Aussie News - 5 October

By Adam Hamilton

WHEN Lance Justice plucked giant-killer Rishi from New Zealand, he told his close friend and owner John Hawke he “might have found another Sokyola or Smoken Up.”

It hasn’t quite turned out that way, but Rishi scored his biggest wins and scored one of the most stunning upsets in the history of the sport when he won last night’s (Saturday) $50,000 Group 2 Smoken Up Sprint (1720m) as a $126 rank outsider.

It was right up with the most treasured moments of Justice’s illustrious career, along with the magical feature race wins of horses like Smoken Up and Sokyola.

And the fact the race was named after Smoken Up added another dimension.

But Justice admits he was “only watching Rishi” as the upset unfolded.

That’s because it was on his advice the Harness Racing Victoria stewards and officials pushed ahead with running the feature race – albeit an hour late – after lightning and generator issues.

“To be honest, I was watching the race out on the lawn just hoping the lights didn’t go out. It was my call to push ahead,” Justice said.

“I couldn’t focus on Rishi. I noticed Mick (Bellman, driver) got back to last early and then it wasn’t really until I saw him swooping into it when they straightened (for home) I looked at him again.”

Rishi stormed home to snatch a neck win over a mighty gallant Major Times in a 1min50.2sec mile – the second fastest mile ever run at Melton.

It came after Ride High zoomed past leader Cruz at the 450m, but started to struggle just a 100m later and stopped alarmingly to finish almost 13m from the winner in fifth spot.

But this was a great story about Justice and horse he’s never lost faith in.

“People might say this was one-off fluke, but I don’t think so. I’m only now working him our fully, he’s a horse who’s so often shown stress in his blood tests, but I’ve had to put that aside and work him harder,” he said.

“His bloods didn’t look great again during the week, but I think it’s more an allergy thing.”

Justice now waits in hope Rishi gets the ultimate reward for his win, a spot in the Victoria Cup.

“I think he’s earned it. He gave them all a start and a beating,” he said.

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ASHLEY Locaz booked himself a Victoria Cup raid after turning the tables on Queensland’s best pacer Colt Thirty One at Albion Park last night (Saturday).

Driven superbly in the one-one trail by the in-form Shane Graham, the former All Stars’ pacer ripped home in 55.6 and 27.7sec to stave-off Colt Thirty One, who followed him everywhere, to win by 1.2m.

Ashley Locaz had a long spell after finishing sixth in last December’s Auckland Inter Dominion final and all four runs back have been with Vicki Rasmussen in Queensland for two wins, a second and a third.

Connections had tentatively booked a flight to Victoria, but the son of Bettors Delight needed to win to be absolute sure of getting a spot in the Cup field.

He’s got the class and versatility to be a factor if luck goes his way at Tuesday morning’s barrier draw.

Colt Thirty One was fantastic again, but last year’s Victoria Cup runner-up is staying home to continue preparing for the Queensland Summer Carnival, headed by the Group 1 Blacks A Fake on December 12.

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ALREADY we can’t wait for the next instalment of Chicago Bull against Shockwave.

Chicago Bull got one back on Shockwave when he used a much better draw to lead and dictate the $50,000 Group 2 JP Stratton (2130m) at Gloucester Park last Friday night.

Shockwave lost no admirers with a mighty second, including making ground three-wide in a blazing 26.9sec third quarter, and still only finishing 4.4m from Chicago Bull.

It reversed the result from their previous clash on September 11 when Shockwave overraced badly in front and still staved off a very brave Chicago Bull, who did all the chasing, to win by a half-head.

It was Chicago Bull’s 56th win from 85 starts with another 23 placings. He’s missed a placed just six times.

And the $32,000 first prize took his career earnings so close to $2 million at $1,960,531.

It’s going to be a great build-up to the big Group 1 double, the Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups, in late November/early December.

X X X

DANCE Craze’s best is stunning.

The brilliant trotting mare sparkled again at Melton last night, blitzing champion rival Tornado Valley for sheer speed in the Group 3 Chris Howe Trotters free-for-all (2240m).

Driver Jason Lee was happy sit back and trust Dance Craze’s speed and she didn’t let him down, ripping home in her own 55.9sec last half to win easily.

It’s been a mighty training effort with a mare who has her issues by Anton Golino.

Tornado Valley did the work outside the leader, albeit in slow midrace tempo, and fought on well for second.

The champ has improved with each of his three runs back from a spell, but still looks down a bit on his absolute best, which is understanding as he nears his 100th start and so many of them have been feature race battles.

X X X

WE had a stark reminder of what a huge loss Somebeachsomewhere is from siring ranks.

The former champion pacer was just 13 and making huge waves as a stallion when he died of stomach cancer in January 2018.

Somebeachsomewhere sired three of the five heat winners of the Vicbred Platinum Home Bred series, the first big meeting for juveniles in Victoria in this bizarre season.

All three were trained by Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin, who won four of the five heats.

The night started well when regally-bred filly Ladies In Red (by Mach Three), driven by Kate Gath, beat Platinum Sparkle to give the team a quinella in the first heat.

They blazed the 1710m in a 1min52.9sec mile rate and Ladies In Red cleared out to score by 17.5m.

Stewart snared the quinella in the second fillies’ heat when the boom Rogue Wave (by Somebeachsomewhere paced roughly at times, but kept finding to beat stablemate Tough Tilly by a neck in a 1min53.9sec mile rate.

Act Now (by Somebeachsomewhere) who led throughout with Jodi Quinlan aboard to win the first of the colts and geldings heats for Stewart.

The colt takes plenty of driving at times, but just keeps finding and went a slick 1min53.8sec mile rate.

The only disappointment for the team on the night came when exciting colt Major Moth galloped early and effectively ruined his hopes in the second colts and geldings heats.

Driver Damian Wilson moved around the field on Major Moth to sit parked, the early mistake and work midrace took its toll and he tired late to finish fifth behind Gary and Debbie Quinlan’s Art Major gelding Knights Templar in a slower 1min55.1sec mile rate.

To complete a big night for Stewart/Tonkin and Somebeachsomewhere, debutante filly Beach Music looked terrific winning on debut despite he work outside the leader in a 1min56.3sec mile rate.

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NOBODY could begrudge Replaced Eye his Menangle free-for-all win last night (Saturday).

The rising eight-year-old led throughout and fended off challenges from all angles late to score in a 1min50.6sec mile for trainer Craig Cross and driver Robbie Morris.

Replaced Eye had been runner-up at his previous six free-for-all runs behind glamour stablemates Cash N Flow (four times) and King Of Swing (twice).

He’s raced 30 times this season for just six wins, but 13 placings and earned $116,420.

X X X

IT’S great seeing Goodtime Heaven making up for lost time.

The former star juvenile filly has been through her battles, but nursed back to form and fitness by trainer Courtney Slater and snared the feature mares’ race, the Group 3 Jane Ellen (2240m), at Melton last night.

In a hotly-contested affair, driver Mick Stanley was patient, landed the three-wide trail home on Victoria Oaks winner Dr Susan and snatched a narrow but deserved win over classy NSW raider No Win No Feed in a slick 1min54.3sec mile rate.

“She’s come back so well. She can do work and has a terrific turn of speed. When they got that trail into it, I knew she’d take some holding out,” Stanley said.

Goodtime Heaven’s win was her 15th from just 26 starts and she’s nearing $300,000 in earnings.

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