IT WAS not quite a fairy tale ending for Brett Shipway at Tabcorp Park Melton on the opening night of Breeders Crown weekend on Friday.
But the Carisbrook trainer could not have been much more happier with the performance of his four-year-old mare Di Li in finishing second in the Group 3 Breeders Crown Graduate Trot over the 2240m distance.
Di Li, by Louey Louey Louey out of Kan Yu, delivered arguably a career-best effort to beat all but the impressive Kyvalley Chief home in the $20,000 final.
The mare, who was driven by Michael Bellman, showed plenty of gate speed before eventually surrendering the lead to One Over Da Sun.
Bellman sat patiently behind the leader throughout the trip before utilising the sprint lane to push past Downtown Miss and One Over Da Sun to finish the race off strongly behind the classy Kyvalley Chief ($2.50 favourite).
Shipway's other two runners in the race, A Nip Will Do and Louieville Lass, finished seventh and ninth respectively.
Serving to highlight an outstanding effort, Di Li started at TAB odds of 150-1.
A candid Shipway was thrilled to have beaten home a host of more fancied chances.
"You're never disappointed when you earn a cheque," he said.
"It was a great run - she always does a good job when she can.
"You wake up hoping and praying for things to go right with the horses, but she put in a great run on the night.
"I had an inkling, but I have an inkling all the time. If you didn't, you'd give up.
"The winner's a very smart one, which is what you expect in those types of races.
"She (Di Li) is what she is, a working-class girl. She's no champion, but she tries and that's all that matters to me."
A winner of five of 72 races with 19 placings, Di Li is nominated to run again at Kilmore this coming Thursday.
She previously finished seventh in the Breeders Crown final for three-year-old trotting fillies in 2018.
Other Bendigo region horses to show out on opening night included the Brad Angove-trained and driven Sundons Courage, who finished third behind the ultra-impressive Gus An Maori and Dance Craze in the Group 2 free-for-all, and the Kate Hargreaves-trained Well Defined, who was fourth in the same race.
The Charlton trainer-driver combination of Michael Gadsden and Denbeigh Wade claimed a third with Downtown Miss.
Former Bendigo trainer Chris Svanosio (now based in Romsey) picked up a pair of Breeders Crown placings, with Peregrine Phoenix second in the Group 2 final for four-year-old trotting mares and Brandlo Prince third in the four-year-old trotting entires and geldings final.
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