IT happens so often in racing that the underdog wins – that’s what makes it so special just having a runner in a big race. When you have a ticket, you have a chance!

In today’s TT Time Machine we focus on the 1200m Allan Robertson Fillies Futurity (R175,000), one of three Gr1 races run on Gilbeys Day (now Tsogo Sun Sprint Day), in 1988 and the one that provided the biggest upset of the day.

The race was won by 25-1 shot Girl On A Swing, trained by mid-table Johnny Dawson and ridden by young Justin Henson, who defeated Highland Game, Russian Feather and Sounds Of Light with the favourite Scented Royal (8-10) in fifth spot.

Girl On A Swing: Mom messed around with a Big Swinger.
Girl On A Swing: Mom messed around with a Big Swinger.

The interesting story behind the scenes was that Girl On A Swing was sired by the unfashionable Big Swinger (Persian Wonder), who had been demoted to “teaser” duties at Highlands Farm Stud.  He wasn’t considered good enough for the main stallion barn.

At the same time a certain mare, Delectable Day, was proving most difficult to get in foal and then stud manager Colin Tyler finally allowed her to run with Big Swinger in the paddock. The rest, well… is history.

Owner Graham Beck gave the born foal Girl On A Swing, an uncommercial proposition, to Johnny Dawson on lease as a two-year-old – with the understanding that she’d return to Highlands as a broodmare on completion of her career.

“What a pleasant surprise she has been,” said Dawson of the hard-galloping freebie.


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