Day At The Track

Aussie news - 21st May 2018

09:30 AM 21 May 2018 NZST
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Gloucester Park

Kerryn Manning’s victory salute said it all.

Manning is so rarely demonstrative on the track, but Ameretto’s breakthrough Group 1 win in Saturday night’s $100,000 Queen of the Pacific meant so much on every level.

After a string of Group 1 placings, including seconds in the Victoria Cup and Perth’s Mares’ Classic already this season, Ameretto so deserved Group 1 glory.

It again cemented her as Australia’s best mare.

And it was testimony to the training deeds of Manning and husband, Grant Campbell, to win a gruelling 2760m feature just second-up from a spell.

“We thought we were up against it to have her ready, but managed to get that one lead-up run into her and stepped-up her and she responded,” Manning said.

“She thrives on hard racing. It was a really strongly run race and she’s so strong she just keeps coming.”

It needed something special to get past flying mare Berisari once Nathan Jack bludgeoned his way past Ameretto to lead, but Manning’s mare was up to it.

She overpowered a gallant Berisari in the last 100m to win pulling clear by 5.4m in a 1min57.2sec mile rate.

Ameretto’s raced 66 times for 26 wins, 19 placings and earned $545,019.

Just as she did in 2016, Berisari had to be content with second after winning the first two legs of Victoria’s mares’ triple crown.

The Harness Jewels-bound Carlas Pixel ruined her chances by uncharacteristically overracing so badly in the middle stages. She was still second on the home bend, but tired late for seventh.

A mare to follow from the race is definitely recent Kiwi import Share The Road who stormed home from last out five and six-wide to finish fifth and was clocked to run a staggering 54.6sec last half in elite company.


Darren Hancock recently farewelled his stable star, veteran trotter On Thunder Road, to the US, but he looks to have found an ideal replacement from obscurity.

Former talented young pacer Drop The Hammer ran sixth in the Australian Gold final at two and contested a NSW Derby heat as recently as February, but now he’s changed gait and is making his mark.

Drop The Hammer’s four trotting runs have netted two wins and two thirds.

It was the latest win, a dominant display in Saturday night’s Group 3 NSW 3YO Trotters’ Foundation final, which highlighted the son of Bettors Delight’s potential.

Hancock took the reins for a runaway 25.5m win in a slick 1min59.5sec mile rate for 2300m at Menangle.

He left talented Kiwi-breds Castlereagh and One Muscle Hill in his wake for the minor placings.

Another highlight of the meeting came when flying former Kiwi mare Reaza Grunter sparkled with a return to winning form in a 1min51.7sec mile.


Former Kiwi trotter Tornado Valley’s seven-race winning streak came to an end when fourth in the Group 1 Australasian Trotting Championship at Melton on Saturday night.

The combination of a 10m handicap and doing the work outside the leader took its toll late and Tornado Valley weakened for a close fourth behind handy sit-sprinter Fabrication.


Former Hunter Cup winner Bling It On’s return didn’t go as punters hoped.

Things looked good midrace when Luke McCarthy whizzed around the field from last to first, but the improved, race fit and in-form Match In Heaven moved around to put some pressure on.

Bling It On, first-up since February’s Hunter Cup, ran out of condition and weakened to finish sixth, while Match In Heaven found plenty to stave-off KerryAnn Turner’s stablemates Aztec Bromac and Celestial Arden in a 1min55.1sec mile rate for 2300m.


You can only wonder how good Illawong Armstrong would have been with better manners.

Jodi Quinlan’s now six-year-old has shown heaps of talent since his juvenile days, but his headstrong nature has proven a nightmare at times for Quinlan.

After being winless in his first six starts this season, he son of Majestic Son made it back-to-wins when he posted the 17th win of his 52 start career at Bendigo last Friday night.

Despite almost ripping Quinlan’s arms out at times once he found the lead, Illawong Armstrong – now a six-year-old – found plenty to stave-off a late surge from Andy Gath’s former Kiwi trotter Kingdom Come to win by a half-head in a slick 1min59.4sec mile rate for 2150m.

Illawong Armstrong’s biggest win was the Breeders Crown 4YO final and he’s now just a few dollars short of $200,000 in earnings.


It was career win number 37 for Kyle Harper’s injury-plagued open-class star Bettors Fire at Gloucester Park last Friday night.

And the win took him past a remarkable milestone of $750,000 in career earnings.

The race was all about the start and Harper threw everything at his nine-year-old veteran star to narrowly find the front from gate six and that was effectively the race.

Harper “pinched” a 32.3sec first quarter of the last mile then ripped home in 55.4 and 27.3sec to beat The Bucket List by 1.8m in a 1min56.1sec mile rate for 2130m.


No wonder respected trainer David Jack was eyeing-off a possible Harness Jewels raid with baby trotter Moreton Bay at one stage.

The Majestic Son colt toyed with his rivals to win the Group 1 Vicbred Platinum 2YO colts and geldings trotting final at Melton on Saturday night.

Moreton Bay led from the pole and gave nothing else a chance in a 2min1.1sec mile rate for 1720m. He’s raced five wins and won all three of them when he hasn’t made a gallop.

Betterthancheddar gelding Betternbetter was even more impressive winning the Group 2 Platinum final for two-year-old pacing colts and geldings.

In an epic finish, Betternbetter did all the chasing and nabbed the leader Im Sir Blake to win by a neck with 20m away to third-placed Young Rooster in a slick 1min54.3sec mile rate for 1720m.


Adam Hamilton

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