VINDICATED – According to the dictionary, Vindicated is to get revenge for; avenge; to uphold or justify by argument or evidence.
In 1988, Bob and Vin Knight got the exact vindication they wanted when Our Maestro outclassed a star studded Inter Dominion field at Harold Park.
Making the trip to Sydney from their Kilmore home with a point to prove, the Knights clearly achieved the objective on March 18.
The basis of the Knights’ frame of mind stemmed from the fact Our Maestro had been overlooked for the Miracle Mile just a few months earlier – which left the father and son combination “so irate.”
While they may have arrived in an indifferent mood, the duo certainly left in high spirits.
But the scenario wasn’t as clear cut as it sounds, with Our Maestro beaten during the first two rounds.
Caught three-wide early in his opening heat, Our Maestro was taken to the ‘death seat’ before gaining cover from Quite Famous.
Soon after, in what proved to be the winning move, Chris Lewis dashed Village Kid around the field to take the lead from Gay Adam.
Proving too slick for his younger rivals, Village Kid scored by two metres from Gay Adam, with Our Stretto 16 metres away third.
Despite gaining a handy run in the one-one, Our Maestro was three metres away fourth.
Soon after returning to scale, however, Vin revealed the stallion had dragged a flat tyre for the last 1100 metres, adding credence to his effort.
Other heats conducted that night were won by Luxury Liner, Jay Bee’s Fella and Whirley Dream.
Four nights later, Our Maestro finished second to Rufus Young Blood, which led throughout for trainer-driver, Dick Lee.
Receiving the one-one trip again, Our Maestro quickly ranged up to the pacemaker on the home turn, but was unable to seal the victory.
Local performer, Tiff’s Mystery, was three metres away third.
Continuing his top form, Jay Bee’s Fella emerged triumphant again, with fellow Western Australian, Palimar, also successful.
The Knights finally opened their account when Bag Limit beat Robber John and Our Stretto.
Bag Limit then returned to the winners’ circle after his third round qualifier, with Palimar and Karalta Gift coming up trumps in their heats.
The evening belonged to the Knights, however, with Our Maestro finally revealing his true colours.
Showing blistering speed to lead from barrier three, Our Maestro careered away from his rivals in the straight to score by seven metres from Luxury Liner.
Our Maestro’s win also provided Vin with his 11th Inter Dominion heat success, breaking Perc Hall’s record, Vin then made it 12 with Bag Limit.
Securing his place in the $400,000 Final, Our Maestro presented Vin with a dilemma – stick with his ‘old mate’ Bag Limit, or partner the new kid on the block.
Despite drawing gate six – the outside of the front row – Vin elected to partner Bag Limit, the 15/4 favourite.
That paved the way for John Binskin to receive the ‘catch drive’ behind Our Maestro, which had drawn ideally in barrier two.
“I don’t know if I am pulling the right rein choosing to drive Baggy over Maestro,” Vin said. “It is the Inter and it hasn’t been my luckiest race.”
History shows Vin pulled the wrong rein, with Our Maestro leading throughout at 7/1.
Rated to perfection by Binskin, Our Maestro found plenty in the straight to score by two metres from Palimar. Tiff’s Mystery, the lone local, was three metres away third.
Rating 2:01.3 for the 2700 metres, the son of Gaines Minbar broke the track record.
Thrilled with his chance to shine, Binskin was also sympathetic to Vin, who finished last after Bag Limit raced in the ‘death seat’.
“I feel sorry for VJ,” Binskin declared. “He always thought Maestro could do it, but he had to drive Baggy – he loves him.”
Vin admitted to having mixed emotions about the outcome.
“I feel elated that Maestro has won, but it’s pretty disappointing not to be in the cart,” Vin said. “I’m not sure really what I feel.”
Sadly, Vin never got the chance to experience the joy of winning the Inter Dominion despite capturing a record 18 heats – 16 with pacers and two with trotters.
In a case of déjà vu, Vin partnered Our Maestro in the 1989 Perth Final, only to finish second behind stablemate, Jodie’s Babe, which was driven by Scott Stewart.
Vin was also runner-up with Popular Alm in 1983, and Thor Lobell in ‘84. In 1982, Popular Alm was third behind Rhett’s Law.
As for Our Maestro, he will be honoured at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night as part of the Melbourne-based/Victorian-trained Inter Dominion winners feature race circuit.
A handy field has assembled to contest the 2240-metre clash, with Philadelphia Man the most intriguing runner.
Once touted as a Grand Circuit performer, Philadelphia Man will be first-up from a 31-month absence from the track.
The Emma Stewart-trained stallion hasn’t race since injuring himself in the December 2015 Inter Dominion.
Philadelphia Man won two heats and finished second in another leading into the Final.
Given his pending start is in a preferential draw, Philadelphia Man will begin from the outside of the second row.
“He has come up really well and I’m pleased with where he is at,” Stewart said. “At this stage he is as fit as he can be without racing, but is in need of the run.
“He will improve for the outing and will take a few starts to get to his peak, but the main focus at the moment if just getting him through Saturday night.”