Aussie News - Sept 27
by Adam Hamilton
What some thought was American Dealer’s Victoria Derby to lose, has suddenly become a very open and fantastic series.
While the Queensland Derby winner lost no admirers with a first-up third in the Reg Withers Classic at Kilmore last Friday, it was more about what two other three year-olds did on the night.
Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s classy pair Act Now and Major Moth were both outstanding winners.
Act Now, confidently and superbly driven by Jodi Quinlan, completely dominated the Reg Withers with a 9.9m win, while American Dealer was sound in third spot.
But Quinlan won the race with an early move around the field to take the lead and then scorched closing splits of 54.6 and 26.9sec. His mile rate was 1min56.8sec.
Stewart and Tonkin have always rated the colt highly and that was a real statement win.
Earlier in the night, the even better credentialled Major Moth showed he would be a major Derby player with his powerhouse win.
The son of Art Major, who won the Australian Gold final and finished third in the Vicbred final last season, did a power of work and still outstayed his older rivals.
His 1min56sec mile rate, just second-up from a long spell, was 0.8sec quicker than Act Now equalled the five-year-old track record for 2180m.
Trainer Nathan Purdon certainly was disappointed with American Dealer.
“They ran home in super time and he can’t go much quicker than that,” he said. “I didn’t have him screwed right down because he’s got the three runs in as many weeks and the Derby final is his Grand Final (October 9),” he said.
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It will be quite a shock if Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin don’t dominate the Victoria Oaks series, starting next Saturday at Bendigo.
Not only do they have big guns Ladies In Red and Tough Tilly, but they also have huge regard for Joanna and Beach Music.
Joanna, who has always looked a length or two below her glamour stablemates, looked terrific beating older mares, including Group 1-winning stablemate Techys Angel, at Kilmore last Friday.
Driver David Moran was content to dictate terms from the breeze in a slowly run race, then Joanna zipped home in 55.7 and 27.7sec to hold-off Techys Angel and win by 1.2m in a 1min58.9sec mile rate for 2180m.
Beach Music, who won a NSW Oaks heat and ran third in the final, has won both runs back from a spell, including a low-key Cobram race last Thursday.
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It won’t be long until we see former top-flight speedster Hurricane Harley back at the races.
The former Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin-trained youngster, who beat Lochinvar Art twice last year, is close to resuming for new trainer Justin Prentice in WA.
Prentice has deliberately taken his time with the five-year-old, but took him to the Pinjarra trials last Wednesday night.
With Gary Hall Sr aboard, Hurricane Harley led and won by 26m in a 1min55sec mile rate for 2185m, ripping home in 55.2 and 27.2sec.
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Trainer Jason Grimson’s growing reputation for taking horses to another level has no greater advertisement than former Victorian pacer Majestic Cruiser.
In just five starts for Grimson, the Art Major six-year-old has won five and emerged as one of NSW’s best open-class pacers.
There was so much to like about his latest win, in a scorching 1min53.7sec mile rate for 2300m, at Menangle.
Young gun Cam Hart slotted Majestic Cruiser into a one-out, two-back trail, but had the brilliant former Kiwi pacer Spirit Of St Louis directly in front of him.
Despite having to come around Spirit Of St Louis, Majestic Cruiser was too good and fast again in closing splits of 55.6 and 27.1sec to win by two metres from Spirit Of St Louis, who was first-up from a break, with the classy Ignatius a solid third after coming from last.
It was the second leg of yet another Menangle double for Hart, who also won the opener on Jarrod Alchin’s My Ultimate Star.
Although Spirit Of St Louis couldn’t quite do it, Team McCarthy showed it was back in force with a treble: Muscle Factory, The Croupier and Fairy Tinkerbell.
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Bling It On’s brother Bletchley Park looks another key player for WA’s major races.
Always blessed with fantastic speed, Bletchley Park returned with the easiest of wins at Gloucester Park last Friday night.
Interestingly, Gary Hall Jr took the reins for trainer Stephen Reed.
Bletchley Park, first-up since March 20, has won 17 of his 51 starts.
On the same card, former top class Kiwi mare Wainui Creek scored one of her best wins since coming to WA.
The Team Bond-trained five-year-old did all the work outside the leader, but still dug deep to fend-off Star Of Diamonds in a thrilling finish to win by a half-head in a 1min57.7sec mile rate for 2130m.
“She’s come back the best we’ve had her, that was a really big effort tonight,” co-trainer Greg Bond said.
The feature of the night, the $30,000 Group 3 The Warwick, provided a massive upset when $101 former Kiwi pacer Rockaball stormed home to win for hobby trainer Caris Hamilton-Smith and driver Michael Ferguson.
Trainer Jarrod Alchin and driver Cam Hart proved a lethal combo in the NSW Breeders Challenge heats at Penrith last Thursday.
Bettor Delight colt My Ultimate Ronnie made it three wins and a second from just five starts when he scorched a 1min54.6sec mile rate for 1720m around the old-school Penrith circuit to win by 12.8m.
The lost its big gun when the exciting Smaltese galloped at the start and ruined his chances.
Then it was exciting filly Madrid, a daughter of Bling It On, who posted her third win from just four starts in terrific style.
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Top Queensland trainer Grant Dixon has another lovely young pacer.
Bettors Delight colt Leap To Fame made it six wins (and two seconds) from just eight starts when he easily won the feature, the Ultimate Tools 2YO Pace, at Albion Park.
Leap To Fame is out of Lettucereason, a winner of 17 races, and is only her third foal to race. The most successful is Maximus Red, a winner of 23 races and $218,502.