ACT Now showed he was on target for his second crack at the Inter Dominion with an upset win in last Saturday night’s Group 1 Victoria Cup.
The Emma Stewart-trained star won two heats and finished third in the other before starting favourite, leading and finishing third in last year’s Melbourne final.
The five-year-old has sparingly raced by design since and peaked when it matters as an $81 outsider when he charged home from near last to upstage one of the strongest Victoria Cup fields in recent history.
“He was always going to need luck from the back row (draw), but he needs racing and we thought he was ready to run a big race,” Stewart said.
“I know he’s won most of his races by leading because he’s such a quick beginner, but he’s become a bit of a sitting shot there and we know he’s terrific of a sit, too.
“He won a heat of the Inter Dominion coming off the speed, it’s all about how the race is run.”
The win was a huge thrill to driver Jodi Quinlan, who has driven Act Now in all but the first three of his 43 starts.
Quinlan won the Miracle Mile on Sokyola in 2004 and said the Victoria Cup ranked right up with that as a career highlight.
“He’s been such a great horse to me and I really thought he was the forgotten runner the other night,” she said. “To give away that sort of start and run them down was amazing. It was an incredible race to be part of.”
All bar runner-up Catch A Wave of the 11 Victoria Cup runners are nominated for the Inter Dominion pacing series.
Leap To Fame was fantastic again in third spot after doing all the work outside the leader, while Rock N Roll Doo led and was just nabbed late. He was beaten less than a metre.
Bulletproof Boy, who got into the Cup as the emergency, ran the race of his life for fourth.
Mach Dan, Spirit Of St Louis, Amore Vita and Encipher all had little luck at crucial stages.
Hi Manameisjeff was beaten for the first time in Jason Grimson’s care, but didn’t seem comfortable racing away the marker pegs. He was only beaten 6.2m despite finishing 10th.
The disappointment was Better Eclipse, who led early and then took a sit on Rock N Roll Doo. He weakened late to finish at the tail.