The last meeting of the 2013 Belmont season saw the introduction of the two year old gallopers and trainers Eric Wake and Neville Parnham had every reason to celebrate after the running of the two Westspeed Initial Stakes (1000m).

Wake’s ‘baby,’ Vital Art (Jason Whiting,) reproduced her trial form by finishing stoutly, claiming pacemaker Castle Retreat (Craig Staples), a brilliant beginner from the outside barrier, in the last 75m of the race.

Vital Art’s owner Martin Allan, an ex-UK jockey, used the cerise and black colours of the late Anne Ryan, last worn with distinction in the 1970s by her jockey son, Bernie, on Tanbury.

“She tracked up beautifully from the 600m mark and fourth position and she is bred to stay,” Wake said.

Whiting said he was not concerned when Castle Retreat skipped clear on straightening for home, but the leader continued to fight on before Vital Art took the lead in the concluding stages to win going away by a length.

Ken’s Astar (Steven Parnham) also impressed with a strong finish to claim third ahead of stablemate Rodeo Drive (Brad Parnham). The Kendel Star chestnut was slow into stride and was checked near the 800m mark of the race, after being tightened with Steven Parnham ultimately using the whip in the left hand, after pulling it through, near the 200m mark.

Rodeo Drive was similarly checked and lost ground near the 800m mark.

Ken’s Astar was the only survivor of owner-breeder Greg Maclou’s crop of 2011 after contaminated hay led to the demise of 13 mares and their unborn foals.


Neville Parnham was even happier after the second race, gaining a quinella with Roebuck and Star Glitter, ridden by Chris and Brad Parnham respectively. Settlers Creek (Troy Turner) was third.

Parnham said there was little to separate the two colts at this early stage.

“Roebuck missed some early trials because there was a hold up with his registration but he won his only trial, finishing with gusto.”

Roebuck was named by part- owner, Mark Grantham from his early Broome connections and he was Parnham’s first apprentice.