Aussie Update with Adam Hamilton

PUNTERS expect emerging star The Storm Inside to announce himself as a major Hunter Cup player with victory at his first serious open-class test tomorrow night.

Emma Stewart’s injury-plagued former gun juvenile boasts 16 wins and two seconds from just 18 starts.

But he faces by far his biggest test, albeit from a good draw, in tomorrow night’s $70,000 Group 2 Bendigo Cup (2650m).

It’s not just the strongest race he’s tackled, but also the longest. He’s never been stretched beyond Melton’s 2240m trip.

Punters quickly snapped-up the $2.70 he opened on the Aussie TAB and he’s now into $1.95.

That’s despite the fact he’s taking on three-time Inter Dominion finalist, San Carlo, and three of his talented and in-form stablemates, Phoenix Prince, Tam Major and Code Black.

Chris Alford takes the reins and most expect he’ll bustle out from gate five and find the lead.

The logical next step is another rise in grade to take-on the likes of defending champ Thefixer, Cruz Bromac and others in the Group 1 Ballarat Cup on January 18.

On the same card, star trotter Tornado Valley should dash to the front from gate three and return to winning form in the $50,000 Group 1 Maori Mile.

Main rival Dance Craze, who beat Tornado Valley, will need luck to overcome the back row (gate 10).

** ** ** **

AUSTRALIA’s top Victoria Derby hopeful Be Happy Mach still hasn’t raced this campaign.

Many expected him to resume in Saturday night’s VHRC 3YO Classic at Melton, but, instead, is expected to trial at Maryborough early next week.

It now seems likely he will go into the January 18 Derby heats without a lead-up race.

Given the Derby final is now out to 2760m from 2240m, it will take all of Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s training nous to have him primed for the gruelling test.

In contrast, the All Stars’ Derby player, Smooth Deal, has had a strong preparation through major races in NZ, most recently his luckless and huge run in the Sales Series final at Alexandra Park on New Year’s Eve.

Another of Australia’s top Derby hopes, Expensive Ego, is out of both the Victoria and NSW Derbys with a minor but untimely setback.

The Derby build-up also continues at Menangle tomorrow night where former Kiwi, Virgil, and his exciting Grant Dixon-trained stablemate Governor Jujon headline the field in the $50,000 Group 2 Simpson Memorial (1609m).

Virgil led and beat Governor Jujon at Albion Park last time, but the latter was a bigger run and he draws the pole this time.

** ** ** **

ONE of the mouth-watering clashes of the weekend is between the untapped comeback pacer Lumineer and potential Hunter Cup player Demon Delight.

They meet in a small field at Melton on Saturday night, where Lumineer has the pole and will lead, while Demon Delight has the outside draw (gate seven).

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