A roller coaster ride of success and disappointment surrounded veteran jockey Paul Harvey at Belmont today, but there was no bigger highlight than his stunning ride aboard the Nicole Pateman trained Full Steam Ahead in the perthracing.com.au HCP 2000m.
To say the Trade Fair 6yo “could have been anything” earlier in its career would be a grave underestimation. Commencing its racing as a rising 4yo in Geraldton, Full Steam Ahead had shown abundant potential – destroying provincial fields with ease before coming to town and continuing the carnage. So consistent was the speedy gelding that the possibility of feature race missions where touted, with the Railway Stakes being a legitimate target.
But maintaining such dominant sprint form proved difficult, with Full Steam Ahead commencing 2013 with a string of surprise disappointments, leaving the loyal punter questioning the fate of the once consistent gelding. That was until last week when a glimmer of hope resurfaced following a stirring second over 1600m which saw Harvey and Full Steam Ahead battle hard late in the race, displaying that never say die attitude that was once a given.
With signs of staying potential emanating from that race, Pateman decided to test her charge, opting for today’s 2000m event – and what a decision it would be.
Storming forward from barrier four, Harvey settled Full Steam Ahead ($3.60) behind the front runner Verdello Blue ($10.00), before pulling out from behind the leader at the 1400m mark as the pace slackened. A classic battle royale was about to ensue, as the leading pair eye-balled each other as they loomed up to swing the final turn.
But Harvey had a handful of horse below him – Full Steam Ahead finding a couple of lengths at the top of the straight, as the back markers offered no resistance. It was up to Verdello Blue to present another challenge – the 7yo coming again inside the final 100m but Full Steam Ahead had done enough, prevailing by a long neck.
Raging favourite Mr Arrogance ($2.70 fav) made up late ground to finish third, with the arguably impeded Terminado ($26.00) claiming fourth.
Terminado hoop Jerry Noske quickly interjected with a protest against Full Steam Ahead citing interference at the 1400m mark – the claim failing to satisfy the judges and was quickly dismissed.
It was the second of three winning rides for Harvey on the day, and the tally could have been higher – Harvey forced to jump off the victorious The Alleged and second placegetter First Flight when unable to meet the weight.