National Futurity

Donna Dazzles In Futurity Heats

By Michael Cowley
Just as they did in the first half of the night at Wentworth Park on Friday, the Victorians stood tall, winning three of the four heats of the Group 1 Ladbrokes National Futurity, but it was the ‘other’ winner who had tongues wagging.

Shooting for her second Group 1 victory in just over a month, having brilliantly won in open company the Dapto Megastar in December, the Mark Gatt-trained Ritza Donna ensured she will be one of the favourites to collect another $75,000 after a breathtaking heat performance.

While she jumped reasonably, Ritza Donna soon found herself shuffled back and was last momentarily, before working her way over to the fence into fourth spot on the first turn.

She was glued to the rail as she moved through to be second heading into the back straight, but was giving the leader, She’s Savage around seven lengths start, and the leader as the clock would tell later, was running time up front.

Donna was still giving the leader four or five lengths leaving the back, but then put her head down, and powering along the rail she drew level halfway down the home straight and went on to win by 1¾ lengths in 29.72s not only the fastest time of the four Futurity heats, but also faster than any of the six heats of the National Derby.

“I saw her running last and I closed my eyes, and opened them again and she was sitting second,” said Mark’s brother Daniel. “The leader was still a fair way in front of her and I didn’t know if she was going to pick her up … but she did.”

She’s Savage clocked 29.85s running second, a time which would have won all bar three races on the night. Second placing did secure a berth in the Futurity final for the bitch, trained at Taree by Jessica Savage.

Victorian trainer Peter Presutto qualified two for the Futurity final, winning heats with Idolize and then Chic, who, having her first look at the track, carved out a slick 29.77s.

“The other three we had in tonight have been here before but she was a bit sore coming into the series and we gave her the time off to get her right and then (decided to) throw her in and see how she goes,” Peter’s son James said.

She went better than ok, and with natural improvement expected for her second look at Wentworth Park, she must be a serious contender in the final.

Second place went to Sam Sultana’s Yuko Girl who also gained a place in the Group 1 final.

Presutto’s other finalist is Idolize who normally leads in her races but she couldn’t match the flying Coco Model early, but was able to reel her in and score an impressive 29.88s win.

“She’s come from behind tonight so that’s another string to her bow,” Peter said. 

“I’d like to think she will (improve). I thought she could run 29.70s tonight but not knowing what the track was like, and she’s run 29.88s. If she bounces on the arm, who knows. She probably could.”

Idolize hadn’t had a run over 500m for a month, so Presutto again expects improvement next week.

“I didn’t want to leave the run on the trial track but I knew whatever she did tonight she was going to improve on it and I hope that’s the case.”

Coco Model who posted a stunning 5.30s to the first mark, held on well to grab second and book a group 1 berth for her trainer Andrew Bell.

The other heat was won by Anthony Azzopardi’s Caroline who showed great tenacity to win, albeit in a slow 30.23s.

“It was a bit impressive considering it was a quick trip here, a quick box to box, and straight into a 500m … I think her run was really good and she finds herself in a group 1,” said Azzorpardi.

“I have no doubt she draws inside she can 29.6s or 29.7s, but she has to draw a good box and nail the jump.

“But tonight there was a lot of merit in her win.”

Second and another final spot went to John Finn’s Zipping Pearl.

The box draw for the final is: 1 Coco Model 2 Yuko Girl 3 Idolize 4 Zipping Pearl 5 Caroline 6 Ritza Donna 7 Chic 8 She’s Savage 9 Amarillo 10 Dulceria.