Kiwis smiling ahead of Crown

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By Jason Bonnington

Australia’s dwindling chances in the 3YO colts and geldings’ section of this year’s Tabcorp Australasian Breeders Crown plummeted further on Friday August 13 when Kiwis won both semi-finals.

Reigning titleholder Smiling Shard put his rivals on notice when he sat parked but still proved far too good in the second semi-final in scintillating time.

With fireworks from the outset Smiling Shard’s chief threat, countryman Kiwi Courage To Rule, struggled to hold the top from his inside draw and while he won that early battle it proved to be of little value with a hot speed continuing.

A lead time of 43.7 seconds was followed by a sizzling 59.2sec first half of the last mile, during which Smiling Shard found the position outside the speed.

That was followed by a 29.1sec third split as those smoking their pipe at the rear began long, searching runs.

But when Courage To Rule relented, Cran Dalgety’s son of Grimfromeartoear thrived, drawing away from his rivals in a 29.6sec final split to defeat brave West Australian David Hercules, Remember El and Composed in a 1:56 mile rate.

Our High Octane and Lively Operative rounded out those to qualify for the $A188,000 Group 1 final of the series on Sunday, August 22, with Courage To Rule Friday night’s major casualty.

In the other preliminary, Steve Dolan’s son of Courage Under Fire, Franco Jamar, upstaged more fancied compatriot Devil Dodger.

After leading the field with relative ease from the pole, $1.90 favourite Devil Dodger controlled the tempo in a lead time of 47.6, but when Darrel Graham circled the field aboard Lanercost the race was on in earnest.

Despite a moderate 63.2sec first half of the last mile, Mark Purdon poured the pressure on aboard Henrik Zetterberg to inspire a 27.7 third term that was always going to test the leaders.

Craig Thornley and Franco Jamar took full advantage of their gun run behind the leader to explode in a 27.3sec final split for a 1:59.2 mile rate win.

Franco Jamar finished four metres ahead of Devil Dodger with game Queenslander Lanercost, Its My Pleasure, Dream Catch Me and Wartime Sweetheart all qualifying for the final.

Having beaten reigning Crown champion and series favourite Smiling Shard in his heat, Thornley expressed his excitement and anticipation approaching Super Sunday.

“It was a good win tonight and he (Franco Jamar) is getting better all the time, so we’re really looking forward to next Sunday,” he said.

The 3YO colts and geldings final field will comprise: Franco Jamar, Devil Dodger, Lanercost, Its My Pleasure, Dream catch Me, Wartime Sweetheart, Smiling Shard, David Hercules, Remember El, Composed, Our High Octane, Lively Operative.


By Jason Bonnington

De Lovely was named after one of Cole Porter’s biggest hits, but it might be another of his signature songs, Night and Day, that best expresses the growing chasm between the brilliant filly and her Tabcorp Australasian Breeders Crown rivals.

The daughter of Falcon Seelster strengthened an already vice-like grip on the $A188,000 Group 1 3YO Fillies Final when she cruised home by 17 metres in the second semi-final with ear plugs in tact.

Sent out a raging $1.10 favourite in the second semi, the Geoff Small-trained superstar ambled past her rivals to take up the running through a steady lead time of 45.7-seconds before reinsman David Butcher stepped on the breaks.

A casual final first half of 61.8-seconds followed with De Lovely cruising at the head of affairs clear of polemarker Forest Babe on her back and Miss Trickin Lombo who circled the field down the back straight a clear third.

may 15 addington 2010 015After a 29.7-second third term, Butcher released the shackles and the highest rated filly in Australasia responded with a 26.6sec final split to complete a 1:57.8 mile rate.

Miss Trickin Lombo stuck on well to finish second, albeit a long way from the winner, while Forest Babe held off Clancy Rose and Loving Life Lombo for the minor prize. Revivalist was sixth.

“She’s just gotten stronger and stronger,” Butcher said after the win. “As you can see, she did it pretty easily but it’s all about next week now and we’ll find out (how much is left) then.”    

Earlier, highly-rated Western Australian, Arctic Fire, justified her $1.40 quote by going from pillar to post in effortless fashion.

After securing the coveted pole draw, Ross Olivieri’s talented daughter of Courage Under Fire led the field with ease before cruising through what veteran reinsman John Caldow described as a “snack lead time” of 47secs.

Quickening noticeably down the back straight the Sandgroper then carved out a 61.5sec first half of the closing mile before scooting home in 28.1 and 28.3sec closing sections.

At the line she had 6.5m to spare over defending champion Led Suitcase, with Art Princess holding down third.

Glenferrie Inn and Morgan Abby finished fourth and fifth to book their spots in the final, along with sixth placegetter Sugarland.

Final Field: Arctic Fire, Led Suitcase, Art Princess, Glenferrie Inn, Morgan Abby, Sugarland, De Lovely, Miss Trickin Lombo, Forest Babe, Clancy Rose, Loving Life Lombo, Revivalist, Art Shadow (emerg).


By Brad Bishop

Some of Friday night’s Tabcorp Australasian Breeders Crown semi-finals didn’t prove a lot, but the 2YO colts and geldings qualifiers certainly weren’t among them.

Under-rated pair Abettorpunt and Sushi Sushi announced themselves bona fide ontenders for Sunday week’s $308,000 Group 1 final with barnstorming upset wins in their respective semis.

Both travelled three-back the pegs and unleashed whirlwind finishes to run down short-priced favourites in the shadows of the Tabcorp Park post.

