Second on Aussie debut for Don't Stop Dreaming

By Adam Hamilton

Exciting young Kiwi pacer Don’t Stop Dreaming looks right on target for the $450,000 Group 1 Hunter Cup.

Mark and Nathan Purdon’s emerging open-class star launched his Aussie raid with a close and fantastic second to proven topliner Better Eclipse in last night’s $50,000 Casey Classic at Melton.

It was a terrific pointer to the five-year-old prospects in next Saturday night’s Hunter Cup against an even stronger field, headed by Leap To Fame.

Don’t Stop Dreaming sat in the one-one trail, launched with a big sprint from the 400m, but Better Eclipse was able to get away from behind the leader at an ideal time and win by a head.

The win took Better Eclipse past $1 million in earnings. He’s raced 60 times for 21 wins, 21 placings and $1,013,270.

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Trainer Grant Dixon hopes to have two runners in the Hunter Cup.

His superstar pacer Leap To Fame posted his seventh successive and 30th from just 40 starts at Albion Park last night.

And stablemate Tims A Trooper ran a terrific second.

“I’d love to run them both,” he said. “I think Tims A Trooper deserves a crack at it, he’s right back to his best.”

Leap To Fame worked forward from a wide draw to take the front and ripped home in 54.9sec to beat Tims A Trooper by 3.5m at Albion Park last night.

“I’m glad we got that extra run into him last night. You need to have them screwed right down for a race like the Hunter Cup,” Dixon said.

Leap To Fame is a $1.60 in prepost markets to add the Hunter Cup to his fantastic record.

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Team McCarthy also plans to have two Hunter Cup runners after classy pair Spirit Of St Louis and Cantfindabettorman ran second and third respectively at Menangle last night.

The pair were first-up and chased home classy former Kiwi pacer Taipo in good times.

Spirit Of St Louis will be lining up for his third consecutive Hunter Cup, having run second to King Of Swing in 2022 and sixth last year.

Cantfindabettorman beat Leap To Fame as a three-year-old and McCarthy expects him to become a serious open-class player.

“He’s on the up,” he said. “He had no luck through the Inter Dominion heats and easily won the consolation.”

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There is just no stopping champion trotter Just Believe.

Jess Tubbs’ eight-year-old looks to have another Great Southern Star at his mercy this week after cruising to his seventh successive win in last night’s Group 2 Dullard Cup at Melton.

It took Just Believe to $1,011,673, making him the first Aussie-bred trotter to top $1 million in earnings.

The gelding is 10th on the all-time Australasian trotting earners list with the potential to get as high as second to Lyell Creek in coming weeks.

Star Kiwi-owned mare Queen Elida ran a much better race when she sat parked and finished a terrific second to Just Believe last night.

She will need to draw better than Just Believe to have any chance of upstaging him in the Great Southern Star next week.

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Superstar mare Encipher broke down while winning yet another feature race at Melton last night.

The inaugural $2.1mil TAB Eureka winner broke a pastern on her way to victory in the $75,000 Group 2 Ladyship Cup.

It was her 18th win from just 30 starts (with seven seconds and a third). She’s earned $1.635,479.

“I knew she’d broken down when we got into the back straight after the win,” driver Kate Gath said.

“It’s devastating. I love her. She’s given me so many great moments and tries so hard.”

Trainer Emma Stewart said Encipher was having surgery today.

“She went straight to the Ballarat clinic from Melton, We just hope the surgery goes well,” she said.

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