Swayzee beaten, Leap To Fame impressive and Queen Elida victorious at IDs
By Adam Hamilton
Young gun Cam Hart is staying strong with Swayzee.
The New Zealand Cup hero was beaten for the second successive time in the Brisbane Inter Dominion series last night, but nothing went right.
Swayzee was headed-off from barrier one and shuffled to four back on the pegs in a nasty pocket.
Hart never saw daylight until the last 130m and Swayzee charged home for fourth to the classy Victorian pacer Better Eclipse.
Earlier, Swayzee’s stablemate Nerano underlined why he has been the “find” of the pacing series with a sparkling win in the first of the round three heats.
Like Swayzee, Nerano was buried on the pegs, but Hart got him into the clear much earlier and he rocketed home to easily beat Spirit St Louis and Speak The Truth.
Nerano finished the series well ahead of Swayzee on the points table, courtesy of two wins and a slashing second to Leap To Fame on opening night.
But Hart didn’t hesitate before saying he would drive Swayzee in the final.
That paves the way for former Kiwi horseman Jack Trainor to partner Nerano in the big one.
“He mightn’t have won, but I’ve been thrilled with Swayzee’s past couple. He’s right on target,” Hart said.
“Nerano is flying. He’s so fast. I said last week he’s as fast a horse as I’ve driven over 200-300m and he showed it again tonight.
“I’m happy for one of my mates to pick the drive up on him.”
Just as Nerano did, Better Eclipse finished the heats with two wins and a second.
“He’s taken the next step. He’s the complete package now,” co-trainer and driver Greg Sugars said.
“He couldn’t really cope with the hard racing back-to-back 12 months ago, but he’s thriving on it now.
“He can win the final. He’ll need a few things to go right, but he’s shown before he can follow any speed and finish strongly.”
Leap To Fame finished the series the only unbeaten pacer when he was never out of second gear winning last night’s third heat.
Once again, his 1min55.1sec mile rate for the long 2680m trip was the fastest pacing heat of the night.
“He did that well,” trainer-driver Grant Dixon said. “He had a hard run on the second night, so it’s nice to get things a bit easier this time.
“He seemed to come through the hard run (last Tuesday) well and tonight really showed that.
“I know he’s had some hard runs over the past few months, but we think he’s as good as we’ve had him.”
In the trotting series, star Kiwi-owned mare Queen Elida returned to her sparkling best with a runaway heat win last night.
Part-owners Tony Barron and Gordon McKenzie were trackside and buzzing as they greeted trainer Brent Lilley after the win.
“That’s what we wanted to see,” said McKenzie, who also bred Queen Elida. “She looked really sharp tonight.
Lilley added: “Chris (Alford, driver) didn’t pull the plugs, either. Each of her runs in the series has been better.
“Lots of horses would be flat after a tough run like she had on Tuesday, but not her. She just bounces through it.”
The most exciting and potentially important part of last night’s win was the blazing gate speed Queen Elida showed to lead easily.
“That was electric, wasn’t it?” Lilley said. “She’s always had it, but you don’t want to use it unless you have to. Hopefully get a draw to use it in the final.”
Queen Elida drew inside the back row (gate eight) when third to Just Believe in last year’s final.
“She’s a lot tougher and more seasoned now,” Alford said. “I’m sure we can take it right up to him next week if we get a decent draw.”
Just as he did last year, Just Believe completed a cleansweep of the trotting heats with an easy win last night.
Despite being attacked in front by the headstrong Gus through the middle stages, Just Believe dashed away to win by almost nine metres.
“He’s just an incredible horse,” co-trainer and driver Greg Sugars said. “I’m a bit lost for words. He did that in second gear. It’s amazing.”
INTER DOMINION GRAND FINAL FIELDS
PACING FINAL (not in barrier order): Leap To Fame, Nerano, Better Eclipse, Swayzee, Classie Washington, Pete Said So, Spirit Of St Louis, Speak The Truth, Future Assured, Kanena Provlima, Turn It Up, Our Money Rocks. Cantfindabettorman (emergency).
TROTTING FINAL: Just Believe, Ollivici, Queen Elida, Plymouth Chubb, Sir Fahrenheit, Mufasa Metro, Funny Face, Adelle, Majestic Lavros, Van Sank, Gus, Thebestbourbon. Constantinople (emergency).