By Adam Hamilton
JOHN Dunn had one of his most rewarding nights at the track at Menangle last night.
Not only did he drive giant-killer mare Bettors Heart to win the Group 1 Ladyship Mile for his uncle, Peter Bagrie, but Alta Orlando burst his way into the Miracle Mile as well.
Just to round it out, Dunn soon learned Bettors Heart had landed a Miracle Mile berth as well.
“It doesn’t get much better than this,” Dunn said late in the night. “That was so special to win with the mare. There were quite a few times along the way when we wondered whether or not we should take her across.”
After so many minor placings behind the Kiwi glamour mares, Bettors Heart found her moment, and in stunning style, in Australia’s biggest mares race.
She beat Our Princess Tiffany and Belle Of Montana on their merits and went a 1min49.7sec mile.
But it came after a shock start where all the big guns were headed-off by outsiders Takara Truffle and then Hows The Memory.
Dunn thought he could hold the front from the pole, but instead was buried three pegs soon after the start.
“I thought it was all for me after 100m,” he said. “Luckily I was able to get some room and keep pushing away from the inside rounding the home bend until she got right to the outside.
“It was a huge effort to give those mares a start and run them down.”
Most trackside thought much-improved local Bettor Enforce, who burned midrace to take the lead in a 54sec first half, had held-on to win, but the photo showed a nose margin for Bettors Heart on the outside.
Our Princess Tiffany was a terrific third after having to come four-wide around a struggling and rough going Belle On Montana on the final bend.
Miracle Mile selectors were so impressed with Bettors Heart, they gave her a spot in next week’s big dance, ahead of the likes of Sicario, The Black Prince and HaiL Christian.
“I guess I’ll be back here to drive again next week now,” Dunn grinned.
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YOU could see the relief on Mark Purdon’s face.
After a wretched week with injuries to Self Assured and Chase Auckland and overall frustrating Aussie raid so far this year, Purdon jagged a big one when Stylish Memphis bravely won the NSW Oaks.
Purdon even drove a like a frustrated man, not leaving anything to chase after being crossed at the start and quickly regrouping to launch and re-take the lead.
Stylish Memphis, who has shown a tendency to overrace, actually relaxed well once she found the lead and was able slow to a 31.1sec opening quarter of the last mile after a scorching 53.5sec lead time over the 2400m.
Dr Susan, who burned the lead time from an outside draw to get to the front, simply couldn’t afford to lock horns again and try band keep out Stylish Memphis.
Stylish Memphis quickened with a 27.6sec split from the 800-400m and then dug deep late to hold-off Its Beaujolais in a 28.8sec closing quarter.
“I was really proud of her tonight,” Purdon said. “She had to go that hard early and then again to go around the take the lead, but the most pleasing part was how well she settled once I got the front.”
Stylish Memphis blazed a 1min54sec mile rate for the 2400m.
Maajida ran a terrific race for third after being such a big part of the early burn, while Dr Susan was a close fourth.
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SMOOTH Deal’s frustrating Aussie trip took another twist when he missed qualifying for the NSW Derby.
The All Stars’ three-year-old, who has struggled for his best form in this Aussie raid, ran fourth in his Derby heat (missing third by 0.2 of a metre) and is first emergency for next week’s Derby final.
Anthony Butt qualified his star pair with Perfect Stride leading, dictating and winning the heat Smooth Deal was in, while Victoria Derby winner Line Up was second to Emma Stewart’s Pacifico Dream in his heat.
The third heat went to Queenslander and Victoria Derby runner-up Governor Jujon.
NSW DERBY FIELD (not in barrier order): Mach Dan, Line Up, Pradason, Percy Bailey, Sonny Weaver, Zeuss Bromac, Perfect Stride, Pacifico Dream, Governor Jujon. Smooth Deal (1st emerg), Rockin With Elvis (2nd emerg).