By Adam Hamilton
Emerging training force Jason Grimson didn’t win an Inter Dominion heat, but still turned plenty of heads on opening night.
Grimson, who won last year’s Inter Dominion pacing final on protest with Boncel Benjamin, said this year’s quest was “right on target” with Majestic Cruiser running third and I Cast No Shadow finishing fourth in their Ballarat heats last night.
“Both haven’t done much since they last raced,” he said. “I knew they’d both need it, but it’s about peaking for the final.
“Majestic Cruiser basically did nothing for a week or more in NZ after the free-for-all and only got across to Melbourne a week or so before this first heat. I know how much he’ll improve.
“I Cast No Shadow drew poorly and Cam had to come around and put him into the races (outside the leader) when they really slowed-up. He wasn’t far away at the finish and will also take a lot from the run.”
It was after the Inter Dominion heats had all been run when Grimson really made his mark on the night with a horse who looks destined for much bigger things.
Former Kiwi gelding Major Meister, who had success in Victoria with trainer Adam Kelly, landed a massive betting plunge when he thrashed his rivals. He was backed in from $4.60 to $1.75 and never looked in danger after whizzing to the front.
The son of Art Major ripped home in 54.3 and 27.2sec for a 1min52.9sec mile rate over 1710m.
“I think he’s good, very good, and you’ll see a lot more of him in better races,” Grimson said.
“I’ve only had him three weeks, but loved him straight away. I see the Cranbourne Cup is the week after the Inter Dominion and worth $100,000, so that’s the target for now.”
Grimson is renowned for rejuvenating cast-offs and turning them into feature races players like Boncel Benjamin, Majestic Cruiser and I Cast No Shadow.
Asked if Major Meister could be the next and potentially a Miracle Mile horse, he smiled and said: “Time will tell, but I like him a lot.”
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Kiwi-bred mare Miss Limelight gave trainer Ryan Bell a well-deserved major win at Gloucester Park last night.
The five-year-old daughter of Bettors Delight led throughout for driver Kyle Symington to win the $150,000 Group 1 Westral Mares’ Classic (2536m).
Bell has endured a tough and frustrating time with his superstar pacer Shockwave being sidelined by a string of issues over the past couple of years.
Pleasingly, Shockwave is progressing well on the comeback trail towards a racetrack return in March/April next year.
But for now, Miss Limelight, raced by the big-spending Albert Walmsley, is flying the flag.
Another Kiwi-bred mare Eighteen Carat ran a terrific second after coming from the outside draw, sitting parked and only being beaten 1.6m for emerging trainer Michael Young and driver Gary Hall Jr.
The free-for-all went to the classy Diego, who was able to find the front when main danger Know When To Run galloped at the start.
It was a Gary Hall Sr trained quinella with Gambit sitting parked and running a terrific second.
But Hall Sr’s biggest thrill came later in the night when Kiwi import Prince Of Pleasure stretched his unbeaten record in WA to eight races in a 1min54.7sec mile rate for 1730m.
“He’s the best horse in my stable,” Hall Sr said. “He’s had plenty of issues, but seems well now. We’re headed to the Fremantle and WA Cups and then the slot race ($1 million Nullarbor) with him.”
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While Team McCarthy’s focus was on the Inter Dominion at Ballarat, they also had a special moment at Menangle last night (Saturday).
Former outstanding juvenile and now part-time stallion at their Cobbitty Equine – Jilliby Kung Fu – returned to racing to win the 2300m free-for-all at Menangle in gutsy style.
The rising nine-year-old, who has been plagued by injuries, led throughout and just kept finding under pressure for driver Chris Geary to win by a head in a 1min54.4sec mile rate and slick 54.1sec last half.
Jilliby Kung Fu won the Chariots Of Fire in 2018 and finished second to My Field Marshal in the Miracle Mile two weeks later.
He’s only raced six times in the past four years, but Team McCarthy think he can still be a feature race player.
That’s his third win from just five starts for the stable.