It’s been eight years since the “Moe maestro”, Peter Giles, has stood triumphant on the Maturity Classic podium. One of the sport’s most decorated mentors, Giles won the 2000 Maturity Classic with the Queensland-owned Acacia Dee.
This year he has one of Victoria’s premier young speedsters, Paddy’s Flame, vying for a $50,000 first prize in the Group 1 Hudson Pacific Maturity Classic (525m) at The Meadows on Saturday night.
Paddy’s Flame has been the star performer during the age-restricted series for male and female sprinters, registering the fastest time (29.80sec) of 12 heats on May 3 and the quickest time (29.73sec) of four semi-finals last weekend.
He has only started on 33 occasions for 19 wins, six seconds and four thirds, and already has amassed $64,430 in prize money. His sprint record at MGRA headquarters reads nine starts for four wins and three seconds.
In a semi-final, Paddy’s Flame ($1.40F) defeated Mentera Bale ($10.40) by a whopping 12¾ lengths, with Saviour Of Sin ($46.90) one length away third.
Paddy’s Flame is contesting his third Group race final, having finished third and eighth respectively to the Jason Thompson-trained El Galo in this year’s Group 2 Bendigo Cup and Group 2 Warrnambool Cup. He was also a reserve for this year’s Group 2 Warragul Cup.
Ironically, Thompson is chasing successive victories in the Maturity Classic, having last year saluted with Run’s House. (Giles had Winoki (6th) in that event.)
Based at Pearcedale, Thompson – 2007 Australian Trainer of the Year – prepares Lochinui who won a semi-final in 30.24sec.
Lochinui ($1.50F) defeated Pure Grunt ($8.80) by two and a half lengths, with Iron Steed ($24.70) two and a half lengths away third.
It was his 14th win (with two seconds and one third) from 22 starts. He has notched three wins and one second from six starts on the Camp Road circuit – including a personal best of 29.92sec.
Back on April 11, Lochinui broke the Traralgon 513-metre track record, clocking a sizzling 29.47sec. He has also contested this year’s Bendigo Cup, finishing fifth.
Iconic 12-time Victorian Trainer of the Year Graeme Bate is hoping to claim his fourth Maturity Classic courtesy of Keeko Bale who finished second to Queenslander Make You Happy in a semi-final.
Bate’s Maturity Classic winners are Storm Glade (1985), Hay Dinney (1988) and Northern Legend (1995).
Trained by Paul Felgate, Make You Happy ($5.50) defeated Keeko Bale ($1.90F) by five and a half lengths, with Snobbery ($41.20) one and three-quarter lengths away third in 30.00sec.
Back on January 5, Make You Happy won the Group 3 New Year’s Trophy and a month later finished seventh in the Group 2 Rookie Rebel – both over 600 metres at The Meadows.
A regular visitor to Victoria, Felgate is best known for his exploits with champion sprinter and influential sire Just The Best and recently retired staying siren Miss Brook.
Up-and-coming Tatura sprinter Grantoid made the most of his opportunity in a semi-final after gaining a start as a reserve following the scratching of Stoner Bale.
Granitoid ($21.10) defeated Dee Riddler ($3.00) by three-quarters of a length, with Rapid Newfire ($16.70) a neck away third in 30.43.