Entertainment icon has a reason to smile

It’s a long way from Moonee Ponds, but Barry Humphries was happy to make the trip. 

The iconic entertainer had never been to Kembla Grange before Saturday, but will never forget his first visit to the Illawarra racecourse.

Humphries – the mastermind behind Dame Edna Everage – was on track to see his first ever winner as a racehorse owner.

 Entertainer Barry Humphries celebrated his first winner when Dante Rossetti saluted at Kembla Grange. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

Entertainer Barry Humphries celebrated his first winner when Dante Rossetti saluted at Kembla Grange. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

A bold front-running ride from jockey Blake Spriggs saw the Humphries part-owned Dante Rossetti score in the Sutherland Shire Tile Supplies 3YO Maiden Plate (1400m). 

“It's a unique feeling,” Humphries said.

“It's my first horse and it's very, very nice indeed.”

The victory provided just as much buzz for Spriggs, who led all the way on Dante Rossetti.

“It’s not often that you get to ride for an Australian Icon,” the Group 1 winning jockey said.

“I have ridden for the Sheikh and my biggest owner is Paul Fudge, who is a very good business man in this country.

“But to ride for someone who has been an icon ever since I was a kid in Barry Humphries. That was very exciting. To see the smile on his face and how happy he was to have a winner here at Kembla.

“He has obviously been very successful all over the world and to see him with a smile on his face like that shows what racing is all about.”

Spriggs allowed Dante Rossetti ($6) to roll along under his on steam out in front.

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He edged the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott trained galloper off the fence heading into the straight and quickly put a gap on his rivals.

Boomtown Rat ($9.50) made up ground along the fence, but couldn’t bridge the gap to the winner.

Bullet Shot ($3) also closed off well, but Spriggs’ bold front-running display had already stolen the race by that stage. 

“Gai said to me this morning to ride him like a Gai Waterhouse horse like I did when I was apprentice,” Spriggs said.

“We bounced him straight to the front. He was very raw when he got to the front. He still has a lot to learn and spotted the cars that the stewards park in and wanted to run away from the fence.

“He won like a horse that is very progressive. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him get to Saturday class or maybe a bit better."

Dante Rossetti was purchased from the draft of Widden Stud at the 2016 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale by Gai Waterhouse and Julian Blaxland for $200,000.

Copy: Mitch Cohen, Illawarra Mercury