Aussie stars heading to Cambridge's Grins Night of Champions
By Adam Hamilton
Hunter Cup hero Leap To Fame will tackle the $1mil Race by Grins.
It’s just a matter of which slot holder owners Kevin and Kay Seymour partner with for the April 12 feature at Cambridge.
Despite the $1mil Miracle Mile being his most immediate major target, Seymour said he would “spend plenty of time” on finalising a Race by Grins slot deal over the next week.
“We’ve got many, and I mean many, slot owners asking us,” he said.
“So, what I’m going to do this week is settle on a document to send them. It’ll ask for their best offer and, just as importantly, what they will do to promote the race and the sport if they partner with Leap To Fame.
“To be successful, slot races have to be about promoting harness racing, trying to take it to as big an audience as possible.
“We’ve got this great horse and we want to partner with a slot owner who will use the opportunity to put harness racing up in lights.”
Confirmation Leap To Fame will tackle the Race by Grins – which will be his first race in NZ – is a coup for Cambridge officials and NZ harness racing in general.
The five-year-old took his earnings past $2.1 million when he posted his 32nd win from just 42 starts in Saturday night's $500,000 Group 1 Hunter Cup at Melton.
Leap To Fame has more Aussie riches to chase before crossing the ditch.
Seymour confirmed plans, which start with backing-up in the $100,000 Group 2 Cranbourne Cup next Saturday night.
“Then he’ll be flown home (to Brisbane) on Monday week,” he said. “It’ll give us nine days at home before taking him on an hour road trip down to the Newcastle Mile (February 23).”
Victory in the $100,000 Group 2 Newcastle Mile would get Leap To Fame a ticket straight into the Miracle Mile on March 9.
“He’ll go back home after Newcastle and we’ll head back down (to Menangle) as close as we can to the Miracle Mile,” Seymour said.
“Then it’s back home again and we’ll work out the best plan in those five weeks between the Miracle Mile and the Cambridge race.”
A new breeze is heading Cambridge's way
Buzz French-bred trotter Callmethebreeze is set to add some European flavour to the inaugural TAB Trot at Cambridge on April 12, as part of the Grins Night of Champions.
Trainer Anton Golino confirmed owner-breeder Pat Driscoll would use his Yabby Dams slot in the TAB Trot with Callmethebreeze.
It came just hours after the six-year-old upstage Aussie champion Just Believe in an epic Great Southern Star final at Melton last Saturday night.
It’s been hailed as one of the best trotting races in Australia for many years.
“Pat’s got the slot in the Cambridge race, so that’s the main focus now,” Golino said.
The pathway is likely to include the $100,000 Group 1 Hammerhead Trot at Menangle on Miracle Mile night (March 9).
Given Callmethebreeze trotted a race record 1min53sec for 1720m in the Great Southern Star final, the Australasian record could be tested in the Hammerhead over a mile on the big and fast Menangle track.
Former star mare Maori Time holds the record at 1min51.5sec.
The TAB Trot is shaping as the best trotting race this part of the world has seen for decades.
Callmethebreeze will be joined by Just Believe and Queen Elida from Australia, along with NZ’s best.
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Champion driver Chris Alford is just one win away from a record 8000th career win.
Alford, who has won 138 Group 1’s, posted the 7999th win of his 40-year-old aboard City Rockstar in the opening race at Bendigo last Friday night.
The 55-year-old isn’t driving again until Wednesday where he looks to have a good enough set of drives to reach the historic milestone at Ballarat that night.
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Jason Grimson looks to have found his next star.
Former Queenslander Frankie Ferocious won 10 of his 20 starts for Ben Crosby before joining Grimson’s stable.
And the four-year-old looked awesome blasting his rivals away in the $100,000 Group 2 4YO Bonanza.
The win guaranteed him a start in the $250,000 Group 1 Chariots Of Fire at Menangle on March 2.
Frankie Ferocious looks a huge threat in the Chariots to glamour Kiwi pair Don’t Stop Dreaming and Merlin.
Grimson said Frankie Ferocious was the fastest pacer he had trained.
And driver Cam Hart was buzzing after the win.
“He showed a lethal turn of foot when he saw daylight, that was very impressive,” he said.
“Jason’s got a knack of getting the best out of all these horses he picks up, but he came to him with a terrific record.”
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Veteran marvel Triple Eight added some Kiwi flavour to Hunter Cup night by winning what was effectively the consolation of the big race.
Despite having Just Believe and Better Eclipse racing on the night, trainer Jess Tubbs said Triple Eight returning to winning form was special.
“He’s a stable favourite, no doubt about it. This is amazing,” she said.
Triple Eight, superbly driven by Greg Sugars, swooped at the right time off a hot pace to win the Pure Steel by a half-neck.
The nine-year-old has won 22 of his 121 starts with 44 placings and over $760,000.
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Champion driver Chris Lewis would turn back the clock at Gloucester Park overt the weekend.
The 68-year-old, who boasts over 5000 wins, won three races at Gloucester Park, including the feature.
Lewis snared three wins, headed by former Kiwi trotter Our Maestoso in the $50,000 Group Trotters’ Cup.
Despite sitting outside the leader for much of the 2503m race, the five-year-old easily beat former Victorian mare Evas Image.
Our Maestoso is trained by Barry Howlett, who also put the polish on another of Lewis’ winners, Rumour Has It. His other winner came for trainer Kat Warwick on All Is Well.
Howlett also won the other feature of the night, the Media Guild Cup, with former Kiwi gelding Classic Choice.