Aussie News : May 16

by Adam Hamilton

Australia's buzz pacer Catch A Wave is going for a break before preparing for the biggest test of his career so far.

There will be no Queensland winter raid as trainer Andy Gath plots his path towards a showdown with Queensland-trained NSW Derby hero Leap To Fame in October’s Victoria Derby.

“He’s going for a break now,” Gath said. “We just felt it wasn’t the right time to travel with him given the big races we’ve got at home later in the year.

“We’ll certainly travel with him, but probably not until the Chariots Of Fire early next year.”

Catch A Wave continued his dominance, posting his ninth win from just 10 starts in the Group 1 APG Gold Bullion final at Melton.

It was one of six Group 1 races on the stellar Melton card, where NSW Oaks winner Just Hope added to her blossoming CV by winning the APG 3YO Fillies’ final.

Like Catch A Wave, she will bypass Queensland, but driver Nathan Jack said a surprise WA raid was possible later this year.

“The WA Oaks is on about the same time as the Victoria Oaks and it could be a way of missing the stars fillies Clayton Tonkin and Emma Stewart have. We’ll think about it,” he said.

Jack also teamed with friend and trainer Wayne Potter to win the Group 1 Vicbred Homebred 2YO trotting final with the regally-bred The Locomotive.

The colt by Muscle Mass is the latest exciting progeny of former champion trotting mare La Coocaracha, which includes Dance Craze.

The fillies’ equivalent went to father-and-daughter Peter and Kerryn Manning with Father Patrick filly Valerie Lane, who scored by a neck to make it three wins from as many starts.

Former Tasmanian driver Jack Laugher snared his first Group 1 win when he teamed with trainer Vince Dicocco and promising Huntsville colt Mister Hunter to win the $150,000 APG Gold Bullion final for two-year-old colts and geldings.

In the fillies’ final, Max Delight’s younger sister Major Delight won brilliantly for Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin to make it two wins from as many starts and stamp herself as major player for the juvenile features.

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Former Kiwi trotter Harry Stamper has been an inspired purchase for Victorian trainer Joe Pace and his owners.

The Majestic Son gelding raced seven times in NZ for two wins and a third, but has looked terrific winning both Aussie runs, including the $50,000 Group 1 NSW Trotters’ Derby at Menangle.

Harry Stamper ran down exciting local Tough Love in a slick 56.7sec last half at 1min58.8sec mile rate for 2300m.

Pace and his owners have enjoyed plenty of recent success with their NZ buys and Harry Stamper could be up with the best of them.

Also at Menangle, former Kiwi mare The Honey Queen continued her terrific form since joining Team McCarthy with another impressive win. She’s won four of her six Aussie runs.

Team McCarthy also snared the most impressive win of the night with Ilikemebettor, who shown glimpse, but often mixed form. The Bettors Delight five-year-old won by a staggering 26m in a 1min49.8sec mile.

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Last year’s Australian 2YO Filly of the Year, Encipher, opened her season in the most stunning fashion at Globe Derby.

Owned and bred in South Australia by Tyson Linke, the Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin-trained filly returned “home” to win the South Australian Oaks by a staggering 54.2 metres.

In doing so, her unbelievable 1min52.4sec for 1800m smashed the track record. It took 1.5sec off the previous mark.

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While popular trainer Ryan Bell works towards a comeback for his stable star Shockwave, he looks to have found the heir apparent.

Three-year-old Swingband, who is also owned by Kevin Jeavons of Washakie fame, looks a bit special.

The gelding showed plenty of promise as a juvenile but has clearly matured and come back a beast this season.

Swingband led and toyed with his rivals to win the $50,000 3YO Pearl Classic by whopping 17.4m at Gloucester Park last Friday night.

Driven by Michael Grantham, the versatile former jockey and now emerging thoroughbred trainer, Swingband made his rivals look second-rate with closing splits of 57.2 and 28.4sec.

It was his ninth win from just 15 starts and he’s now banked $165,002.

In the other feature, the free-for-all, hot favourite Texas Tiger beat himself by galloping and losing 30m at the start.

Somehow the exciting former Kiwi pacer still caught the field and hit the front on the home turn, but the effort told and he tired to finish fifth, but just 2.3m away from winner While They Pray.

The other shock of the race came when Team Bond’s emerging star Dont Bother Me None found the front but was spent before the home turn and dropped-out to finish a distant last. A post-race vet check failed to reveal any issues.

But the feelgood story was the win of While They Pray, who looked headed for big things before a nasty setback sidelined him for more than 18 months in August, 2020.

Trainer Michael George has nursed the gelding back to peak form and fitness and he dug deep to win at just his third run on the comeback trail.

The wins of Swingband and While They Pray underline what a blow it was losing former top Kiwi pacer Alta Christiano from breeding ranks so prematurely. He sired both of them and his limited stock have made a real splash on the track.

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Champion trainers Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin have confirmed a rare trip to Queensland for the Constellations Winter Carnival.

Stewart said mighty mare Ladies In Red and emerging star Beyond Delight, last-start Group 1 APG 4YO winner, would head north to chase some riches.

Stewart spoke after the connections of Ladies In Red accepted the second invite to the Group 1 Rising Sun at Albion Park on July 9. Chariots Of Fire winner Better Eclipse is the other invitee.

“Anne and Bill (Anderson, owners) jumped at the idea, so we’re going to Queensland with her (Ladies In Red),” Stewart said.

“We haven’t been to Queensland much because it’s not easy getting there, but Ladies In Red will be flown up and back.”

Ladies In Red has history on her side as a four-year-old mare going into the Rising Sun. Amazing Dream was a four-year-old mare when she won the inaugural running last year.

Ladies In Red also has the option to stay Queensland beyond the Rising Sun for the Group 1 Golden Girl and Group 1 Blacks A Fake.

Beyond Delight will also chase a Rising Sun berth, while other races like the Sunshine Sprint and Blacks A Fake look logical targets.

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