup.

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That was Chris Alford at his aggressive and best.

Alford “owned” the Group 1 Maori Mil at Bendigo when he fought aggressively for the lead early and then let rip with a lap to go aboard the Brent Lilley-trained Aldebaran Zeus.

He simply ran his rivals ragged in a slick 1min54.8sec mile.

Aldebaran Zeus, who has always looked an open-class star in the making, held-on bravely to beat the fast finishing pair Hopeful Beauty and Sleepee.

“He’s the sort of horse who just keeps giving for you, so I wanted to let him run and make them chase,” Alford said.

The race changed dramatically at the start when the two favourites and most likely leaders – Majestuoso and Im Ready Jet – were beaten for early speed.

Majestuoso’s settled well back in the running line and broke in the last lap before effectively being eased out of the race by driver Kate Gath.

“He didn’t feel good, but he’s come through it OK,” Gath said.

Gath had better luck earlier in the night when emerging trotter Central Otago and speedy former Kiwi pacer Whiskey Cavalier both won impressively.

Another highlight at Bendigo was the easy win of classy comeback pacer Kowalski Analysis for trainer David Lewis and driven Glen Craven.

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