It was a simple case of “reward for effort” for the Grant Williams trained Western Blaze at Ascot today, when it produced a dazzling late finish to claim this year’s $80,000 listed Raconteur Stakes 1500m.

Sent out equal favourite for the event, the 3yo Hard Spun gelding was ridden back in the field by premiership jockey William Pike. Duel race favourite Soaring Lad ($4.00 equ fav) hit the ground running as it charged to the lead upon barrier rise, with Passion Cantata ($4.20) and Advantage Norman ($12.00) in hot pursuit. Make Your Move ($4.20) also eased towards the rear, as the field strung out over the middle stages.

But it would be the back markers who would contest the finish of today’s feature. Emulating the feats of its Perth Cup winning half-sister Western Jewel back in 2011, Western Blaze ($4.00 equ fav) had plenty in reserve entering the straight, as it stormed down the centre of the track for a memorable 1 ½ length victory. Make Your Move also finished off from well back to claim second, while Soaring Lad pulled up a further length away in third.

It was the second career win for Western Blaze, and well deserved after finishing second behind Sireeze in the TJ Smith 1600m earlier in the month.

Chris Blackwell