The inaugural running of ‘The 715′ at The Gardens didn’t disappoint, with a star-studded line-up contesting the $500,000-to-the-winner final at the Newcastle-based circuit.
With pre-race favourite Miss Ezmae almost not able to take her place in the event after her handler and wife of trainer Jack Smith, Maree, struck vehicle trouble at Sandy Hollow, it became not about the race on the track but a race against time for the Forbes-based duo.
After successfully making it to the kennels, Maree did her best to put the situation out of her mind and enjoy what was an action-packed affair both on and off the track. Renowned singer Shannon Noll certainly attracted a hefty crowd, with standing-room only early awaiting his between-race performance, with a giant sing-along which took place in the cool conditions trackside.
After a much-hyper pre-race build up, the eight finalists stepped out onto the track to contest the inaugural running of the world’s newest and richest distance race.
While many were speculating as to how the race would commence, Miss Ezmae left nothing to chance and produced a brilliant exhibition from box one, leading all the way in a slick 41.65. Frank Hurst’ Sound Of Silence was gallant in defeat, reducing the winning margin to just 1.5 lengths in the end, with Jodie Lord’s Cawbourne Magic continuing their team’s sensational run of form in 2022 to round out the placings in third.
“I don’t know what to say,” Maree Smith said in the catching pen post-race.
“It’s just the pinnacle of our career and we’ve put everything into it, which we should and this is our reward.”
Whispers leading up to the event led many to believe that win or lose, The 715 would be Miss Ezmae’s swansong and it turned out to be the perfect ending to a sensational career for the 26kg pocket rocket, now officially retired and heading to the breeding barn as one of the most exciting prospects as a future producer.
Her career commenced back in January of 2021 at Wentworth Park over the 520m in a heat of a maiden series, where she finished behind kennel mate Jungle Deuce.
After a four-month hiatus, she returned to Bathurst over the 520m and set the track alight, posting a sizzling 29.68 from box one. It was perhaps her 29.67 performance at Wentworth Park during June of 2021 that set tongues wagging that she was a serious talent.
Upon stepping up to the middle distance over the 618m at Bathurst in her first attempt, the blue blazer equalled the track record, posting a blistering time of 35.69. She then ventured to Dubbo five days later and set a new time standard over the 605m journey in 34.35. Knowing her job wasn’t done at Bathurst, she returned to the circuit and shaved .10 seconds off her personal best, becoming the outright record holder for the 618m distance in 35.59.
In September 2021, she made her staying distance debut at Richmond over the 717m and to no surprise, broke the track record with a brilliant 41.42 performance from box one. She then stepped out at Wentworth Park and notched up three consecutive victories, including securing her first group victory in the Group 2 Sydney Cup Final in a flying 41.70 over the 720m.
Studmasters will be licking their lips at the prospect of being the sire selected to produce a litter in conjunction with an incredibly determined and versatile chaser, who won the hearts of all racing fans throughout her career.
Happy retirement, Ez!