Friday Night’s Vicbred Super Series final for four-year-old entires and geldings was a stern test of Bob Proberts’ heart. Just hours after Bonavista Bay was beaten by Living On Fire in last week’s semi final, the prominent owner suffered what he described as a “bad turn”. His doctor called it a heart attack.
But it didn’t prevent him from cheering Bonavista Bay home with trademark gusto in a pulsating $100,000 Group 1 Vicbred final at Melton’s Tabcorp Park.
Bonavista Bay, now trained by top Western Australian horseman Mike Reed, overcame a nightmare schedule to defy the doubters and score his maiden Group 1 win in his state of origin. As hard as it was to take narrow defeat after a tough run in the Messenger Championship across the Tasman, Proberts said it paved the way for Vicbred success.
“We were vanquished in New Zealand, but he went very well over there and took two seconds off the national record and it took a great horse in Tintin In America with a perfect run to beat him,” Proberts said.
“If we had have won over there we wouldn’t have been here tonight. It’s just so thrilling to win this race.”
Bonavista Bay had to call on all his trademarke courage to get the job done in the 2240-metre final. After being outpaced early, Reed’s driver son Mark waited until Living On Fire assumed the front from speedy beginner Deadsetlucky before moving around to assume the spot outside the leader.
That was where the $2.80 favourite sat for the remainder of the race and the tough run looked to have taken its toll on him after a 59.3-second first half of the last mile was followed by a scorching 27.6sec third split.
The son of Rustler Hanover appeared destined to miss a place 250m out, but fought bravely up the straight to claim the lead 100m and hold off sprint-laning Deadsetlucky ($11) and swooper Villagem ($4.30)
The final quarter was 29.8secs, which resulted in an impressive 1:56.3 mile rate.
The win - the 17th of Bonavista Bay's glittering 29-start career - only strengthened Proberts’ resolve to head back across the ditch and win a big race.
“The horse has done the job here tonight and hopefully he can go to New Zealand on the second Tuesday in November and do Victoria proud by winning the New Zealand Cup,” he said.