What a night for the Bagries and Dunns at Menangle
Buoyed no doubt by the success of Kiwi gallopers Probabeel and Te Akau Shark earlier in the afternoon at Randwick, the Bagrie and Dunn families must have driven to Menangle last night with a degree of hope for their respective runners. But to see the dream result where now both of Bettors Heart and Alta Orlando are through to next week's Miracle Mile, would probably have been pushing the levels of optimism.
The night started for the team, with the run of Alta Orlando, formerly trained by Robert, in the Group One Schweppes Sprint for $100,000. Trained these days by Craig Cross, Alta Orlando is still owned by his New Zealand owners, Margaret Evans, Mitzi Taylor, Robert Dunn and Jenna Dunn and has done a superb job since being sent to Australia by Robert and John.
Drawn in barrier five, Alta Orlando blasted the gate for driver Todd McCarthy, serving it up to My Field Marshall which drew barrier one. After missing the early lead, McCarthy was able to slot into a perfect trail, enjoying the run of the race throughout.
Following a lead quarter of 26.6, Anthony Butt was able to steady the pace through the middle section of the race with a 57.8 half, before pressing the button and asking his charge to do it's best over an electric last quarter. Alta Orlando looked the only real threat turning in and once of My Field Marshall's back, quickly mastered that runner at the 150m, before running away a comfortable four metre victor on the back of a 25.6 closing quarter.
The win was nothing short of sensational and completed the journey right back to the very top of harness racing for Alta Orlando after an injury plagued career.
Vet Sam Taylor who has been massive in getting Alta Orlando back to being a competitive racehorse at the very top posted after the race on facebook:
"Alta Orlando is off to the Miracle Mile next week after winning the Group One Schweppes Sprint. Pretty cool for a horse that was turned out for 18 months with injury and was an overweight hairy monster when dad brought him back into work. It has been a fantastic trip over the last three years with some really cool people and great horsemen. Sydeney next week!"
No doubt the team will be pumped for a massive trip to Sydney next week, where Alta Orlando has drawn in barrier eight (barrier six after the emergencies come out) for the $1 million feature.
Alta Orlando is through to next week's $1 million Miracle Mile
A race later and it was John that was in the thick of the action driving Bettors Heart for his Uncle and Aunt, Peter and Anne Bagrie in the $200,000 Ladyship Mile.
A very good second the previous week in the Group Two Robin Dundee, Bettors Heart has been a model of consistency this season, racing against the top Kiwi mares Princess Tiffany and Belle Of Montana. Drawn favourably in barrier one, John fancied that he should get a nice run, handy on the pace, with the two aforementioned runners drawn directly outside him. However, the Kiwi contingent were well and truly beaten for pace off the gate, Bettors Heart ending up awkwardly placed three and then four back the inside.
With the first half mile cut out in a scintillating 53.8, the race was always set up for the swoopers and coming off the top, it was first Belle Of Montana and then Princess Tiffany that came with their runs. Finally able to extricate from his tight spot, John started to get into the clear with Bettors Heart. Just as it appeared that Princess Tiffany was going to nab pacemaker Bettor Enforce, it was John and Bettors Heart that came from the clouds in one of the almighty home stretch runs to get up and win the Group One. This was nothing short of a colossal performance and propelled the mare into an unlikely starting spot in the Miracle Mile.
The victory was a fantastic result for some of the real great guys of harness racing. For Johnny to achieve such a significant victory for Uncle Pete and Aunty Anne, his smile would have been worth a million dollars. The exciting thing is that they get to do it all again next week. What a night!
Johnny and Bettors Heart take out the Group One Ladyship Mile
Posted: Sun 01 Mar 2020