The market told one story – the result provided another. “Five to one the field” defined an extremely open Happy Birthday Taryn McRae HCP 1000m today at Belmont, and in part replicated the finish, despite the eventual winner saluting convincingly.

The little known Brett Pope trained Quokka ($5.00 fav) was one of six leading chances pre-race, capturing late interest from punters to claim outright favouritism. The Hurricane Sky 3yo filly was backing up from a sound midweek third on debut over the distance, and further improvement was expected after drawing barrier three. Sitting midfield on the rails early, silk Mitchell Pateman capitalised on a needle eye opening swinging the turn and surged Quokka to the line for a 1 ¼ length victory – producing the fastest final sectional (33.40sec) in the process.

Complementing the open betting market was a blanket finish for the minors with a photo required to split the next four horses. High Limit ($7.00) was declared second, a nose ahead of Mister Panon ($12.00) in third, with Oz Racing’s Zenergy ($7.00) a further nose away in fourth.

It was the first of three brilliant rides from Mitchell Pateman, who was claimed late aboard Black Romeo in the next race, before securing a riding double with Dream Lifter in the sixth.

Chris Blackwell