Aussie News : May 5

By Adam Hamilton

Brilliant mare Aardie's Express dethroned Australia’s pacing queen with the most stunning of wins at Menangle last night.

The five-year-old posted her 15th win from just 21 starts when she blasted home from seemingly impossible position to rundown the mighty Ladies In Red, who had every chance in front.

More remarkably, Aardie's Express raced three-wide throughout to do it, albeit with a trail.

“When I looked up at the top of the straight and saw how far in front Ladies In Red was, I thought it would be almost impossible for us, but she really exploded when I asked her and then just kept chasing the leader,” trainer-driver Jack Trainor said.

“It was some sort of win. She’s a beast this mare.”

The win continued Trainor’s fairytale record in Australia’s biggest mares’ race, the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Mile (formerly Ladyship Mile).

He’s now trained and/or driven the past four winners, starting with Stylish Memphis in 2021 & ’22, then Braeview Kelly last year and now Aardie's Express.

“It’s really the race that put me on the map over here and keeps delivering for me,” he said. “I’ve some owners to thank back in NZ for keeping on sending me top mares like this.

“This mare is really special. To do that and rundown a great, great mare like Ladies In Red is something else.”

Trainor said he would take some time to decide where Aardie's Express goes next.

“She deserves a few days off to get over that and we’ll do some thinking then,” he said.

A logical target would be the Group 1 Golden Girl at Albion Park in July.

Ladies In Red was only beaten a neck, but it was a very rare moment in her phenomenal career when she was beaten on her merits.

Another former Kiwi mare, Jason Grimson’s Illavabubbles, led and took a sit on Ladies In Red before finishing a brave third in a 1min49.9sec mile.

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Former Kiwi horseman Stewie McDonald enjoyed one of his best nights in the sulky at Gloucester Park last Friday.

Teaming with his “boss” Gary Hall Sr, McDonald won the $50,000 Group 3 4&5YO Championship aboard the untapped Mister Smartee and added the free-for-all on Jumpingjackmac only 30 minutes later.

But it was Mister Smartee who had everyone talking.

The Kiwi import sat parked outside his main danger, Skylord, and crushed him with a 55.5sec split from the 1200-800m. He mile-rated 1min54.3sec for the 2130m.

Mister Smartee ran second on debut at Addington on October 22 and has since won nine of his next 10 starts.

“We’ve always really liked him, but he’s had a few quirks,” Hall Sr said. “He seems to have come back great this campaign. That was a big win.”

McDonald’s brilliant tactical drive helped Jumpingjackmac cause a minor upset in the free-for-all and go one better than his fantastic second to Catch A Wave in the Group 1 Fremantle Cup a week earlier.

Instead of going toe-to-toe with leader and favourite Steal The Show, McDonald immediately dropped in behind him and then outsprinted him in the closing stages when he saw daylight.

“He deserved that. He ran a mighty race in the Freo Cup and when I got him into the open he quickly put the leader away,” McDonald said.

On the same card, last year’s NZ Oaks winner Aardiebytheseaside made it two wins from as many starts since joining Team Bond in WA.

The big, burly mare worked to the front and gave nothing else a chance, coasting home by 5.4m in a 1min56.1sec mile rate for 2130m.

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Top driver Mark Pitt thinks the best is yet to come from boom three-year-old filly Very Pretty despite her effortless win in last Friday night’s $200,000 Group 1 NSW Oaks final.

Trained by Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin, Very Pretty stretched her unbeaten record to eight wins when she worked to the front and thrashed her rivals.

She blasted home in almost unthinkable closing splits at the end of 2400m in 53.1 and 25.7sec.

“She’s something else, this filly, very, very good,” Pitt said. “And the best part is she’s still learning and developing.

“I’m sure whatever she’s doing now, she’ll continue to develop and be better again in 12 months.”

On the same card, talented Victorian mare Im Ready Jet ended Kiwi-owned mare Queen Elida’s dominance of the Group 1 MacArthur Trotters’ Mile by running her down.

Queen Elida was aiming for her third successive win in the feature, but had to be content with a close second.

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