Pacing queen Ladies In Red impressed at the Melton trials last night as a warm-up for the biggest test of her stellar career so far.

She charged home into second behind gifted stablemate Honolua Bay to be beaten just 2.5m in a slick 54.57sec last half.

For Ladies In Red, it was an important step towards the $305,000 Group 1 Rising Sun at Albion Park on July 9.

She will tackle the race first-up and potentially stay up north for the Group 1 Golden Girl a week later.

Despite Ladies In Red’s greatness, owner-breeder Bill Anderson said everyone involved was acutely aware of how hard it can be for a four-year-old mare to take on the boys.

“There’s a real chance this (the Rising Sun) could be the only time she races the boys this season,” he said.

“Emma and Clayton were surprised we accepted and wanted to give the Rising Sun a go when they rang saying she’d been invited.

“I’ll be honest, the fact Amazing Dream beat the boys to win it last year was the key. Anne (Anderson, Bill’s wife) said if Amazing Dream can do then Ladies In Red can too.

“We prefer to protect our horses and not over race them, Poster Boy only had 30 starts and this mare has only raced 22 times.”

Anderson effectively ruled out chasing races like the Victoria Cup or Inter Dominion, despite it being in Victoria this season.

“They aren’t on the radar. There are the three big ones for her after Queensland … the Queen of the Pacific, Breeders Crown and Vicbred, all against her own sex.

“We know how hard it is for mares to match it with the boys at the top open-class level and there’s no need to ask that of her, especially not this year.”

Excitingly, despite the Andersons’ passion for breeding, they are in no rush to whisk Ladies In Red off to become a mum.

“No, we don’t need any more broodmares in a hurry,” he said. “If she keeps racing well, you could see her for another two or three seasons yet.”

And we will keep seeing her here, despite persistent interest from the US.

“They keep asking and we keep saying no,” he said. “We had another call about buying her recently.”

Ladies In Red’s 18 wins (and four seconds) from just 22 starts and the way she’s won some of the big ones has many saying she’s the best filly we’ve seen in Australia for 20 years.

The great Tailamade Lombo was able to match it with the boys at Grand Circuit level, but only time will tell if Ladies In Red is even tested there.

And that’s why the Rising Sun could be such a rare opportunity to see her against the boys.

While Ladies In Red won’t be chasing the Victoria Cup or Inter Dominion, Honolua Bay is thrilling Stewart and Tonkin on the comeback trail from a quarter crack and is being set for both.

“We’re getting fantastic reports on him. They’re saying he could’ve gone to another level again,” Bill said.

“He’s really special and he’s shown everyone a glimpse of that already.”

The opinions expressed in The Forum are those of the author and may not be attributed to or represent policies of Harness Racing Victoria, which is the state authority and owner of