Byford trainer-reinsman Donald Harper completed a memorable evening for his family when he drove his promising three-year-old filly Our Star Billing to an all-the-way victory in the Support Breast Cancer Awareness Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
He was simply following the pattern set earlier in the night by his father Lindsay and younger brother Kyle, who had landed all-the-way winners.
Thirty-year-old Kyle Harper got the ball rolling, driving the Kyle Anderson-trained Al Guerrero to victory with his victory, before 61-year-old Lindsay Harper was successful with Thereugo.
Donald Harper (33) drove an extremely canny race with $3 second fancy Our Star Billing to defeat the $2.20 favourite Black Jack Baby in the 2130m event for three-year-old fillies.
From the No. 1 barrier, Our Star Billing resisted a brief early challenge from $13 chance Just For Love before dawdling through the lead time in a very slow 40.6sec. and then ambling through the opening quarter of the final mile in 33.sec.
Chris Voak restrained Black Jack Baby from the outside barrier in the field of eight and he was reluctant to dash forward in the first lap when it appeared obvious that Emily Suvaljko, driving $9.50 chance Captains Beachbabe, would not relinquish the breeze position.
After a modest second quarter of 30.8sec. Harper increased the tempo and Our Star Billing sprinted over the third 400m section in 27.7sec. while Black Jack Baby (last at the bell) was following Rumour Has It’s three-wide forward thrust.
Black Jack Baby went four wide on the home turn and sustained her spirited finishing burst to fail by a head to overhaul Our Star Billing, who covered the final 400m in 28.4sec.
“Black Jack Baby had beaten home Our Star Billing at our two previous meetings, but on the sectionals tonight I made it very difficult for her,” said Harper. “Black Jack Baby probably ran a very quick final 1200m, and we were still able to beat her.
“In the home straight Our Star Billing did not want to let Black Jack Baby go past her. She’s got that sort of attitude, even in trackwork. Our Star Billing has kept improving and she hasn’t shown any signs of backing off (needing a spell).”
Our Star Billing, bred and owned by Bob Fowler, won once from 15 starts as a two-year-old before blossoming as a three-year-old, with her six starts this season producing two wins, two seconds, a third and a fourth placing.
By Follow The Stars, Our Star Billing is the second foal out of the Mach Three mare Adaptability, who had 24 starts without a win and three placings for earnings of $4539. However, Our Star Billing is closely related to the former New Zealand star pacer Changeover, who amassed $2,321,676 in prizemoney from 29 wins and 16 placings from 66 starts.
Written by Ken Casellas | Photo Credit: Hamilton Content Creators