Day At The Track

'Dashing' tactics key to Bucca's Crown glory

03:34 AM 19 Aug 2011 NZST
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 Excel Stride The money keeps coming for Sushi Sushi Flying Pocketlands among those to beat Paramount Geegee is back for more Rainbow Dasher was electric in winning
Excel Stride - the winner of 22 of his 34 starts and $453,814.
The money keeps coming for Sushi Sushi
Flying Pocketlands among those to beat - in the final Group 1 clash of the day
Paramount Geegee is back for more - Breeders Crown glory
Rainbow Dasher was electric in winning - her semi-final
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Anybody who knows boutique Bringelly horseman Anthony Bucca will tell you the 38-year-old harness racing trainer has clearly kissed the Blarney Stone. A real estate agent by trade whose capacity to sell the dream has been the hallmark of his career, Bucca is now living one of his own as flying three-year-old filly Rainbow Dasher prepares for her $181,000 Breeders Crown decider at Tabcorp Park this Sunday afternoon.

But while the sociable Sydneysider may be a smooth talker on the job, he is a smiling assassin in the sulky and despite drawing awkwardly in barrier nine with his sizzling daughter of Art Major this weekend, his intentions are clear.

This 2240-metre Group 1 feature will be a mercenary battle of the fittest.

“I won’t be afraid to put her into the race,” Bucca declared. “There’s no way in the world you’ll see me sitting back, especially if they do what they did in the Queensland Oaks and run a 63-second first half. I’ll be off and gone.

“The start is going to be important. I actually think the three (Artistic Rainbow) can cross Aussie Made Lombo (two) and that could change the whole complexion of the race.

“Regardless of what happens, I won’t be looking for the easy way out. I reckon I’m going to have to get into the fight if I want to win and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

Ineligible to contest her native futurity series’ this season, Rainbow Dasher has lined up against older horses in five of her past thirteen starts this season in what has been a truly untraditional preparation for classic age Breeders Crown success.

Despite beating the path less travelled however, Bucca is bullish that the seasoning his star three-year-old has garnered from trading blows with those more experienced could be the key to her crowning career success.

And after a devastating series semi-final triumph at Tabcorp Park last Friday night, where she finished off in the fastest last quarter on the programme (26.9-seconds) few would argue that the Raith Memorial champion is peaking at exactly the right time.

“She really deserves a big race, this filly,” Bucca said. “People forget she went 1:53 in March and broke the Australasian record for fillies and four-year-old mares. It took Make Mine Cullen some time later to break that record from memory.

“And you’ve also got to remember that she has been racing older horses for the past eight or 10 weeks. There’s not much else here for her, so she’s been racing four and five-year-olds over 2300 metres at Menangle and that’s not easy for a three-year-old filly. She’s been beating them too.

“This horse has just come right at the right time. It’s the end of the season and a lot of horses are looking for a breather but she’s just coming into her own, so it’s all systems go for us.” Rainbow Dasher is at $10 in TAB Sportsbet’s fixed odds markets for what is arguably Super Sunday’s most open Group 1 Final.

Flying Kiwi filly and fellow heat winner Tatijana Bromac $3 is currently favourite but Aussie Made Lombo ($3.60), Bellas Delight ($6) and Victors Delight ($7.50) are all given genuine chances of success.



Harness fans are used to seeing one trainer dominate the Australasian Breeders Crown trotting features.

All-conquering Nagambie conditioner Chris Lang is the most successful trainer in Breeders Crown history with seven wins, including four victories in the past three years.

Lang has runners in two of the three trotting deciders at Melton’s Tabcorp Park this Sunday, but it is a visiting Kiwi horseman that the odds-makers expect to dominate this year’s squaregaiting features.

John Dickie has odds-on favourites with TAB Sportsbet for both the two and three-year-old deciders. Flying Isa will be out to emulate stablemate Paramount Geegee and claim the $164,000 juvenile final, while Paramount Geegee is back for a crack at the $100,000 three-year-old final.

