BIRTHDAY boy Gavin Fitzpatrick is no stranger to winning Group One races . . . he won a stack of them with former champion pacer Lombo Pocket Watch.
Still he had cause to celebrate when ace filly Miss Halfpenny scored a fighting win in the first of today’s Group Ones, the Sportswriter NSW Breeders Challenge Two-Year-Old Fillies’ final at Tabcorp Park Menangle.
Not only was it Fitzpatrick’s birthday but it was ‘Group One’ Gav’s 1500th career winner as he had been frustratingly poised on 1499 winners for a couple of weeks.
Miss Halfpenny changed all that when she dashed out of the gate when Kept In Play (James Rattray) surged straight to the lead.
Fitzpatrick was not content to be stuck in the death seat and pushed on the take the lead as the field put away the first split of the mile in slick 27.3s.
Luckily Fitzpatrick was able to back off the speed with a 30.6s split before upping the ante with a 28.7s third quarter as Cee Cee Ambro (Wayne Sullivan) began to mount a challenge on her outside.
In the meantime Fitzy had Kept In Play trapped on his back and that filly never got a clear crack at them in the straight.
With challengers closing in during the last 50m, Miss Halfpenny kept them all at bay to score by a half neck from Cee Cee Ambro with the fast-closing Delightful Jackie a nose away third in a 1:55.2 mile.
“Gavin deserves that win, he has done all the work with this filly for the past three or four months,” said trainer Paul Fitzpatrick.
“He’s earned all the credit and not just for the way he drove her today.
“She’s always been a beautiful filly and she did a marvellous job today.”
Breeder Matt Day was just as impressed as Miss Halfpenny gave him his first Group One success.
And like Gavin, he’ll be hoping there’s plenty more to come.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION TELEPHONE CLUB MENANGLE RACING MANAGER DAVID WONSON ON (02) 4645-2200.