Aussie News : June 23

By Adam Hamilton

The rematch is on and earlier than expected.

Australia’s two glamour pacers, Leap To Fame and Swayzee, will clash in next Saturday night’s $100,000 Group 2 Redcliffe Gold Cup in by far the best race the regional track has hosted.

The race carries added intrigue given Leap To Fame was beaten in one of the great modern day upsets at Redcliffe in last Friday night’s Patrons Purse, by Swayzee’s largely unheralded stablemate District Attorney.

Race caller Chris Barsby echoed the sentiments of most watching when he said: “I see it, I don’t believe it.”

District Attorney led, handed over to Leap To Fame and then peeled off his back and ran him down in closing splits never seen before around Redcliffe’s tight, triangular track.

“I didn’t see that coming, especially given how quickly we ran home,” Leap To Fame’s trainer-driver Grant Dixon said. “It’s still early in his campaign. We just have to regroup and I know he’ll improve with each run.”

In another twist, Swayzee was also beaten at Albion Park. He led and was nabbed late by his explosive stablemate, Nerano, along the sprint lane in the Lucky Creed Pace. Nerano is also likely to go to the Redcliffe Cup.

Leap To Fame’s owner Kevin Seymour has reiterated the importance of the Redcliffe Cup for Leap To Fame’s New Zealand Cup prospects.

The champion pacer must “get it all right” at Redcliffe for Seymour to give his nod to trainer-driver Grant Dixon for a trip across the ditch.

“That first try (in a race) from the stand in the Flashing Red was a good sign, but the Redcliffe Cup is the big one, it always has been,” Seymour said.

“We pinpointed Redcliffe a long while back as the closest thing we get to the sort of conditions he’d encounter for the NZ Cup … a big field and a big crowd.

“He’ll need to get it all right this week and then we’ll start to make plans for Christchurch.”

Seymour has come to terms with his champion having to fly to Christchurch via Auckland, but he’s buoyed by being able to return to Sydney direct from Christchurch after the Cup.

“That’s crucial. He needs the easiest possible path back to Sydney and time to prepare for the Inter Dominion, which as we know, is a tough challenge with the format of the three rounds of heats into the final.

“Don’t forget, it’s even harder this year in NSW with the heats being spread around different tracks. That’ s very different to all the heats at Albion Park like last year.”

The first round of Inter Dominion heats are at Newcastle on November 29, just 17 days after the NZ Cup. Then, five days later, Bathurst hosts the second round of heats before the final round of heats and final are at Menangle on December 7 and 14.

There is growing belief Swayzee will return to Christchurch to defend his NZ Cup crown before returning for the Sydney Inter Dominion.

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Outstanding former Kiwi mare Aardie's Express will sharpen-up for a Queensland raid when she tackles the boys in a Menangle free-for-all next Saturday night.

It will be the mare’s first against the boys since making Australia home.

Now trained by Jason Grimson, Aardie's Express will then head north for a much-awaited rematch with Australia’s champion mare Ladies In Red in the $150,000 Group 1 Golden Girl at Albion Park on July 20.

Aardies Express, who won 13 of her 19 NZ starts, is unbeaten in three Aussie starts, including beating Ladies In Red in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Mile at Menangle on May 4. She hasn’t raced since winning at Menangle on June 8.

In other Grimson stable news, Chariots Of Fire winner Frankie Ferocious will trial rather than race this week.

“There’s no Albion Park Saturday night meeting and we don’t want to take him to Redcliffe first-up, so he’ll trial at Albion Park on Tuesday instead and then have his first race back the week after.” Grimson said.

Frankie Ferocious, who recently won a Menangle trial in a 1min49.5sec mile, hasn’t raced since a slashing fourth in the Miracle Mile on March 9.

He is pre-post favourite for the $350,000 Group 1 Rising Sun at Albion Park on July 13.

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Talented former Kiwi pacer Bach has given his young trainer Kyle Marshall some thinking to do.

The five-year-old posted his fifth win from just seven Aussie runs when he used the sprint lane to impressively win the Blacks A Fake free-for-all at Melton last night.

Marshall has been toying with the prospect of joining the army of Victorians headed for the Queensland riches at Albion Park next month.

It would certainly be another step-up, but races like the Sunshine Sprint and Blacks A Fake would be the targets.

Chris Alford drove a superb race, making favourite Yambukian work to get the front from him and then gunning him down late along the sprint lane in a brilliant 1min51.7sec mile rate for 1720m.

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A brilliant Gary Hall Jr drive continued the renaissance of Kiwi-bred pacer Wildwest at Gloucester Park last Friday night.

Buried near the real and looking almost hopeless, Hall Jr weaved through gaps and stormed home to snatch a half-neck win over Steal The Show in the free-for-all.

Wildwest won the WA Pacing Cup in February, 2022 and this was just his third win since, but his second in succession.

Wildwest’s trainer Gary Hall Sr also won the major race on the card with Alta Christiano mare Acharne Girl, driven by former Kiwi horseman Stewie McDonald.

The other stars of the night were the Team Bond/Deni Roberts combination with three wins, including classy Kiwi-breds Jett Star and Lusaka.

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