Just Believe and Leap To Fame big winners in Aussie awards

By Adam Hamilton

New Zealand has seen the might of one of Australia’s Horse of the Year winners and the other one will soon follow.

Just days after his epic TAB Trot win at Cambridge's Night of Champions, Aussie superstar Just Believe has snared another career first.

The Jess Tubbs-trained gelding was named 2023 Australian Trotter of the Year, after being upstaged last year by the now retired Majestuoso while Queensland sensation Leap To Fame won both the Australian Pacer of the Year and the overall Australian Harness Horse of the Year crown.

Grant Dixon’s five-year-old is back in training after a break with a major target being his first trip across the ditch for November’s New Zealand Cup.

Leap To Fame, who won 12 of his 16 starts and almost $1.25mil in 2023, gained 70 per cent of the overall Harness Horse of the Year vote to beat Just Believe (22 per cent).

His major wins all came at Albion Park, in the Brisbane Inter Dominion, Rising Sun and Sunshine Sprint. He also ran second in the Blacks A Fake, inaugural TAB Eureka and third in the Victoria Cup.

“It’s a huge honour and, as I’ve said before, he’s the horse we’ve all dreamt of getting, Trista, myself along with Kevin and Kay (Seymour),” Dixon said.

“He’s taken us places and done things none of us have done before.

“And we’d love to take him to NZ, too. That’s certainly the plan.”

Meanwhile, Just Believe will be a commanding favourite from barrier five to add the Group 2 Lyell Creek free-for-all to his CV at Alexandra Park on Friday night.

In a coup for Kiwi fans, his NZ campaign has been extended instead of returning to Sweden for another tilt at the Elitlopp next month.

The only other trotter to gain votes in the Australian Trotter of the Year award was star Kiwi-owned mare Queen Elida.

She has returned home after a close third behind Just Believe in the TAB Trot to target a Group 1 mares’ feature at Menangle on Saturday week.

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