Easy to say that this Easter Saturday program at Ascot had a little bit of everything. A handful of favourites saluting, together with the all too common upsets, provided an interesting array of results that would arguably be defined as a “Nil-All” draw for punters and Bookies alike. Steven Parnham did best of the hoops – rewarded with a riding double when piloting Bjorn To Love to the line for Fred Kersley in the second, before rounding out the card with a masterful all the way victory aboard Right Honourable for Neville Parnham in the last. Despite the trainers sharing the spoils, there was none more proud than Dan Pearce when his classy sprinter Travinator resumed from an 18 month enforced lay-off to provide a wonderful return win in the penultimate.
PR1). Westspeed Nursery HCP 2YO BM57+ 1200m.
Punters could not get enough of Blackfriars filly Big Caroline ($2.50 – $2.05 fav) following its slashing run in the Karrakatta, but it would be a little known first starter that would draw first blood for the Bookies. Unwanted in the market, the Eric Wake trained Cuanzo ($10.00 – $13.00) had trailed well leading to its debut, but few expected the dominant run that would prevail. Third elect Molto Allegro ($5.00) led, but as they swung for home the gas ran out as Major Factor ($4.20) and Cuanzo presented to fight out the finish – the latter doing far the better to cruise to the winning post 2 ¼ lengths clear.
WATCH: Major Factor laid in terribly from the 300m mark – it runs straight – it wins…
PR2). Crown Perth HCP 3YO 1MW 1200m.
All the hype during the week was for the prospects of the Fred Kersley trained Bjorn To Love ($3.50 – $3.00) following a classy win on debut at Pinjarra over the six furlongs last month, but the Lonhro gelding would be eclipsed in the market as punters struggled to find a winner. Yet to miss a cheque in its three career starts, Bayatorio ($2.50 – $2.90 fav) was belted in the ring early – and when Chantelle O’Grady led the favourite to the turn the money looked safe. But Steven Parnham had a handful of horse, and when he asked for an effort – Bjorn To Love provided – charging home from mid-field to gather the leader inside the final furlong for a ¾ length triumph. It was daylight to third, with Wanderlust ($4.00) crossing the line three lengths astern.
WATCH: Great run from Bjorn To Love – it would be no surprise to see this 3yo rise through the grades sharply.
PR3). Perth Racing Security HCP BM66+ 2200m.
All the usually suspects would present again for this Benchmark 66+ staying event, and it would be one of the “regulars” that would salute – but not before a desperate dash for home. The money came and went for the fancied Go Tiger ($2.70 – $3.30 fav) and Magical Mist ($4.00 – $4.20), and when leading long shot Leonora Larriken ($21.00) kicked clear on straightening the sound of betting tickets being torn to shreds became deafening. But Mitchell Pateman had given the Helenus 7yo Hel Cool ($7.00) an armchair ride in fifth throughout and came at the roughie late to nab it in the shadows of the post by a mere short head – now where is that sticky tape?…
WATCH: These staying races are fast becoming a lottery – nothing to report here except that we’ll probably be resorting to the dart-board for future races of the like.
PR4). LD Total HCP BM60+ 1000m.
The first of 1000m scampers for the day was a beauty, which kept as all guessing in the lead up. The leaders hadn’t done well to date on the card, and when Deceitful Road ($4.60) took up the running early from barrier four we held our collective breathes to see what would eventuate. With genuine speed ensured the swoopers lined up on the turn, as Hennessy Raider ($4.00) arrested the lead momentarily before public elect I’m A Flash Unit ($3.40 fav) “flashed” late to secure a one length winning margin – a brilliantly timed run from jockey Lisa Staples proving the difference.
WATCH: The huge run from Lord Balthazar late to claim third definitely caught the eye – we’ll be on next start.
PR5). Skyy Vodka HCP BM61+ 1600m.
Punters were again baffled in the lead up to this mile event, as “$4.60 the field” defined the market. Cesc ($10.00) led early with Popacorka ($26.00), but the 1600m would prove a stretch too far for these optimistic runners. Resonates ($5.00) charged forward as they headed for home, but Troy Turner had the Danehill Express 3yo Ain’t Bad ($4.80) sitting pretty in sixth throughout and proved too strong over the concluding stages to salute by a half-head from the fast finishing Already Famous ($6.00) with Resonates a further ¾ length adrift in third.
WATCH: Another great performance from Already Famous doing everything but win – looks set to continue its career best form.
PR6). Tabtouch.com.au HCP BM78+ 1400m.
The upset of the day would have to go the stunning victory of Thunderluv’n ($12.00). Always thereabouts, the Love A Dane 6yo has been a model of consistency this time in – popping up regularly at the business end to feature in the minor. And when Ben Paterson elected to track raging favourite When We Were Kings ($2.60 – $2.40 fav) into the straight the scene was set for a deserved, all be it surprising result. Woken ($18.00) led with McScar ($31.00) and Oz Racings Bombora ($4.40) in hot pursuit, but when the leading division threw up the white flag entering the straight it would be When We Were Kings and Thunderluv’n left to fight it out – the latter prevailing by ¾ length.
WATCH: Stick with When We Were Kings – it will certainly present fitter from the outing for its next start.
PR7). Perthracing.org.au HCP BM72+ 1000m.
History will suggest that the likelihood of a horse returning to its “Hay Day” (excuse the pun) following an extended layoff is remote. It was late 2012 when Dan Pearce’ super sprinter Travinator had last contested – a disappointing ninth in the Winterbottom followed an otherwise stellar preparation which had netted four crushing victories on end. Seventy one weeks, a handful of trials and two throat operations later and “The Machine” was returning – and boy were we in for a treat. Negotiating a massive 60kg impost, apprentice Chantelle O’Grady bounded Travinator ($2.20 fav) straight to the front upon barrier rise and dictated terms throughout. Despite running out of puff late, Travinator had given all but the fast finishing Terkel ($7.50) windburn – a memorable return from one of our all-time favourites.
WATCH: Terkel put in a blinder behind a very good sprinter – will pay to follow on that run.
PR8). Ascend Sales Trophies HCP BM 60+ 1500m.
After finally seeing a top weight lead throughout to salute in the previous race, could lightening possibly strike twice? – the answer – sure can… Notorious frontrunner Right Honourable ($5.50) has been at its consistent best this time in, with bold showings on days where the race conditions didn’t always suit. But today was the day for the Medal Of Honour 6yo, as Steven Parnham found the front from a tricky barrier eight – stacked them all up mid-race, before shooting clear to run away with a half-length win. Smarty Wilson ($21.00) rattled home from sixth to claim second, a quarter-length ahead Futurism ($8.00) in third.
WATCH: The Cavalieri had numerous excuses in what was a torrid run, but did finish off better than any when a length off victory.
Winners were hard to find, with fancied tips Major Factor and When We Were Kings both finishing second – but the novelties would again come to rescue. We found the $166.40 first four (quartet) in the fourth which built a small bank, before landing the $1687.60 quaddie. Risk aside, smashing Travinator was the most rewarding experience on the punt for some time – despite not worrying the fiscal record books. The Verdict – like many – a “Nil-All” draw for the day.