Aussie News : June 16
by Adam Hamilton
Former Kiwi pacer Spirit Of St Louis may well breath a sigh of relief when he steps out at Albion Park on Saturday night.
Spirit Of St Louis won’t have to deal with champion pacer and former stablemate King Of Swing.
The pair clashed in two of Australia’s biggest races last campaign and although Spirit Of St Louis ran huge races both times, he played second fiddle to King Of Swing in the Hunter Cup and Miracle Mile.
Now with King Of Swing retired, Spirit Of St Louis has inherited the tag as Australia’s best pacer.
The Team McCarthy-trained star returns from a spell at Albion Park on Saturday night.
After two strong trials, Spirit Of St Louis is a commanding $1.20 favourite from gate two in the Lucky Creed Open Pace (2680m).
“It’s a good starting point. He’s come back well and will improve on whatever he does this week,” co-trainer Luke McCarthy said.
“Jack Callaghan will drive him and stick with him. He gets along so well with the horse.”
The race also sees the return from a freshen-up of last-start Group 1 Messenger winner Majestic Cruiser, but he faces a big ask from outside the back row (gate nine).
The pair are set to clash in a string of upcoming Albion Park races, including the Group 1 double of Sunshine Sprint (July 16) and Blacks A Fake (July 23).
Another highlight of the Albion Park will be the last of 10 races when top former Kiwi filly Amore Vita opens her Queensland assault for trainer Nathan Purdon.
The Breeders Crown heroine will need to be good from the outside draw in a six-horse field where talented rivals Tims A Trooper (gate four), Sugar Apple (five) and We Always Have Faith (two) have better draws over the short 1660m trip.
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A former Kiwi also headlines a strong Gloucester Park meeting on Friday night.
Magnificent Storm, who boasts 19 wins from just 26 starts, returns from a spell for trainer Ray Williams in the free-for-all.
“He’ll need the run, but he’s as fit as I can get him and the trials here are hopeless in his class with only three or four in them,” Williams said.
“Yes he can win and we’d love to, but it’s a starting point and as long as he hits the line well we will be happy.”
Williams conceded Magnificent Storm’s rapid rise to prominence “took its toll” towards the end of last campaign.
“He went a long way, very quickly,” he said. “He wasn’t racing at his best in those last few runs.
“It’s good to give him a decent break and he seems to have come back really well.
“There are quite a few $50,000 races here over coming months and that’s what it’s about now, just getting some racing into him.”
Williams did say a Victorian raid for the Inter Dominion towards the end of the year was a big chance.
“If he’s going really well closer to the time, yes, we’d love to go,” he said.
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Chariots Of Fire winner Better Eclipse returns from a spell at Melton on Saturday night.
It’s the first of two lead-up runs trainer Jess Tubbs has in mind before heading to Queensland for the $315,000 Group 1 Rising Sun at Albion Park on July 9.
“He’s been ready to go for a while, we’ve just been keeping him ticking along because we want fresh for Queensland,” driver and co-trainer Greg Sugars said.
It’s a tough return for Better Eclipse, who has a wide draw (gate six) in a strong open-aged free-for-all (race seven).
Interestingly, his main danger looks to be another Rising Sun hopeful Rock N Roll Doo from the pole.
Other highlights of the Melton card include Majestuoso in the Group 3 Noopy Kiosk Trotters’ free-for-all (1720m) and the clash between exciting juveniles Petracca and Aureus in a two-year-old event (race 10).