Ladbrokes Inter Dominion Countdown – October 11

As part of the countdown series until the running of the 2023 Ladbrokes Inter Dominion Championship at The Creek, Albion Park, ADAM HAMILTON will update the key happenings around Australasia’s premier harness racing event each week.


SHOULD Leap To Fame be a dominant Ladbrokes Inter Dominion favourite?

That question will be answered when he tackles the strongest line up he faces in his stellar career so far in Saturday night’s $300,000 Group 1 Victoria Cup at Melton.

It shapes as a potentially market changing race.

Leap To Fame has gate five in one of the strongest Victoria Cup fields for many years as he chases his first Grand Circuit win. He will start from four if emergency, Bulletproof Boy, doesn’t get a run.

Nine of his 11 rivals are also nominated for the Albion Park Inter Dominion series, including all five of Emma Stewart’s runners: Honolua Bay, Encipher, Mach Dan, Act Now and Amore Vita.

But his two biggest rivals look to be defending Victoria Cup champ Rock N Roll Doo and last-start Kilmore Cup winner Better Eclipse, who also nominated for the Inter Dominion.

Such is the aura around Leap To Fame, many expect him to win every time he steps out.

As huge in defeat as he has been in the TAB Eureka and Blacks A Fake recently, the Victoria Cup shapes as a defining race in the early stages of his transition into open-aged Grand Circuit racing.

STAR trotter Just Believe’s Inter Dominion title defence gets serious from Monday.

Co-trainers Jess Tubbs and Greg Sugars have been focused on just one thing – the title defence – since Just Believe returned home from his fantastic three-race Swedish campaign in late July.

Just Believe’s last run was a remarkable second to one of the world’s most exciting trotters, Francesco Zet, in Boden, Sweden on June 17.

The gelding has since had quarantine stints in Germany and back in Melbourne before a well-earned spell back at the Myrniong farm of Tubbs and Sugars.

“He looks great and is doing everything well,” Sugars said. “He’s ready for a trial now. I’d say he’ll have a couple of trials and then we’ll look for a race.”

Sugars said it was likely Just Believe would have two lead-up runs before heading to Brisbane for the opening round of Inter Dominion heats on December 1 at Albion Park.

“The Breeders Crown (trotting) free-for-all on November 17 will probably be his last run before heading up, but we’ll find a race for him a couple of weeks before that to kick him off in,” he said.

Sugars knows the enormity of the challenge ahead, primarily from brilliant trotting mare Queen Elida.

“Oh yeah, she’s absolutely flying,” he said. “It’ll be terrific to get ‘Harry’ back and we should have some great racing ahead.”

Sugars said there was a chance Just Believe could return to Sweden again next May.

“We just want to get him back racing and through the Inter Dominion before we think about next year, but there’s no doubt he earned a lot of respect with his runs over there. If he was going really well and they came to us with an attractive offer, we’d certainly have to consider it,” he said.

Queen Elida will be chasing her 11th win from her past 12 starts when she starts favourite in Saturday night’s Group 1 Bill Collins Trotters’ Sprint at Melton.
She finished third in the race last behind Just Believe before also finishing third to him in the Inter Dominion final and fourth in the Group 1 Great Southern Star final.

Queen Elida faces a challenge on Saturday as the lone back row runner, especially with fellow key Ladbrokes Inter Dominion hopefuls Ollivici (gate one), Arcee Phoenix (three) and Mufasa Metro (four) drawn well on the front line.

CONNECTIONS of emerging Queensland star Speak The Truth have scrapped WA plans to focus on their home state Inter Dominion.

Trainer Shannon Price admitted a string of lucrative four-year-old races at Perth’s Gloucester Park were tempting, but the travel logistics became too daunting.

“We’re staying home. The flights are complicated and expensive and it looked like we’d have to fly home via Melbourne and then get back to Brisbane from there,” she said.

“So, we’re going to have a crack at the Inter Dominion.”

Speak The Truth, who boasts 12 wins (and six placings) from just 21 starts, was given a break after a terrific fifth in the TAB Eureka at Menangle on September 2.

“He had a few hard runs and was a bit tired. It’s been great to give him a break and he looks fantastic,” Price said.

“He’s still a few weeks away and should be ready to trial at the end of the month.”

THE most notable absentee from the Victoria Cup field from an Inter Dominion perspective is Blacks A Fake winner Swayzee.

Jason’s Grimson’s stable star hasn’t raced since winning the Blacks A Fake at Albion Park on July 22, but did narrowly win a Menangle mile trial last Wednesday.

Moments after upstaging Leap To Fame in the Blacks A Fake, Grimson outlined plans to focus on the New Zealand Cup and it seems he’s sticking with that.

There is plenty of time for Swayzee to get back to Australia and up to Brisbane after the NZ Cup (November 14), even if he stays in Christchurch for the Group 1 NZ Free-For-All on November 17.

Swayzee looks Grimson’s best hope of completing a remarkable Inter Dominion pacing final three-peat with three different pacers. Boncel Benjamin won in Sydney two years ago and I Cast No Shadow won last year’s Melbourne final.

Instead of taking on the Victoria Cup, Swayzee stayed in NSW to resume in a 2300m free-for-all at Menangle on Saturday night.

Grimson’s Victoria Cup hopes rest with another of his exciting pacer, Hi Manameisjeff, who is unbeaten in four runs for the stable.

Like Swayzee, he is also nominated for the Ladbrokes Inter Dominion.

LEADING Queensland trainer Jack Butler also decided to bypass the Victoria Cup with his star Kiwi import Hot And Treacherous.

The Redcliffe Cup winner and Blacks A Fake placegetter ran a terrific second to Leap To Fame at Albion Park last Saturday night.

Despite the run, Butler ditched his original plan to tag along and split costs with the Leap To Fame team on a flight to Melbourne for the Victoria Cup.

“He went super, but we’re staying home,” Butler said.

TWO of Queensland’s other high-profile Inter Dominion hopefuls, Turn It Up and Blacksadance, continue their build-up at Albion Park on Saturday night.

The classy pair headline a strong field in the AQWA Constructions Divided Open Pace (1660m).

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