By Adam Hamilton
TOP local driver Gary Hall Jr had to be content with second in the Inter Dominion aboard Chicago Bull, but still snared a Group 1 win on the night.
Hall Jr teamed with his father, Gary Hall Sr, and classy mare Ideal Alice to win the $125,000 Group 1 Mares’ Classic (2536m) at Gloucester Park.
And it came courtesy of a typically brilliant Hall Jr driver to extricate Ideal Alice from a three-peg run rounding the final bend, find clear air and storm over the top of a super gallant Ameretto to win by a head in a slick 1min55.5sec mile rate.
The NZ-bred Ideal Alice is now in foal herself and will soon be retired to return to her homeland.
The win was her 20th from 63 starts with another 20 placings and earnings over $400,000.
“She’s been a wonderful mare. I wasn’t sure her recent form was quite up to the likes of Ameretto and A Piccadilly Princess going into these big mares’ races, but she had three nice runs for two seconds and now this big win,” Hall Sr said.
It was almost unfair to see Ameretto beaten after Kerryn Manning’s star worked three-wide for more than a lap to finally get outside the heavily-backed leader, Eden Franco, and kick away with what looked a winning break on the home bend.
Eden Franco raced a little keen at times, making her vulnerable over the longer trip, and she tired late for fourth.
The hardluck story, just as she was last year, was the All Stars’ A Piccadilly Princess.
Mark Purdon got the gun through behind the leader and had to decide with a just over a lap to go whether to stay on the pegs and risk being pocketed or move outside the leader.
Purdon stayed in, the run never came and A Piccadilly Princess hit the line hard-held in fifth spot.
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FREELANCE driver Chris Voak is such a breath of fresh air.
An effervescent personality, Voak is also a serious driver and shown by his two big wins in support races as well as a close fourth on roughie Vultan Tin in the Inter Dominion final last Friday night.
An $85 shot, the locally-bred Vultan Tin just missed snatching third spot from the leader Tiger Tara.
Voak then produced a dashing front-running drive on former Victorian trotting mare Itsgettingcalder to win the $50,000 Group 1 Trotters’ Cup (2503m).
He then caused a minor upset on $12.60 shot Costa Del Maginifico to win the last race of the night for trainer Ross Olivieri.
“It’s been fantastic o be part of the Inter Dominion series with Vultan Tin, who did us all proud tonight. And to win a couple of other races on the night, especially the big trot, was fantastic. It’s been a great few weeks,” Voak said.
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FORMER Olympic hockey gold medallist Michael “Mouse” Brennan already has sights set on the next Inter Dominion.
Brennan thinks his emerging star Mista Shark will fly his stable flag in the Melbourne Inter Dominion next year.
“He’s going places. Look at the way he won his heat and the final of this (San Simeon) series,” Brennan said. “He’ll be my Melbourne Inter Dominion horse in 12 months time.”
Mista Shark sat parked to win his San Simeon heat at Bunbury last Tuesday week, then found the front in a dashing drive by Michael Grantham before easily holding-off the classy El Jacko to win in a 1min55.5sec mile rate for 2130m.
Shane Tritton’s buzz former Kiwi mare Reaza Grunter made an early break, just as she did on night one, and lost all chance in the final.
But her win on middle Friday of the Inter Dominion series showed why Tritton’s thinks she is potentially one of Australia’s best mares.
Back to Brennan and he had another reason to celebrate on the big night when stable favourite The Bucket List overcame plenty of trouble to win the Inter Dominion consolation with Grantham in the cart.
“I wish it had been six heats and a final because he’s only hitting his straps now,” Brennan said. “He’s not quite up to those very best ones, but that was a super win tonight to overcame the check he got early and come from so far off them.”
Former top class Kiwi pacer Ohoka Punter also showed a glimpse of his best with former with a huge second after burning midrace around the field to take the lead and fight on well for a close second.
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NEWLY-CROWNED World Champion driver James MacDonald admitted to getting a huge buzz from his win aboard Skippy Rascal in one of the Sky Racing Drivers’ series heats at Gloucester Park last Friday night.
Macdonald escaped a pocket from behind the leader straightening for home and Skippy Rascal picked-up quickly to rundown the leader, Simba Bromac, and win by 1.3m in a 1min55.5sec mile rate for 2130m.
“I needed that,” MacDonald smiled. “The first night didn’t go so well..
“We’ve had such an amazing time over here, everyone has looked after us so well, and to land a winner on Inter Dominion final night adds to it.”
The other guest international driver, US-based Marcus Miller, finished third in the race aboard Wrappers Delight.
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IT was an all local finish in the Invitation Lady Drivers’ race at Gloucester Park.
Talented young local Kiara Davies made the most of the pole draw on favourite Dior Mia More to lead throughout and beat Kristy Sheehy on Bettor Bling and Jocelyn Young aboard Madame Meilland.
Kerryn Manning, Lauren Tritton and US visitor Hannah “Hurricane” Miller were among the beaten brigade.
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LET’S hope Shadow Sax stays sound.
Emma Stewart’s injury-plagued star made it six wins on end – and 16 wins from just 24 career starts – when he won the Geelong Cup last Saturday night.
It was closer than expected though with former classy there-year-old Cant Refuse running a great race for third and old-stager Messini a close fourth in a 1min57sec mile rate for 2570m.
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A QUEENSLAND raid is paying dividends for the KerryAnn Turner and Robbie Morris team.
They snared the feature, the Christmas Cup, at Albion Park with their classy gelding Aztec Bromac, who just nabbed remarkable veteran Avonnova.
They landed a treble on the night with Smokey Quartz and Come Cullect winning easily as well.
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MACH Doro is enjoying Tiger Tara being away in Perth.
The classy Craig Cross-trained pacer, who contested last season’s Victoria Cup, opened this campaign with a good second to Tiger Tara at Menangle on November 4.
Since then he’s brilliantly won both free-for-alls he’s contested, the latest in a blazing 1min51.9sec mile at Menangle last Saturday night.
Trainer-driver Jarrod Alchin landed the feature at the Menangle meeting when Ima Mystery Girl won the Group 3 Teeny Teeny Stakes for mares’ in a 1min52sec mile.
The talk of the race was the flop of Mark Jones’ star Kiwi mare Rocker Band, who finished second-last, prompting stewards to open an inquiry into the performance.
Approved By Dean Baring www.harnessbred.com
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