If you were lucky enough to finish “up for the day” following the second look at the Belmont Park for the season, you have done extremely well. With only the two favourites lining the punters pockets, the return was only ever going to be on loan, as a string of upset results plagued what was always going to be a tricky program. As expected the majority of winners came from the leading division, with only Drive West and Tower Of Lonhro able to run-on to victory. William Pike again did best of the hoops with a riding double when successful aboard the classy Cuanzo for Eric Wake in the second, before scoring in a blanket finish on My Bonny Lad for Adam Durrant. Durrant secured a training double later in the day when Tower Of Lonhro came from last to blow away the final event, while Alan Matthews also prepared a couple of winners with The Other Harv doing best in the opener, before his Trade Fair filly Cool Trade continued its dominance with another strong victory in the fifth.
PR1). Crown Perth HCP BM78+ 2000m.
All eyes were on Albany Cup victor Peck ($3.00 fav) as the lightly raced Pivotal 6yo was backed in to continue its winning ways, but the run was about to come to an end (for now at least). No-one wanted to lead, and it was left up to Daneclicked ($5.00) to set the pace – and what a pace it set – stringing out the field and forcing all to chase. Operational ($4.20) and The Other Harv ($8.00) closed in on the leader, and turning for home the pair kicked clear to fight out the finish – the latter doing best to score by ¾ length. Peck left its run too late, but still lifted inside the final furlong to finish third a further 1 ¾ lengths adrift.
WATCH: Operational gave the winner 3 ½ kgs and was brave in defeat – surely a win is closing in for the Tiger Hill 5yo…
PR2). Westspeed Nursery HCP 2YO BM59+ 1400m.
Despite doing their dough in the opener, punters rallied hard to recoup their “fun coupons”, and their bank balance was about to look a whole lot healthier following the conclusion of the second race. The Eric Wake trained Cuanzo ($2.00 – $1.90 fav) had impressed on debut when flashing home from near last to secure a resounding victory over 1200m, and when the classy Oratorio gelding hit the ground running to take up the lead, projected speed-maps were collectively screwed up and tossed in the bin. But what was about to unfold was the first of two processions we would witness on the day, as Cuanzo toyed with rivals upfront before William Pike took off on the public elect in the straight to career away for a brilliant 1 ½ length spectacle. Top Show ($7.00) was the only horse making up ground late when it ran into second, a length clear of the tiring Fathing Fast ($9.00).
WATCH: A run to remember from Cuanzo who looks to have plenty in reserve.
PR3). Ascend Sales Trophies BM72+ 1000m.
With notorious leader You Will Be Queen coming out of this sprint trip, it was left to Park Lane ($6.00) to take up the running, and it was no surprise to see the Balmont 4yo spring the gates with vigor. Pure Adrenaline ($17.00) went with the leader, as the pair piled on the speed – catching a majority of the field off-guard. Turning for home, the duo had kicked clear as Pure Adrenaline leveled up alongside, and put paid to its more fancied opponent to salute by 2 ¼ lengths. The camera was unable to split Mendicity ($7.00) and I’m A Flash Unit ($3.70) who dead-heated for third.
WATCH: I’m A Flash Unit produced the fastest final sectional (33.77 sec) in a race not run to suit – we will be getting on next start.
PR4). Westspeed Stayers Bonus BM60+ 2200m.
Over the last few months we have commented on the difficulty in following form lines into these benchmark staying events, and again the dart board would be required to find the winner. The Joe Miller trained Drive West ($7.00) had been up for a while, with a couple of victories in the kick, but there seemed little hope of the Blackfriars 5yo adding to the tally as it found itself buried away three back on the rails as they turned for home. But the “seas parted” as the leaders swung wide, gifting Drive West a dream passage from which to propel along the fence for a 1 ¼ length triumph. Saxy Grace ($4.40 fav) had looked the winners at one point but had to be content with the consolation prize, two lengths clear of Brocky’s Deal ($5.50) who finished off well into third.
WATCH: They are a pretty even lot these benchmark 60+ stayers, but the run of Saxy Grace was exceptional – deserves a win on that run.
PR5). Westspeed Sprint 3YO BM64+ 1200m.
The expected showdown between multiple winner Cool Trade ($2.10 fav) and the promising Bjorn To Love ($2.70) fell flat, but we were rewarded with a very nice victory from a very classy filly. Cool Trade had taken all before it this time in with three crushing wins over good company, and when the Trade Fair filly shot past the leading Saint Bro ($7.50) at the 300m mark – the race was over – 1 ¼ lengths the final margin. Saint Bro was brave in defeat but beaten by a better horse as it stayed on for second, with daylight to third – the unwanted Sir Dandy ($41.00) adding value to the trifecta a further 3 lengths astern. Bjorn To Love did little to impress beating only the one runner home.
WATCH: I’m going to keep an eye on Sir Dandy this preparation – the Viscount 3yo is looking like a horse on the up…
PR6). Ashley Butler’s 40th Birthday BM72+ 1400m.
Another tough race for punters posted $4.40 the field, but when it doubt – it usually pays to follow Mr W Pike. Sonny Biscay led ($41.00) to the turn, but a wall of horses were lining up for the run home. Pike had My Bonny Lad in a handy position with cover throughout, and when the opening presented – the Saxon 5yo responded – exploding to the line for a narrow long neck victory. Black Magic Miss ($5.50) and Willow Bridge ($13.00) put in huge performances after racing wide to finish second and third respectively – a mere half-length separating the first three across the line.
WATCH: Really liked the run of Willow Bridge who arguably ran further than any other horse in the race – will pay to watch…
PR7). Tabtouch Supporting The Industry BM72+ 1600m.
Despite the favourite going down, the penultimate will record a win for the punters as the biggest money-mover of the day did the job. Punters threw everything they had at the Lindsay Smith trained Woken ($9.00 – $5.20) who was looking to emulate its third up victory from its last preparation. We have seen plunges of the like go south before, but there was one certainty that buoyed prospects – this horse was always going to lead, and it was going to take some catching. And lead it did – rated to perfection by promising apprentice Ellie Cockram, the Heritage 3yo clung on to score by a whisker from the luckless The Cavalieri ($8.00).
WATCH: There were some very good runs behind the winner – Fancy Feet being one of them.
PR8). Skyy Vodka HCP BM60+ 1400m.
Multiple Group 1 Winner – Australian Race Horse Of The Year – Leading Sire In Australia – the name Lonhro demands respect, and the majority of his progeny have turned out to be more than competitive conveyances. But little hope was given to his 5yo son – Tower Of Lonhro ($10.00) – in the final race of the day. The ex-eastern stater had enjoyed moderate success earlier in its career, but had failed to work its way through the grades. Racing in Broome last year, a Belmont weekend win seemed a step too far for most, with 59kgs and a poor draw reinforcing the concern – but strange things can happen in the “lucky last” and when Tower Of Lonhro gathered in all rivals with a dashing run from near last on the turn, those wonderful memories of his famous father came flooding back.
WATCH: Fashion Princess is getting into the habit of finding trouble in its races – and once again it happened today – deserved of a change of luck.
A good enough start to the day – a terrible finish… Two quartets (first 4) in the first two races (paying $211.30 and $290.60 respectively) together with best bet Cuanzo ($1.90 fav) saluting laid a sound foundation, but things didn’t go right from there. We did find the easiest quinella of all time in the fifth ($5.80), but eachway tip Fancy Feet and Maddie Profound Effect both ran fourth – duly ending our Multi hopes. The quaddie didn’t fare well either – knocked out in the second leg after laying My Bonny Lad. The Verdict: A fail – “the lord giveth, and the lord taketh away…”