Veteran horseman Fred Kersley would give the Egyptian Sphinx and former top jockeyAthol George Mulley a run in the poker face stakes but he was quietly purring like a cat that had got the cream at Belmont yesterday.
The veteran Hall of Fame trainer has been successful in both trotting and racing over a long period and he landed a double in successive races with Operational and Ihtsahym.
Operational has been in scintillating form and comfortably won the Westspeed Stayer’s Bonus Handicap (2200m)by a length and a quarter over The Other Harv. Consistent Cyber Crime was a nose back in third place.
Form jockey Daniel Staeck had the favourite bowling along in last for most of the race but he easily outsprinted them when asked for an effort down the centre of the track.
The time of 2.21.17 reflected the early dawdling pace,well outside the track record of 2.13.91 set by Test The Angels in 2010.
The win gave Operational a hat trick and a career record of 7 wins from 18 starts. At Belmont his form is even more impressive with 6 wins from eight starts.
“He is a much better horse here and he will be kept going while in form because the easy days are now behind him.”
Kersley said Staeck’s ride on Operational was that of a very confident rider and “he looked after him well with his big weight (58.5kg).”
Ihtsahymn was too good for Vital Importance (Chris Parnham) in the Westspeed Nursery Handicap (1400m) with Ain’t Bad (Troy Turner) next best at only his second start.
Steven Parnham had the leggy dark grey in fourth and sixth position throughout the race but resuming since running sixth in the Sires Produce Stakes on April 20 had a two and half length margin at the post over his family’s representative.
Kersley was a bit reticent of his charges’s chances before the race but said after that, “He went better than I thought he would go first up over 1400m. He can be cantankerous but he was good today and was positioned well. We didn’t turn him out for a break but have just kept him in the stable since his run in the Sires,” Kersley said.
Steven Parnham also won one for Dad when the Neville Parnham trained Black Magic Miss proved too strong for Black Romeo (Mitchell Pateman) in the fifth race over 1400m. This prevented Pinjarra trainer Brett Pope from completing a winning double.
“She has been up a long time but is in terrific form and will be kept going,” the trainer said.
Mitchell Pateman also rode a double being successful with Quokka, so named according to Brett Pope because the filly was purchased from an ad in the Quokka.
Pateman was also impressive on Dream Lifter charging past Hussy by Choice in the home straight to win his third race from five starts.
The Danehill Express three year old has never been unplaced and gives Albany trainer, Paul Hunter, a real prospect in the Belmont Guineas (1600m) on June 22. Third placed Royal Inferno will appreciate the extra journey of the Guineas too.
Waving the Flag: The racing expression ‘freshened up’ normally is used on horses but could also rightly describe Craig Staples.
On honeymoon when Flag Officer was second to Red Mercedes on May 25 Staples returned with a flourish on his regular mount, guiding the chestnut to victory over Rantorini.
The win gave owner Paul Van Loenhout his 100th win as an owner – all with trainer Paul Jordan.
Flag Officer has had breathing problems but now appears back to his old form and Jordan will try him over more distance.
Staples said Flag Officer was being ridden further back now because he had been getting fierce in running when towards the front.
In the last race, the Golden River Developments Handicap (1200m), Dominating (Brad Parnham) gave trainer Neville Parnham a double for the day with a dominating victory over Stacks On.
Dominating will now go for a spell and be set for some good summer races.
He gave Parnham a bit of a scare coming off the float with a twisted shoe looking, temporarily, a bit sore.