INTER Dominion favourite Leap To Fame is on recovery watch heading into the last round of qualifying heats at Albion Park on Saturday night.
It will be the superstar four-year-old’s third race in eight days and trainer-driver Grant Dixon admitted he “a harder run than we wanted” winning his second round heat on Tuesday night.
Leap To Fame did the work outside leader Our Money Rocks and had to dig deep in blistering time to win by a head in a scorching 1min52.2sec mile rate, just 0.5sec outside his own track record.
He is the only unbeaten pacer after two rounds of Inter Dominion qualifying heats.
“It was certainly a hard run for him … harder than we wanted,” Dixon said.
“Hopefully the run hasn’t taken too much out of him. He seems to have come through it ok, but it’s still early doors.”
A wide barrier draw (gate seven, outside the front row) means things won’t be easy again for Leap To Fame, who boasts 27 wins from just 37 career starts, on Saturday night.
Against that, he stretched out from 1660m on night one, to 2138m on Tuesday and now to his preferred 2680m trip on Saturday night.
“That’s a plus for sure. It’s his pet distance,” Dixon said.
Leap To Fame also looks to have drawn one the weaker of Saturday night’s three pacing heats.
Leap To Fame firmed from $1.80 to $1.75 for Saturday week’s Grand Final as a result of his win and the surprise defeat of his main danger and half-brother Swayzee on Tuesday night.
Swayzee, who has beaten Leap To Fame at their only clash, suffered his first defeat in 11 starts for trainer Jason Grimson when he came from an awkward draw and well back in the field to finish third behind emerging local Speak The Truth.
Saturday night is a challenge of a different sort for Swayzee to bounce back to winning form from barrier one, given he is not blessed with much early speed and will almost certainly be crossed at the start.
Driver Cam Hart will be looking to angle away from the inside to avoid being pocketed and Swayzee has made his name as a powerful stayer, meaning the longer 2680m trip will suit him ideally.
Speak The Truth gets the chance to cement his final spot and add to his sparkling second round heat win when he starts from gate three on Saturday night.
“That’s the best he’s ever felt,” driver Adam Sanderson said after Tuesday’s win. “Stepping up in distance is only going to suit him, too. He went into the series fresh, so he should just keep improving.”
Another highlight of Saturday night will be the clash of the two unbeaten runners – Just Believe and Ollivici – in the trotting series.
Defending champion Just Believe was fantastic sitting outside and beating rising star Plymouth Chubb on Tuesday and will dominate betting from gate three on Saturday night.
The Jess Tubbs-trained star, who had a stint racing in Scandinavia mid-year, has firmed from $1.80 to $1.50 to successfully defend his crown after impressive victories in both heats.