Dakota Lee breaks 24-year Alice Springs track record

Terry Gillett
Trainer Terry Gillett and jockey Stan Tsaikos, pictured after winning the Pioneer Sprint (1200m) with Supreme Attraction during the 2023 Alice Springs Cup Carnival, combined once again on Sunday as Dakota Lee claimed victory at Pioneer Park. (Picture: Nikki Westover Photography)

Not only did trainer Terry Gillett celebrate a winning treble at Alice Springs on Sunday, but his star sprinter Dakota Lee also broke a long-standing track record.

The five-year-old mare kept her unbeaten Pioneer Park record alive with victory in an open handicap where she won by 3.7 lengths and ran the fastest-ever 1200m in the Red Centre.

The Lynne Williams-trained High Revs stopped the clock at 1:07.91 in the Pioneer Sprint (1200m) during the 2000 Alice Springs Cup Carnival, with Dakota Lee setting a new mark of 1:07.85.

It was a shot in the arm for Gillett, as the daughter of Kuroshio has attracted unfortunate headlines for the two years when she refused to enter the gates after developing claustrophobia.

After winning seven straight at the start of her career, Dakota Lee was scratched from the 2022 NT Guineas (1600m) when she wouldn’t load.

The issue only persisted, and it was 22 months before she returned to racing when ninth in a 1000m BM64 at Moonee Valley in February.

Jumping as the $2.60 favourite with online bookmakers on Sunday, Dakota Lee shared the early lead when she sat outside Castlereagh Lid before jockey Stan Tsaikos edged clear at the 700m, and from that point it was all over as a contest.

The Greg Connor-trained Flying Start ($13), Alice Springs’ Horse of the Year in 2022, was returning from an 11-month spell and impressed by finishing second, while Gillett’s Supreme Times ($8) was third.

Speculation will only intensify as to whether or not Gillett will send Dakota Lee to Darwin for the Palmerston Sprint (1200m) in August.

It was another win for trainer Gillett and Tsaikos when Altar Boy, a $1.28 favourite, kicked clear at the 500m to overcome Will Savage’s Fantasy Eagle ($5.50) and Ray Viney’s Zoustorm ($19) by 2.9 lengths in a 1400m 0-58 affair.

It was back-to-back wins for Altar Boy, formerly based in Townsville, with the four-year-old gelding setting a new class record of 1:22.20 — eclipsing the previous mark of 1:22.33 set by Texas Miller four years ago.

Gillett looked on as Li’lmissprancealot ($8.50), ridden by Dakota-Lee Gillett, led from start to finish to win the 1400m maiden by 3.7 lengths.

It took Li’lmissprancealot, who jumped from the inside gate, 12 starts to break the ice, with the four-year-old mare proving too good for Savage’s Becquerel ($3.50) and Lisa Whittle’s Another Val ($3.30 fav).

Gillett (22) now sits one win adrift of leader Paul Gardner in the 2023/24 Alice Springs trainers’ premiership.

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