Bettor Twist third in Breeders Crown

By Adam Hamilton

Anthony Butt's suspicions were right.

As good as superstar Kiwi filly Bettor Twist is, Butt feared she was taking on an almost insurmountable challenge against a vintage crop of Aussie three-year-old fillies in the Breeders Crown.

Bettor Twist ran a mighty race, but Ladies In Red proved her superiority when it mattered with a dominant win.

Both are elite, but Ladies In Red is a champion.

Ladies In Red’s win was her 14th from just 17 starts and she’s finished second in the other three.

She’s as good a filly as Australia has seen in a couple of decades, most probably since the likes of Lombo La Fe Fe and Tailamade Lombo.

“Bettor Twist is a great filly, but she just lacks that bit of absolute brilliance and tactical speed,” Butt said.

“It was always going to be hard knowing we’d have to sit parked to win it, but it got a lot harder when Beach Music ran along so quickly in front. I was at my girl a long way to try and keep up with the leader. She just kept finding for me, but was never a winning hope.”

Ladies In Red came three-wide without cover from the 1200m, blew past the leaders on the home bend and easily held-off gallant stablemate Joanna to win by 5.3m with another 5.8m away to Bettor Twist in third spot.

Next goal for Ladies In Red is what should be her fourth Group 1 win in the Vicbred final on New Year’s Eve.

Ladies In Red was one of a staggering six wins on the 10-race card for trainers Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin, four at Group 1 level and the other two in Group 2’s.

Their romp started when Honolua Bay stamped himself as the most exciting pacer in Australia with a mind-blowing win in the opening race, the Crown 4YO Pacing Entires' and Geldings’ final.

Somehow he came three-wide without cover for the last 1200m from near last and won running away by 2.3m.

He ran his last half in – wait for it – 53.9sec.

“He’s a really special horse. With his speed, we’ve always thought the Miracle Mile would be the race for him. That’s what we’re aiming at,” owner-breeder Bill Anderson said.

Stewart and Tonkin also won with two-year-old trotter Just A Bit Touchy, three-year-old pacer Act Now, two-year-old filly Encipher and four-year-old mare Maajida.

Kate Gath was aboard Just A Bit Touchy and Encipher and also teamed with her husband, Andy, for a third Group 1 win on the night aboard Catch A Wave.

The win of Catch A Wave was so dominant, he would have to rate up with young Kiwi stars Akuta and Franco Indie at the top of his age group.

Gath knows he’s sitting on something special and will bypass races like next month’s Group 1 Vicbred final and February’s NSW Derby with a view to longer term riches and a potential Grand Circuit career.

“We nearly pulled the pin on the Breeders Crown a few times because he’s still so raw, but he did everything we asked through the series and now he goes out. He’s come so far, so quickly and still has it all ahead of him,” Gath said.

Stewart and Gath led a female dominance on the night with Kerryn Manning (Plymouth Chubb) and Jodi Quinlan (Act Now) also driving winners.

Plymouth Chubb is the best young trotter Australia has seen for quite a few years and he record shows it with 12 wins from his 13 starts (he galloped on debut at his only defeat).

Act Now has returned a beast this season with his seven starts netting six wins, including the Victoria Derby and Breeders Crown at Group 1 level.

It was a winless night for the Kiwis, led by Nathan Purdon’s four runners, but all ran well.

Bettor Twist was so brave, Amazing Dream equally so when third in the 4YO Mares’ final. Amore Vita ran a terrific second to Encipher in the 2YO fillies’ final, while American Dealer hit the line well in fifth spot behind Act Now.

Kiwi filly Lifes A Beach overraced behind the leader in the epic 3YO Fillies’ final and tired late for ninth.

Former Kiwi horseman Brent Lilley had a big night with a training double, Aldebaran Zeus in the 3YO Trotting colts and geldings’ final and Queen Elida in the 3YO Trotting Fillies’ final. Both were driven by Chris Alford.

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