The Miracle at the Mile

* The A$1 million Miracle Mile is held outside Sydney this Saturday.

* Kiwi trainer Peter Bagrie has Bettor’s Heart in the great race.

* Two years ago he has surgery to remove a tumour from his brain.

 By Michael Guerin


Two years ago doctors removed a tumour from Canterbury horse trainer Peter Bagrie’s brain.

 The operation went as well as it could. So did the chemotherapy and radiotherapy that followed.

 Weeks later his specialist told then 66-year-old Bagrie some medical truths.

 “He sat me down and said it all went great but usually, at some stage, these things come back,” Bagrie explains.

 “He said I don’t when, he had no idea how that would be. But he said I was fine for now to go home and enjoy my life as I usually would.”

 Last Saturday night at Menangle, outside Sydney, Bagrie was really enjoying his life.

And he will enjoy this Saturday even more, because he has a horse in the A$1 million Miracle Mile and nothing to lose.

 After that meeting with his doctor Bagrie went back to training horses, the best of them being Bettor’s Heart, a good mare without being great.

After some group one placings this summer Bagrie rolled the dice and decided to take her to Sydney, hoping Menangle would allow her to record a fast mile for her future broodmare career while she earned some money to pay for the trip.

 Bagrie got so much more when Bettor’s Heart produced the run of her career to come from last to win the A$200,000 Ladyship Mile on Saturday, pacing 1:49.7 in the hands of Bagrie’s nephew John Dunn, beating glamour mares Belle Of Montana and Princess Tiffany.

 She is now one of the fastest ever New Zealand-trained racemares, a group one winner and in a Miracle Mile.

“It is pretty amazing,” says Bagrie.

 “We wanted to give her her chance over here because she was racing so well and we thought we might get a fast time for later when she goes to stud.

 “But for her to come from last to win the Ladyship against those mares is something we are really proud of.”

 So stunning was the result Bagrie has only minutes to consider the offer of a Miracle Mile start with a mare who would have been 1000-1 for the race a few months ago.

 He said yes, as a man who has been given a second chance at life would, and Bettors Heart sits in the market as the $41 outsider.

 “It is wonderful just to have a horse in the Miracle Mile, not many horses get that chance,” he offers.

 “And even if she runs last we will still go home with a smile on our faces. She has accomplished everything we came here for and more.”

 Bagrie knows how hard it is to get a good horse. He has trained for nearly 40 years and is best known for the deeds of Auckland Cup winner Burlington Bertie but has had few like him.

 But he is a hobby trainer, having only once trained 10 winners in a season. There have been plenty of seasons he hasn’t trained a winner at all, rarely taking many to the races.

 His total stakes for training in NZ after all those years is $1,355,391. This Saturday the winning stake will be almost half that for 110 seconds work.

“When I left the doctors that day and he told me to go back to living my life, I have. I have had a scan every six months since and so far, so good.

“So we are going to enjoy being in the Miracle Mile. We are going to enjoy just being here.”


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