Aussie News with Adam Hamilton

THERE were so many layers to the Cranbourne Cup story, but none better than Jodi Quinlan.

It’s only a few weeks since Quinlan, a former Miracle Mile-winning driver, returned from horrific injuries sustained when an out of control horse wiped her out.

And she teamed with the state’s top trainer, Emma Stewart, and the super-speedy Phoenix Prince to win last night’s $60,000 Group 2 Cranbourne Cup.

Stewart had five of the 10 runners and was expected to dominate, but more so with buzz four-year-old Hurricane Harley and the emerging star Tam Major.

They had to be content with second (Tam Major) and fourth (Hurricane Harley) while Phoenix Prince stormed home late to snatch victory in a 1min56.5sec mile rate for the testing 2555m trip.

Hurricane Harley, took a sit on Tam Major and looked the winner halfway down the straight, but his run was short-lived and Phoenix Prince powered past them all.

It was a fitting and magical moment for Quinlan.

And Stewart’s dominance was surreal with her runners filling the first five spots across the line.

On the same cards, last year’s Inter Dominion champion Tornado Valley was simply too fast and classy for his rivals in the Group 3 Trotters’ Cup.

While potential Victoria Derby player and regally-bred Soho Hamilton won the Group 3 Caduceus Club Cup, something his famous brother Soho Tribeca did a few years back.

** ** ** **

AS we head towards the Inter Dominion final it’s fitting last year’s pacing final winner Tiger Tara is starting his comeback.

Trainer Kevin Pizzuto is thrilled with the superstar veteran, who was struggling for form and missed this year’s series in Auckland.

“Everything just went wrong last campaign so we had to turn him out and start again,” he said. “ Ultimately, that really hard run second-up in Brisbane knocked the stuffing out of him and he didn’t recover.

“He’s really well now. I’ve got the old horse back and he’ll have a private trial this week.”

Pizzuto confirmed plans to raid Perth’s January riches, headed by the Group 1 double of Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups.

“I’ll have him very fit when he goes to the races. He’ll just have the one lead-up race at Menangle, hopefully over 2300m, then we’ll go to Perth a week or so before the Freo Cup,” he said.

Pizzuto also confirmed a change of ownership for one of his brightest stable stars, Commander Kirk, who boasts nine wins from just 14 starts and already a 1min49.7sec mile win at Menangle.

Cruz Bromac’s managing-owner, Danny Zavitsanos, now has a half share in Commander Kirk, who was previously raced by high-profile US duo Marc Hanover and Gordon Banks.

“He’s a lovely horse with so much speed,” Pizzuto said. “He came a long way quickly last time in work, so we’ve given him a good, long break. I think he’ll make a Miracle Mile horse, but this year might come around a bit too quickly for him. He’s only now about to come back in from the paddock.”

** ** ** **

ANOTHER star possibly headed for Perth is 2018 Miracle Mile winner My Field Marshal.

Tim Butt’s star grabbed the eye in a Menangle trial last week and is set to resume at the same track on December 14.

Butt wants to get through the first-up run before deciding whether to tackle Perth or stay in Sydney and build towards another Miracle Mile assault.

** ** ** **

STILL in WA and their Carnival continued to hot-up with a hugely popular win by Gotta Go Gabbana in last Friday night’s $125,000 Group 1 Westral Mares’ Classic (2536m).

Owner-trainers Annie and Colin Belton wear their passion for the sport loud and strong and were thrilled when Gotta Go Gabbana broke a long run of bad draws to snare the pole.

Top freelancer driver Chris Voak did the rest.

“When she led easily it was pretty much over,” he said. “She’s a really hard mare to get past and, although the second horse (Our Alfie Romeo) did a good job, my mare won easily.”

Gotta Go Gabbana ripped home in 56.1 and 27.5sec to win by 7.2m in a 1min57.3sec mile rate for the long trip.

“I’m just thrilled for Colin and Annie. They supported me strongly about 10 years ago when I first started driving and continued even after I’d lost my claim.

“And they gave me the drive on this mare when she was three so it’s special to win this big one on so many levels.”

Having just his second run back from almost a year out due to a breathing operation, Greg and Skye Bond’s seven-year-old was simply too strong and classy.

Emerging star Ideal Liner, also on the comeback trail, led, but Ryan Warwick made a mid-race move to sit parked.

“He’s strong and versatile and I wanted to get Ideal Liner out of his comfort zone after he got the lead so easily,” Warwick said

Galactic Star crushed Ideal Liner, who tired for fifth, and staved-off late challenges from the classy Vultan Tin and Ana Malak to win in a brisk 1min56.1sec mile rate for the long 2536m trip.

Warwick will soon have to decide between Galactic Star or the exciting stablemate Mighty Conqueror to partner in races like the Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups.

“Let’s keep ‘em apart for now,” he smiled.

** ** ** **

NSW’s devastating bushfires led to a massive number of scratchings from last night’s Menangle meeting, but the star Kiwi still shone brightly.

Hail Christian narrowly but impressively posted his second win from as many runs back in NSW in the Group 3 John Binskin free-for all.

The Paul Court-trained five year-old blasted off the gate with the other favourite, Alta Orlando, in a blistering 25.5sec opening quarter then sat behind that horse.

Another former Kiwi, Letspendanitetogetha, came and sat parked and put paid to the leader, but just couldn’t hold-off Hail Christian in a 26.6sec closing quarter.

** ** ** **

QUEENSLAND’S Summer Carnival got serious when the classy Mattgregor won the Group 3 Be Good Johnny Sprint (1660m) at Albion Park last night.

Trained by Chantel Turpin and driven by Pete McMullen, Mattgregor took full advantage of the pole draw to lead and just held-off Dream To Share to win by a head in a 1min52.5sec mile rate.

Veteran Mach Alert grabbed the eye in third spot.

The other feature of the night, the Members’ Cup, was dominated by Grant Dixon, who rushed home from his luckless Inter Dominion campaign with Colt Thirty One.

Dixon trained the trifecta and drove the winner, the exciting Governor Jujon, who ran down buzz recent Kiwi import Virgil in closing splits of a 55.5 and 27sec.

** ** ** **

THE fantastic story that is Kima Frenning added another chapter last Friday.

Frenning’s 250th driving win came aboard Rocknroll Ronnie at Melton, meaning she has out-driven her claim.

Sure the claim helped Frenning get loads of early opportunities, but she’s now cemented with some of Victoria’s leading stables and success will continue to flow.

It’s remarkable when you consider Frenning came to Australia from Sweden a few years back to work as a stablehand and, hopefully, drive in a few Monte (saddle trot) races.

“I don’t know what to say. Of course I could never have imagined this and I have so many people to thank,” Frenning said.

Frenning also just missed in the main Melton race of the night, being beaten a half-head aboard Emma Stewart’s Somerocksomeroll behind $31.90 outsider Keayang Ebonyrose in the Melton Mares’ Championship.

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