Day At The Track

Aussie News - March 14

09:00 AM 13 Mar 2017 NZDT
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On Thunder Road_20160716.jpg
On Thunder Road
Stuart McCormack photo

HE is bred to pace and riddled with niggling issues, but boy On Thunder Road can trot.

Trainer-driver Darren Hancock labelled it one of most satisfying wins when he nursed On Thunder Road back to peak form and fitness after some recent back issues to dominantly win the $100,000 Group 1 Australian Trotting Grand Prix (2240m) at Melton last Saturday night.

The son of Bettors Delight missed a couple of recent home state NSW features after developing back issues following a failed Melbourne raid.

But he returned to Melbourne and showed his best form by leading throughout in the Grand Prix in a sizzling 1min57.7sec mile rate.

The race changed with the scratching of favourite Speeding Spur, but the way On Thunder Road went he would have been very hard to beat regardless.

Hancock drove aggressively early and took the lead from much-improved recent Kiwi import Clover Mac.

Classy mare Sunny Ruby, heavily-backed to start a $2.10 favourite, sat parked briefly, grabbed the one-one trail, loomed as a big threat on the home turn, but ran way below her best in eighth spot.

On Thunder Road easily held-off a gallant Clover Mac to win by 2.5m with the much-travelled Daryl Boko in third spot.

BACK-TO-BACK Young Cup wins with stable star Spare Me Days capped a defining night in Brad Hewitt’s career last Saturday.

Hewitt made the big country cup night his own by training and driving four of the nine winners, including the three features.

Spare Me Days returned to his sparkling best when he stormed home from well back to snatch Young Cup victory from Miracle Mile contestant Yayas Hot Spot in a slick 1min58.4sec mile rate for 2480m.

It followed a dominant win in the Cup 12 months earlier.

Hewitt’s other feature wins came with Our Triple Play, who thrashed hot favourite Astride by a big space in the Young Derby.

Our Triple Play is part-owned by Canberra Raiders captain Jarrod Croker.

Croker and Hewitt’s night got even better when the heavily-backed Sheza Sharpie led throughout to win the Young Oaks.

Hewitt’s other win on the night came when Bettors Delight four-year-old Recipe For Dreaming led throughout in race seven.

THE Miracle Mile came around a bit quickly for Tiger Tara, but it’s clear the former star Kiwi pacer is going to be a big player in Australia.

Having just his third Aussie run for trainer Kevin Pizzuto, the six-year-old produced a monster run to win in a 1min50.8sec mile at Menangle last Friday.

Tiger Tara drew wide, raced three-wide much of the trip and still kept finding plenty in the run home for driver Todd McCarthy to stave-off the fast-finishing Mach Doro by a half-neck.

It was McCarthy’s first drive on Tiger Tara and capped a massive day at Menangle for him.

McCarthy snared four wins at the meeting, the others coming on Rakarazor (1min53.9sec), Match Point (1min51.9sec) and Outrageous El (1min52.3sec).

It will be interesting to see if Pizzuto whisks Tiger Tara down to Melbourne to tackle Lennytheshark in next Saturday night’s Group 2 Kilmore Cup.

DON’T be surprised if Australia’s hugely successful Teal Pants campaign spreads to NZ next year.

The brainchild of Duncan McPherson, who lost his wife Lyn to ovarian cancer in 2010, this year’s Teal Pants campaign raised over $110,000 for the Women’s Cancer Foundation – Ovarian Instuitute.

Participating female drivers compete in teal pants and between them an amazing 288 races in the 39 days of the campaign from February 1 to March 11.

KIWI horseman Gavin Smith had an armchair drive on former Kiwi trotter Great Things Happen in a support race on the huge all-trotting card at Melton last Saturday night.

The five-year-old son of Love You, now in the care of Greg Sugars, was on his best manners, speared to the front from gate three and won by 15m in a slick 1min58.5sec mile rate for 2240m.

It some consolation for Smith after his three-year-old trotting filly Dix Luck worked hard early and tired for eighth in the Group 1 Need for Speed final earlier in the night.

SOMETIMES a certain driver just clicks with a horse.

We’ve seen it plenty of times before and it certainly seems the case with young NSW driver Martelle Maguire and Epaulette.

Maguire teamed-up with the Craig Cross-trained Epaulette by chance when she drew the gelding as her drive in the Ladies Invitational drivers’ race at Menangle on Miracle Mile.

In career-best run, Epaulette blazed his way to an all-the-way 1min50.8sec mile win.

Cross and connections then booked Maguire again for last Friday’s Menangle meeting and the result was a similarly impressive all-the-way win, this time in a 1min51.1sec mile.

IT is Bathurst’s big time of year with the huge Gold Crown Carnival starting this week.

Bathurst golden girl Amanda Turnbull has returned “home” for the carnival and launched it with a treble last Friday night – all three winners trained by her father, Steve.

Amanda led throughout on Cherry Mahoney in race two, the third on Zaras Choice and race seven on Royal Aurora.

GAVIN Lang can thank Kate Gath’s fascination with Justin Bieber for landing the winning pick-up drive on big, burly former Kiwi pacer Maximan at Bendigo last Friday night.

Gath was part of sell-out crowd to watch “Biebs” in full flight at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne.

Meanwhile, Lang took the reins on Maximan as he returned to form and came from the back row to win in a slick 1min53sec mile rate for 1650m.

FORMER Kiwi trotter Al Bundy is loving life in Adelaide.

The Great Success gelding made it two wins from as many runs – both off big handicaps -  for new trainer Greg Norman when he came from 40m behind to win the Gawler Hambletonian last Saturday night.

The Gawler Pacing Cup went to Les Harding’s gelding Bettor Party.

Adam Hamilton

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