Another tough assignment faced Gimcrack victor Darlington Abbey ($3.60 fav) today at Belmont, as it took on the state’s best “up and coming” sprinters in the Vale Neville Pratt OAM HCP 1000m.

Resuming from a short lay-up after failing first up, the Stratum filly burst between early leader Detection ($3.80) and the improved Tempestuous Strike ($8.00) in the final stages of the race to record an empathic win – the margins a neck by a half-length. It was jockey William Pikes’ first ride for the Millar camp, as a proud trainer declared 1200m and 1400m assignments were on-track for his classy filly.

Only two other favourites returned to scale victorious today – with Travinator ($1.18) “making a mess” of a disappointing four horse field to win the Corestaff HCP 1000m by a soft 1 ¾ lengths. Texan ($2.40) led and narrowly won the Birthday Stakes 1200m by ¾ length, after looking in trouble passing the final furlong.

Sitting handy or leading was the way to go again at Belmont today. Verdello Blue ($5.00) hunted forward early from barrier seven to sit handy throughout, before digging deep inside the final 400m to win the Groundwater Control HCP 2000m. Surprise pack Reale Fury ($10.00) did exactly the same in the Noel Kavanagh Memorial HCP 2200m, outlasting the fast finish of Battle Ace. Modello ($5.50) accounted for rivals to lead all the way in the Way To Go Troy Smith HCP 1200m, and ditto for the Kalgoorlie trained Donnyonetime ($17.00) – leading the Crown Perth HCP 1000m field on a merry dance to snatch victory by a long head in the penultimate.

The run of the day for mine was split this week between two Perth Cup prospects. Jappaloop ($5.00) came from last and was in trouble throughout the final stages of the Rosie O’Grady’s Northbridge HCP 1400m, before an amazing ride from Brad Parnham which saw the horse elevated to victory from nowhere in the shadows of the post. And one cannot go past the run of Reale Fury – Shaun O’Donnell rating his mount to perfection to salute in the Noel Kavanagh Memorial HCP 2200m – beating the best bet of the day Battle Ace in the process.

Peter Knuckey did best of the jockeys with yet another race day double, returning him to the top of the Jockeys’ Premiership alongside William Pike – both hoops now with 13 victories each.

Chris Blackwell