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Unbeaten filly on the way to the Sunshine State

3 minute read

A mooted North Queensland trip is off the cards for boom dirt filly Dakota Lee but her future will eventually be in the Sunshine State.

The star juvenile of the Northern Territory is unbeaten in seven trips to the races.

She would have faced the starter more than seven times by now if not for her barrier manner concerns, as she was scratched as the odds-on favourite before the $50,000 NT Guineas over a mile at Alice Springs earlier this year.

Trained by Terry Gillett, Dakota Lee was set to be passed by stewards in a barrier trial to resume her promising career on Tuesday of this week, before heading to FNQ to race on Monday.

She was handed 62kgs for a QTIS Three-Year-Old Handicap at Cairns' Cannon Park but the trip was canned on Tuesday after she did not pass her barrier test.

"Eventually I will get her to Queensland," Gillett said on Wednesday afternoon.

"It was not her fault what happened on Tuesday but I cannot get her another barrier trial here in Alice Springs for a couple of weeks.

"Something like this only happens to the good horses.

"This is the only chink in her armour at the moment."

While she was nominated for Cairns' Cannon Park, the daughter of Kuroshio was more likely to be seen at Townsville's Cluden Park later this month over 1000 metres if she had been given the tick of approval by NT stewards.

"She is big and strong and is just hesitant to go into the barriers at first," her trainer says.

"She does not kick or do anything like that, she is just stubborn."

When the dirt star is passed to again return to the races, she will eventually end up in the care of Gold Coast trainer John Smerdon.

With Gillett preparing a team of 16 in Central Australia, he has an array of responsibilities at home and will leave his progressive filly with the experienced Smerdon.

A former jockey, Gillett rode in Sydney for some time and believes his filly is as good as any he rode in NSW, which included horses who went on to be competitive at black-type level.

Having only competed on the dirt track at Alice Springs' Pioneer Park, Gillett thinks her true test will come when she faces higher level opposition on the grass.

"She will get to John's at some time," Gillett said.

"She will go to Adelaide on Friday to a mate of mine's place and he will play around with her in the barriers – hopefully, she can then trial at Gawler – and then she can head to Queensland after that.

"I have a big opinion of her but she has never been on grass before and I have seen a lot of good dirt horses over the years not go well on grass."

The impressive filly is named after Gillett's daughter - Dakota-Lee Gillett – who is an aspiring jockey that is nearing her first race rides of her career.

Dakota-Lee recently completed trial rides at Rockhampton and is set to add more to her tally next week at Beaudesert – where she is riding for Smerdon – and Townsville on the Friday.

Dakota-Lee has spent time with Carl Spry and Sarah Acornley in Townsville as well as with John Manzelmann in Mackay in recent weeks as she gains more experience ahead of her debut race rides.


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