Well the sun may have been out, but Strickland Stakes Day at Belmont Park this year was anything but inviting as punters were forced to rug up for another cold winter racing assignment. The majority of winners came from a handy position or better which threw our initial punting calculations into disarray, while the “bag-men” won the day with only the three favourites saluting. It was also “Double’s Day” for jockeys and trainers alike with multiple returns for both throughout the card. Apprentice jockey Ben Kennedy was the first to record a pair of victories when securing a narrow win aboard Rebel King for Darren McAuliffe in the opener, before powering Tower Of Lonhro to the line for Adam Durrant in the third. Brad Parnham was next to match the feat when claiming a blanket finish victory on Crown Lawyer for father Neville Parnham in the second, before producing a boil-over result aboard Fancy Feet for Shane Quilty in the Strickland Stakes feature. And in keeping with the “family theme”, young hoop Lucy Warwick recorded her second double in the saddle in a fortnight when crushing rivals with Lucciola for father Justin Warwick in the fourth, before piloting Blacksmith to victory in the sixth for Deane Skipworth. Trainer Neville Parnham not only had success with Crown Lawyer, but also prepared Right Honourable in the penultimate, while Adam Durrant also “doubled up” with Tower Of Lonhro and “finally” – a win for Gladstone in the last…

PR1). Westspeed Nursery HCP 2YO BM62+ 1000m.      

Another small field for the opener and another cheque for the “unstoppable” Rebel King ($1.40 – $1.95 fav) – but it was not going to come easy. The word was out about promising Holy Roman Emperor 2yo Sheidel ($3.60 – $2.70) as punters unleashed on the filly. And in a result worthy of the market reflection, the pair would kick clear inside the final furlong to go head to head to the line – the photo awarding a short half head margin with Rebel King applying the right “bob” when it mattered.

WATCH: Enormous performance from 100 to 1 pop Prickly Feet who missed the start by six before storming home late to get within three – we’ll be watching closely next start…

PR2). Westspeed HCP 3YO BM64+ 1300m.

Punters were looking to pocket the “early money” as they rallied behind multiple winner Sujet ($1.80 fav), but their collection plans would come unstuck. Pru’s Image ($51.00) led with Crown Lawyer ($6.00), Timebomb ($15.00) and the public elect all taking a handy sit. But as they swung for home, Crown Lawyer found a split along the rails and stormed to the front with Timebomb in hot pursuit. Sujet wound up late, but the bird had flown – Crown Lawyer doing enough to hold out a determined Timebomb by a short neck, with Sujet a further ¾ length adrift in third.

WATCH: The tip came for Timebomb, and for a brief moment we thought the stars were aligning for the Street Sense gelding – alas we picked the wrong upset…

PR3). Westspeed Noms Closing 18/7 BM72+ 1600m.

A great little race full of opportunity presented for the third, with four main contenders fighting it out for prerace favouritism – and from this group the eventual winner would appear. The early speed was frenetic as Rusty Peaches ($17.00) ensured a decent clip, as the swoopers licked their collective lips in anticipation. Danablue ($4.60) shot clear on straightening, but emerging from the pack came Ben Paterson aboard Tower Of Lonhro ($4.20) – the Lonhro 5yo motoring down the centre of the track to hold out the fast finishing Need A Lift ($18.00) by a half-length – a riding double for Paterson secured.

WATCH: Big run late from Need A Lift, but this is becoming a hard horse to catch – really needs to string a few good runs together – maybe it will be next start???

PR4). Pink Ladies Day Next Sat BM66+ 2200m.

The Irish bred Lucciola ($3.70 fav) was all the rage prerace – and rightly so, as the Verglas 5yo had finally put it all together securing four devastating wins in a row for trainer Justin Warwick. And as we witnessed a fortnight prior, daughter and promising apprentice hoop Lucy Warwick rated the mare to perfection – careering past the leading Rive Gauche ($26.00) at the 200m mark to run away with a stunning two length whitewash. Rive Gauche held on for second – a length and a half clear of Verdello Blue ($6.50) who failed to make up ground at the business end.

