By Adam Hamilton
Just Believe became the “King” of Australian trotting last night.
His easy win in the $300,000 Group 1 Great Southern Star at Melton followed the Inter Dominion final victory on December 10.
It’s been the most remarkable few months for the trotter, who only joined Jess Tubbs and Greg Sugars’ Larajay Farms stable in September.
The seven-year-old has won nine of 14 starts for Tubbs and Sugars with another four seconds and a third.
In that time, he’s banked close to $500,000.
In contrast to his tough Inter Dominion final win from a back row draw, last night it was Just Believe’s speed which got him to the front from the pole early, take a trail and then zip along the sprint lane to win by 3.6m in a 1min55.5sec mile rate for 1720m.
It came just hours after he was beaten in his heat from a tricky draw, but did a mighty job to finish second in a leader dominated race.
Just as it was on Inter Dominion night, Sugars’ drive was sublime.
Many would’ve been anxious when a $151 shot (Mufasa Metro) challenged for the front and took it, but Sugars opted to stay behind him and wait for the sprint lane.
“I was a little unsure whether the retake may have been available, but I thought if that decision doesn’t go in my favour, I was in a world of hurt then,” Sugars told TrotsVision.
“I had to rely on John (Justice, on Mufasa Metro) taking me far enough and his horse race a great race and that was the difference between winning and losing tonight.”
Despite the ease of Just Believe’s win, it was a remarkably bunched finish with just 11 metres separating the 10 runners on the line.
It wasn’t to be yet again for classy Kiwi veteran Majestic Man making his fourth attempt at the Great Southern Star.
The eight-year-old led his heat, but wasn’t the same horse as when he won dominantly the previous week. He was run down late by classy mare Im Ready Jet, albeit only beaten a head in a 1min55.2sec mile rate.
An awful outside front row draw (seven) cooked his chances in the final. He sat parked, but was still below his best in tiring late to finish 9.1m away in second-last spot.
Mufasa Metro ran a fantastic race for second in the final, while Im Ready Jet followed her terrific heat win with a ripper third in the final.
High-class former Kiwi mare Queen Elida trailed Just Believe in the final, but didn’t have her usual ping at the finish and just battled in fourth spot.
There was some other strong Kiwi flavour on the night when last season’s classy filly Aldebaran Keepa returned to winning form at just her second run since joining the Brent Lilley stable.
Superbly driven off a solid pace by Chris Alford, the daughter of Kadabra overpowered another gallant former Kiwi, Majestic Chick for Josh Dickie and Sammy Kilgour, to win by 9.2m in race six.
The night started with a buzz when three-year-old filly Exalted produced a monstrous effort to thrash her rivals in the opening event.
The raw daughter of Majestic Son galloped and gave away at least 50m, but still caught the field and powered away to win by 16.9m.
It’s no secret Andy and Kate Gath have a huge opinion of the filly, who is raced by Norm Jenkin with Alabar Farms and has won two of her only four runs.