Aussie News : September 5

by Adam Hamilton 

Outstanding young trotter Majestuoso looks primed to defend his Group 1 Australasian Trotting Championship title.

Andy Gath’s five-year-old unleashed a huge finishing burst – his trademark – to win the Group 3 Hygain Melton free-for-all (2100m) at Geelong last night.

It was his second win from three starts this campaign and underlined how well he’s returned this campaign.

Majestuoso snared his major open-class win in last year’s Australasian Trotting Championship and only goes back to a 10m handicap for next week’s feature, which has been moved from Melton to Bendigo.

“He’s only a little horse, but for some reason he loves the longer races. He’s unbeaten in four tries at 2600m or further,” Gath said.

Majestuoso has won 18 of his 38 starts with 11 placings and almost $250,000 in the bank.

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It's great to have Ladies In Red back.

After a juvenile season when netted nine wins, two at Group 1 level, and a second in the Vicbred final, Ladies In Red was deliberately given a long spell by connections.

After nine months out, she returned with a dazzling Ballarat win last Thursday night.

Co-trainer Emma Stewart said going into the Prendergast Memorial Oaks that Ladies In Red had thrived and returned in great order. She was right.

Ladies In Red drew the back row, made an early move to sit parked outside main danger Aliens Exist, and put the race beyond doubt when she zoomed clear with a big lead rounding the home bend.

Driver David Moran gave the daughter of Mach Three an easy time in the run home as she coasted to an 11.9m win in a 1min57sec mile rate for 2200m, capped by closing splits of 55 flat and 27.4sec.

The logical next target is a return to Ballarat for the Nutrien Argent Classic for three-year-old fillies on September 18.

Beyond that, she’s got the Victoria Oaks heats (October 2) and final (October 9), then the Breeders Crown later in October before the Vicbred series in December.

Joining her back at the races soon will be stablemate and other glamour filly, Tough Tilly, who impressed in a Ballarat trial last Tuesday.

After playing bridesmaid to Ladies In Red, Tough Tilly beat her for the first time when they met in the Vicbred final last New Year’s Eve.

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This could be Western Sonador’s campaign.

Co-trainer and driver Bec Bartley tasted serious feature racing with San Carlo and she wants some more.

While San Carlo is back in work as a 10-year-old and aiming for a fourth Inter Dominion series in Sydney at the end of the year, Western Sonador is making a name for himself.

The five-year-old son of Western Terror looked good leading throughout to win a strong Minuteman free-for-all at Geelong last night.

The key was Bartley being able to burrow through and find the lead from gate two.

Wolf Stride, first-up for Andy and Kate Gath, loomed strongly out four and five-wide rounding the last bend, but Western Sonador kept finding and held a 1.9m margin over Silent Major with Wolf Stride third in a 1min56.8sec mile rate for 2100m.

Western Sonador and Wolf Stride are likely to clash again in next Saturday night’s $100,000 Group 1 VHRC Caduceus Classic at Bendigo.

Then comes the $80,000 Group 2 Kilmore Cup on September 24 and the $300,000 Group 1 Victoria Cup on October 9 are the immediate major targets for Western Sonador.

Bartley and co-trainer Steve O’Donoghue are keen to tackle the NSW Inter Dominion with Western Sonador and San Carlo, but that may hinge on the Covid-19 travel restrictions at the time.

Western Sonador, who ran second in the Group 1 Newcastle Mile on February 19, has raced just 25 times for 10 wins and 10 placings.

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A Covid-19 scare means NSW’s main meeting of the week at Menangle will be run tomorrow (Monday) night.

The meeting was postponed last night (Saturday) because a NSW industry participant tested positive to Covid-19.

The feature is the $30,6000 Group 3 Kevin Newman free-for-all (1609m) where Jason Grimson’s recent Victorian import Majestic Cruiser (gate four) and David Aiken’s tough and consistent Malcolms Rhythm (10) are the key players.

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Melbourne's Covid-19 lockdown curfew continues to see Victoria’s biggest race meetings run away from Melton.

There hasn’t been a Saturday night Melton fixture since August 7 and won’t be until at least October 2.

HRV has moved next Saturday’s big Group 1 meeting – featuring the $100,000 VHRC Caduceus Classic for pacers and $50,000 Australasian Trotting Championship – from Melton to Bendigo.

And the September 18 meeting has already been moved to Ballarat.

Kilmore has long been slated for the September 24 “metro” meeting because the $80,000 Group 2 Kilmore Pacing Cup – a key Victoria Cup lead-up race – is scheduled for that night.

HRV will be sweating on the Victorian government easing restrictions, especially the 9pm curfew, in time for the big October 2 meeting, featuring the Group 2 Smoken Up Sprint, along with heats of the Derby and Oaks.

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Former Kiwi pacer Mach Da Vinci smashed the clock winning at Albion Park last night.

The Art Major four-year-old looked as sharp as he ever has in 18 months since coming to Australia when he posted a 1min51.1sec mile rate for 1660m.

Driver Shane Graham took Mach Da Vinci straight to the front from three and he never looked in danger.

He scorched closing splits of 53.9 and 27sec flat to win by 19.2m.

It was just his third win from 23 starts this season, but pointed to many more.

Another slick winner on the night was classy Alta Christiano four-year-old Will The Wizard.

He had to work hard in a 26.7sec opening quarter to lead for Pete McMullen, but still ripped home in 55.2 and 28sec flat for a 1min51.9sec mile rate over 1660m.

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Brent Lilley and Chris Alford have always made a lethal combination.

And it was on full display at Geelong last night when they combined for a double.

The big surprise came when I Cast No Shadow improved on his recent form and came with a barnstorming finish to cause a huge upset and beat Tango Tara, the $1.20 favourite in race five.

It was only his second win from 14 starts this season.

Earlier, Alford took former young Kiwi trotter Queen Elida straight to the front and never looked in danger.

The daughter of Love You coasted to a 3.8m win over another promising young trotter, Keayang Ninja.

Queen Elida, who ran second in the NSW Trotters’ Oaks in May, has raced just 14 times for five wins, five placings and over $65,000 for her Kiwi-based owners.

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New South Wales boasts a couple of outstanding two-year-olds in Mister Rea and Chappy Streetnorth.

Both stretched their unbeaten streaks with easy wins against older rivals on Friday.

Mister Rea, already a winner of the Group 1 Bathurst Gold Crown, resumed from a break to post his fifth win in a 1min55.5sec mile rate for 1740m at Wagga.

Chappy Streetnorth, more about potential than performance so far, made it three wins from as many starts when he cruised home at Newcastle last Friday night in a 1min54.9sec mile.

They are two of the headline acts for the upcoming NSW Breeders Challenge series.

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