In his second race start Step Right Up (Paul King) went one better than his first run at Northam by scoring narrowly in the Westspeed Nursery Handicap (1000m).
Only a half head and a long neck separated the first three horses with the Hec McLaren trained galloper prevailing over Counter Cat (Alex Hearn) and Spin Da Wheels (Peter Hall).
McLaren expected him to win at Northam on June 27 but he was beaten by Western Gem.
“He is an apprehensive type and was looking around in running that day as he had never seen that course before,” the trainer said.
The win was also a boost for jockey Paul King who had only one ride for the day and made the most of it.
King has won four races since returning to racing some two and half months ago.
King injured his elbow in a barrier incident and it got progressively worse, necessitating a bicep tendon replacement in his left arm-his whip arm. He was out for 11 months, recovering, an eternity for a rider.
King was caught three wide without cover for most of the race and was concerned that his young charge would over-race as he had at Northam.
“He tends to drop the bit and then becomes fierce when hunted up and I was worried he would do that today but he didn’t and on the corner I thought he was a real chance.”
Step Right Up won in the club colours as according to McLaren the jockey had forgotten to bring the correct colours.
FIRST UP: Sharon Miller trained, Takanori, kept his unbeaten record intact scoring a fourth win, when racing first up, since March 10, in the Gold Front Thoroughbreds Sprint (1000m).
The winner of two Bunbury races, and one at Pinjarra, William Pike just managed to get Takanori to fend off a late surge by Amber’s Hero (Shaun O’Donnell), to score by a short head with Stock Trader (Jarrad Noske) a close third.
“If she was going to get beaten it was going to be today over the short distance of 1000m,” Miller said, a reference to her charge liking more ground.
Miller said the Vital Equine filly tended to look around when she gets to the front. “She was also looking around at everything at Belmont, before the race, as she hasn’t been here before.”
Miller said the filly would only have another run before being spelled with a summer campaign in mind.
SMOKO IMPRESSIVE: Another impressive performance came from Smoko, a gelding, that won his third race from as many starts.
The win gave William Pike an early back to back double for the meeting and he will bolt in with the jockey’s premiership-for the fifth time, with the last three in a row. It got even better for Pike when the Fred Kersley trained Northpace easily won the Dayana Plate (2000m) giving the leading hoop a treble.
Father and son training combination, Ross and Clint Price, have a very good galloper on their hands.
“He did it at both ends today” Clint Price said, in reference to the galloper coming across from the outside, leading and then sprinting away late in the race from Celebrity Miss (Chris Parnham).
In fact Celebrity Miss looked a real threat at the 200m but Smoko is all class and ended up with a two and three quarter length margin on the post. Virtual Trader was well back in third place.
Price admitted he didn’t think Smoko would lead but the acceleration possessed by the son of Snitzel meant Pike was happy to take over early.
Smoko won in the good time of 1.10.65 and will now be spelled.
HALL OF FAME: Heavyweight rider Peter Hall has quickly put together four wins since returning to race riding on June 20 after serious injury.
Hall’s win on Razed In Flames, over 2100m, gave trainer Adam Durrant a handy lead on the metropolitan trainers premiership ladder that got even better late in the day.
Durrant made it a double when Summah’s Touch (Ben Paterson) won the Belmont Oaks (2000m) convincingly from Elle on Friar (Shaun Meeres). Fashion Princess was third after being given every chance by Pike and looking a winner on the home turn.
Durrant’s successful day moved the leading trainer to 52 wins –a 7.5 lead over Neville Parnham. That is virtually game over for this season’s trainers race which finishes on July 31.
Paterson’s success in the saddle in the feature increased his lead to 3.5 over Chris Parnham in the apprentices premiership tussle. That game is still on.