Spellbound heading for three from three
By Adam Hamilton
High class former Kiwi mare Spellbound should stretch her unbeaten Aussie streak to three wins at Melton on Saturday night.
The daughter of Art Major is the headline act of Nathan Purdon’s Victorian stable with two sparkling wins so far and looks a class above her rivals again despite a wide draw (gate six) in the Nutrien Equine Pace (2240m).
Spellbound has also proven an important opportunity for former Kiwi horseman Stewie McDonald, now Purdon’s stablemate foreman after 10 years in WA, to advertise his driving skills.
McDonald has driven her to both wins so far and takes the reins again this week.
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Luke McCarthy has opted to drive Star Galleria ahead of another of the stable’s classy former Kiwis Alta Orlando in a ripper 1609m free-for-all at Menangle on Saturday night.
Star Galleria returns to Menangle after a fantastic second to buzz Victorian pacer General Dodge two week’s back, but has a wide draw (gate nine) to overcome, while Alta Orlando has the pole.
Alta Orlando, who returned to form driven with a sit last outing, has talented youngster Jack Callaghan aboard.
The other key runner of the race is Jimmy Rattray’s Ignatius, who is sure to press forward in search of the lead from gate six.
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Some of the brightest young stars of Aussie pacing are back in action.
It started with the heats of the Australian Gold 3YO series at Menangle on Tuesday where NSW Oaks winner Anntonia and the classy Tasty Delight returned with easy wins.
Former Kiwi driver Jack Trainor was reunited with the David Thorn-trained Anntonia, who led, dictated and ripped home in a sizzling 25.9sec to win her heat by 8.2m without being extended in a cosy 1min54.4sec mile.
Tasty Delight, who will surely get some luck and win a big one this season, was balanced-up early by driver Blake Fitzpatrick before working around to take the lead and win by 2.3m in a 1min53.3sec mile, capped by a 55.4sec last half.
Last season’s NSW Breeders Challenge 2YO Fillies’ winner, Soho Almasi, returned from a freshen-up to lead throughout in her heat in a slow 1min55.2sec for Team McCarthy.
While the promising He Aint Fakin looked sharp leading throughout in heat in a 1min53.3sec mile rate.
The Australian Gold 3YO heats continued at Bendigo on Thursday night where Mick Stanley’s Soho Bollinger looks the best of the “boys” from gate two in the second heat (race six).
By far the best heat is race seven where Turn It Up’s exciting baby half-brother Narutac Prince (by Art Major) faces his biggest test in a quest to go five wins from just six starts for David Aiken.
Narutac Prince has the draw (gate two), but faces the top class Bondi Lockdown (gate nine) and Tim Butt’s emerging Swayzee (four).
On the same card, star 3YO filly Tough Tilly resumes for Emma Stewart and Kate Gath in her Aussie Gold heat and looks the leader and winner from gate two.
Stablemate Beach Music looks the only threat, if there is one, from gate four with David Moran aboard.
The second heat looks a match between Stewart’s slick beginner Joanna (gate four) and David Aiken’s Kekoa (five), who turned heads winning her only start.
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It was great to see star WA three-year-old Lavra Joe bounced straight back to stunning winning form in a heat of the Pearl Classic at Gloucester Park on Tuesday night.
It was his first run since doing all the work and tiring late when fourth in the WA Derby and he went close to a PB time with a 1min53.8sec mile rate for 2130m winning by 15.7m in second gear. His PB is 1min53.5sec for the trip.
Justin Prentice’s Mighty Ronaldo, who won the WA Derby, drew wide and came from last but couldn’t quit rundown the underrated Otis in their heat, where Otis controlled the race from the death and dashed home in 55.8 and 27.2sec.
Prentice’s classy filly Always An Angel won the strongest of the Diamond Classic heats on the night, finishing too strongly for her main dangers Newsy (second) and Joelene (third).