Dickie considers himself blessed to have two brilliant trotters in his stable at the same time, but has been around trotters long enough to know he shouldn’t be taking anything for granted.

“We set a goal at the start of the season and mapped out all the major races and they’ve pretty much won the lot of them,” Dickie said. “It’s just been one of those seasons and we would like to cap it off on the weekend, I can tell you.

“All things being equal they’ll be very, very hard to beat but racing’s a funny game and you’ve got to do things right on the day.”

Dauntingly for Flying Isa’s rivals, the son of Pegasus Spur boasts an almost identical record to what Paramount Geegee took into last year’s two-year-old final with eight wins from 10 starts.

“There’s not a lot between,” Dickie said. “He’s probably got the same amount ability as a two-year-old as Paramount Gee had, so there’s not much separating the two at the same stage.

“But, without being rude, I think the field for the two-year-old (final) this year looks a bit stronger than the field for the two-year-old last year.”

Flying Isa – TAB Sportsbet’s $1.60 favourite – will roll from barrier four in the 2YO Trotters Final, which is Race 3 on the card at 2:06pm and also includes Redwood winner Maidstone Miss (six), another highly-rated Kiwi in You Rock (seven) and the Lang-trained Aldebaran Shades (11).

Paramount Geegee was beaten at his first two starts of the season, but hasn’t been toppled in his six subsequent runs.

Dickie brought the gelding, who is also a son of Pegasus Spur, to Australia for a lead-up run before last year’s Breeders Crown final and that was again the plan this year before a minor fetlock problem flared.

But he had some reassuring words for those who have already taken the $1.50 about the winner of 15 of his 19 starts, who will roll from gate three in the event that kicks off the Super Sunday programme at 12:56pm.

“He was going to come for the (Victoria Trotters) Derby, but he injured himself and had six stitches in his fetlock and had to be boxed for 10 days,” Dickie revealed.

“That put us back a bit so we gave him the time off to get rid of that injury and then started on him again. He hasn’t started for about six weeks but I’ve got no hesitation (in saying) he’s as fit as he’s ever been.”

Paramount Geegee, like Flying Isa, will be driven by top Kiwi reinsman Robbie Holmes. Mercifully for the locals, Dickie didn’t bring a runner for the $50,000 4YO Trotters Final, which is an all-Victorian affair.

Impressive heat winner Mister Castleton, from the John Tormey stable, is the $1.60 favourite after landing barrier four with Ninegrandsons (12) and Confused Superstar (10), joint second elects at $7.50, and $9 chances Idoido (1) and Tsonga (2) expected to provide the stiffest opposition.

by Brad BISHOP


A tick over two years ago former Kiwi filly Flying Pocketlands arrived for her juvenile ABC series as the undisputed talk of the town.

Then conditioned by Cox Plate-winning thoroughbred trainer Graeme Rogerson in partnership with Steven Reid, the daughter of Badlands Hanover landed on these shores already boasting Group 1 success and seemingly on the road to standardbred stardom.

But after a few stumbles along the way and permanent emigration to Brent Lilley’s Melton stables some four months ago, the brilliant filly is only now fulfilling her frightening potential approaching Sunday’s four-year-old final at Tabcorp Park.

“She’s really done an amazing job since she came out here – we honestly couldn’t be happier with her,” Lilley said.

“A lot of things have gone right and she’s really come on in leaps and bounds, so I think we’re only just starting to see the best of her. She’s certainly a very smart horse and we expect her to run a big race in Sunday’s final.”

Gifted the grandstand gate of 13 in the last of Super Sunday’s nine Group 1 features, Flying Pocketlands chances of avenging her fourth placing in Australasia’s most famous futurity series may seem slim at first.

But with heat winners Lady Euthenia (barrier 11) and Arctic Fire (9), Vicbred winner Left In Paris (10) and reigning ABC series silver medallist Miss Trickin Lombo (8) also drawn off the second line, this year’s $100,000 decider appeals as among the most even and incendiary on the Super Sunday card.

