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Ken Casellas | Photo: Gloucester Park Harness Racing

Champion pacer Chicago Bull holds a special place in the heart of Maddison Brown, who had mixed emotions when she drove Diego to a wonderful all-the-way victory over Chicago Bull in the 1730m City Discount Tyres Free-For-All at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Brown was delighted at Diego’s win, but she shed a metaphorical tear at Chicago Bull’s defeat.

“I love Bully and I’ve been through it all with him,” she said. “I used to drive him (in work) before he was injured (in New Zealand in October 2018). I have driven Chicago Bull only once in a race, and that was when he finished second to stablemate Balcatherine last February.”

Remarkably, that 1m second to Balcatherine prevented Brown from the rare feat of landing five winners on a Gloucester Park program. Her winners that night were Diego, Gambit, Beach Start and Beefour Bacardi.

Brown also has formed a strong association with Diego, a six-year-old gelding owned by New Zealanders Syd and Shona Brown and trained by Gary Hall Snr. She has driven Diego 16 times for four wins (including the group 2 Pinjarra Cup in March this year) and five seconds.

Diego is a smart frontrunner, but Brown has driven him as a sit-sprinter almost exclusively. “Tonight, he showed that he is pretty versatile,” she said. “He is nice to drive, and we were fairly flying around that last bend.

“He was cruising in the straight and I sat up on him close to the line. He was easing down and wasn’t going full pelt. The track wasn’t that quick, but he was able to run the final quarter in 26.7sec. He got an easy lead and first half which helped. Diego certainly has the ability to be a good Cups contender.”

Diego was the $2.30 second fancy from barrier No. 1, with Chicago Bull the $1.55 favourite from barrier two. Diego was smartest to begin, and Gary Hall Jnr wisely opted to give Chicago Bull the perfect passage behind the pacemaker. Hall eased Chicago Bull off the pegs 600m from home, and the nine-year-old fought on doggedly to finish second, just under a length behind Diego, with $31 chance Bletchley Park two lengths farther back in third place in the field of six.

Diego is by Bettors Delight and is the fourth and last foal out of the Christian Cullen mare Sakura, who was retired after racing three times for one third placing. Diego now has had 63 starts for 16 wins, 15 placings and $245,784. His full-brother Mister Bushido was a handy performer who won nine times for the Hall stable before being retired with a record of 94 starts for 13 wins, 24 placings and stakes of $185,186.