WHEN Georges Plains trainer-driver Bernie Hewitt saw the draws he copped for Saturday night’s NSW Breeders Challenge Blue finals at Menangle Park, he was left feeling deflated.
However, he was soon feeling a whole lot better.
Both Our Little Digger (barrier eight) and Taylors Reason (barrier 10) overcame their tricky draws as Hewitt guided them to victory in their respective three-year-old finals which held Group 2 status.
To make it that little bit sweeter, the wins came in back-to-back races.
“It was a real good night. The whole lot of my team that night all drew terrible, so my confidence was down a bit,” Hewitt said.
“To win those two races within half an hour of each other was a great feeling. I’ve won a lot of Group 2s over the years and that was my fifth Breeders Blue win.”
The NSW Breeders Challenge Blue series is open to horses whose sire and dam are both based in the state. With the three-year-old finals offering a $51,000 purse, they attracted quality fields.
Our Little Digger, an Always A Virgin x Thewesternbelle gelding, started as a $20.10 chance in the 1,609 metres three-year-old colts and geldings decider.
Hewitt drove him out hard and managed to find a sit on the back of $1.60 favourite Geldof.
The leader scorched through a 25.9 seconds opening sectional which strung the field out over 15 lengths, but Hewitt had Our Little Digger in good position.
Into the home straight Our Little Digger pulled out of the trail and with 100m to go, had the lead. He went on to win by 2.3m over Geldof, clocking a hot 1:52.8 mile rate.
“I had to burn him out wide from the barrier to get into a position, he was able to get on the leader’s back,” Hewitt said.
“When you burn them off a wide draw often that takes a lot out of them, they don’t get back up for air. But the secret was to get that trail and get that cushy run and he actually drew himself out when they turned for home, he wanted to run.
“I knew with the way he’d been running that he’d run a strong last 400. If I hadn’t driven him aggressive, he would’ve been up the back of the field and caught wide.”
Following that success, Hewitt was back in the gig behind Taylors Reason ($6.60) in the three-year-old fillies final (1,609m).
He again used her gate speed and found a sit outside the leader before making her charge down the straight. She took the lead with 200m to run then held off Ell Yeah ($3.30 favourite) to win by a half-neck in 1:55.8.
“I worked her forward too, but didn’t go out so hard. It took a while to find position outside the leader, but I didn’t have to hustle or bustle her,” Hewitt said. “She did well to hold them off in the end, there were a lot of good horses in it.”