And in a race where class and versatility appeal as likely to decide the result, you get the overwhelming impression that Lilley wouldn’t be swapping his filly for anything else in the race.

“We’ve always thought she’d go best coming with one run rather than leading, so while the draw isn’t ideal, it isn’t the end of the world either.

“It also helps that a few of the better ones are back there with us and even though it looks like Lilac Stride will get a pretty easy lead, if we can get into the three wide line and get a half-decent cart into the race, they’ll know we’re in it, that’s for sure.

“The main thing is that we’re in real good order for Sunday and now we’ll just cross our fingers that the luck can fall our way.”

Flying Pocketlands has been a subtle drifter in TAB Sportsbet’s fixed odds and is currently at $6.50, with Luke McCarthy’s powerful double act of Lilac Stride ($2.10) and Lady Euthenia ($3.60) expected to fight out the finish.



A potentially disastrous barrier hasn’t stopped the punters coming for Sushi Sushi in the lead-up to Sunday’s Australasian Breeders Crown finals day at Melton’s Tabcorp Park.

The champion Victorian three-year-old has been one of the best-backed runners in TAB Sportsbet’s fixed odds markets since trading started on Wednesday.

Even money was put up after the Freddy Taiba-trained superstar, who is unbeaten in 12 starts as a three-year-old, came up with the inside-back-row starting position but an avalanche of money meant he was quickly into $1.60.

The Art Major gelding has since eased to $1.70 in what has been the most active of TAB Sportsbet’s nine markets, including longshot moves for Abettorpunt ($21 into $16) and Blackjack Bromac ($41 out to $51 back into $31).

New South Wales visitor Excel Stride has been unwanted from him outside-back-row draw with $3.20 available after $2.25 was initially bet.

Sushi Sushi isn’t the only favourite who has been backed into long-odds-on. Flying Isa was $1.90 into $1.60 early in betting for the 2YO Trotters Final before easing slightly to $1.65 after specking for Aldebaran Shades ($8 into $7).

The two other trotting deciders also have odds-on favourites. Crack Kiwi three-year-old Paramount Geegee is back out to his opening quote of $1.55 after touching $1.50, while Mister Castleton is $1.60 out to $1.65 for the four-year-old decider following support for Tsonga ($11 into $9).

Tentolife has been by far the biggest longshot mover in pre-post betting. The Danny Thackeray-trained son of Life Sign opened at $61 for the 4YO Entires and Geldings Final but is into $26 after a steady stream of money.

That has played a part in Queensland champ Lanercost easing to $1.70 after opening at $1.55.

Top Kiwi two-year-old filly Cowgirls N Indians is Super Sunday’s other odds-on favourite, out to $1.90 after opening at $1.85. Her main danger La Machane has also been slightly easy ($3.50 out to $3.60).

Three Over Three hasn’t budged from his $2.10 opening quote for the 2YO Colts and Geldings Final, with fellow New South Wales youngsters Theartofdelusion ($5.50 out to $6 into $4.80) and Waldenburg ($8 into $6) the major movers.

Lilac Stride was initially $2.20 into $2 in the 4YO Mares Final but is back out to $2.10 after good money for Luke McCarthy-trained stablemate Lady Euthenia ($4 out to $4.40 into $3.60).

The 3YO Fillies Final is by far the most open race of the day and Tatijana Bromac heads betting at $3.20 with good money for Bellas Delight ($7 into $5) and polemarker So Surreal ($12 into $9).

Fixed odds markets on all Group 1 finals are just some of the advantages for punters at Tabcorp Park this Sunday with the TAB also offering a couple of enticing jackpots on the program.

The most lucrative is a $25,377 carrot on the First 4 for the 3YO Colts and Geldings Final, which is Race 8 on the card at 5:06pm.

Quaddie players also have a head start with $18,864 already in the pool for the popular bet type, which will this weekend operate on races five through to eight.

