Bendigo underlined the globalisation of trotting in Australia with squaregaiters born in three different countries filling the official places in the Group 2 Aldebaran Park Maori Mile at Lord’s Raceway on Saturday night.
New Zealand mare My Escapee, driven by Kiwi supremo Mark Purdon, defeated the Australian born I Didnt Do It (Jodi Quinlan) and USA’s Cold Sister (Chris Alford) in a thrilling finish to the 1650 metre event.
Bendigo Harness Racing Club general manager David Aldred said it was a great outcome for the club and Australian trotting.
“It’s probably a first for a Group trotters race in this part of the world and it’s worth mentioning that international mares took two of the first three places,” race sponsor and Australia’s prime mover of trotting, Duncan McPherson said.
“I believe an important step for the globalisation and internationalisation of the industry happened on Saturday night.
“I’m sure as years go by the race will hold greater significance as a qualifier for the Great Southern Star and a must ‘go to’ race for the Kiwis.
“The Maori Mile is a race that can achieve Group 1 status in the not too distant future.”
There have been four Maori Miles run, with the first edition of the race in 2010 won by Acacia Ridge.
Ronerail won the mile in 2011 and My Mon Star in 2012.
Raced by Lone Star’s Trevor Casey and trained by Mark Purdon, My Escapee is the rising star of trotting.
The Sundon mare has only raced 25 times, but already is a NZ Oaks and Derby winner and has raced and beaten some of New Zealand’s best at the top level.
Purdon is confident the mare will reach her full potential this Australian campaign.
The Aldebaran Park Maori Mile provided My Escapee with an invitation to contest the $350,000 Pryde’s EasiFeed Great Southern Star which is open to Standardbred trotters and will be the richest trotting race in Australasia.
It will be an annual event in March as part of a new Festival of Trotting and provide an opportunity for participants to seek invitation to compete on the European Grand Circuit.
Aldred said organisers expected the event to be the ultimate test of speed and endurance and to showcase the best of Australasian trotting.
“It will be the only event of its type in the southern Hemisphere with horses racing off in elimination heats to qualify,” McPherson said.