IF her use of the word 'unreal' didn't capture it, the broad smile on her face did - Amanda Turnbull enjoyed one of the biggest thrills of her stellar driving career on Saturday night in the Gold Tiara Final.
As the star The Lagoon driver guided $1.75 favourite Joanna to victory in the $100,000 final for two-year-old fillies, she notched up her ninth Group 1 success.
However, the experience was special for more than just that.
It was her fourth Group 1 win on her home track - the Bathurst Paceway - and saw her become just the third driver in the 34-year history of Gold Crown Carnival to have earned more than one Gold Tiara trophy.
In adding to the 2015 Gold Tiara final she won aboard Pixies Parlour, Turnbull joined Chris Alford (2002, 2006, 2010) and Colin McDowell (1987, 2019) in that exclusive club.
It also took her tally of winning drives for the 2020 carnival to eight and came just over an hour after she had steered Atomic Red to glory in the Bathurst Mayors Cup.
But the thing Turnbull enjoyed most was sitting in the gig of the Emma Stewart trained Joanna as she flew to victory in a 1:53.8 mile rate - a two-year-old fillies track record over the 1,730 metres trip.
"To think that a two-year-old filly can run like that, it's just amazing. Some of the best horses I've ever driven couldn't do that," Turnbull said. "To think you could have a two-year-old filly run a track record like that, it's unreal."
Having posted a commanding 9.3m victory in her heat and going from barrier two in Saturday night's decider, the Somebeachsomewhere x Repelem filly was the runner to beat.
It was favouritism Joanna most certainly justified.
She showed good gate speed to take the lead, but as Joanna peeled off a 28 seconds opening sectional she was pressured on the outside by Orchid Stride.
That pair was neck-and-neck as they ran past the 800m mark and as they came off the back straight, more pressure came.
Runners went four-wide into the final bend, but as they balanced in the home straight Joanna still led.
Anntonia ($8.50) made up ground over the final 100m, but a 28.7 final split was enough to see the favourite win by 2.7m.
Third, a further 10.3m back, went to another member of Stewart's Cardigan stable in Dangerous Hand ($6).
"She hasn't just beaten the track record, she has obliterated by a second," race caller Fred Hastings declared as Joanna eclipsed the 1:54.7 effort of My Sweetchilliphilly in the 2017 Gold Tiara Final.
It was the second win in three starts for the filly and took her earnings beyond the $50,000 her owners paid for her at the 2019 Australian Pacing Gold sale in Melbourne.
"It was unreal, she just sort of took it all in her stride," Turnbull said.
"She wasn't worried about the pressure on her outside and when I asked her to go she just had too much for them."
Turnbull also paid tribute to 22-year-old Brooke Wilkins, who looked after Stewart's eight runners at The Lagoon during the course of the carnival.
"Brooke has done an amazing job ... she's had some long days and all credit to her," she said.
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