Art ‘N’ Ollie stormed to a one-and-a-half length win in the Gooree Park Wines 10th Birthday Celebration Benchmark 65 Showcase Handicap (1200m) at Mudgee, beating home a class field, some of which are eyeing off the Western Country Championship heat at Dubbo next month.
Making the win even more special, Dean Mirfin’s chestnut mare managed to salute in front of Artie and Ollie, the five-year-old winner’s namesakes.
The owners’ young grand children, Artie and Ollie Baxter enjoyed the impressive win by their favourite mare at the Mudgee Race Club on Sunday.
As did Mirfin, who admits the mare was very nearly put to stud before one last preparation.
Sunday’s first-up win over the likes of Justin Stanley’s Coming In Hot and Clint Lundholm’s pair Joey’s Destiny and Tuncoona – three contenders in next month’s Western heat – justifying Mirfin’s call for another crack.
“I am happy, this is great,” Mirfin said post race.
“She’s a mare that’s had a few issues in the past, a few feet problems and there was a chance she was going to go to stud.
“But we decided to give her one more preparation ... and a win first up is fantastic.”
Prepared out of Mirfin’s stables at Bathurst, Art ‘N’ Ollie lined up for her 26th start in Sunday’s showcase meeting at Mudgee and to work for position nearly as hard as she did the win.
Drawing wide at barrier nine, jockey Aaron Bullock had to guide the five-year-old $4.60 hope in field, and did so sublimely.
It gifted Mirfin’s mare a rail’s run, one she held on to from about the 600m mark to secure a sixth career win, and first this preparation after a 26 week spell.
“She’s a fast little mare and she’s brave, they’re good horses today, it’s a good effort,” Mirfin added.
“It’s Aaron’s first ride had for me and he was perfect, great ride.”