Aussie News : September 14

We have a serious new player in the big league.

Former Kiwi pacer Balraj has shown freakish glimpses at times, but he firmly arrived in the big league by beating Hunter Cup and Miracle Mile winner King Of Swing on his merits at Menangle on Saturday night.

For the second time in his past three runs, Balraj has defied belief to run a low 25sec closing quarter to gun down firstly Alta Orlando and now King Of Swing from their back.

Balraj did his share of work early from the second outside draw to lead, then took a sit on King Of Swing as they ran through a 58.7sec first half.

Luke McCarthy went through the third split in 27sec flat on King Of Swing, while Jimmy Rattray stalked him on Balraj, while last year’s Victoria Cup winner Bling It On was third on the pegs.

King Of Swing looked to be cruising around the final bend, while Balraj paced a bit roughly and seemed to hit a flat patch, but when he balanced-up again he launched at the leader and nabbed him to win by a half-neck.

King Of Swing ran his own last quarter in 25.6sec, while Balraj was clocked to go his in 25.3sec.

His Victoria Cup odds were slashed from $7 to $5.50 on the Aussie TAB and he’s now equal second favourite with Lochinvar Art. Ride High is the $2.10 favourite.

Bling It On was 13m away in third spot, but given his age and being first-up in such a scorching last time and last quarter, it was a really encouraging return.

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There is just some special about Gloucester Park’s best racing.

After some stunning winter contests between Chicago Bull and Handsandwheels, Gloucester Park delivered another epic free-for-all last Friday night.

Chicago Bull was part of it again, but this time he didn’t win.

It was the enormously-talented four-year-old Shockwave who returned from a long spell with the most remarkable of wins.

Clearly a bit fresh first-up, Shockwave was bustled off the gate to lead effectively “took charge” of driver Aiden De Campo in the middle stages.

“It wasn’t ideal at all, he started kicking the (sulky) wheels and there wasn’t much Aiden could do,” trainer Ryan Bell said.

Think about this … he ran the two middle quarters in 28.7 and 26.6. That’s a 55.3sec middle half in a testing 2536m race. And first-up.

Shockwave opened-up at least a 30-40m lead in the middle stages, while Chicago Bull was parked outside As Happy Larry and had to do all the chasing.

Shockwave still had a big lead on the home bend, but Chicago Bull flew at him late to miss by just a half-head.

They went a 1min55.7sec mile rate for the staying trip, which compared strongly with Caviar Star’s 1min54.2sec track record from the Fremantle Cup win earlier this year.

It was a mighty return from Shockwave, while Chicago Bull, also back from a four-week break, was massive in defeat.

“It was a huge effort to win, but not quite the run you’d want first,” Bell said. “We’ve got time on our side before the big races so I can give him an easy week now to get over that one and then look his next race.”

Throw in Vampiro and Mighty Conqueror, who are both nearing returns, and the WA open-class stocks are super exciting.

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It hasn’t taken long for recent Kiwi import Red Reactor to make his mark in Sydney.

The newcomer to David Thorn’s barn grabbed the eye at his first Aussie run when second in a heat of the Group 3 series on September 5, then caused an upset but won like a horse on the rise as a $21 shot in the final of the that series at Menangle Saturday night.

Anthony Butt’s Group 1-winning and emerging star Wolf Stride was a remarkable betting drift from a wide draw ($1.40 to $2.60) and had to do a power of work to find the front in opening splits for the mile of 26.3 and 28.2sec.

You’d be a hard marker to be disappointing, given Wolf Stride kept finding and was only beaten a neck in total in fifth spot in a 1min50.9sec mile.

Red Reactor was given a lovely trail in the running line by former Kiwi driver Jack Trainor and snatched a half-head win.

Sean McCaffrey trained Red Reactor to win seven of his 40 runs with another nine placings in NZ.

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Fingers crossed former Auckland Cup winner Turn It Up can make it back to the races and, more so, recapture some of the form which stamped him as the most exciting pacer in Australasia about 18 months ago.

