THERE had been talk that a horse part-owned by one of our greatest contemporary football stars might have romped it home in yesterday’s Victoria Derby.
But in the end it was a bloke from Sydney who had never raised his hands at the finish line at Flemington who won the hearts of punters.
Dustin Martin’s three-year-old Main Stage was never really in it.
Instead, Tye Angland belted across the line aboard Ace High.
“I struggled to hold her back,” he said later. “I’m just so lucky.”
Back in the stands, jubilant South African trainer David Payne wondered why he hadn’t moved to Australia much sooner.
“It has always been a dream to win here,” he said.
“It’s not usual that a plan comes together, but we planned this six months in advance and it all came together.”
But not everything went exactly as it should have.
A crowd of 87,526 had to negotiate the redevelopment of the racing site, but Derby Day punters were good sports.
Those keen for an early flutter did their best to untangle the odds or the odd tonguetwister.
Levendi was an easy early winner, then came Luvaluva in the second and Lyuba in the third, but the competition wasn’t restricted to the track.
From general admission to the members’ lawn, the precinct to the parade ring, there were winners and losers in the fashion stakes.
Most stuck to tradition, clad in black and white with a touch of sunscreen.
Others certainly didn’t. One bloke was convinced he’d pulled off a pastel tartan suit. A wedding buck was dressed in pink, his mates in red and purple. But through all the odd choices, there was also a fitting return to top hats and race day chivalry. Gents were quick to offer their seats on packed trains earlier in the day and braved the long queues for beer and flutes of champagne. When the hooves finally thundered past, most had their eyes fixed to the action. But others might have been forgiven for looking the other way. Melissa Edwards, of Geelong, joined her friends Angela Sparrow, Amelia Sim and Christine Edwards on the lawn. They had sprawling views of each race but were not convinced. “Last year I didn’t see a single race,” she said. “It’s just always been a great day out — a chance to get dressed up and catch up with the girls.” Sockless blokes in shiny shoes spent the day trading giddy glances at the ladies with their high fascinators and higher expectations. “Geez, it’s a bloody tough field,” one said. Reality stars, TV royalty and overseas raiders were among the usual suspects in the Birdcage. If Dusty did make an appearance, nobody saw him — there was a wedding to attend, of course. He might have been there. Or perhaps this was a sporting event where he was happy to fade into the background. EDWINA Bartholomew has vowed to step up her gym regimen after landing the hosting gig on Channel 7’s much-hyped rival to Nine’s Australian Ninja Warrior.
Bartholomew, along with sports broadcaster and Sunday Herald Sun columnist Hamish McLachlan, will front Australian Spartan with production starting in Brisbane next month.
Seven commissioned Spartan, inspired by global fitness phenomenon Spartan Race and hit US show Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge, to take on Australian Ninja Warrior, which was a surprise ratings hit for Nine this year.
Rebecca Maddern, Ben Fordham and Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff helm Ninja, a spin-off of an overseas format. Fitness will be key, with Spartan challenging teams of three on a giant obstacle course.
“I am pretty healthy and lead a healthy lifestyle, I do already work out but I feel like I am really going to step it up a notch ahead of December,” Bartholomew said.
“You don’t want to be put to shame by the competitors, not that I could ever actually make it through this course alive.”
AFTER one drink too many, a four-legged animal might seem a better option than a four-wheel vehicle.
But for Florida woman Donna Byrne, 53, the police did not agree — arresting her for “drunk-driving” a horse. “DUI on a horse,” the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said.
She is also accused of animal neglect for failing to properly protect the horse. Hamish McLachlan and Edwina Bartholomew.