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AUSTRALASIA’S champion pacer Tiger Tara will headline a trio of Miracle Mile hopefuls Kevin Pizzuto will run at Menangle next Saturday night. Pizzuto confirmed star speedster Majordan and his Chariots of Fire fifth placegetter Picard would also tackle one of the Miracle Mile qualifiers this week. “Picard’s come through the Chariots and he’ll be fitter for the run as well. He’s going around this week again for sure,” Pizzuto said. “He did all the work and was only beaten five metres. I know he’ll be better for it.” Majordan’s turbulent campaign took a crucial turn for the better when he did everything right and blasted away a good field, headed by NZ Cup winner Thefixer, at Menangle last Saturday night. Pizzuto reaffirmed what he’s been saying for months that Majordan rates right along Tiger Tara as a Miracle Mile prospect. “Tiger Tara’s got all the form on the board, but over a mile at Menangle, Majordan is right at home,” he said. “He’s been a bit fresh and doing things wrong. I’ve changed his bit, got some more work into him and he won really well the other night. “I can assure you he’ll keep getting better now. When he’s galloped in this races, he’s missed the hitout. Last night will bring him on a lot more.” So what about Tiger Tara and his quest to complete a total dominance of our biggest races by winning the Miracle Mile? “He’s well. Really well. He his work was fantastic on Saturday and he’ll another strong workout at Bankstown this week,” Pizzuto said. “I’m glad now I skipped Newcastle and gave him a few quiet days after the Hunter Cup. “He’s freshened-up well and with a mile run under his belt this week, he’ll be absolutely spot-on on for the (Miracle) Mile.” The latest Aussie TAB Miracle Mile market shows Pizzuto’s key role with Tiger Tara $3.60 favourite, Majordan $7 third elect and Picard at $21. Adam Hamilton

EVEN without Spankem, the powerhouse All Stars stable has qualified three runners for Australia’s biggest four-year-old feature. Chase Auckland, Ashley Locaz and All You Need If Faith will fly the stable flag in next Saturday night’s $200,000 Group 1 Chariots Of Fire (1609m) at Menangle. They might have the numbers, but they don’t have the pre-draw favourite with Tasmania’s Ignatius, a stablemate of dual Inter Dominion winner Beautide, holding that billing. Ignatius did what most thought impossible and sat outside Chase Auckland to win last night’s Group 2 Paleface Adios at Menangle. The closing splits were mindblowing. Ignatius was able to run a 53.2 last half and 26.5sec closing quarter to edge-out Chase Auckland by a half-neck with star Victorian raider Rackemup Tigerpie third after sitting behind the leader. All You Need Is Faith qualified by running fourth, While Chase Auckland has improved at his three Sydney runs back from a long injury-enforced spell and will be better again for the final, Ignatius went out of this world. He has to be the testing material in the Chariots judging by that win. Remembering he was only second-up after a spell as well. “We were thrilled with the way he hit the line when a bit underdone in the Hondo Grattan first-up and the run brought him on,” trainer-driver Jimmy Rattray said. “He was ready to do a bit more work this time, so I went forward from the draw. To sit outside them and win was pretty impressive.” Another key player will be star Victorian Poster Boy, who qualified via his 4YO Bonanza win at Melton, and sharpened-up with an easy Melton win last night. Picard, who disappointed slightly when rundown on a wet track in last Friday’s Newcastle Mile, and Ashley Locaz are also right in contention on the strength of their Hondo Grattan runs. The pre-draw Aussie TAB market has Ignatius at $2.50 from: Chase Auckland ($3), Ashley Locaz ($4.20), Poster Boy ($6.50), Picard ($8) and Rackemup Tigerpie ($16).   Adam Hamilton

SUCH is the aura around Ultimate Sniper, you could hear the sigh of relief when Mark Purdon said his Sydney trip was off. Leading the charge was top local trainer Shane Tritton, who has the now logical NSW Derby favourite Muscle Factory. Remembering Ultimate Sniper was a $1.70 favourite for the NSW Derby in Aussie prepost markets before Purdon ruled him out today (Thursday). Instead, Purdon said the All Stars’ Victoria Derby runner-up Im Anothermasterpiece was staying in Australia to tackle the NSW Derby. He was quickly added to betting markets as equal favourite with Muscle Factory, who beat him in the Victoria Derby. “It’s certainly helps us not having Ultimate Sniper coming after what’s he done in NZ. Maybe we scared him off,” Tritton smiled. Ultimate Sniper was the second big name All Stars’ horse to defect from Sydney’s Carnival of Miracles this week. Earlier, Inter Dominion finalists Spankem, the long-time Chariots of Fire favourite, was scratched from Saturday night’s Paleface Adios owing to a virus. He’s heading home. It’s a huge weekend in NSW ahead with the $100,000 Group 1 Newcastle Mile on Friday night and the Paleface Adios at Menangle on Saturday night. Trainer Kevin Pizzuto holds the key at Newcastle with defending champion Majordan (gate three, $1.40) and exciting four-year-old Picard (gate four, $3.30). “I can’t split them. Picard is absolutely flying and Majordan is on the way up. They’re two great changes,” he said. In Picard’s case, a win would create a dilemma because the conditions of the Newcastle Mile state the winner cannot race again before the Miracle Mile. However, because Picard was already qualified for the Chariots before accepting to race at Newcastle, it’s different for him. HRNSW has told Pizzuto that Picard cannot run in both the Chariots and Miracle Mile if he wins at Newcastle. “I have to tell them by 9am Monday which race I’m going to. Even if I go to the Chariots and Picard wins that, he’s not allowed to run in the Miracle. It’s crazy,” he said. Despite Spankem’s scratching, the All Stars still holds the key to the Paleface Adios at Menangle with comeback star Chase Auckland $1.90 favourite from gate two. They also have $13 All U Need Is Faith from gate nine. Much interest centres on Tasmanian star Ignatius, who smashed the clock first-up in the Hondo Grattan last week and will be fitter. He’s a $3 shot despite a wide draw (gate 10).   Adam Hamilton

