Bruce Birch, aka 'Bam Bam' is chasing his dream this Sunday afternoon.
The New Zealand born horseman will take the lines behind outsider Only The Brave in the Group 1 $176,000 Australasian Breeders Crown Final for 3YO colts and geldings at Melton.
Only The Brave is raced by Birch's good friend Greg Mitchell and is prepared by Queensland's leading trainer/driver Grant Dixon who is currently battling chronic myeloid leukaemia.
Birch took the drive behind Only The Brave when successful in his Breeders Crown heat at Albion Park on June 30.
“I'm just happy to be helping out. Grant is going through tough times currently and I'm happy to help out where I can and a victory this weekend will go a long way to getting him back on track, it would mean a heck of a lot for all three of us.” Birch said.
Only The Brave qualified for Sunday's rich final after finishing an encouraging fifth in his semi-final last week behind Fly Like An Eagle, rising Kiwi star Zac Butcher got the late call up replacing Birch who was left stranded at the Gold Coast airport last Friday.
“It was so disappointing; Sydney had massive winds and that delayed most flights for the day and it became a real mess, basically, I was left at the airport just waiting but time wasn't on my side.
In the end, the horse qualified and that was the most important thing for everyone involved. His effort was very good given the circumstances of how the race unfolded and he recorded great sectional in a leader dominated race.
I'm sure he'll improve quite a lot on that run last week, he probably needs to take it up another notch again this weekend but we have a runner's chance and we'll take it.”
Birch is yet to drive at Melton.
Only The Brave has raced consistently throughout the season winning six of his 13 starts including the Group 3 $30,000 Slipnslide during the Brisbane Winter Carnival while finishing a close second in the Premiers Cup Final at the Gold Coast plus an unlucky fourth in the Queensland Derby behind Kiwi star Best Deal Yet.
The McArdle gelding was also competitive in a NSW Derby campaign finishing sixth in his heat behind Scandalman before running a close third the following week behind Philadelphia Man and Waldenburg.
“He's a pretty neat horse who has become better during the season, he might even surprise a few people this weekend. He doesn't know what price he is.
He should've finished closer in the Queensland Derby because he got blocked for room in the stretch, he was right on their backs.
The draw looks nasty on paper and I haven't spoken to Grant or Greg about our tactics just yet but we've got options because he's not one dimensional. The Kiwi's (Fly Like An Eagle & Texican) look the hardest to beat.”
Birch, enjoyed considerable success in North America during the nineties when driving for Noel Daley at the Meadowlands before returning to Australia in 2000.
“I arrived up there in 1996 and had a great time doing a lot of catch driving for Noel and many others but I returned home after getting married and setting up a business.
I drove horses like Kinney Hanover, Armbro Oliver and even Bad Bert in a Breeders Crown race, it was great to drive wicked fast horses like that but life changes all the time and I decided the Gold Coast was my new home.
My time here on the Gold Coast has been good, Greg has been awesome for me supplying me with horses and I'm happy working a small team. I'm recently remarried and I'm always looking forward and this Sunday will be great.”
The forty-year-old is expecting his first child later this year with his wife Elizabeth and a Breeders Crown trophy would be the second best addition to his life this year.
RACING Qld web news by Chris Barsby
Photo by Ross Stevenson