Aussie News : October 4

by Adam Hamilton 

King Of Swing has next week’s Victoria Cup at his mercy.

The dual Miracle Mile winner resumed from a couple of months out to win as he liked in a 1min50.4sec mile free-for-all at Menangle.

“He’s right where we want him … that trial a couple of weeks ago, then a good hitout at the races,” co-trainer Luke McCarthy said.

King Of Swing heads to Victoria on Friday and David Moran takes the reins with McCarthy stranded in NSW because of COVID border restrictions.

The barrier draw is on Monday night and if King Of Swing draws the front row, it’s hard to see why he won’t just find his way to the front and win.

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The boy has become a man.

All the raw ingredients which have excited us about Majestuoso seem to have come together to make a lethal force heading into Australia’s biggest trotting races.

Kate Gath can now use his sparkling speed more than once and drive him to “own” the race, as she’s done at his past two wins.

When the leaders went hard in last night’s Group 3 Chris Howe Trotters’ Cup, the race was effectively over despite Majestuoso settling down about 50m from the leader.

Gath took around to the death seat with a lap to go and he sailed away to win by 8.4m in a 1min57.3sec mile rate for 2150m.

Majetuoso has won four of six this campaign looks set for a huge next six months, starting with the $50,000 Group 1 Bill Collins Trotters’ Sprint at Bendigo next Saturday night.

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It might surprise a few Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin have only won the Victoria Derby once.

But they are in the box seat to add to Out Little General’s upset win in 2017 after the heat wins of Major Moth and Act Now at Bendigo last night.

Another horse trained in their barn by Allan McDonough, Blitzern, scored an upset win over former Kiwi star American Dealer and Bondi Lockdown in the other heat.

American Dealer certainly did enough after having to make a few runs in the race to remain in contention for the final, pending where he lands in Monday night’s barrier draws.

But Major Moth and Act Now look the big two.

Going into the heats, Tonkin said Major Moth was their top seed and probably hasn’t changed after he turned his heat into a 800m dash home after finding the lead in the early stages. After a 63.5sec middle half, the son of Art Major ripped home in 54.5 and 26.6sec to win by 6.7m in a 2min0.1sec mile rate for 2650m.

Act Now, superbly and aggressively driven by Jodi Quinlan to whiz around from a back row draw and take the lead after 600m, went a much quicker 1min57.5sec mile rate and ran home in 55.5 and 27.6sec to win by 11.4m.

Cran Dalgety’s raider Sugar Me came from outside the back row, did some work to get parked, but still ran below his best Canterbury form and wilted late to finish 23m away in eighth spot.

American Dealer and Bondi Lockdown played cat-and-mouse at different stages and ultimately set it up for Blitzern, who had a cosy run behind the leader, to run them both down in a 1min57.2sec mile rate.

The Blitzern story was a ripper with McDonough teaming with his son, Bailey (the driver), who recently moved across from Perth.

“We’ve kept in touch, but I basically haven’t seen him since he was a little kid and he rang six months ago saying he’d love to come across to Victoria … it’s very emotional. I can’t thank Emma and Clayton enough for everything they’ve done for me and now Bailey,” Allan McDonough said.

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Star filly Tough Tilly ran a rare “shocker” and failed to qualify for the Victoria Oaks final.

But her trainers Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin will still dominate the race with Ladies In Red and Beach Music both impressively winning their heats.

Beach Music continued her improvement to find the lead early and win the first heat in cruise-mode in a 1min58.1sec mile rate for 2650m.

Then it was Ladies In Red’s turn and it was little more than trackwork after getting the lead early she basically just sprinted home the last 300m with stablemate Joanna sticking to the superbly outside her to finish a ripping second.

The barrier draws for the Oaks and Derby are held on Monday night.

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Tough Monarch’s latest feature win was tinged with frustration for trainer-driver Rickie Alchin.

As thrilled as he was, Alchin is awaiting a review from Harness Racing Victoria as to whether Tough Monarch can contest next Saturday night’s Group 1 Bill Collins Trotters’ Sprint at Bendigo.

In a nutshell, Tough Monarch wasn’t among nominations when they closed on Friday.

But Alchin believed nominations closed Monday morning.

