Leap To Fame's standing start test ahead of NZ Cup

By Adam Hamilton

Put a ring around June 8 if you’re one of many hoping to see Aussie champ Leap To Fame in the New Zealand Cup at Addington in November.

Trainer-driver Grant Dixon said a first-up tilt at the Flashing Red Discretionary – a standing-start race – would go a long way to deciding if Leap To Fame heads to Christchurch.

“It’s an important race as far as NZ goes because it’ll be his first standing-start,” he said.

“He’s qualified (at the trials) from a stand and stands up well at home, but you want them to do it at the races.

“The Redcliffe Cup (June 29) looks as close a race as we can get over here to try him from a stand in a big field and when there will be a big crowd, but he has to qualify in a standing-start race before Redcliffe.

“That’s why the Flashing Red is the first big stepping stone. He needs to get through that well to go to Redcliffe and then do things right at Redcliffe to push on to NZ.

“If things didn’t go well in the Flashing Red, then we’d pull the pin on NZ, but everything he’s shown us so far gives us the indication he’ll handle the stand.”

Dixon admits he would “love” to tackle the NZ Cup.

“It would be very exciting. I think it’s pretty much the pinnacle of (harness) racing in our part of the world,” he said.

Leap To Fame had three weeks spelling after his mighty win in the Miracle Mile at Menangle on March 9.

He became the first pacer since the great Preux Chevalier to win Australia’s Triple Crown in the same campaign – Inter Dominion, Hunter Cup and Miracle Mile.

“Three weeks out was enough. He seems to have freshened up really well and we’ve been able to give him a long, slow build-up.

“He’ll be ready to trial in a couple of weeks and I’d like to get a run into him before the Flashing Red.”

Beyond the Flashing Red, Leap To Fame will switch back to mobile racing for Group 1 majors like the Sunshine Sprint (July 20) and Blacks A Fake (July 27).

Leap To Fame’s rematch with older sibling Swayzee in the Blacks A Fake promises to be the highlight of the rich Queensland Constellations.

Swayzee upstaged Leap To Fame in last year’s Blacks A Fake, but the latter gained revenge in last December’s Brisbane Inter Dominion final.

Swayzee will trial at Menangle on Wednesday.

If Leap To Fame ticks the standing start boxes in Queensland, Dixon has some thinking to do about the build-up.

“There’s the Victoria Cup, but also the option of going to NZ earlier for a lead-up race there,” he said.

“We’ll worry about that when we get through the next few months here. It’s good to be able to play from home for these next two months or so.”

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