Aussie News - 23 December

By Adam Hamilton

 

WHAT a shame Kiwis never got to see the “real” Colt Thirty One during the Inter Dominion in Auckland.

Never really being comfortable on the track, luckless early runs, especially that gut-buster in the second round of heats all conspired to ruin his Auckland raid.

But, remarkably, he returned home to win a Group 2 feature just a week after the last run of his Kiwi campaign.

Despite having to fly back to Sydney then face a 10-hour road trip up to Brisbane, Colt Thirty One successfully defended the Group 2 Queensland Cup crown he won last year.

He only arrived back at trainer-driver Grant Dixon’s stable on Thursday.

Not only did he do it the hard way getting home, but also in the race last night (Saturday).

Colt Thirty One, the $1.60 favourite, sat outside third favourite Glenferrie Hood with second elect Bad Billy stalking behind the leader.

They went a 1min54.7sec mile rate for the 2138m and zipped down the back in 28.1sec, but Colt Thirty One was still able to zoom past the leader then hold-off Bad Billy, who had every possible chance, to win by a half-head.

It was a mighty win on every level.

“I’m super proud of the horse, it’s more about him than anything else, along with Dale (Hogan), who’s been with him every step of the way,” Dixon said. “He’ll have a week off now and then we’ll work out what’s next.”

And it will now be interesting to see whether Dixon travels again for a race like the Hunter Cup on February 1 at Melton or waits for the Miracle Mile qualifiers at Menangle a few weeks later.

Earlier in the night, Dixon also snared the quinella in another feature, one named after his father “The Bill Dixon”, with former All Stars’ three-year-old Virgil and the very exciting Governor Jujon.

Dixon’s wife Trista, back driving just over three weeks after having their third child, Cooper, drove Virgil, who led throughout from the pole and just held-on by a nose in a blistering 1min52.3sec mile rate for 1660m.

The run of Governor Jujon to get so close from the back row was monstrous.

Dixon will surely be tempted to tackle the Victoria Derby heats at Ballarat on January 18 with both of them.

To cap the massive night, he Dixon-trained Kiwi import Wee Man Trouble, won the race he was specifically bought to chase, the Group 1 Darrell Alexander Memorial Trot.

It gave Adam Sanderson his first Group 1 driving success.

 

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EXCITING four-year-old Patrickthepiranha is just the ideal Gloucester Park horse.

His blazing gate speed and tractability are made for Perth’s tight circuit.

Just a week after leading, copping pressure and running a fantastic second in WA’s biggest four-year-old race, the Group 1 Golden Nugget, the gelding landed a feature of his own.

Trained and driven by veteran Colin Brown, Patrickthepiranha drew the pole, led easily and just held-on to win the $50,000 Group 2 Christmas Gift final.

It was Brown’s sixth driving win in the feature, following Russley Rascal (2011) and Motu Treasure (2010) for trainer Greg Bond, Has The Answers (2002) for trainer Les Coulson, Julian Doe (1991) for trainer Suzanne Tolcon and his own horse, Simeon Bay (1988).

Brown has been happy to watch from the sidelines with Dylan Egerton-Green doing the driving on Patrickthepiranha, but that changed last Friday because Egerton-Green had to drive his own horse Tyler Brett (seventh).

 

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IT was two years ago when Vultan Tin ran the race of his life for fourth in the Perth Inter Dominion final.

He chased home Lazarus, Chicago Bull and Tiger Tara and beat home the likes of Lennytheshark, Soho Tribeca, San Carlo, Have Faith In Me and Galactic Star.

Now you could argue he’s back to that sort of form, even in the twilight of his career as eight-year-old.

“I don’t know if he’s ever raced better,” driver and unashamed fan Chris Voak said. “Last week he came and sat parked and won in 1min54sec and change, so it gave me the confidence to put him straight into the race again (last Friday).”

Despite being three-wide early and around to sit parked outside favourite Herrick Roosevelt, Vultan Tin was too strong, winning by 1.3m in a 1min57.2sec for 2130m.

It was an inspired drive, daring to “crush” the leader with a 27.2sec third split and still holding-off noted sit-sprinter El Jacko to in a 28.5sec closing split.

There’s no doubt Vultan Tin will be a major player in the big Fremantle (January 10) and WA Pacing Cup (January 17) double.

It will be interesting to see if trainer Phil Costello backs him up quickly again for next Friday’s Village Kid Sprint.

Last Friday’s other free-for-all went to evergreen 11-year-old Our Jimmy Johnstone for Team Bond in a scorching 1min53.5sec mile rate for 1730m.

Team Bond also won the mares’ feature on the night with the classy former Kiwi Our Alfie Romeo, who boasts a fantastic record since coming to WA of 26 starts for 15 wins, seven placings and earnings over $220,000.

 

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REIGNING Great Southern Star champion Dance Craze showed she was on target for a title defence with an impressive Melton win last night (Saturday).

Anton Golino’s six-year-old was superbly driven by Glen Craven to beat a good field, including Tornado Valley, in the Group 3 Freestone Trotters Cup in a 1min59.4sec mile rate for 2240m.

As good as Dance Craze was, nothing went right for Tornado Valley, who settled near last, was held-up behind tiring horses at a crucial stage and then charged home from an impossible to finish just five metres from the winner in fifth spot.

On the same card, Victoria Oaks hopeful Rockingwithsierra landed a plunge ($16 into $6) when she upset hot favoirite Iolanta in the Group 3 Gold Chalice.

And excitement continues to build around unbeaten three-year-old trotter Keayang Ignite, who won his fourth race and his first at Group 1 level in the Vicbred Platinum Home Grown final.

Trained by Paddy Lee and driven by his brother, Jason, the son of Angus Hall gaped his rivals by 17.3m in a  1min59.6sec mile rate for 1720m, capped by a 27.9sec closing quarter.

 

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JUST a few years back Tasmania’s Beautide won back-to-back Inter Dominions.

Now Tassie has another buzz pacer, Ryley Major, but fans will have to wait a little longer to see him chasing big races on the mainland.

The six-year-old son of Art Major took his record to 23 wins (and nine placings) from just 33 starts with an epic win off a 30m backmark and after looking spent on the home turn at Launceston last night (Saturday).

He still paced a 1min57.6sec mile rate in arguably his best win yet.

Trainer-driver Rohan Hadley said he would stay at home for the Devonport Cup on February 2 rather than chase some country cups in Victoria in the short term.

 

 

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