Vicbred Finals Wrap

by Adam Hamilton

NATHAN Purdon unveiled a star of the future, but it was the current pin-up girl of Australasian harness racing who again stole the show on Vicbred finals night at Melton.

The mighty Ladies In Red made it 17 wins from just 20 starts when she overcame yet another bad draw and tough run to crush her rivals in the Group 1 3YO Fillies pacing final.

It capped a meticulous season by trainers Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin along with owner-breeders Bill and Anne Anderson where Ladies In Red started late, but blazed through the big three Group 1’s – Victoria Oaks, Breeders Crown and Vicbred finals.

We already knew she’s the best Aussie filly since the likes of Tailamade Lombo and Lombo La Fe Fe, but she now surely ranks up with the great Kiwis fillies of the past two decades, including the likes of Amazing Dream, Princess Tiffany, Adore Me, Dream About Me and others.

Can she go on to be an Amazing Dream, Mainland Banner or Tailamade Lombo and become a Grand Circuit star as well? We’ll know next year.

But for now, it’s the time to bask in the magnificence of her speed, strength, versatility and will-to-win.

She is truly something else.

“It’s a privilege to drive her. I don’t think you quite understand it or respect it enough early in horses careers. It’s when they start to get on and do more and more amazing things you realise you’ve been a part of a very special time in a very special horse’s career,” driver David Moran told TrotsVision.

“She never seems to disappoint in the finals. She’s just an amazing horse, the things she does and how she does it. She’s one of a kind, that’s for sure.”

Bill Anderson superbly explained the aura of the filly.

“People ask us all the time, can I have a photo taken with her – people really want to be included. We need a profile horse in this industry and I think, hopefully, she’s the one to do it,” he said.

“When you breed them, and she was around the farm for probably 13 or 14 months – personality plus – it’s a great reward.”

Ladies In Red will have a freshen-up now then target either the Group 1 Ladyship Mile or Group 1 Chariots Of Fire – both at Menangle in February.

Ladies In Red was one of three winners across the 12 Group 1 Vicbred finals for Stewart and Tonkin. The others came with mighty 4YO mare Maajida and emerging Miracle Mile hopeful Honolua Bay, who scorched a 1min53.7sec mile rate to win the 4YO Entires and Geldings final.

Greg Sugars’ masterful drive on Maajida made the difference for her win over Nathan Purdon’s star Spellbound.

Sugars weaved through from a back row draw to beat Spellbound and Stewie McDonald to the lead and that was essentially the race.

Purdon got the win he hoped for on the night when exciting former Kiwi 2YO filly Amore Vita blitzed her rivals, courtesy of a glorious Chris Alford drive.

It looked tricky for a few strides when Amore Vita was headed off then the leader tired coming to the home bend, but Alford found clear and Amore Vita stormed past a gallant Encipher to win running away by 6.6m in a 1min55.8sec mile rate for 2240m.

“I’ve always really liked her since she got her. She had this X-factor. She’s developed as we’ve gone along and I really thought this was her race,” Purdon said.

“All through this campaign I’ve been saying she’s going to make an outstanding three-year-old. It’s great to get this one.”

Amore Vita will have a short break before heading to Menangle for the NSW Oaks in February.

Emerging three-year-old colt Bondi Lockdown challenged Ladies In Red for the most impressive win of the night when he did all the work and thrashed his rivals.

Trainer-driver Aaron Dunn, who only works 10 horses and had five of them in Vicbred finals, was super bullish about Bondi Lockdown going into the final.

“Everything told me he’d gone to another level and that’s how he raced,” he said.

Bondi Lockdown was expected to lead, but an early scrimmage hurt and he was forced to make a midrace run around the field then sit parked in a blistering 1min53.4sec mile rate.

Racecaller Dan Mielicki told TrotsVision: “I call him Rocky Balboa because he gets knocked down and he keeps getting up again.”

Dunn is thinking seriously about a Chariots Of Fire tilt in February at Menangle.

Potential Vicbred heartache turned into a night to remember for Matty Craven and his partner, Sofia Arvidsson.

They had to scratch star 4YO mare Pink Galahs with an injury, but snared two finals with the brilliant Heza Son Of Agun (2YO pacing colts and geldings) and sit-sprinting mare Queen Of Crime (4YO trotting mares’).

“The Vicbred has been very good to us and these two certainly deserved their wins,” Craven said.

“Sofia’s drive on Heza Son Of Agun was a 12/10. He needed luck from the draw and she made it happen.”

Driving queen Kerryn Manning snared two wins on the night, one much closer than expected when superstar 2YO trotter Plymouth Chubb held-on by a whisker to win his 14th race in a row after doing a power of work.

Manning’s other win came with a patient drive on Blake Fitzpatrick’s NSW visitor Fancy, who dive-bombed her rivals to win the 3YO trotting fillies’ final.

The other trotting finals went to: Ebonys Avenger (2YO fillies), Parisien Artiste (3YO colts and geldings) and Anthony Crossland’s improving Rules Dont Apply (4YO entires and geldings).

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