One of the most popular mares to race in WA was La Trice, a galloping great of the late 1960s and early 70s.

A daughter of famed colonial stallion, Matrice, La Trice was destined to become the first filly to win the Group 1 Karrakatta Plate for two-year-olds and then the Group 1 Railway Stakes as a three-year-old. She would also procure two each of the Winterbottom Stakes and Lee Steere Stakes, both races at Group 2 level, in successive years, as well as a Champion Fillies Stakes.

Remarkably, La Trice accomplished much of this after an injury which threatened to end her racing career. Ironic to relate, perhaps the race La Trice is most remembered for is one she lost. In 1970, her Railway Stakes defeat, on protest, is considered by many to be the most controversial upheld objection in West Australian racing history.

The renowned owner of La Trice was Maureen Edwards, who together with husband Roy, had great success after La Trice with a bevy of brilliant performers, such as Belinda’s Star, Black Kara, Sovereign Ghost and Papermaker.

La Trice was prepared by former trot trainer, Ted Greig, and ridden by Graham ‘Bluey’ Lambie.

After winning the 1967 Karrakatta Plate, La Trice did what no filly had done before, by doubling her Group 1 successes in the Railway Stakes, as a three-year-old. In the 1968 running, she accounted for Torecan, by 1¼ lengths.

It is hard enough alone for a filly to win the state’s premier sprint – and only five have done so since the race’s long-ago debut in 1887 – never mind winning the Karrakatta Plate as well.

After the Railway, La Trice was subsequently victorious in the WA Champion Fillies Stakes, before being spelled. Taken to Melbourne as a four-year-old, she was a desperately unlucky first-up third at Moonee Valley in April 1969.

She was stabled at Victorian trainer Ron Hutchinson’s property and Bluey Lambie had come over from Perth to ride La Trice in her eastern states campaign.

At Flemington on ANZAC Day, La Trice sustained an injury to her hind leg. Her racing future looked uncertain however, she recovered with some of her mightiest peformances still to come.

After eighteen months, in October 1970, La Trice returned with an opening third at Ascot and by Railway Stakes day the sensational mare was back to her brilliant best.

What happened that afternoon is still often talked about through gritted teeth.

La Trice cantered to victory by 2½ lengths, yet was stripped of the race on protest, citing interference at the start, to eventual runner-up, Kilrickle.

The hue and cry that followed from outraged race fans was loud and long, and, in an eerie coincidence, a similar story would unfold in the 2011 Railway Stakes. In that event, New Zealand visitor, He’s Remarkable, won on protest over another idolised local, Luckygray, in a decision that also boiled the passionate blood of many a racegoer.

Like La Trice, Luckygray would also lose one to win one, in his case two years later, when he took out the 2013 edition.

In the wake of her Railway Stakes fiasco, La Trice won the Winterbottom Stakes and the Lee Steere Stakes, both at Group 2 level. A year later, in 1971, she eclipsed both races again, in yet

another unique achievement.

La Trice won 12 races all told and spent her career competing almost perpetually at elite level.

Since 2003, she has been memorialized by the La Trice Classic – a Group 3 race for three-year-old and older fillies and mares, over 1800 metres. The race is normally contested on Perth Cup day.

La Trice, now paid even higher tribute, as a deserving entrant into the WA Racing Industry’s Hall of Fame.

PRINCIPAL RACE WINS

1967 WATC Karrakatta Plate (GI)

1968 WATC Railway stakes (GI)

1968 WATC Champion Fillies

1970 WATC Winterbottom (G2)

1971 WATC Winterbottom (G2)

1971 WATC Lee Steere Stakes (G2)

1972 WATC Lee Steere Stakes (G2)