Leap To Fame ‘best he’s ever been’ for Inter Dom final

Trainer Grant Dixon says hometown hero Leap To Fame is “the best he’s ever been” ahead of Saturday night’s Inter Dominion final.

But the champion horseman still is only hopeful rather than confident of overcoming a potentially tricky draw and some high-class opposition in Australasia’s most prestigious race.

“We’ve never had him better. He’s come through the heats well. His weight’s good, his bloods are good and he looks great. We’re really pleased,” Dixon said.

“He’s been in a few big races this season. He’s better than he was for the Eureka and he’s fitter and harder than he was for the Victoria Cup.

“Remember, it’s his first season in the big league and the hard racing has been good for him. He’s better for it.

“The other thing in his favour this time is being at home. The Eureka and Victoria Cup were interstate and there’s nothing quite like being in your own routine to have your horse at their very best for races like this.”

Leap To Fame was the only unbeaten pacer through the three rounds of qualifying heats, but will have to overcome a worse draw (gate five) than what Dixon considers his two main dangers – stablemates Swayzee (three) and Nerano (one) – to win the final.

“I’d love to have drawn inside Swayzee, but we don’t have much luck with barriers in the big ones, do we?” Dixon said.

But Swayzee isn’t blessed with a lot of early gate speed and that’s something Dixon has been working on with Leap To Fame in several races since the Victoria Cup in October and he knows he has to try and get across his main danger at the start.

“To be honest, we haven’t had many draws to try and use his gate speed, but he’s got out quite well when I have asked him,” he said.

“If you got on the gate speed Swayzee showed from the inside (gate one) last week, we’d cross him, but he’ll probably get out better from a middle draw and they will be driving him a lot more aggressively to try and hold me out.

“I’ve got to go forward and have a look. Even if I don’t get across, I’ll have to be right up there.”

If Leap To Fame doesn’t get across he will be in the same position he was when Swayzee led and beat him at their only clash in the Group 1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park on July 22.

Did Dixon learn anything from that defeat?

“Yes, don’t get a flat tyre like we did that night,” he laughed.

“Seriously though, that didn’t help my cause at all that night, but sitting outside them is the hardest way to win. It’ll take some sort of effort to do it.

“They’re obviously half-brothers and both Leap To Fame and Swayzee love the staying distances like this.

“Nerano looks a big danger to me. He’s been so dangerous sitting just off the pace in the heats and he’s drawn to get a great run, either behind the leader or three pegs and you can be sure the gaps will come in a race like this and he’ll get his shot at us.”

The Inter Dominion pacing win will be run at the unusually early time of 6.30pm (Brisbane time).


WHERE: Albion Park


> 6.30 pm Pacing Final
> 8.22 pm Trotting Final


> $2.80 Leap To Fame
> $5 Nerano
> $10 Better Eclipse
> $26 Spirit Of St Louis
> $41 Future Assured
> $51 Speak The Truth
> $61 Turn It Up, Cantfindabettorman (em)
> $67 Classie Washington
> $126 Petes Said So, Our Money Rocks
> $151 Kanena Provlima

> Top pick: Leap To Fame
> Value: Better Eclipse

> Top pick: Just Believe
> Value: Plymouth Chubb

By Adam Hamilton