Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
Champion reinsman Chris Lewis remained cool in a crisis and weaved his magic to extricate Born To Boogie from two seemingly hopeless positions in the final circuit and land the brilliant six-year-old mare a dashing winner of the $50,000 Cowden Limited The Insurance Brokers Norms Daughter Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The victory completed a marvellous week for owners Merv and Meg Butterworth, who celebrated their greatest success in harness racing on Tuesday when their outstanding four-year-old Copy That set the pace and won the $631,000 New Zealand Cup at Addington.
“Merv and Meg are absolutely delighted at Born To Boogie’s performance,” said eight-time WA premiership trainer Ross Olivieri, who added that the WA-born Victorian resident Merv Butterworth was still keen to send Copy That to Perth to contest the $300,000 Fremantle Cup on January 21 and the $450,000 WA Pacing Cup on February 4.
“Copy That will be here for the Cups provided that the Covid restrictions are lifted to enable Copy That’s New Zealand trainer Ray Green to travel to WA. Merv wants Copy That to come over and try to win the Pacing Cup; he’s a WA person.
“The trip is still in the pipeline and if it can be done, it will be done. But things would have to change, with the Covid situation still a major obstacle.”
Lewis, who brought the Ross Olivieri-trained six-year-old Sensational Gabby home with a powerful three-wide burst from ninth at the bell to win the 1730m Norms Daughter Classic from Libertybelle Midfrew in November 2014, said he had some anxious moments before getting Born To Boogie in the clear in Friday night’s group 2 2130m event for mares.
“No. 10 (inside of the back line) was not the ideal draw, but things worked out,” Lewis said.
The polemarker Wainui Creek, the second fancy at $2.65, set the pace after resisting a spirited early challenge from Fifty Five Reborn, and then was kept busy when Gary Hall jnr dashed Balcatherine ($5) into the breeze 700m after the start.
“It was a close thing for Born To Boogie,” said Olivieri. “It was difficult for Chris to get off (the pegs). She was bolting, and it was just a matter of getting off. But after Chris had eased Born To Boogie off the inside at the 700m, she was still in a pocket before he was able to switch her three wide, and she had only the length of the straight to run Wainui Creek and Balcatherine down.”
Lewis made his winning move at the 700m when he legitimately eased Born To Boogie off the inside and forced Fifty Five Reborn (Colin Brown) out three wide.
Born To Boogie, the $2.60 favourite, who then followed Balcatherine in the one-wide line, was still badly hemmed in and blocked for a run, with Fifty Five Reborn out three wide and keeping Born To Boogie in a pocket. But when Fifty Five Reborn began to wilt 230m from home, Lewis seized the opportunity to switch Born To Boogie three wide and into the clear.
She sprinted fast, hit the front with 110m to travel and won by just under a half-length from Balcatherine (who ran on with great determination), with Wainui Creek a nose back in third place. The final quarters (off the front) were covered in 28.7sec. and 28sec. and Born To Boogie rated 1.56.9.
Born To Boogie, who raced 26 times in New Zealand for five wins and ten placings, has flourished under Olivieri’s care, with her nine WA starts producing seven wins and two seconds. “Lewis said that Born To Boogie was bolting for most of the way and that they were actually going too slow for her,” said Olivieri.
By American sire Rock N Roll Heaven, Born To Boogie is the fifth foal out of the unraced New Zealand Badlands Hanover mare Niftey Franco. She is now on target to contest the $125,000 Westral Mares Classic next Friday week.
“Born To Boogie was a good mare in New Zealand where she had a few little issues, and she came over here with them,” said Olivieri. “Racing every two weeks is ideal for her and the extra distance of 2536m in the Mares Classic is not a concern.”
Olivieri paid tribute to his wife Jemma, a qualified veterinarian, who had cured Born To Boogie’s problems.