Grand staying mare Dame Claire did all the donkey work chasing the runaway leader but she still posted her second stakes win in the Listed R M Ansett Classic (2400m) at Mornington.

Dame Claire went into the race in reasonable for after producing a solid midfield effort in the Group 2 Stocks Stakes at Moonee Valley on September 15 before stepping up to 2400 metres on her home track.

The weights of the race worked against Dame Claire after the five-year-old ended up with 58kg to carry but the daughter of Danehill Dancer showed plenty of heart to add the R M Ansett Classic trophy to her Andrew Ramsden Stakes (3200m) victory in the autumn.

Jockey Peter Mertens went forward on Dame Claire in the early stages but she still raced more than 20 lengths behind the leader The Cleaner, which set a hectic pace up front.

“We ride her aggressively every time she’s at a mile and a half. We have led on her before over a mile and a half a couple of times,” Mertens said.

“In shorter races, she hasn’t got the speed to do it (race handy) but when she gets up to a mile and a half, we ride her aggressively if she jumps (cleanly).”

Mertens had no option but to drag the field up to the leader from the 1000 metres before poking Dame Claire through a run inside the leader from the 400 metres. Dame Claire kicked away in the straight before holding off another local, last year’s winner I’m Jake.

“She was one of the toughest stayers in the race. I’m Jake is pretty tough too when ridden that way and he made her earn it,” Mertens said.

“I wasn’t confident, she was probably one run away (from her peak fitness).”

The R M Ansett Classic was Dame Claire’s sixth win from 28 starts and took her earnings to more than $260,000.

Click here for a replay of the thrilling R M Ansett Classic at Mornington.

© MiStable 2012

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