By Duane Ranger
Australasia’s best pacer and seven-time Group One winner, Tiger Tara (pictured right), will head to Albion Park in the winter for just the second and probably last time of his illustrious career.
Leppington trainer and co-owner, Kevin Pizzuto, confirmed, that this year’s Grand Circuit Champion would come to Queensland a couple of weeks prior to the Group One $200,000 TAB Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship, which is scheduled for July 20.
Tiger Tara will pick up a $10,000 TAB Grand Final bonus should he start in the Blacks A Fake, thanks to Racing Queensland and TAB's efforts to lure some of Australasia's best pacers for the Winter Carnival.
“I’ll come a lot earlier this time and settle in. At this stage I’ll be bringing ‘The Tiger’ and also Majordan for the Sunshine Sprint. As the time gets closer I’ll also look at bringing a few others," he said.
“Persimmon is another horse who will probably make the trip north. Picard would have come too but we sold him recently to America. Todd McCarthy will again do the driving.
“This could be ‘The Tiger’s” last season. Who knows? He’s a rising 9-year-old now. He will tell me when it’s time to retire."
Tiger Tara hasn't been spotted in the Sunshine State since finishing third in the 2017 edition of the Blacks A Fake won by Hectorjayjay.
After defying death in a road accident last August, Tiger Tara bounced back to win Interdominion Grand Final, the Victoria Cup, the Hunter Cup, and he also ran second in the New Zealand Cup in 2018-19.
The 8-year-old son of Bettor’s Delight and Tara Gold (by Dream Away) has an unassailable lead in the 2018-2019 Grand Circuit Series.
Tiger Tara has 370 points; Thefixer 164, and Our Uncle Sam and Spankem both 164 points. The Blacks A Fake Championship is the last of the eight Group One races this season.
“It will be good to return to Albion Park with him. The weather is good and it will be another top field I’m sure. He has raced well there before,” Pizzuto said.
His only start on the track came in the 2017 edition of the Blacks A Fake, when he was a $2.20 favourite and finished a 1.1m and 1.2m third behind Hectorjayjay and My Field Marshall.
“He’s looking good and is almost ready to race again. His last race was in the Miracle Mile in early March. I'm really looking forward to coming to Queensland again. I'll probably stay at Grant Dixon's if he has room," Pizzuto said.
Pizzuto said at his peak he was training a team of 33 but now has 17 horses in work.
“I’m looking to down-size. I’m sick of training nillers and am now after quality rather than quantity. I’ll have to look at a stud for ‘The Tiger’ one day, because he will also make an exceptional sire,” he said.
Tiger Tara had his first race in Australia in February 2017. That was four years after he made his debut with an eighth at Ashburton on February 9, 2013.
The gifted bay has now won 35 of his 104 starts, placed 38 times and banked $2.3m in stakes. He also boasts a mile time of 1:49.8, which he recorded in the Group One Canadian Club Pace at Tabcorp Park, Menangle in March 2017.
The stunning stallion was bred by the late Ray Anicich, formerly of Otago and Canterbury.
Tiger Tara’s seven Seven Group One victories have come via:
The $500,000 Hunter Cup at Tabcorp Melton on February 2, 2019.
The $500,000 Interdominion Grand Final at Tabcorp Park Melton on December 15, 2018.
The $200,000 Victoria Cup at Tabcorp Melton on October 13, 2018.
The $100,000 Canadian Club Sprint at Tabcorp/Menangle on February 17, 2018.
The $240,000 New Zealand Free-For-All at Addington Raceway on November 13, 2015.
The $220,000 Northern Derby at Alexandra Park on March 7, 2014.
The $165,000 New Zealand Sires Stakes 3yo Final at Addington Raceway on November 12, 2013.
The last 10 grand circuit champions have been: 2018: Lazarus; 2017: Lazarus; 2016: Lennytheshark and Smolda; 2015: Christian Me; 2014: Christen Me; 2013: I'm Themightyquinn; 2012: Smoken Up; 2011: I'm Themightyquinn; 2010: Monkey King; 2009: Blacks A Fake and Mr Feelgood.
The last two winners of the Blacks A Fake Championship were Let It Ride (2018) and Hectorjayjay (2017).