Young Stars Lining-up For New Feature

22 March 2024 | Adam Hamilton

Hesitate Photo by Stuart McCormick

AUSTRALIA'S newest slot race is certainly stirring huge early interest.

The inaugural $500,000 Ladbrokes Protostar for two-year-old pacers is still four months away, but it's the first thing on most trainers' tongues when they snare a juvenile winner.

It really started to gain momentum when Victorian trainer-driver Damien Burns declared the new feature a major target for his exciting juvenile Hesitate after he made it two wins from as many starts at Melton on March 2.

A week later, Robbie Morris turned the conversation to the Protostar in the moments after his upset win for wife KerryAnn aboard Hezatreacherous in the Group 3 Sapling Stakes on Miracle Mile night (March 9).

Then it was leviathan Queensland owner Kevin Seymour, who also happens to own Leap To Fame, who joined the Protostar chorus after his exciting Always B Miki colt Fate Awaits thrashed his rivals on debut at Albion Park last Tuesday.

Fate Awaits will be a commanding favourite on the quick backup from barrier one in tomorrow night's final race at Albion Park.

"We're open to offers. Grant (Dixon, trainer-driver) and I have a good opinion of this youngster, and the Protostar is a logical target," Seymour said.

A couple of hours earlier tomorrow night down at Melton, Clayton Tonkin and Emma Stewart will unleash what they say are their best two-year-olds at this stage – The Highlight Reel and Apollostorm – in the $20,000 Shakamaker Classic (1720m).

They will clash with the Burns-trained Hesitate, who will have to overcome a wide draw (six) to stretch his unbeaten record to three.

In contrast, The Highlight Reel (gate one) and Apollostorm (three) have drawn ideally and go to the races for the first time with stunning trial performances behind them.

Stable driver Mark Pitt is aboard The Highlight Reel, a son of exciting freshman sire Poster Boy, while Apollostorm is a son of Art Major, and Greg Sugars will take the reins.

"They're both very smart," Stewart said. 

"We've got one of the best batch of babies we've ever had and they are the two early standouts."

"They are quite different. The Highlight Reel is natural and very fast, while Apollostorm will just keep improving but has so much talent."

"We'll certainly look to the Protostar with both of them if they progress as we expect."

The Protostar adds another dimension to Queensland's biggest meeting of the year on July 27, which also features the $400,000 Group 1 Ladbrokes Blacks A Fake, the $150,000 Ladbrokes Queensland Derby, $150,000 Ladbrokes Queensland Oaks and the $100,000 Pryde's Easifeed Queensland Trotters' Cup.


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