Queen too good in Menangle Group 1

By Adam Hamilton

Champion driver Chris Alford predicted something special and that’s exactly what we saw from brilliant mare Queen Elida at Menangle last night.

The Kiwi bred and owned five-year-old blew her rivals away with a stunning display in the $100,000 Group 1 Macarthur Mile for trotting mares’.

The Brent Lilley-trained Queen Elida worked forward from a wide draw to sit parked early before Alford planted the foot and took the lead, leaving his main danger Im Ready Jet to sit parked and chase.

Queen Elida broke her rivals with a 27.8sec split from 800-400m and kept going with a 28.3sec last quarter.

It was a one-act affair as the daughter of Love You roared away to win by 17.5m in a 1min53sec mile.

It was just 1.5sec outside Maori Time’s track record.

Queen Elida’s now won 22 of her 39 starts with another 12 placings and is rapidly closing in on $500,000 in earnings.

With Just Believe heading to Sweden, she looks to have all the Aussie feature trotting races at her mercy this year.

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Star trotting filly Rockinwithattitude started last season the same way she finished the last one.

David Miles’ stable star was Australian 2YO Trotting Filly of the Year last season with 14 starts netting nine wins, two seconds and a third.

She won the Group 1 Vicbred final on New Year’s Eve to finish the season and opened her 2023 campaign with an all-the-way win in last night’s Group 1 NSW Trotters’ Oaks at Menangle.

“It’s great to get this one,” Miles said. “She’ll back in the Derby against the boys next week.

“We know it’ll be a lot harder this season. She’s not big and hasn’t grown much, so they’ll catch up to her.”

Miles dominated from the front for a cosy 2min1.6sec mile rate over 2300m to beat Shesawish by 1.5m.

Michelle Wallis’ Kiwi raider Melsadele had a nice run four back on the pegs and finished a close fourth with Luke McCarthy aboard.t

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The big brute Bondi Lockdown sounded a Queensland winter warning with a powerhouse winning return at Menangle last night.

First-up since winning the “consolation” of the Miracle Mile on March 4, the five-year-old sat parked and won with authority and even a dash of arrogance in a 1min50.3sec mile.

It took his record since being transferred to Team McCarthy to five starts for three wins, a second and a third.

There’s no doubt the five-year-old is one of the most gifted pacers in Australia when right and the decision to bypass the slot races in NZ and Perth to freshen him up could prove inspired.

Like so many others, Bondi Lockdown is being set for the Queensland features, headed by the Group 1 double – Sunshine Sprint (July 15) and Blacks A Fake (July 22).

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Australia's top trotter Just Believe will head to Sweden without a lead-up race.

In a disappointing twist, insufficient starters saw last night’s (Saturday) Vulcan Trotters’ free-for-all scrapped.

Given Just Believe is booked on a flight out of Melbourne on May 16, trainer Jess Tubbs said there were no other suitable races.

It means he will go into the heats of the great Elitloppet in Stockholm on May 28 without having raced since March 4, when he ran second to Aldebaran Zeus at Menangle.

“He didn’t have a break as such after that run, we just kept him ticking along,” Tubbs said.

“He’s fit and well and had that strong trial at Melton a week or so back. If we think he needs it, we can give him another trial before he goes.”

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Star WA pacer Magnificent Storm continued his build-up to his first interstate raid with a sparkling Gloucester Park win last Friday night.

The Kiwi-bred six-year-old led throughout to win the 1730m free-for-all by 13.3m in a slick 1min52.9sec mile rate, capped with closing splits of 54.7 and 26.3sec.

He’s now easily won both runs since a desperately unlucky seventh as favourite in the inaugural $1mil Nullarbor at Gloucester Park on April 14.

Connections have locked-in a Queensland raid for races like the Sunshine Sprint and Blacks A Fake in July at Albion Park.

“He’s booked to fly out on July 3,” trainer Ray Williams said. “He’ll have a week off now and that gives me time for him to have two runs here before heading to Queensland.

“I really think he’s the best we’ve ever had him. Look at how he finished off the race the other night in 26.3sec and still going strongly.”

Another Gloucester Park highlight was the winning return of last season’s Australian champion 2YO of the Year, the Justin Prentice-trained Never Ending.

The son of Sweet Lou, who won six times last year, opened his 2023 campaign with an easy win in a small field.

Earlier, emerging mare Taking The Miki won the Group 3 Breeders Stakes, courtesy of a lovely Chris Voak drive.

The Jemma Hayman-trained four-year-old was crossed at the start from the pole by Sovrana, but Voak was quickly back around for the retake and always looked in control on his way to an easy win over classy mares Three Rumours and Wonderful To Fly.

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Champion South Australian driver Dani Hill won’t drive again this year.

Hill, a much-admired mainstay of SA, has been plagued by back issues as a result of a race fall for many years.

Hill, who drove at Globe Derby last night (Saturday), is having surgery to try and address some of the debilitating issues with her back.

She hopes to return to the sulky next year.

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Rampaging trainer Emma Stewart won $100,000 APG Gold Bullion final at Melton, but just not with the pacer most expected.

The raw and exciting Gawn was favourite and stable elect, but it was the 11-start maiden Staroftheshow, formerly trained by Nathan Purdon, who edged-out Gawn in the closing stages.

It’s remarkable to think Stewart had a $26 feature race winner, let alone one driven by Kate Gath.

 

 

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