Trial win for Just Believe ahead of Elitlopp
By Adam Hamilton
Star trotter Just Believe capped his preparation for the upcoming Swedish raid with a sharp trial win at Melton last night.
With regular driver Greg Sugars nursing a sore shoulder, stable youngster Bailey McDonough took the reins as Just Believe toyed with his rivals to win the trial easily in a 55.8sec closing 800m.
“Ideally, we’d have had that lead-up race last weekend, but it fell through,” Sugars said. “Still, he’s had plenty of work at home and the two trials now before he heads across next week. He’s very well.”
Just Believe is booked to fly out of Melbourne next Tuesday for what will be 60 hours of travel by plane, boat and truck to eventually arrive in Stockholm at the stables of Hall of Fame trainer Stig H Johansson.
Sugars will fly across and be waiting for Just Believe when he arrives in Stockholm and stay with the Inter Dominion and Great Southern Star hero until he tackles the Elitlopp at Solvalla on May 28.
“It’s all getting pretty real now,” Sugars said. “I can’t wait to get across and be a part of it all.”
Connections also have the opportunity to stay in Scandinavia for some other feature races beyond the Elitlopp and return home in July should they wish.
“It’s a long way to go for one race,” trainer Jess Tubbs said. “So, we’ll certainly consider staying if he gets through the trip across well and we’re happy with him.”
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Australia's champion three-year-old of last season, Leap To Fame, returns from a lengthy spell at Albion Park on Saturday night.
The triple Derby winner hasn’t raced since winning the Group 1 NSW Breeders Challenge final at Menangle on October 29. It follows wins in the NSW, Queensland and Victoria Derbys.
Leap To Fame raced 12 times last season for nine wins, two seconds and a third.
Saturday night kick-starts a massive campaign for Leap To Fame where he will step into serious open-class racing for the first time, primarily in the $400,000 Blacks A Fake on July 22.
“His first big target is the Rising Sun (July 8), so we’ll have three of four runs before that to have him fully wound-up,” trainer-driver Grant Dixon said.
“We’ll probably skip the Sunshine Sprint (July 15) and go straight to the Blacks A Fake the week after.
“Then we’ll fire him up again for the Eureka (September 2) before he gets a bit of a break and then go to the Inter Dominion because it’s in our own backyard.”
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Team McCarthy continues its build-up towards a huge Queensland Constellations winter raid when former Chariots Of Fire winner Expensive Ego resumes at Menangle on Saturday night.
The talented but enigmatic pacer, who won the 2021 Inter Dominion before losing it on protest, is a $1.70 favourite from gate four in the Bill Green free-for-all (1609m).
Team McCarthy has six of the 11 runners, including the emergency. They include former classy Kiwi trio Alta Orlando (gate three), Cash N Flow (10) and Mach Shard (11).
Luke McCarthy will drive Expensive Ego with Jack Callaghan on Cash N Flow, Amanda Turnbull on Alta Orlando and John McCarthy on Mach Shard.
Team McCarthy's open-class Queensland raiders look set to include Bondi Lockdown, Spirit Of St Louis, Expensive Ego and others.
The Menangle meeting also features the Group 1 NSW Trotters’ Derby where Kiwi filly Melsadele will back-up for Michelle Wallis after a solid fourth in last week’s NSW Oaks.