Abettorpunt kicked things off when he reeled in Royal Verdict at $19, while $7 chance Sushi Sushi produced an almost identical performance to deny Kiwi star Our Major Mark in the second semi.

It franked the form from their repechage, when the Freddy Taiba-trained Sushi Sushi defeated Abettorpunt. He lost that round, but Abettorpunt won’t be short of fans who think he can turn the tables in the final.

The David Lewis-trained son of Bettors Delight spotted Royal Verdict and Devilish Smile 10m turning for home, but still ran the class pair down despite a 27-second last quarter.

It wasn’t until 50m from home that he loomed as a genuine winning chance, but so fast did he finish that he was a half-neck clear of $2 favourite Royal Verdict with Devilish Smile ($5.20) the same distance away in third in a 1:59.8 mile rate.

Winning driver Caleb Lewis has always had a high opinion of the gelding, but said even he was surprised Abettorpunt was able to run down the class pair after a 64.4sec first half of the last mile.

“I knew he had the speed to put himself into the race at some stage, but he had to get out and when he did get out around the corner he showed he’s a very fast horse,” Lewis said of Abettorpunt, who has now won two of his four starts.

Sushi Sushi’s driver Greg Sugars had a similar tale to tell after the latter semi. He was also hooked to the outside at the top of the straight and motored late to hit the front in the final couple of bounds.

Sugars had basically conceded defeat after a 33.2sec first split, but 28.6 and 28.2sec middle quarters saw him outsprint the $1.50 hot pot in a 28.3sec final split.

At the line he had a neck to spare over Our Major Mark in a 1:58.4 mile rate with Queensland representative Caesars Folly six metres away in third.

“After the first quarter I just hoped to run third or fourth and have a better run in the final, but the mid-race pressure went on and the gaps opened up and he sprouted wings,” Sugars said.

“Halfway up straight he really hit top gear and was just so strong on the line.”

Final Field: Abettorpunt, Royal Verdict, Devilish Smile, King Grin, Blackjack Bromac, Sushi Sushi, Our Major Mark, Caesars Folly, Attackamach, Brick Top, Beeston, Excel Stride (emerg).


By Brad Bishop

Tabcorp Park racegoers would be forgiven for experiencing a bit of déjà vu in the Australasian Breeders Crown semi-finals.

Six weeks after pulling off a Vicbred Super Series semi-final winning double with Aussie Made Lombo and Passions Promise, Jayne Davies won both Breeders Crown 2yo qualifiers with the same 2yo fillies.

Aussie Made Lombo did it easy in the first semi, while Passions Promise denied odds-on favourite Lively Moth – as she did in her Vicbred semi – in the latter event.

Davies said it was sweet result, but hopes Sunday week’s $A308,000 Group 1 Breeders Crown has a happier ending than the Vicbred series, which saw Lively Moth get her revenge.

“That was great (the Vicbred double), but we couldn’t win the final, though,” she said. “Hopefully we can one better this time.”

Aussie Made Lombo overcame a wide early run from the outside of the back row to lead for the majority of the first semi, while Passions Promise benefited from a crack Gavin Lang drive to win the other.

Lang was patient from gate nine, but wasted no time working his way into a prominent position aboard the $4.50 chance before handing up to Sheezallattitude and assuming the one-out one-back.

He then came with a strong run rounding the home bend and hit the front soon after straightening and held on to win from Lively Moth and fast-finishing pair Bettor Give It and Bella Shine.

Her 1:58.7 mile rate – which consisted of 30.3, 29.4, 30.1 and 29.6sec splits – was significantly quicker than the 2:00.8 Aussie Made Lombo went.

The daughter of million-dollar mare Tailamade Lombo, who started $1.80, was allowed to get away with a 64.6sec first half of the last mile before ripping home in 29.2 and 27.3secs for victory over Beach Melody and McAmber.

Davies was thrilled with their efforts from the testing draws.

“They both had terrible draws ands they had to make the best of them, but they came through,” she said. “Gee it would be nice if they could run first and second.”

Final Field: Aussie Made Lombo, Beach Melody, McAmber, Bellas Delight, Artistic Rainbow, Passions Promise, Lively Moth, Bettor Give It, Bella Shine, Sheezallattitude, Claire Jasper, Dream Verdict (emerg).


Nathan Jack and Elixir combined to score an upset win Friday night’s Tabcorp Australasian Breeders Crown Graduate Mares Free-For-All.

Last year’s Australian Oaks heroine proved the nemesis of punters hoping to get out on class act Jazzam when they sprint-laned to victory in the $25,000 event.

It was the perfect way to tune up for Sunday’s four-year-old heat, in which she has the unenviable task of meeting Broadways Best where her reward might be a meeting with Make Mine Cullen.

“Tonight was probably her best run this time in,” Jack said. “She did a little bit early and to kick home so hard and win pretty easy on the line, she’s heading in the right direction.

“Unfortunately she’s got to face Broadways Best, but if it and Make Mine Cullen get into a war they’ll know she’s there.”

After leading early in the 1720-metre event, Jack elected to take a trail behind Jazzam when Gavin Lang surprisingly sent that horse forward at the beginning of the final lap.

After a lead time of 7.5-seconds the small field of top-grade mares sizzled through quarters of 29.5 and 29.2 before the $5 pop squeezed through along the sprint lane in 27.6 to upstage the $1.40 favourite in a 1:55.1 mile rate.

Christian Melody ($8) split that pair closing late on the leaders down the centre of the track.

Elixir and Broadways Best will clash in Sunday’s first Breeders Crown heat, which kicks off the card at 3.16pm (NZ ime).

Courtesy of Harness Racing Victoria.