TIGER Tara is poised to cap a truly remarkable season with victory in Saturday night’s $500,000 Group 1 Hunter Cup. He’s already won the Inter Dominion final and Victoria Cup as well as producing one of the great runs in defeat when a monstrous second to Thefixer in the NZ Cup. Now, courtesy of an almost perfect draw, Tiger Tara is the Aussie TAB’s $1.55 favourite for the Hunter Cup. And judging by how easily he’s won those two others “majors” at Melton this season, it would be a brave person to tip against him. Adding to Tiger Tara’s superb gate three is fact three of his major rivals – the three Kiwis in the race – all drew the back row: Cruz Bromac (nine), Star Galleria (10) and Thefixer (11). Had NZ and Ballarat Cup winner Thefixer drawn well, he would have been favourite. Instead he’s a $7 shot from outside the back row. The way the marbles fell, Inter Dominion runner-up Our Uncle Sam looms as Tiger Tara’s biggest danger. Most see him using gate one to sit on Tiger Tara and he was quickly backed from $7 into $5 after the draw. Trainer Kevin Pizzuto was thrilled with Tiger Tara’s draw. “You beauty. It’s a great draw,” he said. Asked where Tiger Tara was at compared to his stunningly dominant Inter Dominion win back on December 15, Pizzuto declared: “At least on par.” Tiger Tara was having his final workout at Menangle this morning (Wednesday) then being floated down to Melbourne tomorrow. HUNTER CUP DRAW Front row: Our Uncle Sam ($5), Flaming Flutter ($151), Tiger Tara ($1.55), Buster Brady ($21), Raukapuka Ruler ($41), San Carlo ($21), Cant Refuse ($151). Back row: Wrappers Delight ($21), Cruz Bromac ($10), Star Galleria ($13), Thefixer ($7).   Adam Hamilton

KIWI raider Im Another Masterpiece's stranglehold on Victoria Derby favouritism tightened after he drew best of the big guns for Saturday night's feature. The All Stars' lone Derby runner looked fantastic winning the fastest of the three heats last week and will start from gate four in the final if emergency Demon Delight (gate one) doesn't gain a start. Despite the depth of the race, the Aussie TAB has Im Another Masterpiece a commanding $1.70 favourite with major rival Hurricane Harley at $5.50 from the back row (gate nine). The other key players like Muscle Factory (gate six), Max Delight (seven) and Lochinvar Art (10) drew worse than the favourite. The smokey could be ex-All Star pacer War Dan Delight, who smashed the clock from last to finish fourth in his heat last week with a 54sec last half. He's drawn gate two and will get the pole if Demon Delight doesn't get a berth. Im Pats Delight is early favourite from gate two in a strong Group 1 4YO Bonanza. Fellow Kiwi Inter Dominion contestant Spankem will need some luck from outside the front (gate seven), while other key runners are Emma Stewart's Poster Boy, first-up from gate four, and last week's slashing Ballarat Cup runner Rackemup Tigerpie has gate eight. The big guns all drew superbly for the much-anticipated Group 1 Great Southern Star. Inter Dominion champ Tornado Valley snared gate two and looks the leader with Tough Monarch on his inside. Kiwi star Marcoola is right next to Tornado Valley in gate three and will be suited by the testing 2760m trip. Speeding Spur has the task ahead from outside the front, gate seven. Astonishingly, another Kiwi Ameretto Sun missed a berth and is only first emergency in gate six. The other Kiwi, Temporale, will need luck from the back row (gate 12). In the open Group 1 Ladyship Cup, Soho Burning Love (gate one) and Tell Me Tales (two) hold the key, Steven Reid's classy mare Utmost Delight is right in the mix from gate four, while Juice Brogden is next door in barrier three. Reid's stable hero Star Galleria warms up for next week's Hunter Cup the Casey Classic this week. He's a huge chance from gate three, but has likely leader and main threat Wrappers Delight in barrier two.   Adam Hamilton

