Montana Marie is a BIG filly.
And the star Queenslander will need a gigantic performance to win Sunday’s Gr.1 $175,000 Australasian Breeders Crown 3yo Fillies Final at TABCORP Park, Melton.
Star filly and series favourite Frith has drawn ideally in gate two (with the emergency scratched) while Montana Marie has drawn poorly off the second-line in twelve.
Both fillies were ultra-impressive in their own ways last week at Ballarat when taking out the respective semi-finals but the barrier draw gives a clear advantage to the New South Wales trained filly.
“The draw is a killer. And having Frith draw so well is going to make it very hard on a track like Melton where leaders have a great advantage.” Trainer/driver Darrel Graham said.
Montana Marie recorded twelve straight victories this season including the Gr.2 $75,000 Nursery Pace Final at Albion Park where she overcame a similar second-line draw.
The Art Major filly then raced with distinction in the Gold Coast Oaks when a game second to smart Kiwi filly Our Splendour before an early mistake cost her any chance in the Gr.1 Queensland Oaks at Albion Park.
“Del has done an amazing job this season; she’s such a tough and strong filly but her speed has really developed and that’s been the key to her success this term.
We’re going to be calling on all of that speed and strength this weekend to get a piece of the prize but surely there will be some early pressure applied to Frith, I’m just hopeful they don’t hand Frith the race.
Every time I look at the race it appears very difficult for us to work into the race without doing too much work. At least we’re there and I know that she is fit and well so now we’re playing for some luck.”
At least future plans have been sorted for the younger half-sister to former Grand Circuit performer I Am Sam.
Earlier this season, owner Dean Shannon outlined retirement plans for his filly at seasons end but those plans have now been shelved.
“Del is coming back next season, Dean doesn’t like over racing his fillies but following the recent retirement of Lanercost we’ve decided to race again next season.
After Sunday, Del will go for a big spell and then we’ll map out a program for next year with her but she’s eligible for schemes like Vicbred and obviously the Breeders Crown so we’ve got some good options already.
Dean has Courageous Annie due to foal to Rocknroll Hanover later this year so another season of racing for this filly won’t hurt anybody before she joins Annie in the broodmare paddock.”
But a Breeders Crown victory could easily have connections thinking bigger plans.
by Chris Barsby (Harness Racing Australia)