Spellbound goes two from two

By Adam Hamilton 

Former top class Kiwi mare Spellbound made it two easy wins from as many starts for Nathan Purdon at Melton on Saturday night.

Backing-up a week after her stunning Aussie debut win, Spellbound enjoyed an easier trip this time and have Stewie McDonald an armchair drive on her way to an soft 2.3m win in a brisk 1min53.2sec mile rate for 1720m.

The early signs say Spellbound will be one of the top mares in Australia in coming months.

And she’s potentially the sort of stable headline act the now Aussie-based Purdon wished for.

Formerly trained by Robert Dunn the Art Major four-year-old had five wins from 29 starts in New Zealand before heading across the Tasman in March.  

***

What a shame it is former star Kiwi pacer Alta Christiano died before we got to see much of him at stud.

His record from limited opportunities in the breeding barn have been stunning, headed by last Friday night’s $200,000 Group 1 WA Derby winner Mighty Ronaldo.

It’s the second time in as many seasons Mighty Ronaldo has won WA’s biggest race of his age group and both times he’s proven a giant-killer.

Last Friday’s Derby was billed as a match race between stars Lavra Joe and Jumpingjackmac, but Mighty Ronaldo stormed home off a soft trip to blow them both away.

Jumpingjackmac led, while Lavra Joe was snagged out from a bad draw and circled the field to sit parked and pressure the leader through the middle stages.

Trainer-driver Justin Prentice sat and hoped for clear air from four pegs and when it came, Mighty Ronaldo showed dazzling speed to score easily.

“It’s up there with my very best wins and the Derby is a special race, one I’ve always wanted to win,” Prentice said. “This was extra special to beat those big guns after the all the huge build-up to the race.

“The only sad part was no crowds on track because of Covid. There was no atmosphere and the owners not being allowed there for such a special moment was so disappointing.”

Prentice hinted at a possible Victoria Derby raid later in the year.

“It’s a chance. I haven’t travelled horses yet and I’d love to, but he’s got a few big races here first and I don’t have to rush into any decisions,” he said.

Prentice took he reins himself last Friday, which is rare these days as he prefers to use Gary Hall Jr as stable driver.

“Junior has been as loyal as he can to me, but Senior (Gary Hall Sr) locked him into Jumpingjackmac a month ago, so I had a month to prepare for the drive myself,” he said.

“It was certainly a thrill to drive myself, but it won’t change anything, Junior is my go-to driver whenever he’s available.”

X X X

What a week it’s been for NSW power couple Kerry Ann and Robbie Morris.

Just days after the birth of their second child, Stella, they defied a strong batch of interstate raiders to win the Group 2 NSW Trotters’ Oaks with Aldebaran Ursula.

Just when it seemed Brent Lilley’s former Kiwi filly Queen Elida was home, Aldebaran Ursula dived and snatched a half-head win in a 1min58.3sec mile rate for 2300m.

Aldebaran Crescent capped a big night for the Aldebaran Lodge breed when she won the Group 3 La Coocaracha for trotting mares at Menangle for trainer David Aiken and driver Jimmy Rattray.

It was another second for Lilley with Tailored Image 3.8m away in the minor spot with Chris Alford aboard.

X X X

Exciting filly Cat King Cole stole the show from the two Australian Gold 2YO finals at Albion Park on Saturday night.

After a luckless debut run, the daughter of Hurrikane Kingcole has won her past three starts in great style, including the Gold final by a thumping 29.7m for the Darren Weeks and Kylie Rasmussen combination.

The boys Gold final produced a quinella for the dominant Grant Dixon stable, but in the wrong order for punters.

Dixon finished second aboard $1.80 favourite Leap Of Faith, while his wife, Trista, took the prize with American Ideal colt Class To The Max in a slick 1min55.2sec mile rate for 1660m.

X X X

First it was Kima Frenning now it’s Sofia Arvidsson.

The two former Swedes have made a huge impact in Victorian harness racing.

While Frenning has opted for a behind the scenes role in training and some media work now, Arvidsson’s on-track success and profile continues to grow.

She teamed with partner Matty Craven for a breathtaking win aboard the promising Crime Writer at Melton on Saturday night.

In what looked a strong and open race, Crime Writer destroyed his rivals with an 18m victory in a slick 1min54.9sec mile rate for 2240m.

Throw in the recent success Arvidsson’s had with the likes of Kimble and Kowalski Analysis and she’s really going places.

X X X

The McDowell clan has been a huge contributor for harness racing and richly deserved their upset win with $26 shot Michelle Lee Mac at Melton on Saturday night.

The daughter of Bettors Delight, superbly driven by Greg Sugars, enjoyed camping off a hot tempo and cruised to a 6.7m win in the $210,000 Australian Gold 4YO Mares’ final in a slick 1min54sec mile rate for 1720m.

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