The field had just crossed the line in race 10 at Ladbrokes Gardens on Friday night, and as most were still shaking their heads in total disbelief having just watched Aston Maeve win, Jason Mackay’s phone rang.
“Her head was hardly across the line, and Ray Borda (her owner) was on the phone,” Mackay explained. “Ray just goes: “did I just really witness that?” I said: “Ray I’m sitting here and can’t believe it myself.”
“I was on the phone to him for 10 minutes, and said: “Ray I don’t mean to be rude, but I’ve got to go. My phone hasn’t stopped, I’m getting bombed by texts,” and he said the same thing was happening to him. I think anyone who saw it, was second guessing themselves as to whether it really happened.”
What all the fuss was about was the performance of Mackay’s young bitch Aston Maeve. The run literally has to be seen to be believed. She was slowly away, baulked on the first turn when stuck out wide from her box eight draw, was giving the leaders the best part of 12 lengths start. She wasn’t even in the camera as the field went through the catching pen.
But Aston Maeve navigated her way through the field, and swinging for home, she ranged up to the leaders, and grabbed Fire On Ice just before to the post. A remarkable performance but when you looked at the clock and saw 29.42s - just three a half lengths outside Zipping Bailey’s track record - the run has the “I can’t believe I just saw that” about it.
“If she had run 29.8s I would have been jumping up and down,” Mackay said. “To be posted wide at the Gardens … you’ve got to jump and rail at the Gardens - she has done it all upside down, and then has the audacity to run 29.42s.
“She was slow to leave, from box 8 there you are just out on a limb next to the fence, you can get caught out if you’re a novice and that’s basically what happened.
“She found herself four and five wide, then she threw her head in the air for some reason - I think she lost sight of the hare to be honest. She has only ever been through the catching pen that one race (last start when she ran 29.30s) and I’m thinking, maybe she thinks the gate is going to be closed. I think she lost sight of the hare, and then realised they are all still going, I better go after them.
“She showed enormous track sense. You can see she’s a smarty by watching all her little antics at home. She doesn’t spend any petrol. She looks at the other dogs as if to say why would you be doing that, and she’s laying back with her feet up.
“The thing with the win, Mark Moroney’s bitch is a good bitch (Fire On Ice), she was in the Maitland Cup Final the Richmond Oaks Final, she’s run 29.4s at Newcastle and 29.20s at Gosford. My bitch has got the hide to give her 10 or 12 lengths and run her down.
“She got the X factor about her, but yesterday dobbed her in a bit … she’s a serious contender now.
“I knew she was good, but she announced yesterday that she’s really good, don’t worry about that.”
The win took Aston Maeve’s record to 10 wins from 12 starts and throw a couple of unlucky placings in there as well.
“One was a third when she was a novice at Wentworth Park (in the Group 1 National Futurity Final), and she got ankle tapped and tore both of her gut muscles, and a still ran third, then she resumed at Gardens in 22.5s and equalled the record run home of 11.47s which is unheard of.
“Next start she was decked there, gave the leader eight (lengths) and was beaten a neck in 22.80s.”
While everyone is well aware of her ability now, Mackay said he knew before the now 25 month old bitch even arrived at his kennel, again courtesy of a call from Borda.
“Ray Borda said to me: “I’ve got a litter of pups here Jase if you’ve got room. It’s only early days, but a couple of these are way out of the box.” He left it at that.
“Then he got Rod Manning in Victoria to pre-train her and give her a go at the 300m at Bendigo. Most pups break 19s, if you get 18.7s or 18.8s you’re pretty happy because they don’t know where they’re going, they have different lids, all that stuff. Well she runs 18.2s her first go. A hot Free-For-All dog in Victoria, that’s what they would run in their prime.
“She ran 18.2s not knowing what she was doing. Ray rang me and said she not getting any more runs down here, you better have some kennels ready. I said sent her today, right this minute.”