Majestic Man wins opening ID heat
By Adam Hamilton
Anthony Butt certainly wasn’t panicking after Kiwi raider Majestic Man’s less-than-impressive opening round heat win in the Inter Dominion trotting series.
It took all of Butt’s genius and poise to nurse the gelding to a head win over moderately-performed Victorian raider The Penny Drops, who sat outside him throughout and still almost caused the upset as a $23 shot.
Illawong Stardust sat behind Majestic Man , and dashed up the inside to be a close third.
“I was actually pretty happy, all things considered. He got a little bit keen at times, but he still lifted when they came at him,” Butt said.
“We’ve only had him a couple of weeks and haven’t done much with him, so he’ll improve on it.
“It was also my first drive on him and he’s got a couple of tricks, so I’ll be better for the run, too.”
Boom former Kiwi four-year-old mare Funky Monkey, who was second favourite for the final before last night, now faces a battle just to qualify after galloping early and never looking really comfortable 25.3m from the winner in ninth spot.
“The occasion got to her a little bit, she didn’t handle it off the back row when the pace slackened. She got very fired up. It wasn’t ideal, but thankfully we’ve got another two heats,” driver Robbie Morris said.
The second heat produced the upset of the night when $38.80 outsider Timothy Red flashed home through the middle late for young gun driver Cam Hart to beat another outsider Caligula with star mare Pink Galahs a close third after sitting parked, which is not her go.
It was a special win for co-trainers Joe and Mary Rando, who have been a backbone of trotting in NSW.
“This is very special. We’re so proud of Timothy, he’s come a long way in a short time,” Mary Rando said.
“It’s surreal and to see him break the track record is something else,” Joe Rando added.
Star local Tough Monarch was the disappointment of the night when he led, was battling on the home bend and weakened to finish sixth.
Former Kiwi trotter Humble Ladd made an uncharacteristic early break and grabbed the eye back in eighth spot. He’s one to watch going forward.
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Expensive Ego was the star of Inter Dominion night one, but there’s a long road still to go.
While champion stablemate King Of Swing posted a quicker time, Expensive Ego turned more heads with his runaway win while seemingly doing it under his own steam.
“He’s probably a little more wound-up than King going into it because he’s been racing lately,” McCarthy said.
“But he is right back to his very best at the right time. He’s a great horse, there’s no bottom to him.
“He can goof around a bit, but he felt very sharp tonight. He did it easily.”
McCarthy isn’t worried about the four runs in a fortnight for the relatively inexperienced four-year-old Expensive Ego.
“When he won the Chariots Of Fire, it was his fifth run in as many weeks and he got better each time,” he said. “I think he’ll thrive on the series.”
McCarthy confirmed David Moran was on-hold to drive Expensive Ego in the final if he stays with King Of Swing.
There was nothing wrong with King Of Swing’s win in the first heat in a 1min53.9sec mile rate for 2400m, 1.2sec faster than Expensive Ego.
“He got the front pretty comfortably then an easy middle half,” McCarthy said. “He’s got a tendency to switch-off a bit in front, especially first-up, so I kept him going right to the line and he ran a slick half and quarter (53.9 and 26.1).
“That’s ideal for him first-up. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.”
NZ Cup contestant Robyns Playboy clearly wasn’t himself, tiring late to run a distant last in his heat behind Expensive Ego.
Underrated Victorian pacer Malcolms Rhythm thwarted a Team McCarthy cleansweep of the heats when he nabbed leader and favourite Spirit Of St Louis to win by a whisker in a 1min55.1sec mile rate.
Trainer David Aiken’s Inter Dominion history dates back to 1985 when Toby Duane ran fifth in the Melbourne win and he won the 2015 final with Lennytheshark.
“This is really special, to share it with our great owner Dominic Martello and Josh (Aiken, son),” Aiken said.
“He’s an underrated horse, a real professional. Hopefully he’ll handle the four runs in a fortnight, I think he’s the sort of horse who will.”
“I was also really pleased with Max Delight’s fourth in the earlier heat, so it’s been a good start for the team.”
The run of the Malcolms Rhythm heat was former Victoria and NSW Derby winner Line Up, who settled last, circled the field to sit parked and almost caused a huge upset as a $34 shot – just a neck from the winner in third spot.
It was only his fourth run in Darren Binskin’s care and back from 18 months out with injury.
Classy former Kiwi Triple Eight grabbed the eye when he closed late for fourth from well back on the pegs.
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The fields and barrier draws for the second round of heats, over 1730m at Bathurst on Wednesday night, will be released at 6pm NZ time today (Sunday).