Aussie News - May 8

By Adam Hamilton 

Champion mare Ladies In Red was beaten, but trainers Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin still dominated Menangle’s huge Group 1 meeting last night.

Ladies In Red suffered just the fourth defeat of her 22-start career when beaten a neck by stablemate Tough Tilly in the $210,000 Group 1 Australian Gold 4YO Mares’ final (1609m). It was a Stewart/Tonkin trifecta with Joanna third.

Stewart and Tonkin also won the males’ version, the $210,000 4YO entires and geldings final, with the brilliant Beyond Delight.

But back to the mares’ final where Tough Tilly beat Ladies In Red for the second time at Group 1 level. The other was 17 months ago in the 2YO Vicbred final at Melton.

Tough Tilly has had some challenges and issues since, but Stewart and Tonkin deserve huge credit for nursing her back to peak form and fitness.

The upset win didn’t surprise her elated driver Kate Gath,

“No, I wasn’t surprised. I really thought we could (beat Ladies In Red). Tilly’s last trial was terrific and she went great without much going right in the heat,” she said.

“To another big race like this for EB Research, Tilly (Wilkes) and the whole team is as good as it gets.”

Tough Tilly sat outside the leader (Joanna), but through a slow first half of 58.3sec, while Ladies In Red was worse than midfield in the running line.

Ladies In Red loomed large on the final bend, but Tough Tilly ran past Joanna and clocked a 26sec flat last quarter to hold on bravely and win by a neck in a 1min53sec mile.

Tough Tilly’s now won 11 of her 22 starts (with another eight placings) and earned $467,633.

Gath revealed after the race she had accepted an offer from the EB Research team to run in the New York Marathon in November as their ambassador.

Beyond Delight’s win was more emphatic and looked inevitable coming to the home bend.

He’s a pacer Stewart and Tonkin have always loved and clearly he’s now the complete package.

Greg Sugars slotted him one-one behind stablemate Act Now (death seat) and favourite Ideal Dan (leader), but the race was over as soon as he said go rounding the final bend,

Beyond Delight blazed a 1min51.6sec mile to win by 3.2m from Victorian outsider Drain The Swamp with WA raider Mighty Ronaldo a sound third.

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Former Kiwi horseman Brent Lilley added to the Victorian dominance at the huge Menangle meeting by winning the Group 1 La Coocaracha Trot with exciting mare Queen Elida.

Still owned in NZ, Queen Elida enjoyed a fantastic three-year-old season for Lilley and has clearly come back and gone to another level.

Her first-up run in free-for-all class at Melton was fantastic and she stormed home from a long way off the speed to win last night’s $50,000 feature.

Aldebaran Crescent looked like making a real race of it before galloping late, leaving Araignee Flair and Illawong Stardust to fill the minor placings.

Former US mare Aldebaran Revani was favourite, but tired badly after leading to finishing 25m from the winner in eighth spot.

Queen Elida’s win was her 12th from just 22 starts with another six placings and she closing in on $200,000 in earnings.

The other Menangle feature, the Group 1 NSW Trotters’ Oaks, went to trainer-driver Rickie Alchin with his talented filly Tough Love, who is by Love You out of former Kiwi mare Tough Tussle.

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The rise of budding superstar Catch A Wave should continue in next Saturday night’s Group 1 Australian Gold Bullion 3YO final at Melton.

There is something stunningly exciting about the powerhouse gelding, who made it eight wins from just nine starts when he thrashed his rivals in a heat of the series at Bendigo last Thursday night.

In a scorching contest, Catch A Wave worked hard from a wide draw early in a 26.6sec opening quarter and blistering 54.7sec first half before opening-up a huge lead around the final bend and cruising to the line to win by 13.9m.

He paced a brilliant 1min52.3sec for the 1660m.

It moved driver Kate Gath to say: “He might have switched-off a bit late, but I’ve never had a horse run a 54 half so easily as he did.”

In contrast, the other heat of the series was won easily by the emerging Lochinvar Jag, but his time was a much slower 1min54.1sec.

Catch A Wave’s fantastic return has fuelled much talk over which of Australia’s young stars is better, he or Grant Dixon’s stunning NSW Derby winner Leap To Fame?

Both are extraordinary talents.

It looks like we’ll have to wait until later in the year, probably Victoria Derby time in October, before the pair clash for the first time.

Leap To Fame is back in work preparing for the Queensland Derby, possibly the Rising Sun before that, and then Dixon said he would target interstate features, including the Victoria Derby and Breeders Crown in Victoria.

Gath is unlikely to take to Catch A Wave outside Victoria with so many big-money features in his own backyard, like the Victoria Derby, Breeder Crown and Vicbred series at the end of the year.

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Former Kiwi mare Savvy Bromac confirmed her ranking as WA’s best mare with another feature win last Friday night.

The five-year-old daughter of Mach Three led throughout from the pole in the $50,000 Group 2 Breeders Stakes (2130m) for trainer Nathan Turvey and young gun driver Emily Suvaljko.

The gifted Suvaljko used the pole to hold the hold the front then dictated terms through a cosy 60.9sec middle half and then ripping home in 56.4 and 28.2sec to win by 7.4m over another talented pair of former Kiwi mares in Booraa and Born To Boogie.

It was Savvy Bromac’s 14th win (with another 15 placings) from just 40 starts and she’s now banked $288,415.

There was an upset in the free-for-all on the night when Cody Wallrodt’s gelding Babyface Adda came from behind the leader and favourite Vultan Tin to snatch a head win.

The win of the night came from Team Bond’s latest emerging star Ideal Agent.

The former Kiwi son of American Ideal continued his surge towards feature open-class racing when he sat parked and proved too strong in a small but select field in race six.

Despite doing all the work and looking in trouble on the final bend, Ideal Agent dug deep for driver Ryan Warwick and nabbed leader and favourite Typhoon Banner in the last few strides to win by a neck in a slick 1min56.4sec mile rate for 2130m.

Another noteworthy runner was one-time Kiwi buzz pacer Ragazzo Mach, who returned from a spell with an encouraging second to the in-form Beat City.

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