Max delights again

By Adam Hamilton

ON pure performance, Max Delight must sit right now as Australia’s best three-year-old.

Many will have differing opinions, but he won the best and strongest Derby run this season (the NSW Derby in scorching time) and then won by what seemed the length of the straight in the Tasmanian Derby.

Max Delight was just second-up from a spell for trainer David Aiken when he thrashed his NSW Breeders Crown rivals to win his semi-final by 12m in a 1min52.3sec mile.

He looked to do it second gear.

But they did quicker time in the first semi where the tough Emma Stewart-trained Mach Three colt Harditter led throughout to beat buzz pacer Lochinvar Art by 2.8m in a 1min51.4sec mile.

It always shaped as a ripper final, but the barrier draw has added more intrigue with Lochinvar Art in one, Hardhitter (seven, but comes into five with emergencies out) and Max Delight (nine, into seven).

The big question is whether Lochinvar Art, who has so often drawn poorly in major races this season, actually has the gate speed to take full advantage of gate one in next Sunday’s final.

NSW BREEDERS CHALLENGE 3YOC&G DRAW: Lochinvar Art, Rockin Marty, Smooth Cash (1st em), Bracken Storm, First String, Colossal Stride (2nd em), Hardhitter, Ginger Micky, Max Delight, Make Mine Memphis, Im Bruce Almighty, Leonidas,

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THE heat is suddenly on gifted pacer Ignatius.

Widely-regarded as one of the most exciting pacers in Australia, Ignatius is winless in four runs this campaign after a shock defeat in his NSW Breeders Challenge semi at Menangle.

Much like his other three runs this time in work, Ignatius had to do all the work, but he loomed as the winner before tiring late to finish third to Summit Special and Bright Energy in a 1min50.7sec mile.

It’s worth noting Ignatius came from the outside draw and forced the issue trying unsuccessfully to get the lead in a blazing 54.3sec first half.

There was an upset in the first semi as well when former All Stars’ pacer Sicario found the lead, but was nabbed right on the line by Victorian visitor War Dan in a much slower 1min52.4sec mile.

Much focus will on whether Ignatius and can bounce-back and win the final at Menangle next Sunday.

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MARG Lee’s stellar season continued when Keayang Liberty won her semi of the NSW Breeders Challenge for three-year-old fillies.

Lee’s stable star this term has been Jilliby Nitro, already a winner of the Australian Gold and Bathurst finals and hot favourite for his NSW Breeders Challenge final next Sunday.

The other semi went to last year’s 2YO Breeders Challenge final winner Miss Halfpenny for trainer Paul Fitzpatrick and his son, driver Gavin.

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