Aussie pair heading to Melton before Cambridge assignments

By Adam Hamilton

Trainer Jess Tubbs has opted to tune-up Just Believe and Better Eclipse at home rather than have a lead-up race in NZ ahead of the Night of Champions at Cambridge on April 12.

The glamour pair are booked a flight from Melbourne to Auckland next weekend and could have run in suitable races at Cambridge the following night.

Instead, Tubbs will give the glamour pair their final lead-up races at Melton on Saturday night.

“Greg (Sugars) and I just felt racing them so soon after getting to NZ was a bit of a risk,” Tubbs said.

“It’s worked out well with races for them on Saturday and the runs should top them off nicely.”

Just Believe heads towards the inaugural $575,000 TAB Trot slot race at Cambridge on April 12, while Better Eclipse will try and improve on his fourth in last year’s $1m Race By Grins.

The trip will round-out a massive past 12 months for Tubbs and Sugars with their third international trip.

Multiple Group 1-winning pacer Better Eclipse went to NZ this time last year where he ran terrific thirds in the Taylor Mile and Messenger after his Race By Grins effort.

Soon after, Tubbs and Sugars went much further abroad for a winless but remarkable three-race Swedish campaign with champion trotter Just Believe, which included two fantastic placings against some of the world’s best trotters.

“It’s certainly been a heck of a past 12 months for our stable,” Tubbs said. “Busy, even hectic, but very exciting.

“We love the fact Better Eclipse gets the chance to go back because we’re confident he’s a better horse than 12 months ago.

“And now they’ve added this TAB Trot is just perfect for us. He and Just Believe are paddock mates at home and they get to travel to NZ together.”

Just Believe has been almost unbeatable since returning from Sweden with his 11 starts netting 10 wins and a close second in the Group 1 Great Southern Star.

He could face a challenge from barrier three against emerging star Arcee Phoenix (two) in Saturday night’s Uncle Petrika free-for-all (1720m) at Melton.

Arcee Phoenix, trained and driven by Chris Svanosio, is also headed to Cambridge.

“He’s really well and we decided to give him one more run to keep him up to the mark before the TAB Trot,” Tubbs said.

Better Eclipse, who ran second to Leap To Fame in the Brisbane Inter Dominion final on December 16, will need Saturday night’s race having not started since finishing a luckless seventh at Menangle on March 9.

“Nothing went right in his two Sydney runs so we wanted to give him a freshen-up. He seems great and home and was always going to need a run before Cambridge,” Tubbs said.

“Like Just Believe, we had that option of running him at Cambridge the day after he gets over there, but we prefer to run him Saturday.”

Better Eclipse faces a fascinating clash with another star Victorian, former Miracle Mile winner Catch A Wave, in Saturday night’s Tiger Tara free-for-all (1720m).

Catch A Wave, who was surprisingly beaten first-up at Melton last week, is headed to a different slot race, the $1.25mil Group 1 Nullarbor at Gloucester Park on April 19.

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