Leap To Fame and Callmethebreeze star on Hunter Cup night
By Adam Hamilton
Leap To Fame took his biggest step towards greatness yet with his first “major” win away from home in last night’s $500,000 Group 1 Hunter Cup at Melton.
While he won Inter Dominion on his home patch at Albion Park on December 16, trainer-driver Grant Dixon admitted last night’s win was more important.
“It’s a big one, to win a race like this away from home,” he said. “For the horse and me, it’s important.”
Leap To Fame had been beaten on the road in the Group 1 Victoria and TAB Eureka last year but took control of the Hunter Cup when he worked to the front after 500m and never looked in serious danger.
“I’ve been in the sport for a long time watching races like this and dreaming of winning them, now I have,” Dixon said.
“It’s so sweet to get a horse like him and great to share the ride with Kevin and Kay (Seymour), who have been such big supporters of mine for so long.
“We kicked along at a reasonable pace and I was thrilled he was able to keep finding and win.”
Leap To Fame’s 1min54sec flat mile rate for 2760m was just 0.8sec outside Tiger Tara’s track record. He ripped home in 54.3 and 27.2sec flat.
“You might see him again next week in the Cranbourne Cup,” Kevin Seymour said. “If he comes through this win well, it’s very likely.”
Dixon said the $100,000 Newcastle Mile on February 23 would then be the next target.
“I like Newcastle because it gives him two weeks between that and the Miracle Mile,” he said.
Asked about the Race by Grins at Cambridge on April 12, Seymour said: “We’re looking serious at it. Grant and I have some talking to do.”
While Leap To Fame stole the show, young Kiwi raider Don’t Stop Dreaming earned huge praise for his late closing second in super sectional times.
Mark Purdon was standing-up the leader at least 12m start as he came three-wide from one-out and two-back.
To get within 1.6m of Leap To Fame was monstrous and a great pointer to his Chariots Of Fire prospects on March 2 at Menangle.
But he will need to qualify through either the Hondo Grattan or Paleface Adios at Menangle in coming weeks.
Former Victoria Cup winner Max Delight made the most of a cosy three-fence trips to run a fantastic third, while Inter Dominion runner-up Better Eclipse was terrific in fourth spot.
The disappointment was Miracle Mile winner Catch A Wave, who led from the pole, took a sit on Leap To Fame but weakened to finish last.
TAB Trot could have star new addition
The inaugural TAB Trot could have a huge new player.
French-bred European import Callmethebreeze left a huge Melton crowd stunned when he upset local hero Just Believe in last night’s $300,000 Group 1 Great Southern Star.
The Anton Golino-trained stallion brilliantly won his heat of the race and then beat Just Believe at his own game in the final two hours later.
Pat Driscoll’s Yabby Dams owns Callemethebreeze and has a slot in the TAB Trot at Cambridge on April 12.
Just six weeks ago, trainer Anton Golino wondered whether Driscoll had been “had” by paying big money for Callmethebreeze.
“I worked him and seemed more like an old stallion interested in other things. Pat watched his work and I said he might have been had,” he said.
“But I changed a few things, go him behind a galloping pacemaker and everything changed.
“We’ve never had a horse like this, an older horse with a great record, so it’s different. We make most of our horses from a young age.
“It’s such a thrill to see him come out and do this.”
In contrast to the heat when Callmebreeze led, he started from the outside the back row and sustained a long three-wide run wear down Just Believe, who sat parked, in a epic finish to win by a neck.
The mile rate for 1720m was a blazing 1min53.1sec.
“I knew I couldn’t beat Just Believe for speed, so we had to get going early, put him under pressure and make it a staying test,” driver Nathan Jack said.
“When Greg went for Just Believe and couldn’t get away on me, I thought I was a big chance of getting him. It was a huge win.
“What a race it was. It’s one of my greatest thrills in the sport.”
Just Believe was so brave in defeat and the enormous crowd cheered him off the track.
“He gave it everything and tried so hard. It was quite humbling to hear the crowd to be honest,” driver Greg Sugars said.