Kiwi filly dominant in Aussie Group 1

by Adam Hamilton 

A glorious Chris Alford drive helped Kiwi filly Aldebaran Keepa blow away her rivals in last night’s Group 1 Victoria Trotters’ Oaks (2240m) at Melton.

Things looked tricky for Alford midrace when the daughter of Kadabra was buried four-back on the inside, but he found daylight turning for home and the race was over in the blink of an eye,’

The Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett-trained filly roared past her rivals to win by an increasing 3.8m in a 2min0.1sec mile rate.

“She’s a lovely filly and that speed of hers is a real weapon,” Alford said.

The race changed complexion early when favourite Amandine caused a false start and then, at the second attempt, began well enough to sit behind the leader, but then galloped again and lost all chance.

Alford’s joy continued when he teamed with Brent Lilley’s brilliant trotting mare Queen Elida for an easy win in the Group 3 Maori Miss Trotters’ free-for-all (2240m).

Backing-up off a rare defeat at Melton a week earlier when Queen Elida got lost back in the field, this time she was totally dominant.

Alford sat back, came with a sustained three-wide run and Queen Elida rocketed clear to win by seven metres in a 1min58.7sec mile rate.

The four-year-old daughter of Love You has won 16 of her 27 starts and looms as Australia’s top seed in the upcoming Inter Dominion trotting series.

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Team McCarthy will decide this week whether stable big guns Spirit Of St Louis and Expensive Ego tackle the $100,000 Group 1 Len Smith Mile at Menangle on October 28.

Luke McCarthy remains baffled by the Expensive Ego’s flop as an easing favourite in last Saturday week’s Victoria Cup.

“It’s just weird,” he said. “We had his bloods done and had him scoped … nothing came up. There is no reason to pin it on.

“It’s a real head-scratcher. He felt like a different horse to what he’d done at home. He just never felt any good at any stage of the race. He’d normally bowl along in 29sec quarters when he found the front, but he didn’t want to go and was beaten a long way out.

“It was too bad to be true, but we can’t explain it. He’d just been too well to come out and do that.

“What can I say? We just have to move on and say that’s horses for you.”

McCarthy said the Len Smith looked “very likely” because Expensive Ego had been terrific since the shock flop.

“If there’s nothing to pin it on and he seems so well, we really have to push on,” he said.

But a decision on Spirit Of St Louis, who hasn’t raced since the Queensland winter, is still pending.

“The next week will tell the story. He needs to show us he’s close enough to his top to have a crack at it,” Luke said.

“Otherwise, we could skip it and just focus on having him primed for the Inter Dominion and those races he won last year, the Shepparton, Bendigo and Ballarat Cups then into the Hunter Cup.”

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Former Kiwi pacer Zeuss Bromac smashed his PB winning the Group 3 Kevin Robinson free-for-all (1609m) at Menangle last night.

The five-year-old’s previous best was a 1min50.6sec mile, but he stopped the clock at a blistering 1min49.4sec last night for trainer Paul Fitzpatrick and driver Gavin Fitzpatrick.

With the Group 1 Len Smith looming on Saturday week, it’s a great time for Zeuss Bromac to hit top form.

The Menangle meeting also featured a string of NSW Breeders Challenge qualifiers.

The standout was Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s filly Major Delight smashing the Australian 2YO Fillies’ record with a 1min50.6sec semi-final win. She’s unbeaten in five runs.

Major Delight is a sister to former Victoria Cup and NSW Derby winner Max Delight.

Earlier, Jason Grimson and Cam Hart combined with classy four-year-old mare Tay Tay to win her heat in 1min50.6sec.

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Emerging filly Taking The Miki snatched victory in a stirring finish to last Friday night’s $150,000 Group 1 WA Oaks at Gloucester Park.

In a driving finish, the Ross Olivieri-trained daughter of Always B Miki just staved off Little Darling to win by a half-head with just another head away to Acharne Girl in third spot.

The surprise of the race was that WA’s long-stand standout filly Wonderful To Fly was unsighted. She wilted late to finish 25.5m away in 10th spot.

It was a beautiful Chris Voak drive on Taking The Miki to get away from the leader’s back at a crucial stage and win.

Although champion driver Gary Hall Jr didn’t win any of the big ones, he still dominated the night with five wins.

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