Aussie News - November 6

By Adam Hamilton 

Star or enigma?

That’s the dilemma facing punters trying to assess Expensive Ego going into the Victorian Inter Dominion series.

He “won” last year’s Menangle Inter Dominion final only to be stripped of it in the stewards’ room.

But Expensive Ego has largely been a shadow of that horse since.

Luke McCarthy thought he had him primed for last month’s Victoria Cup, but he never looked happy despite finding the lead and ran miles below his best.

He returned from another freshen-up and looked sharp winning the Group 3 Nick Robin free-for-all (2300m) at Menangle last night.

For a pacer better known for his strength than speed, Expensive Ego ripped home in 53.1 and 26.5sec to easily beat Perfect Stride and Bundoran.

But the win proved little, especially against moderate opposition.

It’s not a strong Inter Dominion and his best would make him the horse to beat, but he remains the biggest query of the series, which starts at Ballarat on November 26.

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The growing force that is Justin Prentice and Gary Hall Jr snared another major at Gloucester Park last night.

They teamed with the exciting Always B Miki gelding Tricky Miki for a dominant win in the $200,000 Group 1 WA Derby.

As usual, a brilliantly tactical Hall Jr drive proved the difference.

He kept Tricky Miki out of the early speed duel then moved around to sit parked outside leader and former Kiwi pacer Hoppys Jet and allowed the pace to steady.

Tricky Miki dug deep when needed to nab the leader for a 1.4m win with star filly Taking The Miki in third spot.

It was back-to-back WA Derby wins for Prentice who trained and drove Mighty Ronaldo to win last year.

Earlier in the night, a second successive defeat for Magnificent Storm added more intrigue to the upcoming major open-class races in Perth.

The star overraced badly outside the leader and just wasn’t himself when a well-held fourth the talented and returning Patronus Star for Team Bond.

It was a good race for Team Bond with another of their first-up stars, Mighty Conqueror, running a good third.

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The big guns delivered on a night of Breeders Crown qualifiers at Bendigo last Friday night.

It featured heats of the 3YO pacing series’ and Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin stole the show with success in a staggering five of the seven heats.

The star performers were brilliant three-year-old Captain Ravishing and Victoria Oaks winner Encipher, who both won easily.

It was Captain Ravishing’s first run since a fifth in the Victoria Derby and he looked very sharp after working to the front and dashing home in 26sec flat to win by far the strongest colts and geldings heat by 7.6m over Ripp with another 17m away to Kiwi raider Major Perry in third spot.

The other colts and geldings heats were won by Stewart and Tonkin’s Khafaji and Team Douglas’ Interest Free.

With Kate Gath away to run the New York Marathon for fundraising arm EB Research, Mark Pitt took the reins on Encipher, who found the front and beat three stablemates Beach Life, Coco Mia and Jo And Jo easily.

Stewart and Tonkin won other fillies’ heats with the improving Petillante and Soho Historia.

Much interest centred on Kiwi filly Amore Vita at her first start for Stewart and Tonkin in the fourth fillies’ heat.

She sat behind the leader and main danger Steno, who dawdled, and ripped home in 26.2sec to win by 1.7m.

Amore Vita couldn’t “ping” when Steno did on the final bend, but stuck to the task well and kept closing late.

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Queensland's “King” of speed strutted his stuff again last night.

The 1660m track record holder Blacksadance overcame an early speed burn to find the front and win the first feature of Queensland’s Summer Carnival, the Group 3 Be Good Johnny (1660m).

Mach Da Vinci gave Blacksadance an early scare when he blasted across him to lead, but trainer-driver Shane Graham was quick to surrender when Trent Dawson came off his back and re-took.

The Chantal Turpin-trained Blacksadance then steadied through a 30.8sec second quarter before zipping home in 54.8 and 27.3sec to win by 1.9m over former Kiwi pacer Tommy Lincoln with Mach Da Vinci third in a cosy 1min52.9sec mile rate.

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It was yet another “fill-up” for the juggernaut that is Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin at Melton last night.

Despite all their star mares, headed by Ladies In Red being at home, they still won the feature, the Graham Goffin Memorial for mares’, with the emerging Polly Put Kettleon.

The daughter of Courage Under Fire worked to the front and blazed a race record 1min52.2sec mile rate for 1720m to win as she liked.

Then came exciting Bettors Delight four-year-old Hector, who made it three wins from as many starts for the stable since being sent down from Queensland.

Hector worked to the front and toyed with his rivals in the Group 3 Rising Stars Final in a 1min56.6sec mile rate for 2240m.

Former top juvenile Idyllic, returning from some serious injuries, looked sharp storming home from last to win race eight for the stable.

And earlier in the night, Bettors Delight mare Cloud Nine made it two wins from just three starts in the stable when she posted a blistering 1min53.7sec mile rate for 2240m and won by a staggering 24.7m.

 

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