Inductee Hall of Fame 2022
White and Red fawn bitch, Whelped January 1979, (Unique Venture – New Leila), Owners Bill and Butch Deverell, Trainer Butch Deverell (Penguin)
Penguin trainer Butch Deverell, along with his great chaser Big Moose are already Hall of Famers, and now his magnificent stayer Miss Coroneagh, co-owned by his father Bill, joins that illustrious club. It takes words such as durable, versatile, dependable, but most of all … superstar … to describe this white and red fawn bitch. She was whelped in January 1979, from a mating of Reg Ivory’s 42-win star Unique Venture, from the reasonably performed New Leila, that Bill Deverell had purchased from Bill Harvey in Victoria. Whilst this was the real starting point of the Deverell’s home-bred line, Miss Coroneagh’s career nearly crash-landed before it started. The males in this litter struggled to run 300 metres, and after several attempts to place her elsewhere, father and son decided to keep her. A cracking decision in hindsight!
Known as Brigitte (after Brigitte Bardot), it’s no wonder Miss Coroneagh was a beauty. In a career that spanned from 10 May 1980 to 28 April 1983, she had 126 starts for 45 wins, 27 seconds and 20 thirds. She won or was placed in high-profile features in four different states, and all this, from a bitch that possessed no early speed at all. Miss Coroneagh debuted as a 16-month-old and was unplaced at her first four starts. Despite winning a 502.5 metre White City Juvenile at start five, Butch realized her future success required more ground. Apart from one more sprint victory at both Devonport and White City, the remainder of her 42 victories were all over distances between 573 and 895 metres.
At start six, and a mere 18 months old, she stepped to 722 metres for a Heat of the Division 2 Winter Stakes, which she duly won. A week later at White City she wound up 3rd to Gillies Roamer in her first of many Finals to come. Her 13th start was her first over the Devonport 573 metres, and she blitzed her opponents by 6 lengths. Two starts later she stormed late scoring her second 722-metre victory at White City. She was just getting into the staying groove by now, and at 20 months of age, she stepped up in grade and posted successive wins, by big margins, firstly beating Royal Gadoni over 722, then dispatching Westmore Image over 573 metres.
She made it a hattrick in quite special circumstances. November 13, 1980, saw the opening meeting of the marvellous though testing new Hobart track at the Royal Showgrounds. Race one was a Heat of the Tilford Distance feature, and a proud Bill and Butch Deverell watched their budding star give away at least 15 lengths start midrace, before launching a devastating finish that saw her beat Maits Venture by 6 lengths. The timer malfunctioned, so no time was recorded. A week later, she again gave a huge start, but was unable to reel the highly talented, and much more experienced Honey Jade, finishing 3rd in that Final.
Brigitte’s next 12 starts was a mixed bag over all distances. It included wins over the sprint and distance at Launceston, a runaway win over the brilliant Star For Two in a Devonport 573, plus an 8-length demolition in a quick 44.20 in a Royal Showgrounds 725. She was even cheeky enough to run 2nd in a Heat and 4th in a Semi-Final, of the highly unsuitable, 432 metre 1980 Devonport Cup.
This was simply the calm before the storm. She was about to lift her rating to champion status. The Deverells knew she could “stay all day” and weren’t afraid to take on all comers. Butch flew her to Australia’s premier track, Sandown, to compete in a 718-metre Railway Stakes on 5 February 1981. It would be the first of many interstate trips, made easier by Miss Coroneagh’s gorgeous nature and unflappable demeanour. Butch would toss a few jellybeans into the crate, and she’d be as “happy as Larry”. In trademark fashion, Brigitte stormed late to beat Dench by ½ length at 6/1. Again, at Sandown a week later, she rattled home but just fell short, when 3rd to Welcome World, beaten ¾ length and a neck.
Nine days on, Butch had Miss Coroneagh primed for the 1981 National Distance series. At White City on 21 February 1981, she dispatched Formal Girl by 2 lengths in the first round of Heats, and 5 days later repeated the dose at the Royal Showgrounds, beating Collision by 3 lengths. The 1981 State Distance Final was also in Hobart, and her blistering finish to roll the champion Wynlee Wonder by 5 lengths, elevated her to Tassie’s top stayer. The 1981 National Distance Final was held in Tasmania that year, some 6 days later at White City. On a wet and wild night, Miss Coroneagh ran home powerfully for 3rd to Australia’s greatest stayer in Victoria’s Shamrock Jewel, only 3 lengths adrift. By now Brigitte was well known at a national level.
Her next five starts included a Brambles Distance Heat win at Devonport’s 573 metres and two Free For All victories over the White City 722 metres. On April 30, she blitzed her earlier nemesis Honey Jade by 3 ½ lengths at Hobart in the Tasmania Genevieve Cup Final, running the 725 in a smart 44.32. This was a major stayers feature nationally for bitches only, and the various State winners assembled at Melbourne’s Olympic Park on 11 May. The virtually untouchable Shamrock Jewel was an 8-length winner in the Genevieve Cup National Final, but it was Miss Coroneagh in 2nd spot, a length ahead of third, and several of Australia’s best stayers left in her wake. She remained in Melbourne for four more runs, yielding just an Olympic Park 3rd over 732 metres.
Back on home soil, Miss Coroneagh had 2 lengths to spare over the emerging young star Copper Craft in a Hobart Invitation, before he toppled her in a Heat of the 1981 Winter Stakes at White City. Showing her true champion quality, Miss Coroneagh reversed those placings to beat him by 3 ½ lengths in the Winter Stakes Final of 1981.
