Review of Burgundy & Dolmabache’s Big Day

Article by Mike Dillon

There are dozens of ways of summing up a winning performance, but one that can never be argued about is the race time. The greatest truth of thoroughbred racing is that the winner of every race runs the fastest time between two points on the course. For hundreds of years it has been the basis of the sport/industry we follow, yet it is often ignored.

To put Burgundy’s win in the $70,000 Windsor Park Breeders Stakes at Te Rapa in proper perspective you have to take particular notice of the race time. The 1200m Burgundy slid over in a swift 1.9.21 is the fastest in this Group 3 contest since ?ne galloper Shifnal Chief recorded a staggering 1.8.5 in 1973.

And Matt Cameron is adamant Burgundy could have run faster. “He was never really out of second gear for much of the home straight,” said the premiership-chasing Cameron.

If Cameron had been under pressure before the race he wasn’t showing it. Trainer Jason Bridgman was slightly under the pump – this win was important and so was to achieve it in style. Both were achieved easily.

There is always pressure when a $1.3 million yearling purchase arrives at the stable, but Jason Bridgman rid himself of a fair bit of it the ?rst time he galloped Burgundy at any speed.

“I called David (Ellis) and said ‘The greatest thing is that the expensive one is the best of them (the yearling purchases)”. That relieved a bit of the stress. The relief post-race was there for all to see on Bridgman’s face. “He’s the fastest horse I’ve trained,” he said in sheer admiration.

When Shifnal Chief recorded his time Te Rapa was a track that was one of New Zealand’s wettest in winter and was often particularly ?rm in summer. That led to some remarkably swift times before the course proper underwent its sand-slitting process, which makes for a reliable surface even after rain, but because of the slight yield it provides, rarely are records created.

Burgundy’s time was .3 of a second outside the 1.8.81 Promise Me recorded as a post-metric record in 1995. Promise Me carried 52kg and Burgundy as a 3-yearold had 56kg.

Matt Cameron could not pull Burgundy up until after travelling beyond the barriers at the 1200m in the back straight, so well was the colt travelling. “He’ll be a remarkable 4-year-old,” said Bridgman, who is of the opinion Burgundy will prove his worth at 1600m if asked, even though he looked vulnerable at 1600m earlier in the season. “There is nothing wrong with his stamina, but he’s had to learn how to use it. “I’m not ruling anything out, but the exciting thing is he can handle dead tracks, so the spring holds no fears for him, but next year is when you’ll see the best of this horse.

“I think he’ll be close to unbeatable at 1400m in Australia because he’ll run a very fast 1200m then tack on 200m at the same speed onto the end of it. He’s only just learning to relax and he’ll be more relaxed next preparation.”

Steven Ramsay and training partner Julia Ritchie were similarly nervous taking Dolmabache to the $100,000 Travis Stakes as a two-race winner.

Dolmabache, a close relative of Burgundy’s, had been taken to Melbourne in the spring, left with Sheila Laxon when Ramsay and Ritchie returned to New Zealand and returned home essentially to spell. “She arrived in such great shape it was decided to give her a couple of starts to see what we could achieve,” said Ramsay.

Ramsay said he got some ribbing after the mare’s ?fth in the Manawatu Breeders Stakes at her previous start, but Ramsay rated that effort a lot better than the armchair critics. So much so, in fact, he was quietly con?dent of victory in the Travis Stakes despite the 27 to 1 odds.

And he was on the money. Just when it looked that O ’Fille and Postman’s Daughter were going to ?ght out a close ?nish, Dolmabache dashed past both mares to score narrowly.

It was the perfect way to ?nish off the season as private trainers for Pencarrow Stud proprietors Peter and Philip Vela.