NB: Odds correct as at 9:00am Friday

by Brad BISHOP


In the final installment of our three-part preview, HRV Form Analyst Michael Polster has published his thoughts on Races 7-9 on Sunday's bumper Breeders Crown card.

3YO FILLIES (Race 7)

There is no doubt that this is by far and away the most open of the Breeders Crown Finals to be run and no less than seven of the 12 runners have legitimate claims. There looks to be a bit of speed early, and in the middle stages, so I’m looking for the filly who will have the last shot at them - and that might be Rainbow Dasher. She was simply awesome winning her Semi Final last Friday night when she led them up and finished off in 26.9. She is probably not as well suited coming from the back, but at the each way odds she is worth a gamble. Artistic Rainbow smashed the clock coming from the rear for a slashing second to Tatijana Bromac in her Semi Final performance and it was one of the runs of the night. She should be camped off the pace from the draw and watch for her to be flashing at them last. Tatijana Bromac is now hitting her stride after a slow start to her Aussie campaign. She was too good for her rivals after working to the lead in her Semi Final, but she will have to put up a special effort if she is to be victorious from the car park draw. She is all class though and is in this up to her ears. Aussie Made Lombo might be first to the pegs from the ideal barrier and cannot be ruled out along with the iron filly Bellas Delight, capable Kiwi Victors Delight and the pole marker So Surreal who has been luckless in both of her runs through the series. What a cracking contest ahead!


Sushi Sushi and Excel Stride are the two big guns here and the draw has ensured that this will be one of the most hotly contested 3YO Colts and Geldings Finals ever staged. Sushi Sushi has fared the worst of the two, having to roll from the inside of the second row, but with some pace sure to be on early Greg Sugars should be able to extricate the Sunbury flyer away from the pegs and out into the open. He will be giving his rivals a start however and will need to be every bit as brilliant as we know he is to remain unbeaten this season. Excel Stride is the complete package. He can stay and has a devastating turn of foot, but it will be his staying prowess that looks like coming to the fore here. He is sure to be set alight by Greg Bennett early on and either make a play for the lead or sits up outside the speed and make sure that the tempo is genuine. He probably is better suited to the big track at Menangle, but he is not to be underestimated. Caesars Folly is an outstanding Queenslander who possesses the gate speed to make full use of the inside alley. He is the likely leader and will be better for his Semi Final third to Mustang Mach when he was buried on the markers. Abettorpunt is better known as a sit-sprinter, but his run to finish fourth to Mustang Mach in his Semi Final after being wide the whole way was one of the biggest performances ever seen at Melton. He is a definite threat with better luck on Sunday, while the other Semi Final winner Mustang Mach is still in with a rough show from the wide draw along with Royal Verdict.

4YO MARES (Race 9)

Probably just four likely chances here with the Luke McCarthy-prepared Lilac Stride having the barrier draw advantage over her three rivals and she is poised to try for an all-the-way success, as she did in her heat win last Sunday. Flying Pocketlands has a shocking gate to overcome, but she is all class and has never shirked the task after a tough trip when second to Lilac Stride in her heat. She might be lucky to get a cart into it on Sunday and will make her presence felt for sure. Lady Euthenia and Arctic Fire are both richly talented and were both very impressive winning their respective heats; Lady Euthenia after working to the top from the back row draw, and Arctic Fire doing it comfortably after an easy run at the head of affairs. They will find it more difficult from the second row, but are definitely capable of winning. Pocket Mach looms as the upset material from her handy gate.

by Michael POLSTER


Be sure to ‘Like’ HRV on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter for inside news, exclusive content and promotions. Tag your tweets with #ABC11 to join the conversation and perhaps even appear on the big screen at Tabcorp Park on Sunday afternoon!


TAB Sportsbet has announced the following jackpots for Sunday’s card:

  • Quaddie: $18,864 (Races 5-8)
  • First Four: $25,377 (Race 8)

ixed odds markets can be viewed by clicking here.

Alistair HOGG

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