IT was a most unusual week for the All Stars barn as the Breeders Crown series heats unfolded across Victoria.
Staggeringly, both Our Princess Tiffany and Jesse Duke were well beaten as hot favourites in their respective heats. They both missed a place!
Our Princess Tiffany was first out at Kilmore in horribly cold and wet conditions last Thursday night.
Stand-in driver Luke McCarthy could only suggested the megastar filly didn’t handle the bog track conditions when she laboured into third as a $1.04 favourite in a heat won so dominantly by Emma Stewart’s Two Times Bettor, who sat parked throughout.
Our Princess Tiffany was crossed at the start, but got clear air from the home bend and looked a shadow of herself.
Obviously she can improve a mile for the semis and final, but purely on what we saw in the heat, Two Times Bettor will be a serious threat in the final.
Jesse Duke was crunched into $1.40 favourite from gate two in his Ballarat heat last Friday night, but gave nothing in the home straight after having the perfect one-one trip throughout. He finished a well-held fourth.
The standout of those Ballarat 3YO colts and geldings heats was the classy Hurricane Harley, who led throughout in freezing conditions and ran his last mile in a flying 1min52.5sec for an 11m win over a gallant Lochinvar Art, who sat parked.
Hurricane Harley’s 2200m mile rate of 1min54.2sec was way ahead of the other two heat winners: Crime Writer in 1min57.4sec and Demon Delight in 2min2.5sec.
Emma Stewart dominated the earlier Crown heats last week, winning both 2YO fillies qualifiers with Maajida and Jemstone. She also won both 2YO colts and geldings heats at Shepparton last Wednesday night with Be Happy Mach and Pacifico Dream.
With Australian Gold winner Jilliby Nitro sidelined after surgery, Be Happy Mach can cement Aussie 2YO of the Year honours with victory in the Crown final.
Kiwis Zeuss Bromac and Perfect Stride both ran well, but were well beaten seconds in their 2YO colts and geldings heats.
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INTER Dominion champ Tornado Valley has picked up just where he left off.
Two runs back from a well-deserved spell have netted two easy wins, the latest at Melton last night in the Group 3 Aldebaran Park Melton Trotters’ free-for-all.
All Tornado Valley’s customary gate speed was on display as he ran to the lead from the outside draw (gate seven) then driver Kate Gath dictated terms through a soft 63.4sec middle half.
The classy Big Jack Hammer trailed Tornado Valley throughout and ran second, just as he did when they clashed six days earlier at Maryborough.
Trainer Andy Gath reaffirmed plans to keep Tornado Valley in Victoria because of he’s such a bad traveller. McLovin is set to be the stable’s Auckland Inter Dominion runner.
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WA Derby winner Major Trojan continued his long build-up to the Golden Nugget with another easy Gloucester Park win last Friday night.
The son of Art Major is two-from-two this campaign and has won his past four on end.
Last Friday was little more than trackwork with Gary Hall Jr leading from gate three, dictating through a 61.3sec middle half then really only quickening for a 27.6sec closing quarter.
In the other highlights of the night, trainer Debbie Lewis continued her fantastic form by combining with husband, Chris, and One Off Delight to win the $50,000 Channel 7 San Simeon.
And former WA Derby winner Handsandwheels was superbly driven by Aiden De Campo to win the free-for-all out of a one-one trail over leader Convert Denario in a 1min55.6sec mile rate for 2130m.
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EMMA Stewart looks to have a budding Grand Circuit horse in Maraetai.
The son of Somebeachsomewhere has always showed plenty of potential, but his three runs this campaign indicated he’s taken the next step.
Last night’s powerhouse Melton win – his 12th from just 21 starts – was fantastic after sitting parked in quick time and finishing-off in 54.8 and 27.4sec to win very impressively.
It was another big night for Stewart, who also trained former star juvenile filly Nostra Villa to easily win the $30,000 Group 3 Alabar Vicbred Championship final (2240m).
Chris Alford took the reins as the daughter of Art Major worked to the front and roared clear to win by 9.7m in a brisk 1min55.1sec mile rate.
It’s been a terrific training performance with Nostra Villa having a year away from the track and returning to her best form, including wins at her past three starts.
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SHANE Tritton has high hopes for his lightly-raced former Kiwi pacer Gods Spirit.
The son of Tintin In America turned around a frustrating trio of seconds placings to open this campaign when he won easily at Menangle last night.
Two runs back he chased home the immensely exciting Commander Kirk in 1min49.7sec.
Last night it was his turn to win by a big space, leading throughout to score by 9.9m in a 1min52.5sec mile.
“He’s done a fantastic job since coming across and he’s getting better all the time,” Tritton said.
Gods Spirit’s raced 10 times for Shane and Lauren Tritton for five wins, four seconds and a third.
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IN a stellar juvenile season, Expensive Ego is right up there with the best of them.
Sure Be Happy Mach and Jilliby Nitro have been the standouts through our biggest juvenile races, but Expensive Ego has made his mark late.
Trained by David Thorn in NSW, Expensive Ego won his first two runs in his home state before heading to Queensland to chase Group 1 glory.
He’s won two Group 1’s at Albion Park over the past few weeks.
First came the Qbred Triad final, then came last night’s phenomenal 29.5m win in the Group 1 Albion Park Australian Gold final.
Despite drawing the back row and sitting parked, it was an armchair drive for Jimmy Douglas as Expensive Ego powered clear in a brisk 1min54.4sec mile rate for 1660m.