By Adam Hamilton
THE odds of Australia’s best filly Petacular tackling the NZ Oaks and Harness Jewels are shortening.
The big, powerful daughter of Somebeachsomewhere stepped-out for the first since her close and brave second to Partyon in the NSW Oaks and toyed with a good field at Melton last Friday night.
It was a drop in grade and she won accordingly, putting 11.3m between herself and runner-up Keayang Secret in a 1min55.6sec mile rate for 2240m. There was another 20m away to third placed Gilty Hanover.
Trainer-driver Mick Stanley worked Petacular forward to lead from gate five, ran a solid 60.1sec middle half then zipped home in 55.2 and 28sec.
“She’s awesome at the moment. She did that so easily. If anything, she’s come back better for the trip away to Sydney,” Stanley said.
Next aim is a heat and final of the Victoria Oaks, which looks Petacular’s for the taking.
“After our Oaks we are definitely looking very seriously NZ. If she goes, it would be for the NZ Oaks and the Jewels. She won’t have to miss anything at home to go there,” Stanley said.
Petacular has won 11 of her 16 starts, ran second four times and third once.
Two of the seconds have been to the All Stars’ unbeaten Partyon, in the Breeders Crown 2YO final and NSW Oaks.
Partyon has had the better of the draws and easier run on both occasions.
HE’S not big, but gee he’s good.
Former Kiwi pacer Mitch Maguire showed why many think the WA Derby is his for the taking when he toyed with his rivals in the first prelude of the race at Gloucester Park last Friday night.
It was his ninth win from just 10 starts since moving from NZ to the WA stables of leading trainers Skye and Greg Bond.
Mitch Maguire left NZ after finishing fourth in last year’s NZ Harness Jewels 2YO final at Cambridge.
He won WA’s richest two-year-old race, the Golden Slipper, soon after arriving in the state.
Mitch Maguire drew well in gate two, led as expected for driver Colin Brown and won as he liked by 8.1m in a very sharp 1min54.9sec mile rate for 2130m.
Gary Hall Sr’s highly-rated gelding Herrick Roosevelt suffered his first defeat in three starts, but won fans by sitting parked and holding on gamely for second to Mitch Maguire.
The other Gloucester Park feature, the $35,000 4&5YO Championship, was won in dominant all-the-way fashion by yet another former Kiwi pacer in the high-priced Kiwi Legend.
Trained by Mike Reed, Kiwi Legend effectively won the race when he showed enough ping at the start for driver Shannon Suvaljko to cross eventual runner-up Ideal Tyson and lead.
The other buzz horse in the race, Im Full Of Excuses, tried to sustain a big three-wide run in the last lap and battled on quite well for fifth given the closing splits of 55.5 and 27.9sec.
IT’S getting close to decision time with star Aussie trotter On Thunder Road.
Trainer-driver Darren Hancock is seriously considering an Auckland raid for the Anzac and Rowe Cups with the seven-year-old, who recently won the Group 1 Grand Prix at Melton.
On Thunder Road returned “home” to NSW and harder battle than punters expected when he fended-off Our Overanova to win in a 1min56.9sec mile at Menangle last Friday.
DRIVER Luke McCarthy has high hopes for the well-bred and much-improved pacer Mach Doro.
The former Victorian brother to Fly Like An Eagle has shown glimpses of extreme potential since joining Craig Cross’ NSW barn a few months back.
One of those glimpses at came at Menangle last Friday when the five-year-old toyed with a strong free-for-all field, including the likes of Tiger Tara (fourth) and No Doctor Needed (seventh).
Mach Doro enjoyed the longer 2300m trip and powered clear to win by 7.6m in a 1min56.4sec mile rate.
The son of Mach Three has won five of his 10 starts since switching to Cross’ stable.
Cross also trained the feature winner on the day when the rejuvenated Epaulette led throughout to win the Group 3 Garrards Horse And Hound final (1609m) in a 1min52.1sec mile.
Epaulette has gone to another level winning three on end since young driver Martelle Maguire picked-up the drive as part of the Lady Drivers Invitational race on Miracle Mile night (February 25).
Cross trained a treble on the card with the superbly-bred Effronte (Rock N Roll Heaven-Fleur De Lil) making it four wins on end in a 1min52.1sec mile.
FORMER Kiwi mare Cyclone Kate keeps clocking-up the wins in Australia.
The John McCarthy trained five-year-old posted her 10th win from just 22 starts since moving to Australia when she posted a slick time at Bathurst last Saturday night.
The daughter of Mach Three sat behind the leader, Sams The Master, and packed too much speed late along the sprint lane to salute in a slick 1min56.5sec mile rate for 2260m in the Smooth Satin Cup.
It was her 17th career win and edged her so close to $300,000 in career earnings.
Approved By Dean Baring www.harnessbred.com
Driving The Future Of Harness Racing