In a career of glittering highlights, what came next must be regarded as the pinnacle. Just 5 days later, Butch Deverell flew his mighty miss to the famous Gabba track in Brisbane. Sight unseen and over the now “seemingly unthinkable” distance of 895 metres, she simply flogged N.S.W. bitch Jodalene, as a 5/2 second favourite in the Club Marathon. Giving a dozen lengths mid-race, she powered right away to score by 7 lengths. But a week later, she raised the bar even further in the feature Gabba Thousand, also over the gruelling 895 metres. Now an 11/10 favourite, she was far too powerful yet again, storming clear of Venetian Attack. Her time of 54.33 was only 0.03 slower than the week before. One week later, still, at the Gabba, she dropped back to a 704 metre Free For All, and rattled home to miss by just a head, in her 2nd to Venetian Attack. What an amazing three-week achievement!
From 8 August to 28 October 1981, Miss Coroneagh raced 13 times in Tasmania for 8 top grade or Free For All wins over 573, 722 or 725 metres. She was the staying queen of Tasmania by now, and one of her rare staying defeats was a White City 2nd to Copper Craft in track record time. Butch ventured to Sydney in November where she was drawn to run at Wentworth Park. Unfortunately, the meeting was rained out, but more, unfortunately, he was forced to trial the champ and she tore hock ligaments.
Miss Coroneagh displayed her versatility when resuming 71 days later, going under by a nose in a 497-metre sprint in Hobart. In her absence, another great rival in Golden Chevaux had emerged, and the pair would dominate the staying scene for much of 1982. She ran 4th and 2nd in Free For All’s to Golden Chevaux, before asserting her superiority in back-to-back 722s at White City. Miss Coroneagh, then mounted a defense of her National Distance State crown. It was business as normal thrashing Miss Tigerella in the White City Heat, and she repeated the dose by 5 lengths over the high-class Sashay Chevaux at Hobart. In a star-studded 1982 State Distance Final, Miss Coroneagh was simply sublime in destroying Golden Chevaux by 7 lengths in 45.17 for the 725 metres. She represented Tasmania with great aplomb in the 1982 National Distance Final at Angle Park in Adelaide. Badly checked in the early stages, she recovered bravely to wind up the unluckiest of 4ths to the great local bitch Bayroad Queen.
After beating Golden Chevaux in the Black Aztec All Stars feature at the Hobart, Miss Coroneagh just failed to defend her Tasmanian Genevieve Cup crown when 3rd to the same bitch, beaten ¾’s and a head. Our little warrior headed back to Victoria in May 1982. She ran a distant 2nd to Flat Flyer in 732 metre track record time, in a Heat of the TAA Quality Stayers Cup at Olympic Park. A week later she powered home for 2nd to the same dog in the Final, but this time reduced the margin to just a one length. In between this iron lady was a fast-finishing 2nd to Satan’s Shroud over 718 at Sandown.
Back home she was a Free For All victor in Hobart before winning her Heat of the 1982 Winter Stakes at White City. Unfortunately, she was unable to win that feature two years running, as weather intervened, and the Final was never run. By July 1982, Miss Coroneagh was 3 ½ years old, but Butch headed back to the Gabba. After finishing 6th over 704 metres, her mission was to retain her crown in the 1982 Gabba Thousand over the gruelling 895 metres. In a most gallant display, her late burst just failed by ¾’s to reel in Alan Chauncey’s Sibrea from N.S.W. and she was the runner-up.
From late July 1982 to early February 1983 this champion bitch raced 22 times for 3 wins, 6 seconds and 6 thirds, but always at the top level. This period saw a Marathon 4th at White City over 939 metres where she injured a toe. She had Free For All wins over 722 at White City defeating both Golden Chevaux and Sashay Chevaux. She ran a courageous 4th in a 946-metre Marathon at Olympic Park and a 732-metre 3rd there as well. Further, she was 3rd in the Black Aztec All Stars in Hobart that she had won a year earlier.
Now in the twilight of her career, Miss Coroneagh still had one surprise in her vast locker. By March 1982, she was 50 months old, but the 1983 National Distance titles beckoned. Having won in 1981 and 1982, she attempted an unprecedented three-peat. Her Royal Showgrounds Heat was a return to her glory days when she destroyed Sashay Chevaux by a whopping 8 lengths. At White City 11 days on, she clipped General Caper’s wings by 2 ½ lengths set up a possible National Final appearance yet again. Despite drawing on all those qualities that had made her a distance freak, she wound up a most creditable 4th to the track record-breaking Lygon Leader.
Three runs later, at start 126, Miss Coroneagh, had her final race appearance. Still at the elite level, in contesting her third State Genevieve Cup, she posted a most creditable 3rd to the smart Tasharco over the 725 metres at the Royal Showgrounds.
Everything about Miss Coroneagh spells champion. 45 wins and 47 placings from 126 starts is a testament to her freakish staying talent, her durability, her longevity, and her love of the chase. She is a testament also to her trainer Butch Deverell who kept her at that amazing level for so long, and never shied away from the contest, be it at home, Victoria, Queensland or South Australia. Most fittingly, she ended her days as a loved family member with the Deverell’s. Brigitte, we salute you!
By Greg Fahey and Brennan Ryan