By Michael Guerin
Dr Susan has become that filly with the habit of being in the right place at the right time.
Today that right place is NOT in New Zealand.
The Cran Dalgety-Nathan Purdon trained filly is a red hot favourite to give Kiwi harness fans something to smile about in the A$100,000 Gold Bracelet Final at Bathurst tonight (9.50pm NZ time).
Which is pretty much how 2020 has gone for her: right place, right time.
She left New Zealand soon after her Sires’ Stakes third to Amazing Dream on December 31, an ambitious call considering she wasn’t one of the leading fillies in the country and an extended Australian campaign is anything but cheap.
But it has proved to be a masterstroke by the Canterbury trainers as Dr Susan has kept improving and kept getting the right draws.
After an easy win at Menangle to kick off her Australian campaign she followed a Victoria Oaks heat second with a win in the classic. That was largely due to drawing better than arch rival Stylish Memphis and leading throughout, although not without a score-up gallop that caused a false start.
She then returned to Menangle to win her NSW Oaks heat before a brave but luckless run in the Final, won by Stylish Memphis.
And while the latter headed home to New Zealand and ultimately the spelling paddock along with almost every other horse in this country Dr Susan stayed in Australia where harness racing continues for now.
Just to continue her theme of being in the the right place at the right time, she has barrier one in her three-year-old fillies final tonight and driver Anthony is supremely confident of another major win.
“She has been quite remarkable since she got here,” says Butt.
“She has just got better and better and she hasn’t even looked like getting tired. She is loving it and to be honest she really should win again.
“She has good gate speed and I think she will lead all the way.”
While New Zealand harness racing fans don’t have a whole heap to get enthused about at home it is still gratifying to see our horses winning serious races in Australia, even if is does leave us more than a touch envious.
And Butt could combine with another of those when Perfect Stride contests the A$100,000 Gold Chalice Final for three-year-old boys (10.53pm NZ time).
He has been consistent in both the Vic and NSW Derby series over the last two months and also gets the ace draw tonight.
“He has good gate speed so will go close to leading but there is a bit of speed outside him from Crunch Time so if he crossed up things might get a little more interesting.
“But I still think he is the best horse here.”
Butts realises how lucky Australian harness racing is to be continuing with all his friends back home sidelined and he says the protocol measures there are being strictly adhered to.
“We realise we have a roll to play and I can see us breaking into regions and a place like Menangle will be ideal for one-track racing two or three times a week so we can keep racing going without the risks of travelling.
“So we are hoping we can race on through.”