Aussie News - 15 March

By Adam Hamilton

CHAMPION thoroughbred trainer John Hawkes has always had a passion for harness racing.

Hawkes has maintained the connection by racing a few pacers with his old South Australian friend Geoff Webster and others in Victoria.

Their latest pacer, two-year-old Major Major, impressed winning on debut at Maryborough last Thursday. 

The Art Major gelding worked to the front from gate two for Webster, dictated terms and ripped home in 56.8 and 27.8sec to win by 5.2m.

“I’ve really enjoyed racing a few pacers together with mates in Melbourne over the years,” Hawkes said. “We recently retired one called Kasbah Kid who won 16 races for us and we’re hoping Major Major can fill his shoes. You can’t do more than win like he did the other day,” Hawkes said.

Hawkes landed his second win in as many days when lightly-raced Kiwi-bred gelding Belmont Royale won by a whisker for Webster at Cranbourne last Friday night.

 

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VETERAN speedster Cash N Flow’s major race days may be behind him, but he’s still got live in those old legs.

The eight-year-old dropped back in grade, enjoyed a lovely one-one trail and returned to winning form for Belinda and Luke McCarthy in a 1min51.4sec mile in the free-for-all at Menangle last Saturday night.

“Looking back, we made a mistake taking him down for that Victoria Cup last October. He was going so well we thought it was worth a shot, but it’s been a battle to get him right again since,” Luke McCarthy said.

Cash N Flow’s win was his 33rd from 71 starts and edged him past $560,000 in earnings.

Another winner of strong Kiwi interest on night was four-year-old trotter Funky Monkey, who made it two Aussie wins from as many starts for KerryAnn and Robbie Morris when she cruised to a 16.7m victory.

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STAR trotter McLovin made the most of a rare drop back in grade to win the Group 3 Charlton Trotters’ Cup yesterday (Sunday).

Andy Gath’s eight-year-old found his way to the front, but had to dig deep to hold-off a rejuvenated former star Sparkling Success to win by 1.5m with country cups’ king, Well Defined, in third spot.

Kate Gath took the reins on McLovin, who has won 28 races and over $430,000 in stakemoney, and almost completed the big Charlton Cup double on the day.

She had to be content with second in the $35,000 Group 3 Pacing Cup on Fourbigmen in a race completed dominated by Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin.

The powerhouse training duo landed the trifecta with $30.80 outsider Like A Wildfire winning for driver Leigh Sutton, Fourbigmen second and Somewhere Secret third.

Heavily backed favourite and classy former Kiwi Im Anothermasterpiece had to settle for fourth spot after leading in a blazing 1min56.9sec mile rate for 2570m.

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NEVER doubt the genius of Gary Hall Jr in big races.

Most felt the barrier draw in the $50,000 Group 2 WA 4&5YO Championship would seriously test former Kiwi pacer Texas Tiger’s unbeaten streak in Australia, but Hall Jr had other ideas.

He blasted Texas Tiger out at the start with enough dazzling speed from barrier three to get across the slick beginner and favourite Bletchley Park from the pole. 

It totally changed the race and paved the way for the son of American Ideal to cruise to his sixth WA win from as many starts for trainer Gary Hall Sr.

Texas Tiger was Hall Sr’s sixth win in the race, the others being: Chicago Bull (2018), Northview Punter (2014), Make The Rules (1999), Zakara (1991) and Love Of Glory (1990).

It was a stable quinella with former talented former Victorian Silent Major grabbing second despite sitting parked. Bletchley Park didn’t see much racing room behind the leader and ran third.

Throw in the other exciting Kiwi import Matai Geordie, who made it four wins from just six runs in WA, and Hall Sr’s emerging open-class stocks look powerful.

 

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ON the opening weekend of the NRL season, Canberra Raiders captain Jarrod Croker enjoyed success in his other love, harness racing.

Croker has shares in several horses, but none have provided the ongoing success of Our Triple Play.

Trained and driven by his mate Brad Hewitt, Our Triple Play posted his 17th win and edged past $265,000 in stakemoney when he caused a minor upset in last Friday night’s Group 3 Young Cup. 

Our Triple Play’s other notable wins include: 2018 Group 3 Shirley Turnbull Memorial, 2018 Group 3 Queensland 4YO Championship, 2018 Group 3 Sydney Cup, 2018 Wagga Cup, 2017 Maitland Inter City Pace, 2017 Young Derby and 2017 Canberra Derby.

Our Triple Play had four starts at Alexandra Park as a two-year-old before being sold and moving to Australia at the start of 2016.

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STILL on famous sporting connections and two AFL footy stars are part-owners of last Saturday night’s promising Mt Gambier Cup winner Highway To Heaven.

The Christian Cullen gelding is trained by Marg Lee and part-owned by the Brisbane Lions’ Darcy Gardiner and Sydney Swans’ Lewis Taylor.

Highway To Heaven had just the one Kiwi run for a seventh at Addington on June 14 before heading to Lee’s stable where’s looked exciting winning four of his five runs.

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MACH Dan wouldn’t have been out place in last month’s Chariots Of Fire.

Last year’s SA Derby winner has returned in sparkling style as evidence by his two wins from as many runs this campaign for trainer Emma Stewart. 

The Danny Zavitsanos-owned gelding cruised to a first-up win at Geelong, then turned plenty of heads when did a power of work and lifted after looking beaten to snatch victory from the speedy Reactor Now in the fast-class race at Melton last Saturday night.

The son of Mach Three kept finding despite the scorching closing splits of 54.4 and 27.5sec to make it 11 wins from just 21 starts.

 

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THE brilliant win of exciting trotting mare Sleepee at Melton provided some tonic for sidelined champion driver Chris Alford.

Alford is recovering in hospital after not one but two emergency operations last week on an infected knee, stemming from a kick from a horse.

Sleepee led throughout and bolted for Alford’s wife, Alison, and driver Josh Duggan.

“It’s been a really rough week, but things are finally looking up (for Chris) and the mare winning gave us all some happiness,” Alison Alford said.

 

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