BEING the All Stars’ second-best three-year-old could be enough to make Im Another Masterpiece the stable’s third Victoria Derby winner. Mark Purdon won his first Victoria Derby when Tony Herlihy partnered Rare Gem to win in 2001 then it wasn’t until the awesome Lazarus in 2016 when he won it again. But Im Another Masterpiece made a real statement winning by far the strongest of the three heats and doing it in style at Ballarat last Saturday night. Driver and co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen was content to let Shane and Lauren Tritton’s buzz pacer Muscle Factory lead and sit on it, but things changed when Im Another Masterpiece left the trail to sit parked with a lap to run. In doing so, Rasmussen avoid being pocketed on a track without a sprint lane but also kept another key contender, Centenario, three-wide for the final lap. “You don’t come all this way to be unlucky,” Rasmussen said. “You have to run top three and I wasn’t going to to run a nice hard-held fourth on the fence. “It was a nice win and the run should tighten him up for the final.” Back home, Im Another Masterpiece has played second-fiddle to gifted stablemate Ultimate Sniper, who is being saved for the NSW Derby next month. Im Another Masterpiece simply packed too much zip for his rivals in a scorching 54.9sec last half and won by 2.9m from Muscle Factory with a gallant Lochinvar Art third after doing plenty of work outside the leader for much of the race. In the talent-crammed heat, Centenario tired for sith and missed the final, while stablemate Demon Delight was only first emergency for the final after finishing a luckless fifth. Im Another Masterpiece went a 1min55.9sec mile rate for 2200m, while the first heat winner, Breeders Crown 2YO champ Hurricane Harley, led throughout win softly in a 1min56.8sec mile rate. The third heat was a dawdle early for leader and winner Max Delight, who sprinted home in 26.5sec at the end of a slow 2min0.4sec mile rate to win by 2.8m over Perfect Major and Petes Big Jim. The Aussie TAB has Hurricane Harley a slight $2.60 pre-draw favourite ahead of Im Another Masterpiece at $2.70 then the other heat winner, Max Delight, at $4.50. Adam Hamilton

INTER Dominion winner Tiger Tara again showed his vulnerability in sprint racing despite winning the Group 3 Brian Hancock Cup over a mile at Menangle last Saturday night. Dropped back from an easy 2300m Menangle win a week earlier, Tiger Tara worked to the front, dictated the terms and just scrambled home by a half-head. Fellow Inter Dominion finalist Maximan returned from a freshen-up with a ripping second where he was timed to run a 25.8sec last quarter. Tiger Tara’s splits for the mile were 26.9, 30.3, 29.4 and 26.1sec, which showed turning it into a sprint home probably didn’t suit him ideally. Now it’s back to the staying distance for the $500,000 Group 1 Hunter Cup at Melton on February 2 then a Miracle Mile quest. Earlier in the night at Menangle, another two Inter Dominion contestants – My Alpha Rock and Village Witch – ran the quinella in a 1min51.4sec mile. While Paul Court’s Kiwi raider, Hail Christian, made it four wins from just five NSW starts winning in a 1min51.1sec mile in the third event. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ INTER Dominion finalist Spankem sharpened-up for his Chariots Of Fire quest with a slick Ballarat win last Saturday night. Staggeringly, the gelding was able to drop back to race C3/4 class and won accordingly  by 4.3m in a slick 1min53.8sec mile rate for 1710m with Natalie Rasmussen aboard. He goes straight into next Saturday night’s Group 1 4YO Bonanza at Melton against the likes of Im Pats Delight, Ride High and Poster Boy where only the winner gets a Chariots Of Fire invite. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ NSW star trotter Tough Monarch booked a trip back to Melbourne and more Group 1 racing with a sparkling first-up win at Menangle last Saturday night. Rickie Alchin’s gelding, who ran so well through the Inter Dominion series, will head back to Melton to tackle Tornado Valley, Marcoola, Speeding Spur and others in the Group 1 Great Southern Star next Saturday night. He thrashed his rivals when first-up from a short break at Menangle where he trotted 1min58.2sec for 2300m and won by 21.5m. Another major Inter Dominion player, Save Our Pennys, showed he too would be a key Great Southern Star player with an easy Group 2 Cochran Trotters’ Cup win at Bendigo last Saturday night. Making the most of Tornado’s Valley’s absence, Save Our Pennys led throughout for trainer Graeme Lang and driver Gavin Lang to win easily by 5.2m over a gallant Dance Craze, who ran second after being parked, in a 1min59.8sec mile rate for 2200m. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ LEADING Chariots Of Fire contender Ignatius has made the trip from Tasmania to NSW, is back with Jimmy Rattray and will trial at Menangle on Tuesday. Regular trainer Todd Rattray had planned to give the four-year-old a race in his home state before returning to NSW, but a minor “bug” prompted his scratching two weeks ago. Ignatius, who boasts 16 wins from 19 starts, has not raced since a luckless but still slightly disappointing seventh in the Breeders Crown 3YO final at Melton on August 25, last year. “He seems well. We will get through the trial then decide whether he goes to the Hondo Grattan or we wait a week later for the Paleface Adios,” Jimmy Rattray said. The countdown to the $200,000 Group 1 Chariots of Fire at Menangle on February 15 really hots up with the Group 1 4YO Bonanza at Melton next Saturday night. The field will be headed by star Kiwi pair Spankem and Im Pats Delight taking on Emma Stewart’s glamour duo of Ride High and Poster Boy. Crucially, only the winner of the 4YO Bonanza gets a ticket into the Chariots, meaning the others will have to tackle one of the Menangle qualifiers – Hondo Grattan (February 2) or Paleface Adios (February 9). ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ONE of Team Bond’s stellar four-year-old Bettor Aim looks to have Perth’s Nights of Thunder final at his mercy. The former Kiwi son of Bettors Delight smashed the clock with a 1min52.4sec heat win at Gloucester Park last Friday and looks a league above his rivals. Greg Bond thinks Bettor Aim is right up there with his other top four-year-olds, Ana Malak and Mighty Conqueror, and we saw why last Friday. Bettor Aim finished behind Ana Malak in the Golden Nugget. Mighty Conqueror is about to race again and Bond is considering a Sydney raid to try and qualify for the Chariots Of Fire. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ SOUTH Australian pin-up pacer Email Macha scored one of the most important wins of his career when he snared the Wedderburn Cup yesterday (Sunday). The five-year-old gelding worked around to the front and found plenty to post his 26th win from just 29 starts. He’s won six of his eight runs this season. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ANDY Gath hoped an Inter Dominion campaign would take his former Kiwi trotter Kingdom Come to the next level and it seems to have done just that. Kingdom Come ran a string of good races through the series won by stablemate Tornado Valley. Dropping back big time in class at Melton last Friday, Kingdom Come came from a back row draw, sat parked and thrashed his rivals by 19.4m in a 2min0.1sec mile rate for 2240m.     Adam Hamilton

