By Adam Hamilton
EXCITING former Kiwi gelding Pitch Perfect won the battle of the rising stars at Menangle last night.
Roy Roots Jr’s Bettors Delight four-year-old made the most of a gun run behind the leader from a pole draw to post his 11th win from just 22 starts and his seventh from 12 runs this season.
And he broke 1min50sec for the mile for the firs time in the process with a blazing 1min49.8sec.
Pitch Perfect showed glimpses last season with a third in a Breeders Crown 3YO final to Malcolms Rhythm (Lochinvar Art was second), then he ran ninth in the final.
Regional racing has largely restricted him to going through the grades at Newcastle in recent months, but he’s back at Menangle and making up for lost time.
Pitch Perfect beat the emerging Arma Hotshot by a half head with favourites Zahven Banner (fourth) and Whereyabinboppin (fifth) after attacking each other up front through the first three splits of 26.6, 28.2 and 27.3sec.
The upset of the night came in the free-for-all where $51 shot Thunder Dance popped-out from behind the leader – despite being part of a 25.6sec opening quarter – to win in a 1min50.5sec mile.
Let It Ride was a sound first-up third, while another talented former Kiwi Hail Christian only finished sixth and is battling to recapture his best form so far this season.
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SPEEDY former Kiwi pacer Ocean Ridge upstaged Chicago Bull for the second time this campaign at Gloucester Park last Friday.
It was a tactically fascinating 2536m Winter Cup where star veteran Our Jimmy Johnstone led, Chicago Bull moved to sit parked midrace and Ryan Warwick drove stunningly well to stalk “the Bull” in the last lap.
Chicago Bull did a mighty job to get the better of Our Jimmy Johnstone turning for home in a 56.3sec last half, but Ocean Ride flashed at him late to snatch victory right on the wire by a nose.
Ocean Ridge upset Chicago Bull in a free-for-all on April 24, but had been runner-up in three subsequent runs.
Chicago Bull had three weeks between runs and his eight comeback runs have netted four wins, three seconds and a third.
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WOBELEE is building nicely towards being one of those rare horses who is a champion at two and races on to be an open-class star.
The gelding was one of the best young trotters Victoria has seen in his freshman season, missed a big chunk of time with injury at three, but has gone through the ranks nicely in open-aged racing.
The rising six-year-old returned from a break with a soft Shepparton win, beating the high-class Big Jack Hammer, last Friday night.
Back in the mobile draw, Wobelee whizzed to the front for Chris Alford and dawdled through a 63.9sec middle half. It was really just a 400m sprint home in 27.7sec as he coasted to a 5.6m win.
It was his first run since a fifth in the Group 1 Grand Prix at Melton back on February 29.
Wobelee’s won 21 of his 36 starts with another 13 placings and boasts earnings just over $380,000.
With his speed, class and continued improvement, Wobelee should be a major player in Victoria’s biggest trotting races in coming months.
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IT was a night of firsts on a stellar card at Gloucester Park Friday.
Former jockey turned driver, Maddison Brown, daughter of decorated trainer-driver Colin Brown, snared her first Group 1 aboard Longreach Bay in the 3YO Colts and Geldings Westbred Classic.
Longreach Bay, who survived an early speed burn to lead throughout in 1min57.4sec for 2130m, is a son of former brilliant juvenile pacer Renaissance Man. He also gave trainer Peter King his first Group 1 win.
Brown, partner of champion driver Gary Hall Jr, lifted Longreach Bay late to stave-off a big finish from Poisedtopounce with Hall Jr’s drive, Gardys Legacy, third.
Brown’s father, Colin, tasted training and driver success later in the night with Typhoon Triff leading throughout to easily win the mares’ free-for-all.
Aiden De Campo has tasted Group 1 success as a driver, but speedy Heston Blue Chip filly Blue Chip Adda gave him his first victory at the top level as a trainer.
The fillies went much quicker than the colts with a 1min56.3sec mile rate.
Buzz filly Alta Cinderella led, but raced greenly bordering on erratically at times, and weakened late for fifth with the swoopers dominating.
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TWO rising stars combined at Albion Park last night.
The state’s top young driver, 17-year-old Angus Garrard, teamed with buzz former Kiwi pacer Speech Is Silver for a “get out of a trouble” win in the sixth event.
Speech Is Silver’s win, after looking in serious traffic trouble, was his 13th from just 17 starts and his sixth on end.
For Garrard, it was a leg of a winning treble on his first night with a metropolitan driving licence. Quite the start.
The other highlight of the night was Colt Thirty One’s fighting return to winning form in the free-for-all.
Former Kiwi pacer Northview Hustler, fresh from a sparkling trial win, led and dictated, but Colt Thirty One came from the back row, sat parked and just kept coming to win by 1.4m in a slick 1min54.2sec mile rate for 2138m.
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ANDY and Kate Gath hope Zigzagzoo could be their next Kiwi “find.”
The gelding came to Australia a lightly-raced maiden, but has looked good winning both runs, the latest against older rivals at Melton last night.
The Majestic Son gelding led from the pole and dug deep to hold-off the older, promising and fit Imsettogo by a half-head in a 2min0.1sec mile rate for 2240m.
“He’s improving all the time and hopefully he’ll measure-up to be a Derby horse in a few months,” Andy Gath said.
Later in the night, Team Gath had to be content for second with one of their stable stars, McLovin, surprisingly beaten in the trotting free-for-all.
McLovin did the work outside the leader in quick time and was swooped late by the talented but enigmatic Savannah Jay Jay in a 1min58.4sec mile rate for 2240m.
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THE margin wasn’t great, but star Queenslander Governor Jujon certainly impressed winning another feature at Redcliffe on Friday night.
Grant Dixon’s young star returned to Redcliffe, where he was sold for $18,000 as a yearling, to win the Group 3 Redcliffe Yearling Sales 3YO final. He also won the two-year-old version last season.
Governor Jujon, best known for running second in the Victoria Derby, boasts 14 wins and three seconds from his 18 starts.
The son of Cammibest made it five wins from as many runs this campaign on Friday, but only after being three-wide for the first 600m, then parked outside his main danger, Gleneagle Warrior.
Governor Jujon had to dig deep and he did in, by Redcliffe’s terms, a scorching 1min55.3sec mile rate for 1780m. It was only a second outside Always A Command’s track record.
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NORTH American-bound pair Ideal Star and Leonidas smashed the clock at Shepparton when they ran the quinella in the fast-class pace on Friday night.
Ideal Star turned the tables on his flying David Aiken-trained Leonidas for recent runs when he led for Chris Alford and blazed a 1min52.5sec mile rate for 1690m.
It smashed 0.8sec off the track record budding superstar Lochinvar Art set back on May 1.
Leonidas was far from disgraced after coming from inside the back row and having to come three wide in a 55.7sec last half to get within 1.7m for driver Josh Aiken.
Both pacers have been bought by US owner Steve Finkelstein and are biding their time in Aiken’s care until they travel to North American to continue their careers.