YOU have to wonder if Jimmy Rattray had second thoughts about pulling the pin on an Auckland Inter Dominion raid.
His stable newcomer Harjeet made quite an impression and smashed the clock winning his first run for Rattray at Menangle on Saturday night.
Harjeet was Tasmania’s best pacer when trained by Rattray’s brother, Todd, in the Apple Isle before being sent to Jimmy to continue his career a few months back.
Late last week, Jimmy scratched Harjeet and stable star Ignatius from the Auckland series.
Harjeet did a power of early work and copped pressure in front before powering his way to a 1min53.7sec mile rate for 2300m, just 1.1sec outside Clancys Fobwatch’s track record.
“He’s settled in well and it was great to be able to get a run in a class below free-for-all for his first try up here,” Rattray said. “It’s exciting to have a horse like him join Ignatius here.
“I’ve got no doubt Harjeet will do a terrific job here, but it’ll be interesting to see just how far he goes.”
Harjeet draws so many natural comparisons with the mighty Beautide, who won two Inter Dominions at Menangle for the Rattray clan.
Both left Tassie as the state’s best pacer at the peak of their careers and with great staying prowess.
Meanwhile, Ignatius has his second trial back at Menangle on Monday in preparation for a racetrack return.
“I deliberately gave him a soft trial last week, but we’ll be getting a lot more serious this week,” Rattray said.
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LAST year’s Inter Dominion consolation winner Ellmers Image opened his preparation for this year’s Auckland series with a fighting second at Menangle last night (Saturday).
Amanda Turnbull’s stable star drew wide, but kept working forward to take the lead from favourite and main danger Alta Orlando after 400m of the 2300m Group 3 free-for-all.
Just when it seemed Ellmers Image was doing enough to hold-off Alta Orlando, John McCarthy’s five-year-old Jack Farthing exploded out of the pack to overhaul them both.
No doubt Ellmers Image will be fitter for the run and Turnbull will look for another run for him before the Auckland series kicks-off with the first round of heats on November 29 at Alexandra Park.
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FANS may have to wait a little longer to see one of Australia’s buzz horses back in the big league.
Former superstar juvenile Lumineer, who made it 12 wins from just 13 starts at Melton last night (Saturday), looks set to bypass a clash with Colt Thirty One and another comeback star Ride High next Saturday.
It’s the Group 2 4&5YO Championship, a race Grant Dixon is using to sharpen-up Colt Thirty One for his Auckland Inter Dominon assault.
And Emma Stewart has the race earmarked for Ride High’s comeback race from a long injury-enforced stint on the sidelines. He smashed the clock at the Ballarat trials recently.
Lumineer has the talent to test them both, but trainer Ange McDowall won’t commit to running.
“He’ll be nominated, but he’s only had 13 lifetime starts and it would be a quick back-up from this week, so I’m erring on picking something a little easier for now,” she said.
Lumineer was stunning last night, seemingly cruising his way to a 9.6m win in a slick 1min52.8sec mile rate for 1730m. Just 0.8sec slower than Phoenix Prince ran in the Sokyola Sprint, the free-for-all, on the same night.
“Jason (Lee, driver) said he did it easily too, which is the main thing,” McDowall said. “I’m sure I’ve got the old Lumineer back, but we’ve got some tinkering to do because he’s so goofy at the races. He wants to loaf, wander about and look around.”
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FORMER All Stars’ pacer Motu Premier emerged as a key player for WA’s biggest races with a superb Gloucester Park win last Friday night.
The now seven-year-old has had his issues during a couple of years with trainer Ross Olivieri in Perth, but he’s right back to his best.
Motu Premier sustained a long run from back in the field and lifted after looking beaten to edge-out Perth’s buzz pacer Mighty Conqueror in the Parliamentarians Cup.
They blazed a 1min54.4sec mile rate for the 2130m.
Mighty Conqueror had a good run then moved to the “death” to control the race, he looked home when he pinched a break at the top of the straight, but Motu Premier wouldn’t be denied.
Motu Premier won by a half a neck despite covering extra ground from back in the field in closing splits of 55.5 and 27.7sec.
The son of Bettor's Delight was sidelined for a year and the win, one of the best of his career, came at his fifth run on the comeback trail.
Another impressive winner on the night was former NZ and Queensland pacer Bill Haley, who made it two-from-two for new WA trainer Deb Lewis.
The five-year-old showed his now trademark lethal turn of speed to beat a good field, including last season’s glamour three-year-old filly Dracarys.
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THE brilliant Phoenix Prince lifted off the canvas to win arguably the most important race of his career in last night’s Sokyola Sprint (1720m) at Melton.
Emma Stewart’s speedy gelding looked hard to beat when he snared gate two and, even more so, when he led and “pinched” a 30.1sec first quarter.
It was game-on from there with splits of 28.1, 26.9 and 27.6sec and Phoenix Prince looked to be headed by Lance Justice’s stable star Rishi in the last 50m before lifting to win by a nose.
They went a sharp 1min52sec mile rate.
It took Phoenix Prince’s record to an impressive 14 wins from just 26 starts and earnings of almost $125,000.