Norm Rinaldi’s Destini Fireball again added to his wonderful CV and continued his extraordinary love affair with The Meadows 725-metre trip, landing the $40,000 Group 2 AWM Distance Final.
After tasting defeat last week behind Maddison Dee, the big black and white son of Where’s Pedro and Grey’s Destini entered the race at generous odds of $7.70 on the local TAB. Drawn box five in a quality field, questions remained whether the four-time Group One winner would be able to avoid any interference in the opening stages; an occurrence which cost the dog dearly a week prior.
Joe Borg’s Mckenna Memorial winner Proven Impala was to exit box two. With the luxury of an inside draw which she hasn’t been afforded in her last six runs, punters would send her out at $2.20 favourite in her quest to make it back-to-back feature wins.
Tassie champ, Bell Haven was on the next line of betting at $4.80 wearing the blue rug, trying to improve her record at The Meadows after a sluggish third to scrape into the final, while Major League ($9.40) and Maddison Dee ($8.20) were given some support by those looking for value.
Once the clock struck 9pm on Saturday night though, there was no more time for speculation. It was time to let the stars do their thing, as the bunny was sent around and the field was let loose for a full lap and a half.
Proven Impala had begun like a rocket as expected, but Destini Fireball showed that his mind was on the job from the opening few strides, looming large on the favourite’s outside around the first turn.
There was a little bit of trouble around that stage, with Bell Haven hampered significantly after a moderate beginning, and sent back to the tail of the field.
Past the post the first time and there was a two-dog war taking shape. Proven Impala was holding sway at the front with the Rinaldi runner breathing down her neck. There was a massive gap taking shape behind the leading duo, and none of the other runners looked up to the herculean effort required to bridge that margin. Bell Haven had struck even more interference through the pen and her night was as good as over, so those in witness knuckled down to the Borg/Rinaldi match-race that was now in progress.
Proven Impala had her eyes firmly locked on the bunny with a lap completed, as an impending sense of doom emerged as Destini Fireball drew level off the back. Going a length in front around the bend, Fireball had one paw on the trophy but Impala wasn’t done with just yet.
Raising another effort in the concluding stages, these two brave warriors fought tooth and nail to the last metre, in a duel for the ages. When the winning post whizzed by however, it was Destini Fireball that had done the job and landed yet another feature final around his favourite track, this time in 42.71.
Major League and Maddison Dee were super impressive runs, despite never being a hope of winning the race, and made up many lengths to finish third and fourth respectively.
But to the winner go the spoils, and the career record of Destini Fireball is now shaping up in comparison to any of the wonderful stayers of yesteryear. His purse of $488,010 to date proves just that, and takes him to 11th on the all-time prizemoney list, with only two stayers – Miata and Irma Bale – eclipsing that total. With 23 wins from 44 starts, and 8 from 9 over the 725 at The Meadows, this giant staying machine could well etch his name in the history books with another Group 1 victory in the National Distance Championship held at the same track in just over a month. It is a race he is likely to be given a walk-up start courtesy of the AGRA wildcard system.
He will have to beat a field of similar quality to the AWM final to do so, but having passed every test that has ever been thrown at him, perhaps only bad luck could prevent it.