Cambridge-bound trotter upsets at Melton

By Adam Hamilton

When Arcee Phoenix landed a slot in the inaugural TAB Trot at Cambridge on April 12 it might have surprised a few people.

But last night at Melton he showed why.

Chris Svanosio’s brilliant five-year-old downed champion Just Believe in a powerhouse display and monstrous upset.

Arcee Phoenix ran to the front from gate two and just kept rolling, while Just Believe settled three pegs, but quickly had to go to the outside and chase the leader on his outside.

Arcee Phoenix, who has the Aldebaran Park slot at Cambridge, posted a brilliant 1min53.5sec mile rate for 1730m, ripping home in 55.9sec, to beat a gallant Just Believe by 5.6m.

The time was just 0.4sec outside Tornado Valley’s track record.

“Just Believe is as good as they come, but tonight was my chance to beat him from the draw, It’s going to be a lot harder in NZ, but I’m happy to be going with a win under our belt,” trainer-driver Chris Svanosio said.

“The draw is going to be important because our guy is so good in front. It’s obviously going to be a really hard race, but he’s at his peak at the right time and it’s exciting to be part of it.”

Arcee Phoenix inflicted only the second defeat Just Believe has tasted in 12 starts since returning from his Swedish raid last year.

Just Believe is sure to be improved by the run and will enjoy stretching out further than the 1720m of last night.

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Dual Group 1 winner Better Eclipse lost no fans with a terrific second in his final lead-up run for the $1m Race By Grins at Cambridge on April 12.

The Brisbane Inter Dominion runner-up didn’t have the speed to match former Miracle Mile winner Catch A Wave early, but camped on his back.

Kate Gath was able to dictate terms on Catch A Wave, who looked back to his best with a dazzling 53.7sec last half and 26sec flat closing quarter at the end of a 1min52sec mile rate for 1720m.

Catch A Wave skipped six metres in front at the top of the straight, but Better Eclipse closed the gap to 2.2m on the wire.

“We know how fast Catch A Wave is at his best, so to get so close was really pleasing. It should top him off nicely,” trainer Jess Tubbs said.

Meanwhile, Catch A Wave’s sparkling win showed he was right back on song for a three-race WA raid, headed by the $1.25m Nullabor at Gloucester Park on April 19.

“I thought during the week his work was good and he gave me the old feel, so it was great to have him come out and run so well,” Kate Gath said.

“He’s much bigger now than when he won the Chariots and Miracle Mile last year and it’s just taking us longer to get him fit.

“I was really happy with the way he hit the line tonight and it seems to be all coming together for Perth.”

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Champion WA trainer Gary Hall says this is the best crop of four-year-olds he’s ever had and all three are former Kiwi pacers.

WA Derby winner Skylou returned for his first run this year and toyed with his rivals in the $50,000 Group 1 Easter Cup for driver Gary Hall Jr.

The race was basically decided at the standing start when Skylou stepped better than stablemate and fellow four-year-old Im The Black Flash to lead and leave his main rival parked.

Skylou won as he liked by 5.8m, but Im The Black Flash fought on well for second at his first run from a spell as well.

Later in the night, Mister Smartee did some early work before finding the lead and cruising to a six metre win.

“I love the three of them and honestly don’t know who’ll end up the best of them. It’s a good position to be in,” Hall Sr.

“The one negative if they’re the same age as Never Ending, but we’ve beaten him before and hopefully have the horses to do it again.”

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The glorious renaissance of Max Delight continued with another feature win in last Thursday night’s $50,000 Group 3 Renshaw Cup at Penrith.

The eight-year-old former Victoria Cup winner passed $1 million in career earnings in February’s Hunter Cup and posted his 27th win (with 32 placings) from 109 starts with the Renshaw win.

Nathan Jack’s daring and inspired drive helped a lot, putting Max Delight in the right spot with a dashing move and holding-off high-class rivals Spirit Of St Louis and Nerano.

The David Aiken-trained Max Delight won by 4.3m in a slick 1min57.6sec mile rate for 2525m around the slow Penrith track.

Spirit Of St Louis heads to the $1.25mil Group 1 Nullarbor at Gloucester Park on April 19 before heading to the US to continue his career.

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While his stable star Rock N Roll Doo is already in NZ preparing for the Race By Grins, trainer-driver Mick Stanley enjoyed feature race success elsewhere last night.

Stanley’s three-year-old filly Soho Honey Rider caused a mammoth upset as a $81 outsider in the $100,000 Group 2 Bathurst Gold Bracelet final (1730m) last night.

Former Kiwi pacer Minos caused an upset, albeit not quite as big as Soho Honey Rider, when he came from behind the leader to gun-down favourite War Dan Buddy and win the colts and geldings version, the Gold Chalice final for husband-and-wife KerryAnn and Robbie Morris.

Minos, a son of Bettor's Delight having just his eighth start, won on debut at Gore last September and also ran third in the NSW Derby at just his sixth start for Team Morris.

The favourites hit back in the two $150,000 Group 1 two-year-old finals at Bathurst.

Brad Hewitt’s stunning filly Bittersweet made it four wins from as many starts when she won the Gold Tiara final by a thumping 21.6m in a sizzling 1min54.4sec mile rate for 1720m.

Then it was Victorian raider Fox Dan, trained by Clayton Tonkin and driven by Jack Callaghan, who led throughout to win the Gold Crown final.

Fox Dan is raced by NZ Cup-winning owner Danny Zavitsanos, who admits Bathurst is one of his favourite carnivals in harness racing.

 

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