Belle wins Oaks heat
By Adam Hamilton
Brilliant filly Belle Of Montana has reminded Aussie of the training and tactical genius of Barry Purdon.
Being able to chase an Aussie Group 1 without missing a “major” at home and escaping the Kiwi stars, headed by Princess Tiffany, is a masterstroke.
And Belle Of Montana has done her part so, producing a narrow but enormous Victoria Oaks heat win on Saturday night which absolutely stamped her as the one to beat in a fascinating final.
She might have a been a $1.20 favourite, but Belle Of Montana drew the back row while underrated NSW raider Miss Streisand led and the best front-running driver in the business, Toddy McCarthy, did everything he could to cause the upset.
Zac Butcher drove Belle Of Montana to her strength – sheer speed – but must have been concerned at the 800m when he was second-last and the leader was cruising.
McCarthy burned down the back in 27.7sec, making Butcher and his filly run a 26.9sec split out three-wide, but Belle Of Montana just kept coming.
It took until the last two strides, but Belle Of Montana snatched a half-neck win in by the far the fastest of the three heats, a 1min54.9sec mile rate. She was clocked to run her last half in 53.9sec out three-wide without cover.
It was a monstrous win.
Victoria’s best filly Kualoa looks the main danger in the final after returning from a break with a typically tough win in her heat.
Chris Alford waited until midrace to go around and sit parked and was simply too strong and classy, albeit only by a head, in a 1min56.4sec mile rate.
Outstanding Queensland filly Smart As Camm Be assured us of a truly Australasian final when she blasted out from a wide draw to lead and win her heat in a comfortable 1min57.2sec mile rate.
Trained and driven by Kylie Rasmussen, Smart As Camm Be didn’t look as dominant in front as she has been from off the pace at home and may be more dangerous driven with a sit in the big one.