Owned and bred by Diane and Paul Bartolo and trained by their son Ray, Apache Leap ($9.70) began fairly and took up running outside litter-sister Leprechaun Chloe ($29.80).
With favourite Messi ($2) unable to get a clear run between the two Bartolo runners, Apache Leap assumed the lead on the turn and raced to a 1.25 length win from the fast-finishing Stepping Stone ($28).
The win continues a remarkable for the Bartolo family in Victoria’s premier maiden series, held annually at both Sandown and The Meadows. Since The Meadows’ version of the event launched the career of three-time Group 1 winner Betty’s Angel in 2006, the Bartolos have also had success with Borat (2007) and Max Da Muss (2009). While Apache Leap was their first win in the Sandown series, they did breed and race 2007 winner Juddy before selling him in the week of the final.
Many of last night’s finalists will now target the $36,000 Group 2 DDC Launching Pad, the heats of which will be run at Sandown Park on Thursday 18 February.