Just Believe's "special' Group 1

By Michael Guerin

Any regrets Greg Sugars had about not returning to Sweden are fading every time he wheels Just Believe on to a New Zealand racetrack.

Because while last year Just Believe gave Sugars and his wife Jess Tubbs the trip of a lifetime, the last month have given them something else.

“Winning these races is pretty special,” smiles Sugars.

“I know Sweden was wonderful last year and in a perfect world we would have loved to go back but at the end of the day racing is about winning.

“We are winning major races here and a lot of money here and a race like tonight, I have wanted to win a race like that, a major Group 1 in New Zealand.

“I don’t know when this horse is retired whether I will get a chance to do this again so it is very special.

“And winning is winning.”

That is the reality of the decision the team behind Just Believe made by choosing Trans Tasman over Around The World.

They could have gone back to Scandinavia and maybe won a major race. It is largely impossible to know and awfully expensive to find out.

Instead they skipped across the Tasman, from where Greg can return in four hours to drive any day he wants, and Just Believe has won $348,000 in stakes, minus the slot holders take from the TAB Trot.

His latest $60,000 cheque was earned the hard way, which seems to be how Just Believe likes it, in the $110,000 Peter Breckon Memorial National Trot at Alexandra Park on Friday night.

It was always going to be a potentially tricky race when one Greg (Hope) declared Muscle Mountain was going to lead and stay there and the other Greg (Sugars) had to find a way to beat him.

After some first-round pushing, and shoving, Sugars decided to use Just Believe’s stamina and tore into Muscle Mountain in the second last 400m, with the giant leader probably having a nightmare his old nemesis Sundees Son had come out of retirement and changed stables.

The pair went “down the back” in 27.2 seconds, forcing the trailing Oscar Bonavena to drop off and then it was a case of who exhaled first. It was Muscle Mountain at the 150m mark, and no disgrace in that.

Just Believe has developed into a great horse, a champion who knows how to use himself and doesn’t waste energy by over-racing or kinks in his gait.

Right now he is racing as well, and for a sustained a period of time, as any trotter has in this part of the world since Lyell Creek around either side of 2000.

Sugars says Just Believe will now stick around in Auckland for the Rowe Cup on May 24, with his good mate Joshua Dickie able to look after him as he returns home starting with Menangle on Saturday night.

“He will stay, he might as well and the Rowe Cup is a great race, a race we would love to win.

“And Better Eclipse will probably stay too now for the Auckland Cup.”

That can only be good for Alexandra Park, New Zealand and Australian harness racing because while it is hard to see Just Believe getting beaten in the Rowe Cup, his presence alone makes it a must-see end to the autumn.

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