WATCH: It was all about Lucciola – one very promising mare with a big future in distance racing.

PR5). $125,000 Group 3 Strickland Stakes 2YO+ WFA 2000m.

With nearly 1000 days between drinks, punters were confident that the losing run of Ranger ($2.85 – $2.50) was coming to an end, as they smashed the Testa Rossa 7yo fiscally with everything they had. But when lengths last on the turn, the mission would again turn sour, as another barnstorming run would be left too late. Long shot Woodsville ($101.00) led them up, as the leading division began to falter – with runs appearing from everywhere. Bursting along the fence came the unwanted Fancy Feet ($12.00) who quickly dispensed of rivals, before withstanding a desperate final surge from the luckless Ranger to race away with the feature.

WATCH: I’ve sacked Ranger more times than any other horse, but it did finish better than any – Bridgestone also rattled home late to claim third and stays under notice.

PR6). Perth Racing VIP Package BM72+ 1000m.

All eyes (and wallets) were fixed on Chris Gangemi’s’ ex-eastern stater Windswept ($6.00 – $5.50 fav), but this was a very open affair and it came as no real surprise with the eventual upset result. The resuming Blacksmith ($12.00) had eclipsed Ranger in the “racing wilderness” record book (1113 days) and despite boasting a solid first up record, hopes seemed dashed after drawing the carpark (barrier 13). But no one told apprentice of the moment Lucy Warwick, and when she shot past the tiring It’s A Merc ($16.00) another memorable win was secured. Last start victor Pininci ($8.50) thundered home from near last to get within a neck, with the favourite Windswept a further half-length away in third.

WATCH: Massive effort from Oz Racing’s Bombora – near last on the turn with 60.5kgs to get within 2 ½ over a non-preferred distance – looks like another win is in store very soon on that run.

PR7). Christmas In July 26/7 BM60+ 1300m.

There were many tricky races to negotiate on Strickland Stakes Day at Belmont Park, none more so than the penultimate as “6 to 1 the field” defined the starting market. Miss Meyet ($12.00) led them into the straight, but pulled up very quickly as Pat Carbery ignited Right Honourable ($10.00) from its handy position to charge forward – leaving rivals in its wake. But from near the tail of the field came Galoubay ($10.00) with a blinding run, only to fall painstakingly short by a mere neck in the shadows of the post. Zuccheros ($6.50) finished off nicely from ninth to round out the minors.

WATCH: There was a little whisper about Galoubay prerace, but few saw that remarkable run coming – another who needs to string a few performances together before we get excited.

PR8). Ascent Sales Trophies BM60+ 1600m.

The Adam Durrant trained Gladstone ($3.60 fav) owed punters money – a lot of money – and today would be the day they would balance the ledger in arguably the “win of the day”. With numerous luckless runs this preparation, jockey William Pike was keen to push the Dylan Thomas 4yo into a forward position and reduce the equine obstacles which had proved to be the geldings undoing on so many occasions  this time in. And the plan worked to a treat – Pike releasing Gladstone inside the final furlong to blouse the field by 1 ¼ lengths. Danish Delight ($15.00) came from the rear to gather second, a length clear of Raising Dubai ($10.00) in third.

WATCH: The run from Danish Delight was exquisite – stays under notice going forward.


A miss match of a day on the punt that would ironically see us finish up, but it all hinged on one race result. Laying Sujet was about the only right thing we did right all day, and landing the $928.10 first 4 quartet in that race was our main highlight. It could have been much better if our Maddie Timebomb had got up (missing by a short neck), while best bet Ranger once again cost us dearly. We scored the minor quaddie that paid $261.00, but that was it – the rest of the day was all about giving it back.

The Verdict: Happy with the bank balance, but very ordinary otherwise – a fail.

Chris Blackwell