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Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators

High drama surrounded Mitch Miller’s hectic drive to land Flametree a brilliant winner of the $30,000 Trotsynd Gold Bracelet at Gloucester Park on Friday night.  

The 27-year-old Miller revealed great composure as he coolly survived an early setback and a late problem to guide Flametree, the $1.70 favourite, to a convincing all-the-way victory, beating the $3.30 second fancy August Moon by two lengths in the group 3 feature event.

“I had a few nerve-wracking moments,” said Miller. “We had a gear malfunction. Flametree flung the hopple shortening pins over the dust sheet, and I couldn’t reach the pins on the first bend.

“A pin got wrapped around a back leg, and then the off-side hopple shortener snapped, and the pin was left in the hopple, so she went around with different size hopples.  

“We didn’t quite go as smoothly as we would have liked. Lucky we were able to lead without any pressure and she was good enough to get the cash. It was a bit of a hairy first 500 metres when she raced a bit roughly. And then she lost a shoe about 600m from home.”

Flametree’s victory gave Miller his first success in a group event, which gave Busselton trainer Barry Howlett his second win in the Gold Bracelet — after scoring with Just For Love in 2020.

Howlett paid $40,000 for Flametree, a filly by American stallion Huntsville, at the 2021 APG Perth yearling sale, and he races her in partnership with his daughter Kate and son Jimmy.

“She will now have a couple of weeks off before I get her ready for the APG Gold Bullion (April 22) and the Diamond Classic (August 19),” said Howlett. “I bought her because I was impressed with the record of Huntsville, who came to Australia for just one season at stud.”

Huntsville, who is by the successful Mach Three stallion Somebeachersomewhere, earned $1,704,242 from 15 wins in America where he was the winner of the Dan Patch two-year-old pacing colt of the year.

Flametree is the ninth foal (all winners) out of former star mare Party Date, who had 111 starts for 25 wins, 27 placings and $256,008 in stakes.

“Every time I go to Dunsborough for some fishing, we pass the Flametree winery, so I decided to lodge that name for the filly, mainly because I had run out of ideas for names for our horses,” he explained.