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Key Nullarbor players meet again in Group 1 Fremantle Cup

The epic $1.25 million Nullarbor in Group 1 left us longing for a rematch and it’s coming in just a few days.

Most of the key players from last Friday night’s memorable Gloucester Park stoush, led by winner Catch A Wave, will compete again next Friday in the $300,000 Group 1 Fremantle Cup.

The race will be slightly longer – 2936 meters compared to the Nullarbor’s 2536 meters – and there will be two new ‘faces’ in the field, while young Never Ending and stylish veteran Spirit Of St Louis will be missing.

But at least the six horses that finished closest to Catch A Wave in the Nullarbor – many who ran mighty races or were unlucky – will get the chance to turn the tables.

Trainer Andy Gath said Catch A Wave had flourished since the richest win of his stellar career in Nullarbor.

“Racing from week to week doesn’t worry him. In fact, he thrives on it. Everything tells me that next Friday he will be at least as good as he was last night,” he said.

“He’s had his ups and downs over the last 12 months but he’s in a great place now and is as good as we’ve ever had him.

“It was a great trip. Everything went as well as we expected and we are very happy with the horse.

“Part of the appeal of (Victoria) coming was the two big races back to back, so that was always the plan.

“It was great to be able to run it the way we wanted, sit back and get into the Nullarbor with one run.”

Gath is aware that the path to true staying distance is a question for Catch A Wave, who before the Nullarbor had built his stardom through sprint racing, led by the Miracle Mile almost fifteen months ago.

“A lot of people didn’t think he would run a strong 2500m and he did that last night. I know it’s further away but he’s in such a good place, if he’s ever going to run it it should be this week are.” ,” he said.

Minstrel looms as a major threat to his brave second place in the Nullarbor after making an early move to do the job outside the leader and being beaten just 3.1 metres.

The Team Bond-trained star is in the best form of his career with six wins from his past eight starts, including the Pinjarra Cup over 2692 metres, and seconds in the other two runs.

NSW raider Hot And Treacherous endured a torrid run in the Nullarbor and was far from disgraced.

The Jason Grimson-trained gelding will relish the grueling journey, as evidenced by his third superstars Leap To Fame and Swayzee in the Group 1 Blacks A Fake over 2680 meters at Albion Park last July.

Lavra Joe was perhaps the focal point of the race after working hard early in an unsuccessful attempt to get outside the leader and then drifting back to last place before flashing home late for a close fourth.

Trainer Michael Brennan is sweating with his stablemate Pinny Tiger on the last Fremantle Cup field.

The speedster showed he had gone to another level when he took the lead and won the Nullarbor consolation, running a faster time than Catch A Wave in the main event.

“He’s never gone so well. We’ve got our fingers and toes crossed,” Brennan said. “He deserves a chance.”

Trainer Justin Prentice said Never Ending had come through its ill-fated Nullarbor run without any problems and that it would last “about six weeks”.

“He would never go to the Freo Cup,” he said. “He’s getting a break and getting ready for the next big one, the Eureka.”

Stewards investigate the incident on the home bend when Never Ending broke down a few steps. The investigation will resume on Friday evening.

· Adam Hamilton is a paid contributor to writing about grit for News Corp.