Leap To Fame closer to New Zealand Cup start

By Adam Hamilton

New Zealand Cup plans have gone from an "if" to a "how and when" for champion Aussie pacer Leap To Fame.

Grant Dixon's five-year-old passed his most important NZ Cup test yet when he won his first standing-start race at Albion Park on Saturday night.

Leap To Fame handled the stand well, made a move around the field midrace to sit outside the leader and blasted clear at the top of the home straight to win as he liked by 12.6m in the Flashing Red Discretionary Handicap.

He was the lone backmarker off 20m and still posted a blistering 1min55.5sec mile rate for the 2647m from the stand.

“It ticked an important box and he did it well,” Dixon said. “He stepped a little better than he did in the recent trial and he wanted to get it right, too. It’s a good starting point.”

The win paved the way for Leap To Fame to go to another standing-start test, the $100,000 Group 1 Last Redcliffe Cup on June 29.

The conditions of that race also have a maximum 20m back mark, but the quality of the field is expected to be stronger and the tiny, triangle-shaped Redcliffe track is much harder for horses to come from well back in the field.

“I think I’ll run him again before the (Redcliffe) Cup, either in the Patrons Purse at Redcliffe on the Friday (June 21) or in a free-for-all at Albion Park the night after.”

Leap To Fame has won his past 13 starts in a row and after Redcliffe he switches back to mobile racing for the Group 1 double – Sunshine Sprint (July 20) and Blacks A Fake (July 27).

“Then he’ll have a few quiet days and we’ll work out what his build-up looks like for NZ,” Dixon said.

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Still on the NZ Cup theme and last year’s winner Swayzee continues to build strongly in preparation for another Queensland raid.

Jason Grimson’s mighty stayer made it two dominant and sizzling 2300m wins from as many starts this campaign when he posted a 1min52.8sec mile rate at Menangle last night.

As expected, driver Cam Hart worked Swayzee forward from the outside draw to take the lead and just kept bowling along.

He ran his four splits of the last mile in 29.2, 28.5, 27.9 and 27.4sec to win by 10.6sec.

Swayzee will head to Queensland without another Menangle run, with Grimson planning to take a big team north in a week or so.

He is just what the Queensland Carnival needs with his younger sibling Leap To Fame in such destructive form.

Swayzee beat Leap To Fame in last year’s Blacks A Fake before the Queensland sensation got revenge in the Inter Dominion final in December.

Boom former Kiwi mare Aardie's Express also won at Menangle, but only after surviving a huge scare from rejuvenated stablemate Tay Tay, who trailed her and got within a half-head on the line.

It was Aardie's Express’ first race for five weeks and her first run for new trainer Jason Grimson.

She is expected to tackle another Menangle mares’ race next Saturday night before heading to Queensland.

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Chariots Of Fire winner Frankie Ferocious will sharpen-up for his racetrack return to another Menangle trial on Wednesday.

The Jason Grimson-trained gelding looked sharp, albeit in a dash home, at his first trial back at Menangle last Wednesday.

With Cam Hart aboard, Frankie Ferocious ran a 1min52.5sec mile and won his trial by 13.2m, ripping home in 54.4 and 26.9sec.

The gelding hasn’t raced since a fantastic fourth from a horror draw in the Miracle Mile on March 9.

Grimson plans to give him one, at most two, lead-up runs before the $355,000 Group 1 Rising Sun at Albion Park on July 20.

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Old marvel Triple Eight posted his 25th career win at Melton.

It was the nine-year-old’s 133rd start and he’s earned almost $820,000.

“Every time someone suggests it might be time for Triple Eight to retire, the old boy belts out another rich vein of form. ‘Bart’ sprinted home to win the Lazarus free-for-all in a zippy 1:53,” trainer Jess Tubbs posted after the race.

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