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YOUNG Kiwi trotter Ultimate Stride has another Group 1 at his mercy.
Off the back of his dominant Group 1 Redwood win, Phil Williamson’s colt strolled home in his Breeders Crown qualifier at Maryborough last Thursday.
And, most significantly, he thrashed Powderkeg, the trotter considered his main threat in next Saturday night’s final at Melton.
Ultimate Stride is a $1.65 Aussie TAB favourite from outside the front row (gate seven) in Saturday night’s Melton final.
In the qualifier, Powderkeg whizzed to the front, but in an obvious show of respect for Ultimate Stride’s talent, trainer-driver Lisa Miles was content to surrender the front to Anthony Butt when he challenged at the 1600m with Ultimate Stride.
Instead of it being a contest, Ultimate Stride surged clear without being extended in the run home to win by 11.1m in a slick 2min0.5sec mile rate for the 2190m.
The other heat when to emerging local Is That A Bid. Although he won by a big space, his time was a much slower 2min3.8sec mile rate.
Is That A Bid has the pole in the final and is $3.20 second elect. Powederkeg is a $8.50 shot from gate three.
Williamson’s other raider, Liberty Stride, ran a terrific second in quick time (1min59.9sec for 2190m) in her three-year-old trotting fillies’ heat behind Brent Lilley’s former Kiwi, Sunnys Little Jestic.
Despite being out of the draw (so starting from outside the back row), Liberty Stride is still $2.80 Aussie TAB favourite for the final. I Am Pegasus is $3.40 from gate nine, while Emerald Stride is next at $6.50 from barrier 10.
The highlight of the trotting heats was a star-studded first heat of the 3YO colts and geldings division.
Breathtaking Victoria Trotters’ Derby winner Majestuoso was beaten but still went like a jet when a head second to speedy All Cashed Up, who led throughout for trainer Anton Golino and driver Glen Craven.
All Cashed Up zipped home in 57.2 and 28.5sec, while Majestuoso came from near last and clocked to run a 56.1sec last half. But his chances for the final were hurt when he caused a false start in the heat and was placed out of the draw.
Kiwi raider Kratos had to do the work outside All Cashed Up, but they didn’t go hard and he disappointed slightly by tiring for an 11.9m fifth.
Majestouso starts from outside the back in the final, but has already firmed from $2.50 to $2.20. Xebec drew the pole and is $4 as likely leader, while Kratos’ final hopes were boosted by gate eight, meaning he should trail Xebec. He’s also $4.
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THE buzz continues to build around Gary Hall Sr’s latest young Kiwi import Wildwest.
He’s raw and green, but boy he’s got some talent.
Wildwest toyed with a moderate field and didn’t run much time, but it was more the arrogant way he did it again at Gloucester Park last Friday night.
The son of Raging Bull is unbeaten in three runs and ranked right up with stablemate and WA Derby winner Major Trojan as Hall Sr’s best Golden Nugget hope for later this year.
It was also great to see potential Grand Circuit player Vampiro returned to form with a win in the August Cup at the Gloucester Park meeting.
The five-year-old, having his third run this campaign, did a terrific job to sit outside and snatch victory from favourite and leader Our Corelli in a slick 1min58.8sec mile rate for the long 2536m trip.
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HOW often to touted “match races” unfolded very differently?
That was the case at Melton last Friday night in the Minuteman free-for-all where proven topliner Buster Brady and emerging star Born ToRocknroll were tipped to fight it out.
Instead, both missed a place and the race was won narrowly but impressively by the underrated Jilliby Bandit in a slick 1min54.5sec mile rate for 2240m.
There was plenty to like about the runs of classy Berisari, who was beaten a nose into second spot, and the promising Rackemup Tigerpie, who was another a neck away third.
Born To Rocknroll and Buster Brady both burned out of wide gates and set-up a blistering 42.1sec which left them vulnerable late.
While Born To Rocknroll held on quite well for a close fifth, Buster Brady was spent before the home bend and dropped right out to be 25m away in last spot.
The run was too bad to be true, albeit Buster Brady was first-up, and stewards ordered vet tests be taken.