“The programme guide says nominations for the meeting close Monday, but within the conditions of the four Group 1 races it says they closed Friday. HRV did sent out texts early last week with reminders, but I’m not the only one who didn’t see it … I didn’t even open the message until today (Saturday).

“I’ve stated my case to HRV and they are reviewing it, not just with me but another horse as well, and they’ve told me I know early Monday.”

Tough Monarch did a mighty job to come off 30m and win the gruelling 3009m Group 2 Trotters’ Cup at Menangle last night.

Deservedly, it took his career earnings past $500,000.

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It is the perfect time for veteran Bulletproof Boy to strike career-best form.

Scott Ewen’s rising seven-year-old scored the biggest win of his career at his 105th start in the $50,000 Group 2 Smoken Up Sprint (1650m) at Bendigo last night.

It almost certainly assured him of a spot in next week’s Victoria Cup.

It was far from the strongest Smoken Up Sprint we’ve seen and the sort of race where luck in running was crucial.

Ewen used gate one to keep the spot behind the leader, Torrid Saint, and ripped home along the sprint lane to win in 1min52.2sec mile rate to win by a neck from Torrid Saint with Tango Tara storming out wide from a mile back to be a close third.

The race was robbed of some class when connections of Wolf Stride and General Dodge opted to go straight to the Victoria Cup and early favourite Max Delight was a late scratching.

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A Gary Hall Jr special helped star three-year-old Jumpingjackmac return with a win at Gloucester Park last Friday night.

The former Kiwi son of Mach Three, who was first-up for five months, drifted back from a wide draw before Hall Jr summed-up the race perfectly and made a move to sit outside the leader, Stamford, with favourite Otis behind the leader.

In driving finish, Jumpingjackmac dug deep to win by a half-head over Otis with Stamford – Magnificent Storm’s younger brother – only another head away in third spot.

“He had it all against him tonight and still won. He’s a lovely horse and will just keep improving,” Hall Jr said.

Jumpingjackmac boasts eight wins and two seconds from just 11 starts with one of those seconds was in the WA Derby.

On the same card, former Victorian Perfect Major continued his terrific form for trainer Ross Olivieri with a barnstorming win in the $50,000 Group 2 J P Stratton Cup (2130m).

The race was billed as a match between classy front-runner Vampiro and former top-flight Victorian pacer Hurricane Harley, who was having his first run for trainer Justin Prentice.

Vampiro led and looked home on the final turn before Perfect Major unleashed a stunning finishing burst from last for driver Chris Lewis to win by a head.

Hurricane Harley, who beat Lochinvar Art twice last season, drew the outside, did the work outside the leader and tired late for fifth.

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Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin had a mixed bag across the five heats of the Vicbred Home Grown series at Ballarat last Friday night.

They won the first two heats for fillies with Fiamma and Rich Beauty, but also had major players beaten in the same races after making mistakes in Star Celebrity and Larvotto Beach.

Fiammi, very highly regarded by the barn, led throughout in a slick 1min54.2sec mile rate for 1710m.

Rich Beauty came from off the pace to win as she liked in a 1min57.3sec mile rate.

The first colts and geldings heat was won by buzz gelding Hes Charlie Angel, who oozes potential for owner-trainer Charlie Gusman and driver David Miles.

Flash Jimmy upset Stewart and Tonkin’s Anotherbigman to win the second colts and geldings heat in 1min54.4sec, while Commander Buzz led throughout to win the third heat in 1min55.8sec.

Both of the $50,000 Group 1 finals are part of the Victoria Cup card at Bendigo on Saturday night.

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What about how fast our two-year-olds go these days?

NSW trainer Brian Portelli had to take his raw but gifted juvenile Smaltese to a Menangle trial last night to be eligible for a Breeders Challenge heat at the same track on Tuesday.

He put on quite a show.

Smaltese won the trial by 92 metres, but paced a staggering 1min50.2sec mile. It was just 0.1sec outside Bar Room Banta’s national race record for a two-year-old.

For context, King Of Swing went 1min50.4sec winning the free-for-all at Menangle.

Smaltese clashes with exciting Queensland youngster Leap Of Fame in their Breeders Challenge heat (race six) at Menangle on Tuesday.

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