Major Perry into Victoria Derby final
By Adam Hamilton
Underrated Kiwi colt Major Perry has won his way through to what will be a ripper Victoria Derby final at Melton next Saturday night.
A lovely run and superb Scott Phelan drive helped the Barry Purdon-trained Major Perry snatch a last-stride win over a very gallant NSW raider Ripp in a slick 1min55.7sec mile rate for the long 2760m trip.
The shock of the race came when buzz local Catch A Wave tired after sitting parked for the back half of the race and finished seventh, meaning he missed the final.
“Watching from home the Aussie three-year-olds looked pretty good so we were hoping just to qualify, but to win is a bonus,” Phelan said after Major Perry’s win.
“We got a bit of luck tonight and made the most of it. Hopefully we can draw well for the final as well.”
Phelan said Major Perry’s NSW Derby trip earlier this year, where he ran second to Leap To Fame in the final, helped him develop.
“It really made him. You’ve seen in his Alexandra Park wins since. He’s a bit better stayer now whereas he was a sit-sprinter early on,” he said.
Phelan’s joy was no doubt tempered 30 minutes later when Derby big guns Captain Ravishing and Leap To Fame fought-out an epic second heat.
Despite sitting parked, Captain Ravishing ran his own last half in 53.1sec and ran past NSW and Queensland Derby winner Leap To Fame to win by 1.9m.
You can argue the overall time was slow at a 1min58.3sec mile rate, but Captain Ravishing’s win was one of the best Melton has seen.
He ran about several times under pressure in the straight, goofed around a lot when outside the leader in run and still broke the clock and ran past a genuine star.
“He’s some sort of horse. He’s still a bit green, but he’s actually an easy horse to drive,” Captain Ravishing’s driver Mark Pitt said.
Two months ago co-trainer Clayton Tonkin said Captain Ravishing would be a huge Derby player before he raced for the stable. He’s now won all three runs in fantastic fashion.
That pair are deservedly the top seeds for the Derby final.
The draw for the Derby is Monday night, along with the Victoria Oaks and Victoria Cup.
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The Victoria Oaks has taken on a very different look with hot favourites beaten in all three heats at Melton last night.
Of the big guns, you could most easily forgive Encipher, who sat parked and ripped home in 54.2sec when only beaten a nose and a half-head into third spot in the opening heat.
NSW Oaks winner Just Hope led throughout and just staved-off Petillante along the sprint lane to win in a cosy 1min59.6sec mile rate and closing splits of 27.6 and 26.6sec.
Top class former Kiwi filly Amore Vita was sound but nothing special when beaten into fourth spot as favourite in heat two.
The tempo of the race made it very hard, but she did have a one-one trail and could only get within 5.4m of leader and winner Relentless Me in a 1min59.6sec mile rate. Like the first heat, it was a sprint home in closing splits of 54 flat and 26.8sec.
The extra fitness and knowledge Amore Vita is a proven big race performer still make her a key runner, especially with a decent draw, in next Saturday night’s final.
The third heat saw champion former Kiwi horseman Anthony Butt cause an upset along the sprint lane from behind the leader on the Geoff Webster-trained Elegant.
Hot favourite and Queensland Oaks winner Soho Historia loomed as the winner from a good trail rounding the home bend, but just peaked on her run and finished 1.1m away in second spot.
They went a much quicker 1min57.2sec mile rate in heat three and closed-off in 55.7 and 28sec.
It’s an open Oaks, but Encipher still looks the one to beat for mine if she gets a decent draw.
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The man behind legendary pacer Paleface Adios, his trainer Colin Pike, passed away last Thursday.
Paleface Adios, known fondly as the Temora Tornado, won a staggering 108 races from 240 starts, most notably the Miracle Mile in 1976.
Pike and his mighty pacer were credited with putting the NSW Riverina town of Temora on the map and a statue of Paleface Adios takes pride of place in the centre of the town today.
“Even in this age, long past the glory of the 1970s and ‘80s, people still talk of ‘Pikie and Paleface’ a duo who could draw a crowd to marvel in their supreme ability of man and horse,” HRNSW CEO John Dumesny told the Riverina’s Daily Advertiser.
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Brilliant WA juvenile Never Ending stretched his unbeaten streak to six when he led and won the state’s biggest two-year-old race, the $150,000 Group 1 Golden Slipper last Friday night.
The son of Sweet Lou had to survive an early challenge to lead from the pole for driver Gary Hall Jr, but never looked in danger afterwards, winning with what looked to be something in the tank by 3.6m in a 1min55.1sec mile rate for 1730m.
He’s the latest young star for emerging trainer force Justin Prentice.
The Jocelyn Young-trained Skylord grabbed the eye with a booming finish from well back for second, while Team Bond’s recent Kiwi import Lusaka trailed the leader and stuck at the task well for third.
Earlier in the night, Hall Jr teamed with his father, Gary Sr, to make it two easy wins from as many Aussie runs for recent Kiwi import Smart Watch, a three-year-old son of Hes Watching.
The free-for-all saw a monstrous plunge landed when the emerging former Kiwi gelding Plutonium led, dawdled and scrambled home to win for trainer Michael Young and driver Maddison Brown.
While Team Bond scored an upset in the other feature of the night, The Kersley, when Markham Eyre stormed home as a $26 shot from well back to gun-down favourite Finvarra and win by a head.