Aussie punters have unleashed on a Kiwi raider to beat some of their best in a stellar heat of the Victoria Derby at Ballarat on Saturday night. Remarkably given the random drawing of fields, five of the first six in betting to win the Victoria Derby final will clash in the second and by far strongest heat. Only four of them can make it through to the final at Melton a week later. And it’s the All Stars’ young buck, Im Another Masterpiece, who has been smashed from $3 into $1.65 favourite after drawing the pole. Yes he’s exciting, but that’s a crazy price given the calibre of his opposition, which includes: Australasian 3YO mile record-holder Muscle Factory (gate two, $4.20), last year’s Victorian star juvenile Centenario (nine, $6.50), the untapped Lochinvar Art (seven, $7) and buzz pacer Demon Delight (five, $9.50). The other Kiwi raider in the Derby heats, Barry Purdon’s Supreme Dominator, has also attracted early betting support, $3.50 into $3, from the pole in the third heat. He’s second elect behind the exciting Max Delight, who has been $3.20 into $2.50 from gate three. Former Kiwi youngster War Dan Delight, now with Dean Braun, is a $12 shot from gate six. The opening heat looks a one-act affair with Emma Stewart’s superstar juvenile of last season, Hurricane Harley, $1.20 from the pole. The Derby heats bolster an already awesome meeting headed by the Group 1 Ballarat Cup where All Stars pair Thefixer and Cruz Bromac head the betting, as well as the Group 2 Cochran Cup for trotters. Andy Gath opted to skip the Cochran with Tornado Valley and go straight into a clash with Marcoola, Speeding Spur and others in the Group 1 Great Southern Star at Melton a week later. With Tornado Valley absent, Save Our Pennys is a $2 favourite from gate four in the Cochran ahead of Dance Craze (gate five, $4) and Inter Dominion runner-up Sky Petite (seven, $6). The most head-spinning race of the night is the ninth event – thee Petstock Pet Smart Pace – where somehow Inter Dominion fourth placegetter Spankem drops back to a C3/C4 grade. It highlights the extraordinary different between the Victorian and NZ handicapping systems and makes Spankem arguably the greatest handicapping certainty the game has seen.   Adam Hamilton

IN a shock twist Inter Dominion champion Tiger Tara won’t tackle Saturday night’s $100,000 Group 1 Ballarat Cup. He’s the second big name in the space of just a few hours to pull out of Victoria’s biggest country cup. It follows Cran Dalgety’s decision to skip Ballarat and wait another week for the $100,000 Group 1 4YO Bonanza with Shepparton Cup winner Im Pats Delight. Tiger Tara was a clear prepost favourite for Ballarat before Pizzuto revealed his change of plans. “He’s right where I want him and I don’t want to have to take him down to Melbourne twice or have to leave him there for the time between Ballarat and the Hunter Cup,” he said. “I’ve got lots on at home with Majordan getting ready for the Miracle Mile and Picard for the Chariots Of Fire. I’m not just a one-horse trainer. “He doesn’t need to race at Ballarat. He’s very fit and I can sharpen him at home before the Hunter Cup.” Tiger Tara stepped-out for the first time since his stunning Melbourne Inter Dominion win when he toyed with a moderate field at Menangle last night. Todd McCarthy worked to the front and let Tiger Tara roll for a scorching 1min53.8sec mile rate iver the longer 2300m trip. He closed off in 54.2 and 26.6sec. With Tiger Tara and Im Pats Delight, the All Stars’ trio of Cruz Bromac, Thefixer and Spankem should dominate Ballarat.   Adam Hamilton

