Big Aussie weekend

by Adam Hamilton 

Star Kiwi filly Belle Of Montana’s quest to capture the $150,000 Group 1 Victoria Oaks (2240m) headlines a big weekend of Australian racing.

Barry Purdon’s young star has been crunched from $1.40 into $1.30 after drawing the pole, but opinions vary on whether she will hold the lead on a slick front row.

Driver Zachary Butcher is adamant she will and that’s sparked the betting splurge on the Aussie TAB at skinny odds.

If she leads, Belle Of Montana should win as she liked after the most impressive and fastest of the three heat wins.

Outsider Wellsaidlucy (gate three) and Miss Streisand (four)  – who ran a close second in her heat to Belle Of Montana – are the threats to cross the favourite at the start

Aiding Belle Of Montana’s cause are poor draws for her major dangers and the other heat winners, Queenslander Smart As Camm Be (gate six) and local star Kualoa (gate 11).

At Melton the night before (Friday), dominant trainer Emma Stewart trains eight off the 25 runners across the four heats of the Australian Gold series’ for fillies as well as colts and geldings.

By far the most intriguing heat is the second for colts and geldings where Stewart’s buzz pair Mirragon (gate five) and Be Happy Mach (six) tackle the regally-bred Soho Hamilton (gate one).

In the other colts and geldings heat, stunning Bathurst Gold Crown winner Jilliby Nitro (gate two) should stretch his unbeaten record to four races.

Other Aussie racing highlights across a big weekend include:

  • FORMER star Kiwi pacer King Of Swing is tipped to make a winning return to racing at Gloucester Park tomorrow night (Friday) after winning a Pinjarra trial by 52m last Sunday
  • INTER Dominion consolation winner Ellmers Image is a $1.45 favourite from gate four against Ignatius (gate nine, $4) in tomorrow (Friday) night’s $65,000 Group 2 Treuer Memorial at Bankstown
  • FORMER Kiwi pair Sicario and Cullenburn head the betting after impressive heat wins for Saturday night’s $50,000 Group 2 Carousel final at Menangle
  • KEVIN Pizzuto’s speedy four-year-old Picard pushes his claims for a Harness Jewels invite as a $1.80 favourite in the free-for-all at Menangle on Saturday night
  • QUEENSLAND’S best pacer Colt Thirty One continues his build-up to a hometown Winter Carnival attack when he chases his third win from as many starts this campaign at Albion Park on Saturday night
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