The AQWA Constructions Queensland Cup was the highlight of a great night of racing at Albion Park and no star shone brighter than Leap To Fame, with the star pacer demolishing a strong field of pacers to claim the feature.
Grant Dixon claimed the driving honours on the night with a winning double, scoring on Leap To Fame and Iron Clad, while he also shared the training honours with Jack Butler, both recording a winning double.
While all eyes were on the two feature races with Inter Dominion Golden ticket exemptions on offer, the night started with a milestone victory.
Bryse McElhinney was aboard the Jack Butler trained Rock Supreme which was resuming from a spell, firing the gelding off the arm to lead in the early stages.
With a steady opening half through a 28.6 first split before a 30.6 second split, McElhinney was able to keep them cashing, running identical 27.9 quarters to hold a 4m winning margin.
The win gave McElhinney his first metropolitan diving victory, with the win his 9th behind Rock Supreme.
“It was pretty special to get the first Saturday night winner off my back and for Mum and Dad who own this horse, he’s been pretty special this year” McElhinney said following the win.
Brittany Graham won the second race aboard Tiz A Sizzler, returning on the ‘red eye’ from Perth after her media commitments at Gloucester Park for the WA Pacing Cup on Friday night.
The seven-year-old claimed his fifth win this season and 17th at The Creek with the victory, leading all the way to claim a 5-metre margin over Make Mine Memphis.
With a Golden Ticket up for grabs in the Prydes Easifeed Trotters Spring Sprint, several runners were hopeful to avoid the ranking cut-off with a win.
It was Brittany Graham and Majestic Harry that began best, firing off the arm to find the front as race favourite Adelle, for trainer Jack Butler and driver Nathan Dawson rolled forward from the wide gate to sit parked and apply the pressure.
With an opening half of 59 seconds, Graham attempted to dial it up down the back, putting a 28.2 third split up.
As the field swung for home, Adelle was starting to feel the pinch, while Funny Face which had sat in behind the leader was travelling strongly, just needing the passing lane.
Pete McMullen angled the mare to the lane and the five-year-old responded, sprinting hard and pulling clear to claim a 4m margin over the fast-finishing Sir Fahrenheit, with Majestic Harry holding on for third.
A Golden Ticket through to the pacers Inter Dominion was also up for grabs in the Group 2 Queensland Cup, and as the field was released, Hot And Treacherous from outside the front line was sent forward hard by Nathan Dawson.
That saw Leap To Fame burrow through from the centre of the line as Blacksadance found his way to the lead turning out of the home stretch.
As Grant Dixon continued to force the issue, he had worked to the front with one mile left to travel and from the front, Larry toyed with his rivals.
Running a lead time of 35.7, they posted the opening two quarters in 29 and 29.8 before starting to get busy as the field swung down the back straight.
With a 27.4 third split, Dixon had not moved and under a firm grip and with the ear plugs still in place, Leap To Fame charged up the home stretch in a breathtaking 26.5 to claim the 25th victory of his career.
Manila Playboy which was resuming from a spell and had been locked away three back along the inside, found space and finished hard for second, with Blacksadance holding on for third.
In the Forever Gold Mares Open Pace, it was the Donny Smith trained Uptown Beachgirl looking to repeat her victory from last week’s Queen of The Creek and punters responded, sending the four-year-old to the starting post, deep into the red.
With Shez Notorious crossing down to lead early, the Shane Graham driven Anna Love made a re-take move before again handing up, this time to Uptown Beachgirl which had worked forward for Dawson.
It was a slick 26.9 opening split, followed by a 29.4 second quarter, Dawson able to claim a steady 28.8 third quarter, leading the field as they swung for home.
Graham angled the Brad Hewitt trained Anna Love to the outside and the mare responded, letting down strongly to claim victory over Uptown Beachgirl, with Shez Notorious holding on for third in a 1.52.6 mile.
In The Bill Dixon, it was the Shane Graham trained and driven Mossdale Terry that commandeered the market, heavily supported to be sent out a long odds-on favourite.
However, from gate one, he was unable to muster the speed to protect the inside running and it was Ok Boomer which had superior early speed to get across and take control for trainer/driver Trista Dixon.
With a 27.8 opening split, the pace slowed considerably through the second panel, with the three-year-old securing a 31.1 quarter.
Turning down the back straight and running a 28.4 third split, Trista straightened for the run to the judge and Ok Boomer had them chasing, holding on in the closing stages to post a winning margin of a neck over Mossdale Terry, with the Chantal Turpin trained and Pete McMullen driven Always Smokin holding on for third after a tough trip outside the leader.
The win gave Trista her first metropolitan training victory since September 2016 as Ok Boomer stretched his record to five wins from 17 starts.
The Cattlewash at Trump Bloodstock three-year-old colts and geldings race looked a ripping contest on paper with some talented types engaged and the race delivered as expected.
Frankie Ferocious was driven hard off the gate by Nathan Dawson to find the front and with the early speed, the field was spaced out early, allowing Trent Dawson to easily work one off from the inside second line gate with For Real Life.
As the field approached the mile, For Real Life was sent on a forward move to lead the one wide line, however it was a controlled move, content to sit back from the leader as they ran the opening half in splits of 30.3 and 29.4.
As the field swung down the back, the heat was dialled up by the leader, blasting out a 26.9 third split, trying to puncture the chasers.
For Real Life continued to move closer to the leader, while Aardies Flash was coiled in behind the speed, awaiting the passing lane to make his play.
With Frankie Ferocious feeling the pinch, For Real Life loomed and in the run to the wire, held off Aardies Flash to score by a half-neck margin, with Chiseled for Gemma Hewitt and Brendan Barnes running home late for third.
It was a big victory by For Real Life in claiming his 10th career victory, taking his lifetime earnings past $250,000 and running a strong 1.54.6 rate for the 2138 metre journey.
Jeseeka bounced back from her narrow defeat in last week’s QBRED For Life Final, securing the biggest win of her short career, by winning the Cattlewash at Trump Bloodstock Fillies Classic for trainer Anna Woodmansey and owner Wayne Honan.
Finding the front from gate three, driver Mat Neilson allowed Sweet Georgia Brown to work to the front soon after the mile marker, securing the pocket trip thereafter.
Race favourite Sky Blu was sent three-wide from the bell and forced to grind it out for the last lap as the leader ran the field through the opening two quarters in 30.6 and 30.5.
Jeseeka was travelling sweetly and with Neilson waiting patiently, when the gap presented the regally bred daughter of Art Major took the space to grab the win, her third from just seven starts.
The last race of the night was the Burwood Stud 2YO Classic where the Dixon stable was represented with five runners.
Grant had the drive on the race favourite Iron Clad which was returning to Queensland after a last start 4th in the New South Wales Breeders Challenge Final.
Bronski Zulu began well from gate four and pressed on to find the front for trainer Charlie Cini and Nathan Dawson as Rockon Rocky moved to sit parked.
Iron Clad was sent forward with 1000m to travel and worked up to the wheel of the leader.
Approaching the home turn, Dixon was driving confidently outside Bronski Zulu and the gelding responded to his urgings, holding on to claim victory over the fast-finishing Rockon Rocky, with Bronski Zulu holding third.
The winning time was recorded at 1.55.1 with a closing half of 57. 2 and a last split of 28.3, with Iron Clad now the winner of three races and possessing a bright future.
Excitement is building at The Creek as there are now just two Saturday night meetings remaining until the Inter Dominion Carnival arrives.