Q is for Queen of Hearts
How appropriate that in December the “Queen” of Alexandra Park Belle of Montana should win the Group One Queen of Hearts for the fillies and mares.
The $1.30 hotpot did it in good fashion too for Zac Butcher and Trainer Barry Purdon.
The Bettor’s Delight mare was seen as a shoo-in to win, though the race hasn’t always been as easy to predict.
In 2017 it produced some high drama when $1.90 favourite Party On and 36-to-one outsider Jo’s Dream had a desperate battle over the final stages.
Party On and Natalie Rasmussen had led throughout, with Jo’s Dream in the trail. Taking full advantage of the passing lane Jo’s Dream just kept making ground. On the line there was nothing in it, the dead heat giving farrier-horse trainer Amanda Kiddie and driver Andre Poutama their first ever Group One.
There were few more emotional victories than Bettor Cover Lover’s win in 2011.
The horse was having her first race since being injured eight months previously while being loaded onto a flight home from Melbourne. For a while it was touch and go.
But return to the racetrack she did and paying $8.50 “Betty” and trainer-driver Brent Mangos ran down the reigning Horse of the Year Carabella ($1.95 favourite). There were a lot of tears.
Just to prove it was no fluke Bettor Cover Lover returned to the race the next year as a $1.50 favourite and led all the way to win by a length.
The race has had a number of dual winners, most notably Adore Me (2013-14) and Dream About Me (2016-18). Adore Me’s win for Tim Williams was the fastest over 2200m (2:39.1) The race has also been held over 2700m, with the quickest win being by Waitfornoone (Peter Ferguson) in 3:21.7 in 2006.
Adore Me also won the New Zealand Cup in 2014 in a then race record of 3:54.6. She was the last mare to win the great race.
When you talk about Queens of the track in this Country it would be wrong not to mention the likes of Mainland Banner, Blossom Lady, Bonnie’s Chance and Armalight. And that just scratches the surface…