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Hall of Fame

In the long history of horse sports, you would have to delve deep into the most cob-webbed archives to find a more unusual success story than that of 1990s wonder mare, Norms Daughter.

Tiny and bad-tempered to a fault as a baby – and with a propensity to trot rather than pace – she was destined for the knackery until Bunbury trainer, Neil Lloyd, convinced owner, Dave Palmer, to let him try to tame the filly.

Palmer had inherited the horse who was at foot to her mother, Aeroflight, from his late father and given she was by boom sire, Northern Lights, there was cause to be patient but she had a terrible habit of throwing herself down in tantrums. A robust little bay, she quickly earned the sobriquet of “Dot”, but her problems were all big.  

Neill Lloyd struggled for months to get her to pace properly, but it was a very gradual process and Dave Palmer again suggested a visit to the knackery might be in order.  Lloyd sensed there was more to the filly though and pleaded for clemency yet again.  He was granted six more weeks, in which time he tinkered with the horse’s shoeing.  Then something clicked and what followed could easily be described as the manifestation of a miracle.

The two-year-old Norms Daughter began to run very fast indeed.  She was still unruly though and it would be as a three-year-old that she would make her debut.  First, however, she went around in an educational trial at Bunbury, where she rated a flat two minutes.  Twenty-five years ago that was unheard of.  Then, in January 1994, she ran similar time in her initial race start at Bunbury, where she sat outside the odds-on favourite, Ok Holmes and bolted in by over three lengths.

This brutal, take-no-prisoners technique would rapidly become her trademark. Aggression matched by toughness and this would never be a horse to be driven pretty.  She would only ever produce her best when applying all the pressure in a race, leaving no stone unturned and “blood on the floor”.

In her next few outings, Dot mixed finding a way to lose due to galloping like Mount Eden, with winning by big spaces in scintillating times.

She won the Country Derby and a WA Oaks Preview before facing her first major challenge.

The great Victorian trainer-reinsman, Ted Demmler, a polished, meticulous professional who always looked the part as well, brought the gleaming, perfectly behaved, flawless-gaited and gifted filly, My Cherie to WA for an easy kill in the Oaks.  She had already won the Edgar Tatlow Stakes, Victoria Sire Stakes and Victoria Oaks in a dominant three-year-old season.  Demmler, though, was to leave Perth shattered and shaking his head in disbelief.

My Cherie, favourite at odds-on, led easily while Norms Daughter galloped from the mobile before circling the field to attack and bludgeon the Victorian into abject submission in the Group One classic. It was arrogant and it was inspiring and it was accompanied by the three-year-old track record.  

After a luckless fourth in the WA Derby, Norms Daughter was spelled having won six of her ten starts in her tyro season of racing.

At four, with her manners still improving, Dot won another six races including the WA Four-and-Five-Year-Old Championship.  

An elite four-horse field contested this event.  The runner-up was Southern Knight, soon to finish second in the WA Pacing Cup.  Flashing Star, who had beaten Southern Knight into second in the previous season’s Golden Nugget final, was the third horse home, while Highfield Jewel, who’d won eleven of his twelve starts to this point, finished last of the quartet.

Norms Daughter also finished a gallant and narrow second in the 1995 Golden Nugget to Slick Vance.
Until now, Norms Daughter had been piloted by a variety of drivers but in the horse’s five-year-old season, Kellie Kersley would make the drive her own.  

Dot would win eight races that year, all in fast class, and she would ascend the throne to become queen of Australian harness racing.

There were many great highlights.

She defeated the new Golden Nugget champion, Beefy T in her second Four-and-Five-Year-Old Championship win.  She won a WA Pacing Cup prelude and she won an Inter Dominion heat at Gloucester Park.  

In that race she lowered Village Kid’s 2100 metre state record mile rate to 1.56.0, sitting outside of and defeating N.S.W. legend, Our Sir Vancelot, who would retire with three Inter Dominions and two WA Pacing Cups under his belt, amongst other majors.  

Showing how much their paths had parted, My Cherie ran stone last in the same heat.

Norms Daughter also finished sixth in the WA Pacing Cup final, fifth in the Inters final, fourth in the Fremantle Cup, third in the Victoria Cup, third in the N.S.W. Four-and-Five-Year-Old Championship and second in the Ladyship Mile to sensational mare, Sabilize.

But her greatest moment was saved for last.

After winning the Qantas Sprint at Harold Park, downing the brilliant Il Vicolo in 1.55.6, Norms Daughter led throughout on a choppy track to record the same time and beat the same horse in a stupendous annexation of the 1996 Miracle Mile.

In victory she became just the second mare to win the race after inaugural champion, Robin Dundee (1967).  It was a huge night too for Kellie Kersley, who was now the first female to steer home the winner of any Grand Circuit race, never mind a Miracle Mile.

At six, Norms Daughter won the Fremantle Members Sprint first-up, earning her a second Miracle Mile invite.  In that quest she won the Ladyship Mile at her subsequent run, reversing the decision on the previous year’s winner, Sabilize.

She ran fourth to Iraklis in the Miracle Mile, which was won in a blistering race record 1.54.2.

After a third, a week later, behind Our Sir Vancelot in the Treuer Memorial, Norms Daughter came back to Perth and after winning a WA Cup prelude, ran a brave second in the final, again to her great adversary, Our Sir Vancelot.
Six weeks further on Dot took out a heat of the Adelaide Inter Dominion, before pulling up sore on night two.

She never raced again, her wonderful record stalled at fifty-nine starts for twenty-four wins, eleven placings and earnings of almost $585,000.

3 Year Old                             
WA Country Derby (G3)
WA Oaks (Preview)
WA Oaks Final  (G1)
4 Year Old                             
WA 4 & 5 YO Championship (G3)
1995 2nd Golden Nugget Final (G1)
5 Year Old                             
WA Pacing Cup (Prelude)
Inter Dominion (Heat) (G3)
WA 4 & 5 YO Championship (G3)
Qantas Sprint 
Miracle Mile (G1)
3rd Victoria Cup (G1)
2nd Ladyship Mile (G1)
6 Year Old                             
Fremantle Members Sprint (G3)
Ladyship Mile (G1)
3rd Treuer Memorial (G1)
Inter Dominion (Heat) (G3)
WA Pacing Cup (Prelude) 
2nd WA Pacing Cup Final (G1)

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