Aussie News : November 15

by Adam Hamilton 

There is no more improved pacer in Australia than former Kiwi four-year-old Mach Da Vinci.

And don’t be surprised if he gives plenty of cheek in the upcoming NSW Inter Dominion series.

Mach Da Vinci, formerly raced by Paul Court in NZ, was sold to Scott McDonald as a three-year-old and joined NSW trainer Peter Hanson’s stable.

“We’ve always really liked him, but even when Luke McCarthy drove him a year or so back in NSW he told me to be patient because we’d have a lovely horse when he matured. He was right,” Hanson said.

Hanson trained at Bankstown and when it was deemed a red zone and racing opportunities were severely limited, he sent Mach Da Vinci to Queensland for an extended campaign out of Shane Graham and Vicki Rasmussen’s property.

“He wouldn’t have been there if it wasn’t for Covid and it’s a real blessing. He’s really come of age,” Hanson said.

Mach Da Vinci made it five wins on end and snared his biggest victory so far when he found the lead early in the $51,000 Group 2 Queensland Cup (2138m) at Albion Park last night.

“I was so confident going into it. He’s been flying, doing things horses shouldn’t be able to do at Albion Park,” Hanson said.

“He’s straight back home now this week to get ready for the Inter Dominion.”

Mach Da Vinci posted a 1min54.4sec mile rate last night, finishing-off in 55 flat and 26.9sec to beat injury-plagued former Kiwi pacer Turn It Up by two metres with another 10.2m away to third-placed NSW raider Majestic Cruiser.

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Leviathan owner Merv Butterworth added to his huge week by winning the feature race at Gloucester Park last Friday night,

It took two of the icons of WA harness to combine to win the $50,000 Group 2 Norms Daughter Classic (2130m) with classy mare Born To Boogie.

A brilliant Lewis drive on Born To Boogie from behind the leader and main danger, Wainui Creek, saw the six-year-old mare snatch a 1.3m win in a 1min56.9sec mile rate and closing splits of 56.7 and 28sec.

The first-up effort of injury-plagued star Balcatherine to sit parked and finish a close second waxs enormous, while Wainui Creek was just nabbed late and ran third.

The move from NZ to WA for Born To Boogie has been a huge success with her nine runs netting seven wins and two seconds.

Earlier, Lewis drove the emerging former Kiwi four-year-old Hampton Banner to win the free-for-all.

Hampton Banner used gate two to lead and just held-off the eye-catching Wildwest to win by a neck in a 1min55.6sec mile rate for 2130m.

Since Debbie Lewis took over training Hampton Banner from NZ, the gelding has kept improving and won his past six races on end.

On the same card, Gary Hall Sr snared the quinella in a strong three-year-old race with Finvarra finding the lead and beating Jumpingjackmac by 2.7m with 23.3m away to the third placegetter, Star of Willoughby.

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Champion driver Anthony Butt heaped praise on former Kiwi father-and-son Richard and Emmett Brosnan after winning aboard veteran trotter Maori Law at Melton.

The injury-plagued Maori Law snatched a last-stride win over McLovin in the Group 3 Lenin Trotters’ free-for-all in a brisk 1min58.4sec mile rate for 2240m.

“That’s a great effort by Richard and Emmett because he’s had lots of issues this horse, even recently, and they’ve got him back looking great and winning,” Butt said.

“Richard was a legend was I was a kid back in NZ and it’s great to see he and Emmett doing well together over here.”

Maori Law returned from a minor setback and break to come out of the one-one and nab McLovin in the last stride and post his 18th win from just 54 starts.

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Kerryn Manning has long been a punters' favourite, but she smacked them out of the ballpark in the last two races at Melton.

First it was Sounds Perfect's upset win as a $31 shot in the second semi-final of the Breeders Crown 2YO fillies' series for trainers Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin.

And it was some sort of win, storming home from a mile back to run down so smart fillies and put her hand-up as a serious player in the final.

Then came an even bigger upset when she sat behind the leader on $126 roughie Belladonna Girl and ran-down hot favourite Techys Angel, who led, in a blistering 1min51.9sec mile rate for 1720m.

"She's one-paced so really enjoyed it when Cam (Hart, driving Techys Angel) just kept running along," Manning said. "I'm thrilled to get this one for Greg Norman and the team, who my family has had a great association with for a long, long time."

Champion Kiwi mare Amazing Dream was monstrous in third spot, chasing the entire from a wide back row draw in near-record times and only being 2.1m away in third spot.

Amazing Dream will back-up in the $60,000 Group 2 Breeders Crown Open free-for-all at Melton next weekend.

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It was great to see one-time budding star Ignatius return to winning form at Menangle and with the Inter Dominion just around the corner.

Jimmy Rattray’s six-year-old snatch a nose win from the leader and classy Zeuss Bromac in a very slick 1min53.8sec mile rate for 2300m..

Another much-touted pacer, Balraj, grabbed the eye in third spot at his first run back from a spell and with new trainer-driver Jack Trainor.

In the major free-for-all of the night, Kiwi-bred Jay OK caused an upset for Team Fitzpatrick with a barnstorming win.

The disappointment was odds-on favourite Boncel Benjamin, who led and set his own terms, but tired late for third. Pocket Of Terror ran a great race for second, continuing his superb record at 2300m at Menangle.

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It wouldn’t have been a big Albion Park meeting without Grant Dixon asserting his influence, but this was breathtaking stuff.

Dixon won five of the features on night two of the Albion Park Summer Carnival.

He won the first of the features and one meant a lot, being named after his late father Bill Dixon, with exciting former Kiwi five-year-old mare Majorca.

He followed up straight away by winning the AQWA Constructions Band 5 final with his seriously talented four-year Governor Jujon.

He’s raced four times on the comeback trail for two wins and two seconds and boasts a superb 19 wins from just 28 lifetime starts.

Then Dixon’s exciting two-year-old colt Leap To Fame took his record to seven wins (and two seconds) from just 10 starts when he led throughout from the pole in the Burwood Stud 2YO Feature in a 1min55.2sec mile rate for 1660m.

In one of the “majors” of the night, Dixon’s classy six-year-old mare Fame Assured won the Group 2 Forever Gold Mares’.

And, to round-out the night, Dixon’s wife Trista drove their own three-year-old filly Lady Avana to win the Group 3 Changeover 3YO Fillies’ Classic.

Another highlight came when popular father-and-son Daren and Angus Garrard combined to win the Group 2 AQWA Constructions Trotters’ Sprint with former Kiwi gelding Sir Fahrenheit.

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