By Andrew Adermann
Brisbane Lions defender Darcy Gardiner is among the high-profile owners of Miracle Mile contender, Code Bailey, but his AFL commitments will ensure he misses tomorrow night’s million-dollar feature at Menangle.
With Brisbane fixtured to meet Carlton in a pre-season clash in Melbourne, Gardiner is resigned to learning the result through his phone, with Code Bailey presently listed as a $5.50 chance with TAB.
Having recently been named in the Lions’ 2020 leadership group, the 24-year-old is all too aware that the scheduling conflict will result in an unavoidable clash.
“I did look ahead in the calendar and saw that if this race was a possibility it wasn’t going to line up, but unfortunately I can’t pull a sickie this week,” Gardiner said.
Speaking to RadioTAB this morning, Gardiner conceded he had little interest in harness racing until close friend and former teammate, Lewis Taylor, introduced him to trainer and family friend, Margaret Lee.
“I got involved through Lewy who was up here playing for the Lions for a long time, and he is from down near Terang (in Victoria) where the Lee family stable operate,” Gardiner said.
“He did a bit of work there before he moved up to Brisbane and is really close with that family, and I met them all through Lewy and over time, we started to get a few horses with them.”
The five-year-old Code Bailey has built an impressive resume in his career, notching up 17 wins and 16 minor placings from 44 starts.
This preparation alone has seen him take out both the Bendigo and Terang Cups before an impressive second place to fellow Kiwi and current Miracle Mile favourite, King of Swing, in the Group 1 Allied Express Sprint last weekend saw him qualify for Saturday’s feature.
“When he took out the Bendigo Cup, the way he won that we just didn’t expect that to happen at all and it was a pretty special feeling,” Gardiner said.
“He’s in terrific form, so we can’t fault him and from all reports he’s ticking along nicely and pulled up well from the week before so he’ll be right in it.
“He’s got not the best gate nor the worst gate so he’ll have a good challenge on his hands, especially early in the race.”
The time-honoured Miracle Mile is one of Australia’s richest harness races, and very few performances stand out more in recent times than Christian Cullen’s devastating 20 metre win in 1998.
In what can only be described as a true omen leading into this year’s iteration, Christian Cullen is Code Bailey’s sire.
“I didn’t realise he was the dad until last night when I was watching the preview show,” Gardiner said.
“They showed that replay of Christian Cullen’s win, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that it will be a replay of that race.”
You can be rest assured that Darcy will be sneaking a look on his phone when’s back in the change rooms post-game, followed by a screening of the full race replay at his earliest possible convenience.
Much to coach Chris Fagan’s despair, a few of Gardiner’s teammates will most likely be hovering over his shoulder in anticipation of the result noting that he spruiks his prized runner to anyone and everyone who will listen.
“You can’t keep everyone happy and there’ll always be someone you forget to tell that it’s running along the way but when they win the big ones it’s hard to not want to talk and get pretty excited about it,” Gardiner said.
“I’m hoping we can get it up on the big screen on a projector or something back in the hotel room after the game.
“There’s a few that enjoy following it with me, so we should get a good crowd.”