The return to Belmont Park card lived up to its notorious reputation dishing out a $37K+ quaddie for those lucky enough to share in the spoils, but punters were saved earlier in proceedings with a string of fancied runners saluting in style. Handy or better was the place to be, with all victorious conveyances coming from the leading division as the backmarkers failed to capitalise on the longer Belmont straight. Premiership hoop William Pike was quick to make his presence felt – dominating the front half of the first winter headquarters program with a riding treble, when destroying rivals in the opener aboard Rebel King for Darren McAuliffe, repeating the dosage in the second on Zedfire Express for Jason Miller, before giving McAuliffe a training double with a bold victory on Fuchsia Bandana in the fourth.
PR1). Westspeed Nursery HCP 2YO BM57+ 1000m
You will not see a softer win than that of Rebel King ($1.80 fav) in the Belmont season opener. The Universal Ruler gelding had shown promise in its first preparation, before recording a stunning 13 length plus trail performance over 400m a fortnight ago. When Our Memory Girl ($11.00) led as expected, William Pike popped the favourite into the box seat in third. As they swung for home Rebel King loomed up and shot clear – hitting the line untouched for a slashing four length hiding. Sass ‘N’ Glam ($9.00) and Universal King ($17.00) were the best of a beaten lot, when running on into the minors.
WATCH: I didn’t think there was 13 lengths in 400m!!! – Rebel King – WOW!!! – enough said…
PR2). Westspeed HCP 3YO BM63+ 1000m
The opener may have been a pretty clear cut affair – the second was anything but. With half the field vying for favouritism prerace, there would be one defining factor that would finally decide the winner – Mr W Pike – despite the market not taking the hint. With four runners between $4.00 – $5.00, punters were seriously lost as the money swayed to and fro. You Will Be Queen ($4.60) led with Onadowntowntrain ($4.00 fav), but sitting hot on their heels was Zedfire Express ($4.80), and when Pike pulled the Danehill Express filly off the rails on straightening – the race was over – dashing clear to score by 2 ¼ lengths.
WATCH: A lot to like about Seul Homme who broke through the barrier in a false start, before zipping home from sixth to claim the runner-up cheque – one to watch.
PR3). Westspeed Stayers Bonus BM66+ 2000m
Those who questioned Ora Dares’ ($3.20 – $2.80 fav) weight carrying ability were few, but the remainder needn’t have worried as the classy Oratorio 4yo dispensed of near all rivals aided by a perfectly timed run from apprentice jockey Ben Paterson. Hunting in fourth – two back off the rail, Paterson peeled out as they turned for home and took command inside the final furlong before warding off the fast finishing Go Tiger to prevail by a long neck. It was a gutsy win lugging 58.5kgs, as Go Tiger looked to have had the measure of Ora Dare numerous times inside the final 100m. Desert Glow ($6.00) finished off well into third, with Reale Fury ($10.00) falling into fourth.
WATCH: Ora Dare gave Go Tiger 4kgs, but the latter was game in defeat – the Tiger Hill gelding is knocking on the door, and there will be a race for it shortly on that run.
PR4). Perth Racing Members BM72+ 1300m
Favourite punters were licking their collective lips prerace, for they had two big reasons to ooze with confidence – 1). Multiple winner Fuchsia Bandana ($1.75 fav) – 2). William Pike – and again they would clean up the bagmen. Without surprising anyone Tax A Million ($21.00) led together with second elect Prince Of Stars ($5.50), as Pike sat Fuchsia Bandana midfield outside Need A Lift ($8.00) who was buried away on the fence. Turning for home Fuchsia Bandana ignited the jets to come after the leaders – rocketing down the centre of the track to salute by ¾ length. Carry The Nation ($13.00) and Heavy Set ($13.00) both came from well back to finish second and third respectively.
WATCH: Need A Lift was denied a run on straightening and was forced to switch off heels at the 200m losing all momentum – would have been an interesting finish had it got out.
PR5). Tabtouch.com.au HCP F&M BM60+ 1200m
We hadn’t seen a leader prevail to date on the card, but that was all about to change in the first leg of the quaddie. Punters were prepared to stand behind the prospects of Fashion Princess ($4.00 fav) following a dead unlucky run last start when a fast finishing third, but the big money mover was Songburg ($5.00 – $4.40) – and as luck would have it, neither would feature in the finish. The Ross & Clint Price trained Mia China Doll ($5.50) sprung the gates with Mitchell Pateman ensuring a genuine speed to the race. Playhouse Theatre ($18.00) went after the frontrunner and applied sufficient pressure, but the fresh Helter Skelter mare was simply too good – careering away inside in the final furlong to salute by 1 ¾ lengths. Playhouse Theatre battled away into second – getting the nod ahead Metallica ($15.00) who stormed home from last into a photo finish for the minors.
WATCH: Big run from Metallica – went past a lot of good horses at the business end.
PR6). Perthracing.org.au HCP 3YO BM64+ 1400m
Up until now the return to Belmont fixture was looking like a disaster for the Bookies, but history was not going to deny the turf accountants as the sixth race will be recalled as the end of the punters lucky run. They jumped out of trees to support Bayatorio ($2.50 – $2.10 fav) and when the Oratorio 3yo took up its customary role upfront early in proceedings, the writing was on the wall. No-one had anticipated a challenger, let alone the drifting Military Might ($7.50 – $11.00), but when the Zedrich gelding loomed up alongside the favourite inside the final 200m, a battle royale ensued – the favourite nutted in the shadows of the post by a mere short neck.
WATCH: Really liked the run of Run For Rum carrying the top weight and getting within ¾ length – into the Black Book it goes.
PR7). Tabtouch Supporting The Industry BM72+ 1600m
It was only a matter of time before the dyke burst, and when Jason Whiting propelled the well-travelled Nitro ($31.00) to victory in the penultimate, it spelt the end of the quaddie for most. O’Reilly’s Prize ($71.00) was made to work to find the front, as public elect Mac It Is ($3.60 fav) took a dream sit in third. But the favourite again found trouble in the straight as Dangerously ($4.00), and then Full Steam Ahead ($4.40) hit the lead before the roughie ran over the lot of them.
WATCH: Mac It Is raced wide and then found trouble in the straight but still hit the line hard – keep following if you dare…
PR8). Racing At Belmont Park Next Saturday BM60+ 1800m
If you had backed Inok ($12.00) straight out in every race it contested this time in – you’d be well up. The notorious front runner reminds me of a horse called Raja Boy back around the turn of the century – a genuine leader – always paying $10.00 – $15.00 – and would run them ragged at least once a preparation. The good thing about punting on horses of the like, is that if they fail – you usually have 10-15 more goes to retrieve (and usually – add to) your money. Unlike Raja Boy – Inok can lead and win more than once a preparation, and when the Al Akbar 8yo set sail for home in the final event – spacing the field– we all had plenty of time to reflect on how we managed to miss this gallant campaigner yet again.
WATCH: I’ve never seen so many horses do nothing in a race – I’ll have a 10er on every one of Inoks’ races going forward – what could possibly go wrong…
To walk away with a bagful of money following the first look at Belmont for the season is one mean feat – and it would again be the exotics that would fill the purse. Rebel King and best bet Ora Dare (we also found the $186.00 first-4 quartet in order in the same race) got us off to a good start, and despite Need A Lift denying us the Multi we still managed to secure the $116.40 trifecta in the fourth. But the best was saved for the sixth – the $7085.00 first-4 quartet our best result all year – certainly took the edge off dropping out of the quaddie in the next (third) leg. The Verdict: A very overdue pass.