By Michael Guerin
Bolt For Brilliance gave Tony Herlihy the confidence this week to try and beat Sundees Son at his own game.
So that is exactly what the champion trainer-driver did in the $250,000 Reharvest Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park on Friday night.
Herlihy worked his stable star to the front early in Alexandra Park’s greatest trotting race and never relented, even when hot favourite and two-time Rowe Cup winner Sundees Son moved up to sit parked at the mile.
Herlihy kept the hammer down and outstayed the favourite, who simply couldn’t win sitting parked at the 4:1.2 clip for the 32000m but faded late to third.
It was the first time Bolt For Brilliance has been able to beat his arch rival over a major staying trip and maybe, just maybe, signalled a closing of the gap between our best trotter and not just Bolt For Brilliance but Muscle Mountain.
It gives us all the mouth-watering prospect of more great clashes between the trio next season but even the hope they will head to Australia for the Inter Dominions and Great Southern Star.
While Bolt For Brilliance was a dominant second favourite few expected him to beat Sundees Son but Herlihy was less surprised by the huge win.
“He worked great this week and looked really good too,” says our winningest ever driver.
“We all know what a great horse Sundees Son is but the way Bolt worked this week gave me the confidence to drive him like that.
“He felt super out there so I was happy to keep him running and he really deserved that.” Herlihy is also the former trainer and his wife Suzanne still a part-owner of runner-up Temporale, giving them a very rare and unusual quinella five years after Temporale won the Rowe as a four-year-old.
Sundees Son was obviously in trouble at the 400m but was brave in third, fighting hard even when he had hit the wall.
“No excuses,” said driver John Dunn.
“Our little fella was really brave but Bolt went great and we were beaten by a better horse on the night.
“It has been a long campaign and these top trotters have put on some amazing races.”
Team Dunn got the better of Herlihy in the first trotting group 1 two races earlier though when Highgrove led throughout for John to beat Herlihy’s gutsy little filly Double Delight.
The big fella made up for his early gallop in the Sires’ Stakes Championship last Friday by trotting squarely early whereas last week’s winner Masterly and his stablemate El Conqueror both galloped.
Once in front Highgrove freewheeled in magnificent style and was eight lengths clear down the back before Double Delight chased him hard but the winner was too good in a new national record for a three-year-old over 2700m mobile.
“He was great tonight and felt exactly how he should have,” says Dunn.