The rematch is on.
As much as it was great to have pacing sensation stick around after the Hunter Cup and go to Cranbourne, the thing most people left Hunter Cup night wanting was to see Just Believe try and get revenge on Callmethebreeze.
Their epic stoush in Australia’s biggest trotting race – the Group 1 Great Southern Star – stole the show.
It was one of the best races of either gait we’ve seen for a long time.
And we won’t have to wait long to see them lock hooves again.
Connections of both firmly have a ring around Saturday week at Melton for the $75,000 Group 1 Australian Trotting Grand Prix (2240m).
It’s their only confirmed Aussie clash on the horizon and it’s just around the corner.
Pop it in your diary, or get along to Melton if you can.
Callmethebreeze can only get better, you'd think. He’s only had three runs Down Under.
While the proud and dominant Just Believe – and his connections – will be stung by a rare defeat. It’s not something they’re used to in their home country.
As managing owner Malcolm Wells said last week: “You’d be a very, very hard judge to be in any way disappointed with Just Believe’s run. You couldn’t be any more of him given the work he did and the times they ran.”
Most exciting is the rivalry between the glamour pair could continue for another year or two.
In wonderful news, Yabby Dams’ supremo Pat Driscoll said Callmethebreeze would not be rushed off to the breeding barn, despite his obvious stallion value.
Despite being a self-confessed “breeding ahead of racing” man, Driscoll said plans were to keep racing the French-bred European import.
“Barring injury, he’ll race on at the top level for another two years,” he said.
“I am a breeding first man, it’s my passion, but we bought this horse to race and then stand at stud later and we’re sticking to that.
“He’s lightly raced and doesn’t actually turn six until May.”
After the Grand Prix, Callmethebreeze will head interstate for a crack at the $100,000 Group 1 Hammerhead at Menangle on Miracle Mile night (March 9).
Given he ran a 1min53sec mile rate for 1720m around the smaller and slower Melton track, surely Callmethebreeze will test Maori Time’s Austraslasian mile record of 1min51.5sec given a good draw and suitable weather?
Beyond that looms the inaugural $NZ575,000 TAB Trot slot race at Cambridge on April 12.
Just Believe will skip Sydney, but is a lock for the TAB Trot.
Driscoll was like a proud father watching Callmethebreeze, who he dared to buy from Europe, and Just Believe, who bred, go neck-and-neck over the last 200m of the Great Southern Star.
“What a race it was. As said, breeding is my passion so I always feel close to the horses we breed, especially a superstar like Just Believe,” he said.
“Just Believe’s run was incredible. Three-wide for so long, outside the leader and still goes down fighting in a 1min53sec mile rate.
“And for Callmethebreeze to win was some sort of effort. We took a bit of a punt off one trial and one lead-up race to take on such a big race and a great horse like Just Believe, but he was up to it. It was a very satisfying win.”
In some ways, Driscoll has Just Believe to thank for buying Callmethebreeze.
He was trackside at Solvalla for the Elitlopp to watch Just Believe in May last year when Callmethebreeze contested a heat and final of Swedish Cup.
“I knew of the horse because we’d bought his half-sister as a broodmare a few years ago and Anton (Golino) had told me about him being a half-brother to that mare,” Driscoll said.
“His runs in the heat and final of the Swedish Cup were fantastic and I was down in Normandy (France) a couple of weeks later and asked if he was for sale. I didn’t think I’d be a chance to get him, but a couple of weeks later again I made an offer and he was ours.”
Driscoll laughed at the story Golino told about fearing Driscoll had been “had” after Callmethebreeze’s Great Southern Star win.
“It’s true. I watched the (track) work, probably six or so weeks ago, Anton came back and said the horse just didn’t want to go and said: ‘you might have been had here, Pat’,” he said.
“But we were between galloping pacemakers and once we had one available and worked with him, things turned around straight away.”
While Callmethebreeze won't travel further than NZ, Driscoll hopes Just Believe returns for another tilt at the Elitlopp in late May.
"I'd love to see that. He's in the best few trotters in the world and would be really competitive in a great race like that if they take him back again," he said.
Just Believe’s connections are expected to make a call on whether he returns to Sweden by the end of this month.
The opinions expressed in The Forum are those of the author and may not be attributed to or represent policies of Harness Racing Victoria, which is the state authority and owner of thetrots.com.au.