STAR Kiwi pacer Im Pats Delight won’t back-up in the $100,000 Group 1 Ballarat Cup this weekend. Just 18 hours after his hard-fought $60,000 Group 2 Shepparton Cup win last night, trainer Cran Dalgety confirmed he would wait another week and tackle the Group 1 4YO Bonanza. “It’s about trying to qualify for the Chariots Of Fire,” Dalgety said. “We’d love to go to Ballarat, but we can’t run in everything with all the races so close together.” Dalgety said it was Gavin Lang’s amazing drive rather than Im Pats Delight’s work which won at Shepparton. “We know how good Gavin is and that was a Gavin Lang special,” he said. “You definitely want Gavin in your corner. “He didn’t cover an extra inch off ground than he needed to and made all the right moves when it mattered.” In a race of attrition, Im Pats Delight just did enough to get past a gallant Our Uncle Sam (third) and hold-off a big finish from Our Triple Play (second). Buzz pacer San Carlo sat parked in slick times and tired late for fourth in a smart 1min56.2sec mile rate for the long 2690m trip. _______________________________________________________________________________ WHIRLWIND is the best way to describe Tim Butt’s weekend. It started with the high of My Field Marshal’s superb Fremantle Cup win and continued when new stable addition Cheesy Fingers brilliantly won the Raith Memorial at Menangle. But the low came when another stable star, Let It Ride, went awfully in the Group 2 Shepparton Cup after leading and stopping to a walk. Butt has scrapped Ballarat and Hunter Cup plans and is taking Let It Ride back to his Menangle base to try and resurrect him for the Miracle Mile. “He overraced and basically choked-down,” Butt said. “It looked bad and he did stop very quickly, but he pulled-up well so that’s a relief.” Cheesy Fingers, having her first start for Butt after only landing in Sydney from NZ the day before, led throughout for stand-in driver Jimmy Rattray. “Credit to Brian Hughes, who trained her up well in NZ. It was a big effort to arrive the day before and go out and run a 1min50.3sec mile. She’s a very nice filly,” Butt said. Cheesy Fingers, a half-sister to The Orange Agent, had to dig deep to fight off a very brave Soho Nolita, who ran a mighty for second after sitting parked in such quick time. Butt said the NSW Oaks was next logical target ahead of features like the Victoria Oaks and Breeders Crown deeper into the season. _______________________________________________________________________________ A KEY scratching and gun drive helped classy trotting mare Red Hot Tooth successfully defend her Group 3 George Gath crown at Shepparton last night. When outsider Its No Dark Yet was scratched from gate one it moved the likely leader Big Jack Hammer into the pole and meant Red Hot Tooth followed him out. So astute punters unleashed, backing Red Hot Tooth from as much as $14 into $3.50 and she saluted after trailing Big Jack Hammer throughout and sprint-laning to win by 1.2m in a 1min59.8sec mile rate for 2190m. Veteran star Kyvalley Blur ran well for second, while Big Jack Hammer held on for third. Inter Dominion runner-up Sky Petite had to park throughout and a sizzling 27.6sec split down the back straight saw her weaken late for fourth. It’s clear Tornado Valley, who runs in the Cochran Cup at Ballarat next Saturday night, has the measure of those who fought-out The George Gath. So the interest centres on Kiwi raiders Marcoola and Speeding Spur to spice up the Group 1 Great Southern Star at Melton on January 26. _______________________________________________________________________________ KIWI visitor Hail Christian is enjoying his time in Sydney. Paul Court’s emerging pacer snared his most important Sydney win yet when, courtesy of a superb Blake Fitzpatrick drive, he easily won an MO at Menangle last night. Hail Christian began well from the outside draw, dropped in behind leader Alpine Stride and finished too strongly to win easily in a 1min57.1sec mile rate for 2300m. It was a sprint home with splits of 55.2 and 28.3sec. He’s won three of his four Aussie runs. _______________________________________________________________________________ POPULAR South Australian pacer Emain Macha won his 24th race from just 37 starts in the Italian Cup at Globe Derby last night. And he’s won four of his past. Greg Schofield’s five-year-old looked a class above his rivals and won accordingly, by 9.3m in a 1min59.2sec mile rate for 2230m.   Adam Hamilton

In a surprise twist, a planned Perth raid has been scrapped from Inter Dominion champion Tiger Tara. Trainer Kevin Pizzuto, who just a week earlier had confirmed the trip, pulled the pin yesterday (Thursday). “In the end, I’ve put the horse first,” Pizzuto said. “I know I said he was going and I was keen to, but I had some time to think everything through during the week after Christmas. “What made me re-think it all was the stinking hot weather had up here. It’s flattened most horses and must have taken something out of him as well. “To ask him to go the long trip to Perth, after he’s already been to NZ and had two trips down to Melbourne this season, was asking to much when I really thought it through. “Travel is hard on horses, especially when it’s hot this time of year. I’d hate to flatten him with a trip to Perth after I’ve worked so hard to get him the best I’ve ever had him.” WA’s loss is Victoria’s gain, with Pizzuto confirming the revised schedule will see Tiger Tara’s next major target – and probably next race – be the $100,000 Group 1 Ballarat Cup on January 19. Then comes the $500,000 Hunter Cup at Melton two week’s later. “He’s very fit. I know it’ll be five weeks between runs when he goes to Ballarat, but he won’t need a race. I can trial him, even give him two trials if needed,” Pizzuto said. “I know the Perth people wanted to see him, but I’m sure I’ve made the right decision by the horse now. “He can go to those two races in Victoria then come back home where I’ve got the Newcastle Mile or one of the Miracle Mile lead-up races ahead of the Miracle Mile itself. “The Miracle Mile isn’t the most suitable race for him because he’s a real stayer, but if I change-up his training I think I can get some more speed into him. “I’ve already got Majordan I’m setting for the Miracle Mile as well. I’d say he’ll go to the Newcastle Mile.” With Tiger Tara out of the Fremantle (January 11) and WA Pacing Cups (January 18), reigning Miracle Mile winner My Field Marshal has assumed dominant favouritism for both races after his easy Gloucester Park win last Friday night. Best of the locals appear to be dual Inter Dominion finalist Galactic Star, his emerging stablemate Vampiro and exciting four-year-olds like Ana Malak and Mighty Conqueror. Adam Hamilton

