Start key to ID for Leap To Fame
By Adam Hamilton
Leap To Fame’s Inter Dominion fate could be decided in the first 200 metres.
Trainer-driver Grant Dixon insists his superstar four-year-old is “the best he’s ever been” heading into Saturday’s race at Albion Park in Brisbane, but he’s wary of yet another tricky barrier draw.
Leap To Fame has drawn six, but will come into five if emergency Canfindabettorman doesn’t gain a start.
The problem is, his two main dangers Swayzee (three) and Nerano (one), have drawn inside him.
So, Dixon knows he must have a serious crack at getting across Swayzee in the first 200m, which would give him a great chance of working to the lead.
If he doesn’t, then Swayzee will likely find the front and that’s a role where he is unbeaten since joining Jason Grimson’s stable.
“We’ve never had him better. He’s come through the heats well. His weight’s good, his bloods are good and he looks great. We’re really pleased,” Dixon said.
“He’s been in a few big races this season. He’s better than he was for the Eureka and he’s fitter and harder than he was for the Victoria Cup.
“Remember, it’s his first season in the big league and the hard racing has been good for him. He’s better for it.
“The other thing in his favour this time is being at home. The Eureka and Victoria Cup were interstate and there’s nothing quite like being in your own routine to have your horse at their very best for races like this.”
“I’d love to have drawn inside Swayzee, but we don’t have much luck with barriers in the big ones, do we?
“To be honest, we haven’t had many draws to try and use his gate speed, but he’s got out quite well when I have asked him.
“If you go on the gate speed Swayzee showed from the inside (gate one) last week, we’d cross him, but he’ll probably get out better from a middle draw and they will be driving him a lot more aggressively to try and hold me out.
“I’ve got to go forward and have a look. Even if I don’t get across, I’ll have to be right up there.”
If Leap To Fame doesn’t get across he will be in the same position he was when Swayzee led and beat him at their only clash in the Group 1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park on July 22.
Did Dixon learn anything from that defeat?
“Yes, don’t get a flat tyre like we did that night,” he laughed, “seriously though, that didn’t help my cause at all that night, but sitting outside them is the hardest way to win. It’ll take some sort of effort to do it.
“They’re obviously half-brothers and both Leap To Fame and Swayzee love the staying distances like this.
“Nerano looks a big danger to me. He’s been so dangerous sitting just off the pace in the heats and he’s drawn to get a great run, either behind the leader or three pegs and you can be sure the gaps will come in a race like this and he’ll get his shot at us.”
Swayzee is $2.15 favourite, just ahead of Leap To Fame at $2.40.
Grimson is thrilled with the draws for his two runners in his quest for an historic Inter Dominion pacing final three-peat with three different horses.
“I’m not worried about Swayzee being beaten at his past two (runs). Every run for me he’s hit the line strongly for me,” he said.
“It’s great to draw inside Leap To Fame and if Swayzee gets to the front, he’ll be so hard to roll. He’s a true stayer.”
Nerano, who has firmed from $151 before the series to $5 from the pole, has good gate speed.
“I think he can hold our Turn It Up, especially drawn right next to him,” Grimson said. “It’s a perfect draw for him to get a trail and finish strongly like he’s done in the heats.”
Former Kiwi Jack Trainor will partner Nerano.
The race is due to go at 9.30pm NZT on Saturday night.