‘She was dynamite’: remembering Hot Danish, punters’ princess

Tim Clark speaks to Asian Racing Report about his star mare Hot Danish, whose bombproof racing style and grit in a close finish made her greatly admired among Australian racing fans.

Hot Danish and Tim Clark take out the G1 All Aged Stakes. (Photo by Bronwen Healy/Sportpix)

Costa Rolfe



Few modern era Australian horses have been as universally adored as Hot Danish. 

And unlike other celebrated gallopers of her generation, Les Bridge’s mare even managed to win the hearts of some of the sport’s notoriously hard-to-sway observers: the punters. 

Winx and Black Caviar, for all their fanfare, became less and less betting propositions for the rank and file as their respective winning streaks grew. Champions yes, but pals to the everyman punter they were not.

Later the mercurial Chautauqua might have thrilled crowds more, but his get-back-run-on style wasn’t always conducive to a confident bet. 

Whobegotyou? More than a few never forgave that Derby defeat at the hands of 100-1 Rebel Raider. 

Hot Danish, on the other hand, was a punter’s dream. Her metronomic consistency and ever-present determination might be considered a Djokovic-like bore in many other sports. 

But somehow, in jumping well, travelling sweetly, trying bloody hard and, more often than not, winning, this mare evinced an entirely captivating personality. And ‘they’ loved her for it. 

“She had an unbelievably good pattern,” recalled Hot Danish’s regular rider Tim Clark, who partnered the daughter of Nothin’ Leica Dane to twelve of her thirteen stakes victories. 

“She would just make her own luck but on top of that she had the most wonderful will to win,” Clark told Asian Racing Report. 

“There were occasions when the chips were down and she needed to fight, and she was able to summon that extra effort.”


Les Bridge and Tim Clark, who sports the red and green 'Hot Danish' silks. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Hot Danish was purchased by Bridge for just $32,000 at the 2005 Inglis Scone Yearling Sale, and competed in the old red and green colours of the trainer’s other great love, rugby league’s South Sydney Rabbitohs. 

The presence of Bridge – first licenced in 1960 – only added to the Hot Danish story. This was a man who had already won a Melbourne Cup, a Golden Slipper and later, an Everest, as well as a place in the Australian Racing Hall of Fame, now afforded an extended, hard-earned place in the limelight. Bridge’s ever-present dark sunglasses spoke to its glare. 

“Les Bridge, he’s done it all and his record speaks for itself,” said Clark, who also enjoyed stakes success with other Bridge-trained mares Avoid Lightning and Jersey Lily.

“There’s not a lot in the game that he hasn’t achieved, and to keep achieving great things well into his seventies and eighties, he’s a marvel. We had a lot of success together and I’ve got a lot to thank him for, and just so much respect for him.”  

It appears Bridge knew that the red and green would be in front come the final whistle on the day Hot Danish debuted at Kembla Grange in September of 2006. As much as $6.00 was bet on-course; she jumped and won at $3.60. 

Master trainer Les Bridge. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Hot Danish won seven of her first eight starts, steered by Clark in all but her maiden. Still an apprentice at the time, Clark was taken by the filly’s power. 

“She was always a big strong mare but she was also very imposing from a young age, she always had an advantage from early on with that muscular physique.” 

Unbeaten in six starts between February of 2007 and March of 2008, including three Listed races and the Group 2 Emancipation Stakes, Hot Danish began to gain followers, attracted equally by the prospect of getting behind a ‘winner’ as they were her SPs of $2.45, $2.80, $4.00, $2.60, $2.80 and $1.80.

As the wins increased so did the pressure, but Clark wasn’t necessarily feeling it. 

“There’s always plenty of expectation on her, most of the time she went around favourite because she had such a big following and she was very well liked, and it always adds a little bit of pressure to it,” he said. 

“But she delivered so often though, as soon as I jumped onto her back I definitely grew a lot in confidence, she made me feel at ease. She just had that aura about her that calmed you.” 

Looking to acquire picket fence number seven when tackling her first Group 1 assignment in the Coolmore Classic, Hot Danish would taste defeat for the first time in over a year, finishing a brave second behind Eskimo Queen on Rosehill’s Heavy 10 surface. 

That spring Hot Danish was given her first experience of racing the Melbourne way of going and duly delivered, claiming the G2 Salinger Stakes for Danny Nikolic an hour-and-a-half after ‘Whobe’ was upset in the Victoria Derby.

Hot Danish wins on Derby Day at Flemington. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

She returned the following autumn to take out the G2 Breeders Classic (1200m), a race which was renamed in her honour in 2019, and the Listed Wiggle Stakes (1400m), adding to what was becoming a hugely impressive fresh record. 

For Clark, it wasn’t so much that Hot Danish was a superior horse first-up or second-up, but that earlier in her preparations she was allowed to compete at her truly pet distances. 

“1200 metres to 1400 metres was right in her sweet spot. She was still good enough to stretch out and win over a mile, but fresh 1200 metres, she was just dynamite.”

Next came another Group 1 second in the Queen of the Turf, again on a Heavy 10. And as more racing preparations unfolded, Hot Danish continued to win, but not at the highest level. 

She had been beaten in her seven previous Group One attempts – including three times as the bridesmaid – when the long-awaited breakthrough came in the All Aged Stakes of 2010.

“For her to finally get her Group 1, that was pretty special,” recalled Clark.  

“She got beat in a few other Group 1s where she was expected to win, but I believe she was really hindered by heavy tracks. 

“She never won on a heavy and though she did get those two Group 1s in the end, I feel that her Group 1 record would look even better if it wasn’t for those really wet tracks.” 

It is not necessarily the All Aged, or the G1 Doomben 10,000 that the pair combined to win just over a month later, that Clark remembers most fondly. 

“Her last ever win was in The Shorts, and that was one of those days where she didn’t feel like she was ever going to win, but she found a way to get herself up off the canvas and get her head in front on the line,” he said of Hot Danish’s narrow, lunging defeat of Whitefriars and Shellscrape in October 2010. 

“It’s almost like she knew that she was going to the well one final time to make sure of one last win.”

Hot Danish raced four more times after The Shorts before suffering a leg injury in a Randwick barrier trial win in March of 2011. The leg however became infected and after prolonged treatment at Randwick Equine Centre, Hot Danish was euthanased on Sunday April 17, just a day after Clark landed a Randwick Group 1 double via Sacred Choice in the Doncaster and Atomic Force in The Galaxy.

Tim Clark returns to scale atop Doncaster winner Sacred Choice. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Clark credits the mare who accumulated 16 wins and $2.3 million in prizemoney for playing a key role in much of his own subsequent success. 

“Partnering her in those big races, each and every carnival, not only did she help me establish myself in Sydney but she probably made me learn to cope with the pressure that comes with riding a well-supported horse in top races. And that’s held me in good stead since.” 




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