ANTHONY Butt’s decision to make Victoria home will go down as one of the great decisions.
While the stable, largely backed by leviathan owners Emilio and Mary Rosati, were making waves in NSW, it’s gone to a whole amazing new level since relocating to Victoria last October.
And yesterday was a perfect example with Butt and fiancé Sonya Smith winning “majors” in Victoria and NSW.
Former Victoria and NSW Derby placegetter PERFECT STRIDE scored his most important open-aged win when he upstaged a good field in the Group 2 Warragul Pacing Cup for Butt and Smith’s number two stable driver, Zac Phillips.
Not long after, their stable star and emerging open-class force WOLF STRIDE capped a wonderful first campaign in the big league with another Group 1 win, this time in the $100,000 Riverina 4&5YO Championship final at Wagga.
The margin wasn’t great, but Wolf Stride did all the work outside the lead in slick time and just staved-off a late lunge from the outstanding runner-up OUT TO PLAY.
Wolf Stride now goes for a long, old-fashioned spell and won’t be back until September to prepare for the Group 1 Victoria Cup the month after.
The Wagga series proved a real “win” for harness racing with entertaining heats and finals. Coming a week after a ripper Bathurst Gold Crown Carnival, it’s an important reminder there is something special about major regional racing events.
Adding to the thrill and emotion of Wagga was local (well, he’s from Junee) Cameron Hart snaring his first Group 1 victory with a daring front-running drive on Victorian mare TECHYS ANGEL in the $100,000 final for 4&5YO Mares’.
It made for an all Victorian training triumph in the big ones with Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin not only training Techys Angel, but also runner-up MAAJIDA.
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TORNADO VALLEY’S remarkable comeback from the very brink of retirement is set to add another chapter.
As if returning to win a heat and final of Australasia’s biggest trotting race, the Great Southern Star, wasn’t enough, Tornado Valley is within one metro win of topping $1 million in career stakemoney.
And boy he deserves to become only the ninth trotter to reach $1 million in this part of the world.
Tornado Valley posted his 38th career win when he led throughout in last Saturday night’s Uncle Petrika free-for-all at Melton. It took his bankroll to $990,297.
Lyell Creek is in a league of his own as the richest-earner with $2,256,724. The others to top $1 million are: I Can Doosit ($1,377,319), Sundons Gift ($1.275,264), Speeding Spur ($1,220,147), Take A Moment ($1,132,695), Stent ($1,130,406), Keystone Del ($1,063,560) and One Over Kenny ($1,060,394).
“As you know we almost retired him before the Great Southern Star so to come back and win that and be a chance to top the $1 million shows how remarkable he is,” trainer Andy Gath said.
While Team Gath keeps producing exciting new trotters, Tornado Valley is still top of the heap despite being a nine-year-old and having raced 103 times.
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The proud harness racing state of Tasmania has regained some mojo and mainland attention during an exciting past month of racing.
The Tassie Carnival came to a close with “all locals” finish to the $75,000 Group 2 Easter Cup at Launceston, won in all-the-way fashion by the talented SCOOTERWILLREV.
Manners proved the key with Scooterwillrev stepping straight to the front, while Victorian visitor WILLIE GO WEST was backed into $2 favouritism but galloped out hopelessly.
Scooterwillrev staved-off a brave late surge from one of the state’s top pacers, RYLEY MAJOR, with outsider ISAAC finishing third.
Let’s hope the resurgence helps Tassie restore at least one of its majors to $100,000 purse and Group 1 status.
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