David Polkinghorne August 18, 2012
Brendan Ward guides Party Dress to victory in the benchmark 65 at Thoroughbred Park on Friday. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
It was a good thing jockey Brendan Ward guided Party Dress to victory at Thoroughbred Park yesterday given co-owner Tom Hughes was in the crowd.
Ward had Party Dress beautifully placed to salute in the benchmark 64 handicap (1206 metres) at Canberra, pulling two lengths clear of favourite Material Matters, who was half a neck in front of third-placed Peekay.
Peekay led the field going into the home turn but couldn't hold off the fast-finishing Party Dress, but did hold on to third from Fair Call in a head bob.
Hughes's resume would have had most of the field that braved awful conditions at Thoroughbred Park, which included snow, covered.
He was a former Attorney-General of Australia, was the federal Liberal member for Parkes and Berowra and was a fighter pilot in World War II.
His heroics at the invasion of Normandy earned him the French Legion d'honneur and he was also made an officer of the Order of Australia for his services to the legal profession.
His daughter, Lucy, is married to former leader of the Liberal Party, Malcolm Turnbull.
Ward might have found himself the subject of an interrogation if he hadn't performed.
But he did everything right, much to the delight of both Hughes and trainer Bernie Howlett.
Howlett said Party Dress had no luck last start, when the Mossman four-year-old was boxed in and could only manage sixth to Dab Touch in a benchmark 65 handicap (1206m).
''If you read the stewards report she was hopelessly pocketed and didn't get a go at them, so she was ridden a perfect race today by Brendan and I daresay that's the difference,'' he said.
''She's a really good little filly but she needs to be on top of the ground … today I think she showed that she's back to her best. [Ward] wasn't here last meeting and I told him she was hopelessly pocketed and was a good thing beaten.''
Howlett thought Party Dress was city class, but needed a firm track to perform at her best.
''She's up to taking to Sydney but while the tracks are ordinary there's no point,'' Howlett said. ''She'll probably have a little bit of a break soon for the spring time and save her to come back in the summer.''