FORMER top Kiwi trainer Tim Butt will be hoping stablemate flagbearer My Field Marshal can turn his fortunes around at Gloucester Park tomorrow (Friday) night. Butt’s Miracle Mile winner has drawn well in the first of his three Gloucester Park runs during this raid, the $50,000 Group 2 Village Kid Pace (1730m).  Punters have already backed him in from $2.60 to $2.40 on the Aussie TAB and he looks set to snatch favouritism from comeback pacer Mr Mojito, who opened $2.20 from gate two, but is out to $2.30.  It’s been a tough week for Butt and his open-class pacers with Let It Ride and new addition, Raupakuka Ruler, both running below their best in different races on Boxing Night.  Raukapuka Ruler, who won his first Aussie run for Butt then ran second to My Field Marshal in slick time at Menangle, stopped after leading to finish almost 40m from winner Our Triple Play in the $50,000 Group 2 Shirley Turnbull Memorial (2760m) at Bathurst.  Just before that, Group 1 Blacks A Fake winner Let It Ride did his share of work, but was beaten 10.1m into third spot behind Victoria’s most-improved pacer, Rackemup Tigerpie in the $20,000 Lightning Mile at Ballarat.  They went a sizzling 1min52.1sec mile rate for the 1710m and trainer Mick Stanley has the winner on target for much better races.  Let It Ride didn’t enjoy sitting parked, but battled away fairly. He’s well below the horse who so dominated Queensland’s biggest race in winter and was the one-time Inter Dominion favourite.  Butt is adamant he needs regular hard racing to regain that form.  Back to My Field Marshal at Gloucester Park and he has gate five, plenty of early speed and Anthony Butt is flying across for the drive.  Aside from Mr Mojito, his main rivals have drawn outside him for the back row: Our Max Phactor (six), Our Jimmy Johnstone (seven), Vultan Tin (eight), Rocknroll Lincoln (nine) and Mitch Maguire (10).  “It’s good to get him across early to settle in and have a run at Gloucester Park before the two big races,” Butt said.  “I’m sure he’ll run well and be better for it going into the Fremantle Cup (January 11).”   Adam Hamilton

INTER Dominion hero Tiger Tara has thrived since his stunning win and is headed to Perth. Trainer Kevin Pizzuto said as long as suitable flights can be locked-in, Tiger Tara will tackle the $300,000 Group 1 Fremantle Cup on January 11 and the $450,000 WA Pacing Cup a week later. Both races are at Gloucester Park. “He’s come through like he hasn’t even had a run,” Pizzuto said. “He’s too well not to go to Perth. Plus the prizemoney is so good and he loves the small track. “As long as I can sort the right flights, and they tell me that should be fine, he’ll go there.” Miracle Mile winner My Field Marshal is another headed to Perth after a stunning return to racing with a win at Menangle yesterday (Monday). My Field Marshal drew wide, worked hard early, grabbed a midrace trail then gunned-down heavily-backed stablemate Raukapuka Ruler to win running away by 2.3m in a 1min50.9sec mile. He was timed to run a 53.8sec last half. “This is the best preparation he’s had for a long time. He always seemed to have it under control today, either when our horse kicked away with a big lead. He gathered him in quickly,” Butt said. Yesterday’s race was transferred from last Saturday night when the Menangle meeting was washed-out. “It’s turned out perfectly really. He now heads to Melbourne, has a day in a yard down there and flies out to Perth on Wednesday night,” Butt said. “I was keen to get him there for a lead-up race and he’ll have that in the sprint at Gloucester Park on December 28.” Butt’s other stable star, Let It Ride, will stay in Victoria for his lead-up racing towards the Hunter Cup on February 2. “I just think he needed the run when he was beaten the other night (second to Conviction in a free-for-all at Melton last Saturday),” Butt said. “There’s lot of good options for him in Victoria. He can have four runs close together, then a week’s break and into the Ballarat then Hunter Cups.” Adam Hamilton

