The focus shifts for the stars of the track

QUEENSLAND officials must be a bit torn with Leap To Fame’s frustrating run of feature race defeats.

On one hand, he has quickly become a pin-up horse for harness racing – and even the broader racing industry for that matter – in the Sunshine State.

While they would be desperate to maintain that momentum and hype, the fact he has been beatable looks more of a plus than a minus for the Brisbane Inter Dominion in December.

There was a time when Leap To Fame looked invincible in the Rising Sun and Sunshine Sprint. Many many feared he would scare away much of his key opposition.

But defeats on his home track in the Blacks A Fake, the TAB Eureka and last Saturday night’s Victoria Cup have given everybody hope.

Leap To Fame has been enormous in defeat each time, but he has lost some of the intimidation factor he was rapidly building.

He remains the horse to beat, but clearly not unbeatable.

Jason Grimson will think he can complete a remarkable Inter Dominion three-peat, especially with the still untapped Swayzee.

Remarkably, Swayzee is a half-brother to Leap To Fame and unbeaten in seven starts since joining Grimson’s stable.

He beat Leap To Fame in the Blacks A Fake and looked terrific returning for his start since when he sat parked and strolled home at Menangle last night.

Swayzee will head to the Inter Dominion via a New Zealand campaign, based around the Group 1 NZ Cup at Addington on November 14.

Grimson’s got the option of also tackling the Group 1 NZ free-for-all on November 17 before making his way to Brisbane to the first round of Inter Dominion heats on December 1.

Grimson, who has won the past two Inter Dominion finals with Boncel Benjamin and I Cast No Shadow, has seven pacers nominated for the Brisbane series, including the inaugural Nullarbor winner and Victoria Cup contestant Hi Manameisjeff.

Pending her ongoing stewards’ inquiry, Emma Stewart shapes as the single most important trainer for the Inter Dominion with her eight nominations all ranked inside the top 31 in the series.

Off the back of his upset Victoria Cup win last Saturday night, Act Now will surely head to Albion Park looking to go two spots better than he did in last year’s Melbourne final.

Act Now won two heats and finished third in the other before leading and finishing third to I Cast No Shadow at Melton last December.

Having emphatically shaken the tag of just being a leader, he looms as one of the main winning hopes at Albion Park.

Stablemates like TAB Eureka winner Encipher, Vicbred heroine Amore Vita and Mach Dan also look logical runners.

Hunter Cup winner Honolua Bay has long been set for the series after winning all three heats and finishing fourth in last year’s final.

He was scratched from the Victoria Cup with ongoing hoof issues, but time is still on his side to be right for the start of the Inter Dominion.

Talented sit-sprinter Beyond Delight, who contested the heats of last year’s Inter Dominion but didn’t make the final, will be given his chance to impress in South Australia over the next two weeks.

The five-year-old impressed when a slashing second to Better Eclipse in the Kilmore Cup at his first run for 10 months and did beat home Act Now in that race.

Stewart confirmed he would be accompanied by Like A Wildfire and Wheres The Gold across to Globe Derby to run in heats of the revamped SA Pacing Cup on Friday night.

The $60,000 final is eight days later at Globe Derby.

The Inter Dominion trotting series won’t have the same sort of depth, but the return showdown between a better and more mature Queen Elida and the globetrotting defending champ Just Believe will be awesome.

Queen Elida made it 11 wins from her past 12 starts and snared a seventh Group 1 win in the Bill Collins Sprint at Melton last Saturday night.

While Just Believe starts his build-up with a Melton trial tonight (Monday).

Albion Park’s first Inter Dominion in 22 years is building nicely.

By Adam Hamilton –