In Sydney.--- The words of champion New Zealand driver Tony Herlihy were ringing in the ears of James Rattray when his Inter Dominion dream turned into a nightmare yesterday.
And that helped what started out perfectly, then went horribly wrong, end in triumph.
Rattray’s incredible pacer Beautide graduated from superstar to champion in the$A750,000 final at Menangle with one of the great staying performances in pacing history.
Rattray pulled the right reins with the favourite early in the 3009m mobile classc and looked set to dominate the race when he moved at the 1800m mark to waltz to the lead.
But he was stunned when the driver of leader Mach Beauty first fought him off but then even more disappointingly let Smolda run to the front at the bell, leaving Beautide parked outside his biggest danger.
“About then things weren’t going well,” admitted Rattray.
“I didn’t see myself sitting parked, especially not outside Smolda. But I remembered something Tony always told me and that was no matter what happens in a race never panic.”
That advise was handed to the young Tasmanian horseman during his time working for Herlihy, the king of cool, at his South Auckland stables five years ago.
“Those at the sort of things you don’t forget, especially from a guy like Tony, and once I ended up parked I realised I needed to relax so he would.” What happened next was breathtaking as Beautide, who looked to be off the bit at the 600m, changed gear at the top of the straight and exploded past Smolda before putting four lengths on his rivals.
He won easing down from fellow Menangle regulars Seel N Print and For A Reason, confirming the Sydney track as the new powerhouse of Australasian harness racing.
Had Beautide won in that style off a suitable tempo that favoured those on the speed it would have been dramatic --- the fact he was able to do it in the fastest staying race ever paced in this part of the world was the performance of a champion.
He adds the win to his Miracle Mile triumph in November, a double not completed for 12 years and provides the ultimate dividend for Rattray’s gamble to move from his native Tasmania to Menangle to chase the mega bucks on offer there last year.
“The Miracle Mile was special but this was something else.”
Rattray’s time in Auckland was not the only vein of Kiwi success in the race as Beautide is by Bettors Delight, the world champion sire who stands at Woodlands Stud in South Auckland.
But the Kiwi joy stopped there was Smolda could manage only fourth, perhaps a victim of only having two lead-up runs because of his late start to the season after injury last term.
And Terror To Love’s hatred of Menangle was confirmed when he raced 10 lengths below his best, once again pacing roughly early.
“He just hates it here but we had to have a go,” said trainer Graham Court.
“But we won’t be coming back. He can stay home next season and try and win his fourth New Zealand Cup.”
By Michael Guerin (Courtesy ofHarness Racing New Zealand)