SURE it was Inter Dominion weekend in Melbourne, but the most remarkable training performance took place on the other side of Australia. Greg and Skye Bond produced a truly remarkable result with the first five – yes, five – placegetters in Australia’s second biggest four-year-old feature, the $200,000 Group 1 Golden Nugget at Gloucester Park last Friday. They had half the field with the Bonds sixth runner, Thisbeachrighthere, finishing 10th. It was hugely-hyped Kiwi import Ana Malak who took first prize, with driver Ryan Warwick taking advantage of the pole draw to lead, dictate terms and rip home in 55.6 and 28.2sec to win by a whisker. But the run of the race without doubt came from stablemate Mighty Conqueror, who sat parked for driver Dylan Egerton-Green and just kept coming. He’d have won in another half a stride and in a slick 1 min57.5sec mile rate for the long 2536m trip. “He could be the real deal,” co-trainer Greg Bond said. “He’s a big fella still filling into himself, so there’s probably still some upside with him which is exciting.” There should be upside to Ana Malak as well. He battled a minor, but niggling hoof issue which limited his racing preparation for the Nugget. He won the big won at just his third start for Team Bond. The next three home for the Bonds were Fizzing, Bright Diamond and Bettor Aim. “We really like this batch of horses and it’s great to get a result like this,” Greg Bond said. With WA’s best pacer, Chicago Bull, sidelined, Bond is looking at running the cream of his four-year-old crop against the older horses in the Group 1 open-class features, the Fremantle and WA Cups, next month. _______________________________________________________________________________________ GRANT Dixon has his sights set on next year’s Auckland Inter Dominion with Queensland’s best pacer, Colt Thirty One. Dixon toyed with running in this year’s Melbourne series, but opted to stay home to ease his stable star into open-class racing through some home state features. And Colt Thirty One completed the double, following last week’s easy Xmas Cup win with a narrow but fantastic Group 2 Queensland Cup win last night. The son of Mach Three came from an outside back row draw, did all the work and dug deep to win a whisker in a slick 1min55sec mile rate for 2138m, beating stablemates Smooth Showgirl and Avonnova. “We did think about taking him to Melbourne, but I’m glad we stayed here and went through these races,” Dixon said. “I know Kevin (Seymour, owner) will want to chase the Inter Dominion next year if he’s going well enough.” Next stop is a trip to Sydney to target Australia’s biggest four-year-old race, the Chariots Of Fire, which promises to be an epic this year. Think of horses like Chase Auckland, Spankem, Im Pats Delight, Ride High, Poster Boy, Ignatius and maybe even WA pacers like Ana Malak and Mighty Conqueror. _______________________________________________________________________________________ WHAT a night it was for the girls at Melton on Inter Dominion final night. Kate Gath took centre stage with the Trotting Final win aboard Tornado Valley, but females won six of the 11 races on the card. They were: Kima Frenning (race two, Pizza Queen), Amanda Turnbull (races four and five on Conviction and Ellmers Image), Gath (races six and seven on Star Of Memphis and Tornado Valley) and Jodi Quinlan (race nine, Glenferrie Blade). Turnbull turned around an otherwise frustrating Inter Dominion series to win the consolation in gritty fashion with Ellmers Image and the free-for-all with Conviction. Conviction’s win was one of the runs of the night, simply running his rivals ragged in front in blistering times. His splits were 28.9, 28.2, 28.5 and 28.3sec for a 1min53.5sec mile rate over 2240m. Let It Ride finished strongly, but had his chance when second, while Buster Brady simply worked too hard outside the leader in the blistering times and did well to fight on for third. It was great to see Quinlan, one of the pioneering females at the top level, snare the Group 3 Richmond Lass win aboard Glenferrie Blade for partner, Craig Demmler. Glenferrie Blade trailed the leader and got clear when favourite Delight Me crushed the leader, My Harmony Blue, and kicked-away, but couldn’t sustain the sprint. They ran a 1min54.4sec mile rate for 1720m and it was a sprint home in a 54.4sec last half and 27.1sec last quarter. _______________________________________________________________________________________ MIRACLE Mile winner My Field Marshal will have to head to Perth without a lead-up race. A deluge of rain caused the abandonment of the Menangle meeting last night where My Field Marshal was due to return. Trainer Tim Butt is keen to get My Field Marshal across to Perth early for a lead-up run the Celebrity Sprint on December 28 ahead of the big Fremantle and WA Cup double in January. In a coup for Gloucester Park, Mark Purdon said he was “seriously considering” sending one of the All Stars’ open-class stars across for the Fremantle and WA Cups as well. “Nat and I need to sit down and think through it, but there is a flight which makes it attractive,” he said. _______________________________________________________________________________________ IT was great to see one-time budding star Mr Mojito returned to winning form at Gloucester Park last Friday. It was the now six-year-old’s first win since scoring at Melton on September 17, last year, when trained and driven by Kerryn Manning. Now with Ross Olivieri, Mr Mojito boasts a win and two seconds from three starts back from an injury which sidelined him for almost a year. He’s still very lightly-raced with 30 starts netting 12 wins, five seconds and two thirds. The free-for-all on the same night went to Kiwi import Rocknroll Lincoln in impressive style after leading and copping plenty of pressure in a sharp 1min54sec mile rate for 2130m, including closing splits of 55.9 and 28.4sec. Rocnkroll Lincoln’s win was his ninth from just 19 starts for trainer Justin Warwick. Another winner with a strong Kiwi flavour on the card was Our Angel Of Harlem, who dropped sharply in grade, led from the pole and thrashed a moderate field by almost 17m in a 1min57.3sec mile rate for 2130m.   Adam Hamilton

