By Adam Hamilton
THE door is wide open for Chicago Bull.
Right now he’s top seed for the tag as Australasia’s best pacer, but the rest of this year will tell the story.
More immediately, November’s NZ Cup will be the defining race of his career.
Trainer Gary Hall Sr has repeatedly dismiss doubters saying he won’t make the trip to Addington and Chicago Bull is doing his part to ensure it.
The pint-sized gelding made it two easy wins from as many starts this campaign when he toyed with a good free-for-all field at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Somewhat surprisingly, but sensibly, main rival Bettors Fire opted to surrender the lead to Chicago Bull in the early stages of the long 2536m race and it developed into a sprint home.
Chicago Bull ambled through a 60.1sec middle half, then dashed home in 54.9 and 27.0sec to win by 4.7m without being extended by Gary Hall Jr in a 1min56.8sec mile rate.
“It’s all about the NZ Cup now. If the timing and flights work, he’ll probably go to the Victoria Cup then across to NZ nice and early,” Hall Sr said.
“For now, we will just pick off a few free-for-alls here then given him a freshen-up and go again.”
Trainer Michael “Mouse” Brennan opted to dodge Chicago Bull with his evergreen The Bucket List and was rewarded with a win off a daunting 50m backmark in the Botra Cup.
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FORMER Kiwi mare Our Golden Goddess looks ready to stake her claim for the crown as Australia’s best mare.
It’s tight at the top with the likes of Ameretto, Tell Me Tales and Carlas Pixel, but Our Golden Goddess was awesome winning first-up from a spell at Melton last night.
Sure she led, but it was against open-class free-for-allers and she ran blistering times to win by 8.6m in a 1min54.3sec mile rate for 2240m.
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MILLIONARE trotter Keystone Del didn’t win his comeback race, but he did the next best thing.
Sidelined for almost a year, the rising 11-year-old produced a monster run for second to stablemate Kyvalley Blur after having the hardest run in the race.
It thrilled trainer Brent Lilley, who has nursed Keystone Del back to form and fitness.
Lilley’s pair pulled away from hot favourite Tornado Valley, who looked flat and might be ready for a spell after a busy and blazing start to his Aussie career.
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FORMER Kiwi pacer Master Moonlite caused one of the biggest upsets of the Queensland Winter Carnival when he snatched a last-stride win in the Group 2 Queensland Derby last night.
The race supposed to be a walk in the park for another former Kiwi, Duplicated, with local pin-up pacer Colt Thirty One the only possible danger.
Duplicated, who thrashed virtually the same field in the South East Derby the week before, led as expected from gate one and cruised through a first 800m as Colt Thirty One parked outside him.
The race changed suddenly in the middle stages when local driver Dannielle McMullen launched three-wide and tried unsuccessfully to get the “death” seat off Colt Thirty One.
As a result, the heat win into the race and a revved-up Duplicated started pulling ferociously in front for driver Luke McCarthy.
It was clear down the back straight he’d run himself ragged and Colt Thirty One powered to the front while Master Moonlite set out after him.
Master Moonlite, trained and driven by Victorian Matty Craven, lunged right on the wire to win by a half-head over the very gallant Colt Thirty One with another 9m away to the filly Fame Assured in third spot.
Duplicated wilted four fifth, while another very recent Kiwi import Pembrooks Passion ran a sound fourth at his first run for new trainer KerryAnn Turner.
Master Moonlite has been an astute purchase by Craven, having won three of his seven starts for the barn.
His Derby win did underline the amazing strength of Emma Stewart’s three-year-old crop given Master Moonlite finished a well-held sixth in the recent Vicbred final at Melton where Stewart had the first four home, headed by Poster Boy.
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NRL star Jarrod Croker added some celebrity power to Blacks A Fake night and didn’t go home empty handed.
Croker, captain of the Canberra Raiders, has shares in a few pacers, including the consistent and talented Our Triple Play, who won last night’s $30540 Group 3 4YO Championship for trainer-driver Brad Hewitt.
It was a brilliant drive from Hewitt to find the lead then kick away on the home bend while main danger and eventual runner-up Conviction was bailed-away in traffic.
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EVERY now and again Queensland produces a young pacer capable of matching Australia’s best.
Last year’s Winter Carnival unearthed Colt Thirty One, who has already gone on to win the Victoria Derby.
This year it could be Smart As Camm Be, who lifted off the canvas for trainer-driver Kylie Rasmussen for a narrow but fantastic win in the $100,540 Group 1 Qbred Trial final.
Luke McCarthy did every possible to get Victorian raider For All We Know home, but failed by a neck after a glorious drive.
McCarthy did win the Group 1 2YO colts and geldings equivalent earlier in the night when First String camped on leader and hot favourite Regulus and ran him down in the last 200m.
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IT was a week of milestones in Victoria with Chris Alford’s record-breaking 389th win of the season the headline act.
But another bright star of the sport, Kate Gath, reached her 1300th career win when she snared a double – both trained by husband Andy Gath – at Bendigo on Friday night.
Gath’s first Bendigo win came on promising former Kiwi three-year-old trotter Scallywag Sam and then added another aboard Chief Running Cloud.
Scallywag Sam now boasts five wins from just six Aussie runs.
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WHAT a shame buzz Victorian youngster Lochinvar Art isn’t paid-up for the Breeders Crown.
Many think he’s up with the best juveniles in Australia and it’s hard to argue after the way he demolished his rivals in last night’s Group 2 Tatlow Stakes (2240m) at Melton.
Trained by Laura Crossland and driven by David Moran, Lochinvar Art had to dragged back from an inside back row draw, but circled the field and won by 20m in a 1min55.7sec mile rate.
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A COUPLE of months ago Shane Tritton popped an advertisement on this website spruiking the opportunities for Kiwi owners to send horses to him to race at Menangle.
Just one of the many people to contact him was Dougal Steel, who sent his young mare My Major Pocket across.
“He took a chance and has already been rewarded,” Tritton said. “Her Menangle win last night was her third from just seven starts for us. She’s run two seconds and a third as well.”
My Major Pocket came from a seemingly hopeless position in a slowly run race to overpower one-time glamour mare Rocker Band and win in a 1min54.9sec mile at Menangle.
The other Menangle win of note came from two-time Inter Dominion contestant Major Crocker, who resumed from a spell with a sharp win in the opening race for new trainer Michael Doltoff.
Major Crocker, a winner of 29 races and over $680,000, will be a welcome addition to NSW’s open-class ranks.