Ladies In Red might have managed to steal a couple more admirers on Saturday night with a truly dazzling performance in the Benstud Standardbreds Queen Of The Pacific at Melton Entertainment Park.
The Emma Stewart-trained mare had to do it the hard way, coming from behind to swoop over the field and win the $150,000 Group 1.
Driver David Moran was full of admiration for the five-year-old, who had only just returned to the track two starts ago after a serious leg injury sidelined her for much of 2023.
"It's been quite amazing to be a part of the full journey," Moran told TrotsVision.
"It's an amazing career and a huge effort it's a great team effort from (co-trainers) Clayton (Tonkin) and Emma (Stewart)."
Moran had to bide his time to find the opportune moment to strike, with Ladies In Red's sustained three-wide run putting her in front at the turn before she raced clear in the straight to win by more than 10m.
Not only did she take a staggering 1.8sec off the race record, but Ladies In Red was just 0.6sec outside the Melton 2760m track record set by Tiger Tara in the 2019 Hunter Cup.
"We sort of tried to go with one run," he said.
"She's a great hunter from behind, so we just wanted to go with one run and make it a real strong last 1000m and hopefully the best horse wins."
Ladies In Red's second-straight Queen of the Pacific lifted her prizemoney up over $1million and helped defend the Elizabeth Clarke Mares' Triple Crown title she also won in 2022.
She finished the three-leg series (Make Mine Cullen, Angelique Club Pace and Queen of the Pacific) on 21 points to be five clear of runner-up Rakero Rebel.
"She's a beautiful girl, she's played a big part in my life," Moran said.
"She's great to drive. She's good and she settles when she needs to and drops the bit, and when it's time to go, she goes.
"She knows what's she's doing, it's quite amazing."
Rakero Rebel and Amore Vita rounded out Saturday night's placings, with Stewart preparing five of the first six horses across the line.
Driven by Greg Sugars and trained by wife Jess Tubbs, Better Eclipse went one better than his 2022 performance in the Cogs Services 4YO and 5YO Championship to win the Group 3 event.
"He was pretty electric, I thought the leader had too good a run at the 400," Sugars explained on TrotsVision.
"When I asked for the effort just before straightening up, he just went into another gear and I though wow we're in with another chance here.
"He's a very talented horse - we know that - but at this level there's not much between them all."
Sugars combined with young trainer Leilani Justice to finish his night on a high, driving Deuce Coupe to a win in the final race on the card, the Centre State Printing 3YO Pace.
Although beaten in the Group 3 Championship, Kate and Andy Gath had a strong end to the evening with back-to-back winners. Terry managed to upset the favourite Ideal Escape with a dominant victory in the TAB Download The App Pace before Outlaw Man sat three-wide for much of the last lap to prevail in the Future Of Form Pace.
The theme of family didn't stop with the Gaths, with Diamond Eclipse winning The Big Screen Company 2 Metro Win Pace in a photo for trainer-driver father-son duo John and Matt Newberry.