Craig Chesham was fighting back tears on Friday night at the Bathurst Paceway, but as a part-owner of the victor of the Star Trek Final he was smiling as well.
Chesham is part of a syndicate which owns four-year-old mare Delilaah and was track side as trainer-driver Michael Muscat guided her to victory in the 1730 metres final.
Not only did she snatch the $9,000 winners’ purse as an $18 outsider, but she ran down hot $1.40 favourite Ominous Warning, who had looked certain to claim his 11th win from his last 12 starts.
Chesham accepted the trophy for the syndicate and revealed his emotional response to the win was in part due to the memories of his late brother Robbie. He was also an original member of the group who purchased Delilaah.
“My older brother Robbie, he passed in June … he would have been 65 next Friday night,” Chesham said.
“The last time she was up here she broke the track record for a three-year-old filly, she won the Lombo La Fe Fe Vase. She loves it up here, five runs for three wins and two thirds.”
That run in the Lombo La Fe Fe Vase in March saw the daughter of Bettors Delight clock a 1:54.1 mile rate, but on Friday night Delilaah went even quicker. She now owns the four-year-old mare’s record of 1:54.0.
Delilaah qualified for the final of the series which was first staged at Bathurst in 1963 by placing third in both her heat and semi-final. That, as well as her barrier 10 draw, saw her fifth in the line of betting.
Not surprisingly Peter Trevor-Jones’ Ominous Warning stated as favourite as he looked to emulate the efforts of 2017 victor Whittaker in going through the series undefeated.
He held the lead from barrier one after an early speed battle with Now Eye See then set a quick tempo in front.
Ominous Warning peeled off splits of 28.5 and 29.6 seconds as the field strung out over eight lengths behind him with 700m to go. Delilaah was four back on the pegs.
An even quicker 27.5 third split followed and Ominous Warning led for home, but Muscat got Delilaah off the pegs and made a four-wide charge.
She flew home to win by a neck, while Tintin Naturally ($14) was 7.2m back in third.
“I thought we were going to run a place, when she swung to the outside there I thought she’d run a place for us. But she came so quick we started cheering because we could see her coming,” Chesham said.
“Michael has always told us that if she doesn’t do any work and she can have that 300 or 400 yard sprint, he reckons there’s no horse quicker than her than he’s trained. The leaders helped us there by going hard in front too, they just kept running quick quarters.”