Future stars collide
By Adam Hamilton
IT is the Jewel in the Crown, literally.
This epic showdown between the best modern era crop of three-year-olds Australia has seen is the standout highlight of Breeders Crown Super Saturday.
And it’s come at a crucial time with the new wave – including NZ’s Chase Auckland when he returns - offering the solution to our desperately think open-class stocks across Australia and NZ.
But, for now, we await this awesome contest between the likes of former Tasmanian pacer Ignatius, glamour Emma Stewart pair Poster Boy and Ride High, gun Queenslander Colt Thirty One and the support cast.
Emma Stewart has qualified half the field – six of the 12 finalists - but such is the depth she doesn’t even have the favourite.
Ignatius, despite suffering just his second defeat in 18 starts when edged-out by Poster Boy in their semi-final, has been backed from $3.50 into $3 on the Aussie TAB despite drawing the back row (gate 10) in the final.
“I was proud of him last week. He did the work, they broke the track record and Poster Boy just got him,” trainer-driver Jimmy Rattray said. “The run should bring him just that little bit more as well.”
Poster Boy, already a winner of the NSW Derby and Vicbred finals this term, is her most favoured runner. He’s been $4.50 into $4.20 from gate nine.
“He just shouldn’t have been able to do that,” said driver Chris Alford, shaking his head after Poster Boy came three-wide without cover in a 55sec last half to edge-out Ignatius.
Stewart’s other runners are the untapped Ride High (gate 12, $4.50), who beat stablemate Konan (gate eight, $5) in the other semi. She also has outsiders Maraetai (gate seven, $16), Major Times (gate five, $26) and Tam Major (gate two, $35).
Victoria Derby winner Colt Thirty One had little luck when fifth in his semi behind Ride High, but drew to be a big factor from the pole in the final.
“I think he’s in the top five of an amazingly strong crop,” trainer-driver Grant Dixon said. “We needed a good draw and got it.
“You’ve got to use these draws. Plan A is to get out as quick as can and hold the lead if possible.
“I know the pressure will be on, but I’d rather be in front than anywhere else.”