Aussie News : Kate Gath's big decision
By Adam Hamilton
Driver of the moment Kate Gath has one of the biggest decisions of her career to make in the next couple of days.
Gath has great reasons to drive at feature meetings at both Menangle at Melton next Saturday night.
At Menangle she would do the bulk of the stable driving for the powerhouse Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin, including nominal NSW Oaks favourite Tough Tilly, leading Ladyship Mile hope Maajida, Miracle Mile hopeful Out To Play and well-fancied NSW Derby contender Idyllic in a qualifying heat.
But, at Melton, the most special horse in his career, Tornado Valley, will tackle the $100,000 Group 1 Grand Prix.
“It’s not a position I’m used to being in. It’s a good problem to have, but it’s such a hard one,” Gath said. “I just wanted to get through tonight (Saturday) and now I’ll have to make my decision.”
You’d think Gath, if allowed, would wait until the barrier draw came out on Tuesday for the Grand Prix.
As special as Tornado Valley is to her, she’s got amazing bond with Tough Tilly and the EB Research awareness cause the filly races for.
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Emerging star Wolf Stride is returning to where it all started to chase a Miracle Mile berth.
It was about 10 months ago when co-trainer Anthony Butt touted Wolf Stride as a future Grand Circuit player after a Menangle win and he’s well on the way.
Fresh off his terrific fourth in the Group 1 Hunter Cup on February 6, Wolf Stride dropped back in class a tad and made the most of it for a dominant $50,000 Group 2 Terang Cup win on Saturday night.
The race was pretty much over inside the first 600m when daring stand-in driver Zac Phillips worked through and around the field from a back row draw to take the lead from Malcolms Rhythm.
Wolf Stride then dashed home in in 55.1sec, seemingly still with something in hand, to win as he liked.
“He’s a pretty special horse and still on the up,” Phillips said. “All credit goes to Anthony and Sonya (Smith, co-trainer). They’ve sone a fantastic job with this horse.
“Anthony’s up in Sydney and this guy heads up Monday join him. Sonya heads up then as well.”
Wolf Stride will chase a Miracle Mile berth through one of the two Group 1 qualifying sprints at Menangle next Saturday night.
Terang’s other feature, the Group 3 Trotters’ Cup, proved a triumph for young trainer Kate Hargreaves and her improving Well Defined.
Driver Ellen Tormey stepped Well Defined straight to the front, took a trail on the tough Robbie Royale and ripped home to win strongly.
Class runners Pink Galahs (20m handicap) and McLovin (30m) were well beaten into fifth and six spots.
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It wasn’t the Newcastle Mile we were all waiting for, but there were plenty happy with the breakthrough Group 1 win of The Black Prince.
Roy Roots Jr’s consistent open-class performer won the Group 1 Carousel at Menangle in 2018, but broke through at the highest level when driver Robbie Morris scooted him along the inside to win in a slick 1min51.1sec mile.
The Black Prince, who finished third to Majordan in last year’s Newcastle Mile, also gave Roots Jr his first Group 1 success. Roots Jr was formerly based at Keinbah, just outside Newcastle, before moving his base to NSW’s Central Coast.
With Lochinvar Art a late scratching, top former Kiwi pacer Turn It Up was sent out a commanding $1.70 favourite.
Turn It Up spent some petrol in a early burn for the lead and had to snag back, but then surged around soon after to take the lead from The Black Prince.
Despite steadying through a cosy 29.5sec second quarter, Turn It Up looked in trouble coming to the home bend and tired to finish fifth.
He’ll now need to back-up and run much better in a qualifying sprint at Menangle next Saturday night to make the Miracle Mile.
But The Black Prince’s win gets him straight through to the $1 million feature on Saturday week.
Victorian raider Western Sonador grabbed the eye after being buried in traffic early and storming home from a mile back to finish a fantastic second.
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Amidst the Lochinvar Art injury setback and Miracle Mile chaos, his trainer-driver David Moran at least had one reason to smile.
His untapped three-year-old Patsbeachstorm sparkled winning his final NSW Derby warm-up against older horses at Newcastle last Friday night.
It was his first run since being nabbed late as favourite when second in the Group 1 Caduceus Classic at Melton on January 30.
He’s had just six runs for four wins, a second a third and oozes potential.
“I wasn’t at all disappointed when he got beaten at Melton. He was only second up from almost a year out and it was six months ago he almost died. He was always going to improve a lot from that Melton run,” Moran said.
“I deliberately picked that Newcastle race because it was over the (long) 2550m. It was great to be able to sit him back off the pace and let him finish off them instead of leading as he’s done so often.”
Patsbeachstorm stormed home from near the rear to win by 20.7m and run his own last half in 55.3sec.
He’s one of the major players in the Derby heading into next Saturday night’s heats. The others are Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s pair Idyllic and Act Now along with local star Tasty Delight.
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Gary Hall Jr never ceases to amaze at Gloucester Park.
He was right at his best again in the first of the features last Friday night when perfectly executing a plan and winning on comeback pacer Wildwest in the $50,000 Group 2 Governors Cup (2130m).
While most thought the headstrong and enigmatic Talktomeurmattjesty would work across to the front, Hall Jr had other ideas.
“I didn’t like the position that could’ve left me in, so I wanted to hold the front with everything I had,” he said.
Wildwest and Talktomeurmattjesty burned through the lead time, but Hall Jr did hold the front and was still good enough to keep fighting and win despite copping midrace pressure too.
It was only Wildwest’s second run back from a break and took his record to 10 wins from only 15 starts.
In the other feature, husband and wife team Chris and Debra Lewis combined for an all-the-way win with Rumour Has It to upstage some glamour fillies like Black Jack Baby (third) and Always An Angel (unplaced).
It was a race which has throw the upcoming WA Oaks into some confusion.