NATALIE Rasmussen is no closer to choosing between Inter Dominion big guns Cruz Bromac and Spankem as her drive in next Saturday’s $500,000 Grand Final. Most expected she would do so after Monday's barrier draw, but that’s not the case. “It’s such a hard call. I’d like to wait as long as possible, but I’ll probably do it after I see the draw and then jog them both on Tuesday morning,” Rasmussen said. “They are both so well, have thrived over here and did it really again in their heats tonight (at Cranbourne).” Mark Purdon will drive whichever Rasmussen opts not to partner. Spankem again stamped himself as the “find” of the series when he dominated and won easily in the first of the third round pacing heats at Cranbourne last night. The nuggety gelding made a midrace move from a back row draw to find the lead and cruised to a 7.7m win over a gallant Galactic Star in a 1min58sec mile rate for 2555m, capped by closing splits of 54.8 and 28sec flat. “He’s done so well, almost too well, during the series. He’s put on at least 5kgs during it. I had to jog him the morning of the Ballarat heats and then had to gallop him this morning (before Cranbourne),” Rasmussen said. “He’s just such a good doer.” Galactic Star finished the qualifiers with a win and two strong placings and with Todd McCarthy driving Tiger Tara in the final, trainer Greg Bond confirmed stable driver Ryan Warwick would come across for Perth for the Grand Final. As sharp as Spankem looked, Cruz Bromac did more work, went much quicker time and seemed to win just as easily in his Cranbourne heat last night. “Well I didn’t pull the plugs, so he did it pretty easily,” Rasmussen said. Cruz Bromac went a 1min56.5sec mile rate, ran home in 55.0 and 28.5sec and finished the only unbeaten runner through the three rounds of heats. The Aussie TAB was more impressed with Cruz Bromac and firmed him from $4 into $3.40 favourite for the final, while Spankem eased from $4 to $4.20. The Kiwi influence on the final absolutely extends to Cran Dalgety’s four-year-old Im Pats Delight, who ran a terrific second to Cruz Bromac last night. It followed a second to Spankem on night one and easy win on night two. Driver Gavin Lang was so bullish after last night’s race and headed to the final. “Swap the runs tonight and Cruz Bromac would’ve have beaten us,” he said. “Just looking at this horse, he’s improving through the series and I’m sure he’s got a great chance in the final. I’m really looking forward to it.” Lang, arguably the greatest driver of all time, has never won an Inter Dominion Pacing Final. Australia’s best hope, warhorse Tiger Tara, snared his first win of the series when he worked to the front and just staved-off the much-improved Our Uncle Sam in a 1min57.1sec mile rate. He is $4.60 third favourite for the final. “He was all out on the line. Sure I’d like him to have a little more easily, but there’s a couple of things to consider,” driver Todd McCarthy said. “He wasn’t totally at home on the track and switched on and off a fair bit, plus his first two heat runs were so soft I actually think he needed the run tonight. “Kev knows the horse so well. I’m sure with the week until the final he’ll have him spot on. We just need a (good) draw now.” Highly-rated Victorians San Carlo and Wrappers Delight divided opinions last night. San Carlo did plenty of midrace work to park outside Tiger Tara and battled away well for third. It’s clear he will need a gun draw and the right run to win the final. Wrappers Delight, who led throughout at Ballarat, had a cosy three-peg run, got clear at the right time and just plugged away in the home straight when fifth to Spankem. It was a very plain run, but driver Kima Frenning remained upbeat. “I was happy with the run. It was his first run over the long distance for a long time. He’ll be better for it,” she said. On what he did last night, he’s no longer a winning chance in the final. The crucial barrier is at 11am (NZ time) tomorrow morning. INTER DOMINION PACING FINAL FIELD AND MARKET $3.40 CRUZ BROMAC, $4.20 Spankem, $4.60 Tiger Tara, $6.50 San Carlo, $7.50 Im Pats Delight, $9 Wrappers Delight, $12 Galactic Star, $41 Our Uncle Sam, $61 Cant Refuse, $71 Cash N Flow, $101 Mach Doro, $151 Village Witch (2nd emerg), $201 Audi Hare (1st emerg) Adam Hamilton

NOT even a bad barrier could be enough to stop home town star Tornado Valley from winning the Inter Dominion trotting final. While his key rivals have been falling by the wayside of mixing form through the heats, Tornado Valley looks in the zone and on the up. The only scare Andy Gath’s former Kiwi trotter had at Cranbourne last night was when a rear bandage unravelled in the home straight and fans watched, grimacing in the hope he didn’t step on it. Crisis averted, Tornado Valley cruised to his third win from as many heats and firmed from $2 to $1.60 to win the final ahead of tomorrow’s barrier draw. If he draws to lead easily he will be $1.30 or so. And even from the worst draw – say inside back row (eight) our outside the back (12) – it’s hard to see him starting longer than $2-2.20ish. There’s no doubt classy Kiwi Speeding Spur is his major rival, but there is a doubt whether he’s thriving through the gruelling series like Tornado Valley. Speeding Spur was arrogant winning on night one, brave running third to Tornado Valley at Ballarat then workmanlike winning in the weaker heat at Cranbourne last night. Driver Josh Dickie nursed Speeding Spur as much and as long as he could for a 1.6m win over the emerging Big Jack Hammer. It was considerably slower time than Tornado Valley’s win and looked much harder work. Speeding Spur will need to draw well and Tornado Valley poorly for the Kiwi to have a realistic chance of upsetting the local in the final. Outside the star pair, veteran Kyvalley Blur was sound again last night, Save Our Pennys used another gun draw and soft trip to chase home Tornado Valley and Tough Monarch ran his third brave race in the heats. But is either of that trio good enough to beat Tornado Valley? Only if plenty goes wrong for the favourite it would seem. Kiwi pair Monty Python and Wilmas Mate also made the final, but look out of their depth on what we’ve seen in the heats. INTER DOMINION TROTTING FINAL FIELD AND MARKET $1.60 TORNADO VALLEY, $3.60 Speeding Spur, $10 Kyvalley Blur, $14 Save Our Pennys, $16 Tough Monarch, $31 Big Jack Hammer, $61 Kingdom Come, Red Hot Tooth, Sky Petite, $71 Monty Python, $81 Wilmas Mate, $101 Illawong Armstrong (1stemerg), $151 Rompers Monarchy, $201 Enrolled (2nd emerg). Adam Hamilton

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