Dreams of even bigger success

Big Dreamer (Sam Collett) rocking punters at Avondale last Saturday.

Big Dreamer (Sam Collett) rocking punters at Avondale last Saturday.

Big Dreamer was an apt winner for Cambridge trainer Paul Mirabelli at Avondale last Saturday.

Ridden by Sam Collett, the four-year-old No Excuse Needed mare won the All Golds Cosmopolitan Club 1600 at the surprisingly generous odds of 30/1 and the manner in which she downed her 15 rivals suggests more important success is in store for her.

Though Mirabelli doesn’t have the stable numbers to match it with the big stables, he has a promising young team, including a couple of talented three-year-olds with Group One aims.

My Baby Rocs, a Roc De Cambes filly, finished third second-up over 1800 metres at New Plymouth last Friday and is considered a prospect for the Gr. 1 New Zealand Oaks, while The Tilbury, an eight-length maiden winner over 1400 metres in heavy ground at Tauranga a couple of months ago, is being aimed towards the Gr. 1 NZ Derby.

“You’ve got to have dreams,” said Mirabelli. “They mightn’t get there but you’ve got to aim for something. My Baby Rocs is very promising and I’m hopeful of getting to the Oaks. As for The Tilbury, he got sick after his run at Matamata last month and it’s his first day back in the stable. I like him.”

In the meantime, Mirabelli is appreciating the form shown by Big Dreamer, who was trapped wide and was even wider on the home turn last Saturday, yet rather than feel the pinch she took over halfway down the home straight and went on to easily win from the promising Summer’s Day, who is prepared at Cambridge by Tony Pike.

It was Big Dreamer’s third win from 14 starts and she has been placed on a further seven occasions. In fact she has proved to be one of the more consistent mares racing.

“Every time she has not been in the top four she has had an excuse,” said Mirabelli. “Three starts ago she had that fibrillation at Tauranga, but then she went a top race for third at Te Rapa. I didn’t think she’d go out paying that price on Saturday.

“She covered more ground than anything else but she’s got a big stride on her and she probably appreciated being out there doing it on her own terms.

“She’s still learning and can be a bit hot in the gates, but she’s getting there.”

Mirabelli has been working Big Dreamer in blinkers but has resisted putting the hood on for raceday, instead racing her in side winkers.

“She’s improving all the time and I don’t want to put them on yet,” said Mirabelli. “Everything she has done is a bonus because I think she’s going to be a lot better as a five and six-year-old and she’s got a staying pedigree so should go over ground.”

Big Dreamer finished last in both her trials but showed a vast form reversal when making her raceday debut at Te Rapa 13 months ago. She fought on well for fourth to Rockfast and on the strength of that performance Mirabelli threw her in the deep end second-up, running her in the Listed Allied Workforce Soliloquy Stakes at Ellerslie.

Big Dreamer didn’t embarrass her connections in the Soliloquy Stakes, fighting on for fourth behind Avisto, Choice and Vavasour, who all went on to further black-type honours during the season. And Vavasour, of course, won last Saturday’s Gr. 3 Chep Pallecon Solutions Counties Cup last Saturday.

Mirabelli also started Hannah Mary at Avondale last Saturday but the mare disappointed when finishing second-last in the Listed Avondale Sunday Markets Counties Bowl, the event in which she finished fourth last year behind In Style, who went on to win the Sistema Railway Stakes.

“She’s looking to go further now,” said Mirabelli. “Sam Collett reminded me politely after the race she had said that the start before, too. She’s a different horse now and rather than get up and go she’s more relaxed.”