Australia’s staying queen in waiting, Ariarne Bale, got the proverbial Group 1 “monkey off the back” for ‘Team Gibbons’ in last month’s Fanta Bale Super Stayers.
And, if you’ll pardon the pun, she won’t be ‘monkeying around’ in the $178,600 G1 Sky Racing Galaxy (715m) final – Race 6, 11.32pm – at Cannington in Perth on Saturday night.
Trained at Avalon by Daniel Gibbons, Ariarne Bale has quite fittingly been in her own ‘galaxy far, far away’ lately.
Paradoxically, her progression through middle distance and staying ranks has been more gradual than ‘intergalactic’.
However, in the past few months, Ariarne Bale – named after Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus (reigning Olympic champion in the women’s 200m and 400m freestyle) – has made a ‘big splash’ among the sport’s elite ‘pool’ of stayers.
She recently contested the G1 Zoom Top, finishing sixth, and has won six of her past eight starts – including the Super Stayers on Australian Cup night.
But it should also be noted that late last year Ariarne Bale reached the finals of the G1 Sale Cup (4th), Sale Distance Championship (2nd) and Listed Cup Night Stayers (2nd). She was also runner-up in the G2 Sydney Cup in September.
Yes, she has travelled a ‘light years’ since finishing fourth (at her fifth start) in the G3 Country Championship on Australian Cup night 2022.
And her last-to-first performance in a Galaxy heat, clocking 41.93sec, was simply ‘out of this world’.
So much so, that Ariarne Bale (Box 5 – $2.80) is on Sportsbet’s second line of betting – behind fastest heat winner and local star Couch Surfer (Box 4 – $2.40), which semaphored 41.89sec – for the $125,000 to-the-winner final.
NSW staying sweetheart Stagger Out Lee (Box 1 – $4.50), which won her heat in 41.97sec, is the only other runner under double-figure odds.
Gibbons was gobsmacked with Ariarne Bale’s phenomenal heat display: “It was enormous. I was just praying she’d get into second or third and just do enough to qualify for the final. I was blown away.”
And Gibbons has his own theory on Ariarne Bale’s ‘improvement’ – from a G1 perspective.
“It’s mainly confidence, and she’s also getting smarter. She never used to move around greyhounds; she’d just cling to the rail. She’s gone to another level.”
Gibbons is also not too fazed about Ariarne Bale landing the ‘visitor’s alley’.
“If she comes out last, like last week, then the ‘yellow’ is not going to matter.
“It’ll just be a case of weaving her way through the field. Strangely, I believe it will benefit her if she does miss the start.
“But I think Stagger Out Lee is the main danger. I don’t know why she’s always so underrated.”
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Gibbons advised that Ariarne Bale had pulled up well after winning her heat.
“However, she was a little flat after the flight home on Sunday night. But she’s ready to go now.”
Ariarne Bale (Jul ’20 Feral Franky x Dyna Zesty) has notched 14 wins, 10 seconds and seven thirds from 53 starts and $246,110 in prizemoney.
“She’s been in the background, doing it quietly. But during the past couple of months, she’s shown us what she can really do,” Gibbons exclaimed.
Pawnote: Chris Halse, who prepares Couch Surfer (winner of his past nine races) is also caretaker trainer of First Picked – trained in Victoria by Tim Britton. First Picked qualified for the final when second to Stagger Out Lee.
WATCH: ARIARNE BALE (B2) stages a herculean effort with an incredible last-to-first Galaxy heat victory.