Sadly injuries have kept him to just 15 starts for 11 wins and four seconds for the All Star barn.

Turn It Up hasn’t raced since winning the Harness Jewels 4YO final on June 1, last year.

In one last quest to get him through his issues and back to the track, Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen sent him to Queensland a few months back to Vicki Rasmussen.

It was terrific to see him step-out at the Albion Park trials last Tuesday where he was dropped-out early, made a move at the bell and did some work in the last lap. He was held together to the wire for third, just 4.9m from winner, star filly Pelosi.

Pelosi returns from a let-up at Albion Park on Tuesday as she prepares to head south for a defence of the NSW Breeders Challenge crown she won at Menangle last year.

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That's the Colt Thirty One we love.

Queensland’s best pacer returned from a freshen-up with a narrow, but powerhouse win in the free-for-all at Albion Park on Saturday night.

The rising six-year-old sat off a hot early pace, moved to the death in the middle stages and won strongly in a slick 1min53.7sec for the 2138m trip.

He’s now won 39 of his 69 starts with another 18 placings and he’s edging close to $900,000 in earmings.

It’ll be interesting to see if trainer-driver Grant Dixon entertains a Melbourne trip for the Victoria Cup on October 10 or stays home to continue preparing for the major races at Albion Park in November/December.

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Group 1-winning trotter Tough Monarch makes his racetrack return next Saturday night.

Rickie Alchin’s stable star, who scored the biggest win of his career on NZ Cup Day last year, sharpened-up with a soft trial win at Menangle last Wednesdau where he really just sprinted home the last quarter in 27.1sec.

Tough Monarch, who boasts 21 wins from 65 starts, hasn’t raced since finishing seventh at Menangle in a below-par run back on March 7.

Alchin has said he’s keen to return to Addington in November, but the challenges of COVID-19, travel, etc will likely keep him at home.

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Jot down the name Treachery.

The Captaintreacherous filly made it three wins from as many starts when she returned from a spell with a Bendigo victory last Thursday night.

She looks every bit another serious juvenile star in the making for Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin.

Treachery won a heat and final of the Allwood series at Globe Derby by 25m and 37m respectively back in March and although she only won by 1.2m at Bendigo, her sectional times defied belief.

Driver Greg Sugars let her balance-up near the rear in the six-horse field, but was able to give the leader Eva Mateo a big start and run her down in closing splits of 54.3 and 27.5sec. Treachery was privately timed to run a 53.8sec last half away from the pegs.

Treachery, bred by Ride High’s owner Peter Gleeson and the Cameron family, is out of former classy mare Lovelist (18 wins and $222,889 in stakes). Her only other foal is the promising stablemate Adapt, who has one win from four starts but loads of talent.

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It took one “feel” of Ride High for new driver Kate Gath to know what all the fuss was about.

Gath, who upstaged the likes of Chris Alford, Greg Sugars and others to replace Kima Frenning as Ride High’s driver, said she more like a passenger than a driver as the entire posted his 16th win from just 17 starts at Terang last night.

“I haven’t driven a horse give me the feel he did tonight,” Gath said. “He was low-flying around that last bend and I was just holding on. He just does it on the bit and so easily, by himself.”

Gath pushed through the field early and took the lead after 400m of the 1680m race through a cosy 60.2sec first half.

It was only about the 600m when Gath gave Ride High a bit more rein and he still paced a 27.2sec split from the 800-400m.

With Gath just nursing him, Ride High finished-off in 26.2sec (a 53.4sec last half) to win by 19.7m.

His 1min53.9sec mile rate for 1680m – on a rain-sodden track and cool night - was just 0.3sec outside stablemate Tam Major’s track record.

Gath only learned at 8.30am Thursday, much to her shock, she had landed the drive on Ride High, replacing Frenning, who has opted to step-aside from race driving to focus on her training and pre-training career.

“I have nothing but huge respect for Clayton (Tonkin) and Emma (Stewart) and job they do,” Gath said.

“What an absolute honour it is for them to ask me to drive their best horse, the horse they say is the best they’ve ever trained.”

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