TOUGH Tilly is the horse harness racing needs.
She’s already the darling of the sport, a fundraising machine for a great charity and there’s so much more to come.
Tough Tilly powered away for her second Group 1 and the biggest victory of her career so far in the $350,000 Group 1 Australian 3YO fillies’ final at Melton Saturday night.
She’s won nine of her 17 starts with another six seconds and earned $351,353.
Combine her sale price and the 20 per cent of prizemoney and she’s banked over $100,000 for EB Research, the awareness and fundraising arm for a debilitating skin condition, largely in young children, called Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB).
“She’s so special to us, that was amazing,” syndicate manager Craig Judd said. “The only disappointment tonight was that we couldn’t all be at the track together.
“More than 30 of us were booked-in until the latest COVID-19 lockdown.
“We missed being there when she won her first Group 1, the Vicbred final on New Year’s Eve at Melton, and again this time.”
And what a thrilled they missed in the flesh with Tough Tilly working to find the front, but then making a one-act affair of the rich feature, zooming clear coming to the last bend and winning by 11.9m.
Her 1min52.5sec mile rate for 1720m equalled the Melton track record for a 3YO filly.
“She felt as good as she ever has winning her heat at Kilmore and felt at least as good, even better, tonight,” driver Kate Gath said.
“It’s incredibly special to be part of this filly and everything she races for. I’m thrilled for the team she won a big money race with so much of it going towards EB.”
Tough Tilly’s powerhouse training team Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin won three of the four Group 1 Australian Gold finals last night, Irish Blacks Label (2YO fillies) and Lightning Dan (2YO colts and geldings) being the others.
The one exception was NSW raider Tasty Delight, who led throughout to deny Stewart and Tonkin a cleansweep by relegating their runner, Act Now, into a brave second placing.
NSW horseman Blake Fitzpatrick had to gain special dispensation from Harness Racing NSW stewards to be permitted to drive Tasty Delight at Melton and return to NSW without quarantining for 14 days.
“It was a frantic few days once COVID-19 flared again in Victoria, but we got the OK as long as we drove straight to Melton and jumped back in the car and drove straight back home after our races,” Fitzpatrick said.
“I really wanted to get down. I’m a huge fan of this horse (Tasty Delight). He’s so good, so strong and his best is still to come. He deserved this one.
“Lots of people in Victoria wouldn’t have heard of (Brian Portelli, Tasty Delight’s trainer), but he does a fantastic job with his horses and I’m so lucky he’s given me the drive on the horse.”
Fitzpatrick is a multi-skilled horseman, mixing his driving with training thoroughbred and harness horses.
“We won the last (thoroughbred) race at Goulburn last Friday (with Designer Maid) and trained a winner at Menangle (last night) as well (All Cashed Up). It’s been a great few days,” he said.
Originally published asTough Tilly powers away for second Group 1
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