Mufasa Metro gets a taste of the big time

By Adam Hamilton 

Former exciting young Kiwi trotter Musafa Metro is on trial for races like the Inter Dominion and Great Southern Star when he steps into the big league at Melton on Saturday night.

Off the back of a stunning last-start Melton win, trainer-driver John Justice decided to throw the now four-year-old Musafa Metro into his first serious open-class test in the Group 3 Vulcan Trotters’ free-for-all (1720m).

Musafa Metro, bought for big money last season by Justice’s main client Mark Gurry, was second-up from a spell when he won by almost 26m and smashed the clock winning at Melton last Saturday week.

“It’s the right race at the right time. I knew he had to draw well under the (preferential) barrier draw and the short trip suits against the big guns for the first time,” Justice said.

“If he trots away well and leads, we’ll be holding it and he’ll be very hard to get past on what he did last time.

“It’s an ideal test for a race like the Great Southern Star, which is his main target down the track. He’ll probably go to the Inter Dominion as well, if he keeps improving the way we expect.”

Justice dared to compare Mufasa Metro with his former outstanding trotter Lenin, a winner of 41 races and third to Night Allowance in the 1993 Auckland Inter Dominion final.

“I got a bit carried away after his last win and said he was better than Lenin, but he’s got a way to go yet,” Justice laughed. “Let’s say I think he’s potentially as good.

“I don’t think we saw the best of him here last season. It was all a bit of a rush. We got that first Holmfield win out of him, then he went off a bit.

“He’s come back much better. Mark paid good money for him and hope for his sake he’s going places.”

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Former champion filly Ladies In Red launched the next phase of her career as a four-year-old mare with an easy Australian Pacing Gold heat win at Ballarat last night (Wednesday).

It took her record to 18 wins (and three seconds) from just 21 starts and was her first run since winning the Vicbred final at Melton on New Year’s Eve.

New driver Nathan Jack, replacing the suspended David Moran, made light work of a back row draw to whiz around the field and take the lead within the first 500m and then dictate terms.

Ladies In Red ripped home in 26.2sec to win as she liked over stablemates Joanna and Tough Tilly.

“She did that easily, as you’d expect,” Jack said. “I’ve driven some lovely fillies over the years, but there’s no doubt she’s the best.

“We were here just to qualify tonight. We’ll get more serious next time.”

That’s in the $210,000 Gold 4YO Mares’ final at Menangle on Saturday week.

It’s also worth noting Tough Tilly, one of few fillies to beat Ladies In Red, grabbed the eye with a luckless third in last night’s race.

She was also first-up and it was great to see her savage the line after so many setbacks over the past 12 months.

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