Ladies In Red’s demolition of the boys in the Rising Sun something to behold

by Adam Hamilton

Mighty mare Ladies In Red could be the pin-up pacer Australia needs.

After two years completely dominating her own age and sex, the girl became a giant at Brisbane’s Albion Park last Saturday week.

Ladies In Red’s win – well, demolition is a more accurate description – of a stellar field in the $A305,000 Group 1 Rising Sun was something to behold.

And it sparked lavish praise from some of the biggest names in the sport.

It was a win of great importance, a statement if you like.

Ladies In Red was taking on the “boys” for the first time and left them wallowing in her wake, winning by an increasing 11.7 metres.

It moved her driver Nathan Jack, who is filling-in for the suspended David Moran, to ooze praise.

“She’s just something else. She makes great horses look almost second rate,” Jack said.

He admitted to being humbled by the “privilege” of driving the mare for co-trainers Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin, along with owner/breeders Bill and Anne Anderson.

“I’m just the very lucky one who gets to sit behind her,” he said.

Watching on TV from New Zealand, champion trainer/driver Mark Purdon admitted to being “moved” by the win.

“Of course I was, that was greatness,” he said. “She’s been so dominant against her own sex, but to go and do that to the boys like she did is something else.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to have some wonderful mares over here (including Amazing Dream recently) and Ladies In Red would be right up with them after that performance.”

Amazing Dream, who has since moved to the U.S., won the inaugural Rising Sun last year, but after an easier trip from behind the leader and along the sprint lane. She also went slower time (Ladies In Red mile-rated 1:54.3 for 2,138m compared to Amazing Dream’s 1:54.9).

Asked to compare the two, Amazing Dream’s regular Aussie driver Anthony Butt didn’t hesitate: “Ladies In Red is better. Amazing Dream was fantastic, but she had good draws in her key races against the boys, while I don’t it would’ve mattered where Ladies In Red drew the other night, she was so dominant.”

That’s an interesting and important take.

Some doubters argued post-race that Ladies In Red simply took advantage of a good barrier to lead, dictate and win.

But gee, that’s a glass half-empty take on things.

She had to burn out of the gate for the first time in her career, had a Group 1 winning 4-year-old boy — Chariots Of Fire winner Better Eclipse — pressuring on her outside in the last lap and simply switched into another gear in the home straight and gaped her rivals.

It was enough for Stewart to concede and agree with her partner and co-trainer Tonkin that Ladies In Red was the best horse they had trained.

“I have to agree now,” Stewart said, grinning. “Clayton’s been saying it for a while, but I guess I wanted to see her take on the boys and beat them… she certainly did that.

“I think she’ll end-up the best mare we’ve seen (in Australia) and will go down in folklore. They’ll name races after her and things like that.”

The Andersons are breeders and have been stunning stock on the back of some daring, expensive and astute purchases from the U.S.

But — and this is great for the game Down Under — they are in no rush to whisk Ladies In Red off to the breeding barn.

“We’ve got enough good broodmares,” Bill Anderson said. “We plan to race her on for another year or two if she holds her form like this.

“She’s something special. The sport needs superstars like her.”

Ladies In Red is having a let-up now before she drops back to racing her sex again for features like the Queen of the Pacific, Breeders Crown and Vicbred finals towards the end of this year.

Despite her awesome talent, she won’t race the boys again this year.

“No, we’ve had a plan mapped out for a while,” Anderson said. “The Rising Sun was the right race to take on the boys, given Amazing Dream won it last year and mares get a preferential (barrier) draw.

“I’m not saying she won’t race the boys again, I’m sure she will, but it won’t be this year.”

So that rules out mega Victorian features such as the Victoria Cup in October and Inter Dominion in November/December.

Nothing is unbeatable but given her dominance and return to racing the “girls” it will be a shock if Ladies In Red is beaten again this season.

The Rising Sun took her record to a staggering 19 wins (and four seconds) from just 23 starts. She’s banked $A789,420.

Doing some crystal-balling, it could be the $A1 million Miracle Mile next March when Ladies In Red tackles both her biggest challenge and the boys again.

Logically, she could go through the Group 1 Ladyship Mile the week before and victory would get her a ticket straight into the Miracle Mile, won for the past three years by the recently retired King Of Swing.