Wolf wallops them

By Adam Hamilton

EMERGING star Wolf Stride continued a fairy tale first season for the Anthony Butt/Emilio Rosati partnership with a sparkling win in last night’s $100,000 Group 1 TAB Metropolitan Region Championship final.

It comes after Rosati, Butt and Butt’s finance, Sonya Smith, have already enjoyed phenomenal success in their first season as a team, largely through the likes of superstar three-year-olds Line Up and Elite Stride.

But Wolf Stride looks every bit as exciting as that pair.

The four-year-old son of Rock N Roll Heaven has really grown on Butt, who said his opinion of Wolf Stride has “gone to the next level in the past six weeks or so.”

Butt declared Wolf Stride a “Grand Circuit horse in the making” headed into last night’s final, which he worked to the front in and never looked troubled.

Butt put the foot down with a 27.5sec split from 1200-800m and Wolf Stride still ran his closing splits in 54.9 and 27.9sec to win by nine metres in a slick 1min53.9sec mile rate for 2300m.

“He felt fantastic. He’s very exciting. The more we’ve asked of him, especially in the past six weeks or so, the more he’s kept improving,” Butt said.

A thrilled Rosati heaped praise on Butt. “He’s been my missing link, he’s a terrific trainer and a champion driver,” he said.

“This horse has always had ability, but we’ve been patient and Anthony’s starting to get the best out of him now.”

Craig Cross qualified five of the 10 finalists, but had to be content with a brave second from Culture King and third spot with Bettor Robyn.

Wolf Stride broke the run of major upsets in the Regional Championship finals after being crunched from $3.50 into $2.60 favourite.

Earlier in the night, 18-year-old driver Jack Callaghan and popular Newcastle trainer Clayton Harmey both their first Group 1 when Kayne Crusader led throughout and dug-deep to win the $100,000 Hunter Region final at Newcastle.

Kayne Crusader, also a son of Rock N Roll Heaven, was a $17 shot.

The first two Regional finals also provided maiden Group 1 wins and wonderful stories.

It started with Terryrama for father-and-son Malcolm and Brett Hutchings in the Western final at Bathurst on Wednesday night.

Then came trainer Chris McPherson and driver Thomas Gilligan who landed the Riverina final at Wagga prize with Rocky Creed.

Those first three results will surely give Harness Racing NSW food for thought about sticking with a regional format, which they were forced to revert to because of COVID-19.

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