Another sunny winter’s day invited race goers to Belmont Park this weekend for the anticipated showdown between the states two best sprinters engaged in the Listed Beaufine Stakes 1000m – but as we have seen all too often, the seemingly obvious would again elude punters as the feature produced a stunning boil over few saw coming. The track played relatively true, seeing four leaders run them ragged and only two horses saluting after running on. Senior jockey Pat Carbery was the man “behind the wheel” of three sensational victories – guiding Benito to the line for David Harrison in the third, producing yet another grinding win aboard Trade Down for George Daly – and between these two – the unthinkable – a miraculous final sprint with 41 to 1 outsider Pininci to claim the Beaufine for a David Harrison training double.

PR1). Westspeed Nursery HCP 2YO BM56+ 1200m.
Three runners vied for favouritism prerace in the opener with punters finally decided on the resuming Oratorio gelding Castle Retreat ($4.20 – $3.70 fav) – and it would be a money move that would pay off. Hellyer ($8.00) led to the turn with Castle Retreat sitting on its outside, and swinging for home the duo dropped off rivals to fight out the finish – Steven Parnham getting the most out of Castle Retreat to salute by a desperate long head. Angel Sky ($4.40) battled away from its handy position to claim third in a blanket finish for the minors.
WATCH: Game performance handed in from Hellyer – looks set to run away with a race shortly.

PR2). Get Your Westspeed Noms In 3YO BM64+ 1400m.
Much like the previous race, three main hopes presented for the second event, and in what was the “go of the day” punters would again be queuing up to collect. The Neville Parnham trained Crown Lawyer ($8.00 – $5.00) had conquered multiple winner Sujet ($1.70 – $2.20 fav) a fortnight prior in a major upset, and lightening striking twice seemed to be the order of the day. Forced to lead from barrier nine, promising apprentice Chris Parnham rated the Not A Single Doubt gelding to perfection – extending in the straight to race away with a 1 ¾ length victory. Sujet failed to fire to finish a distant fourth, while the other main fancy Stagnite ($3.50) ran on from last to claim fifth.
WATCH: Stagnite was found out of its ground when last on the turn, but did produce the fastest final sectional – will be improved from the run.

PR3). Westspeed Noms Closing 18/7 3YO BM64+ 1000m.
Another leader and another producing back to back wins, as the Due Sasso progeny led the prerace market. Punters initially supported last start winner Foxalicious ($2.90 fav), but in a late change of heart – unloaded on another recent victor Benito ($7.00 – $5.00) – again investing correctly. Pat Carbery stormed the gates with Benito from barrier one with Ignition ($12.00) in hot pursuit, and quickly strung out the field with a steady pace. But as we awaited the charge from the back-markers, none appeared as Benito shot clear to hold off a brave Jest Envy Her ($8.00) by ¾ length. Foxalicious was never in the race, finishing a disappointing 5 ½ lengths off the winner.
WATCH: Big Jack looks a nice type and lost no admirers in finishing third – another Due Sasso gelding with a promising future.

PR4). Legrand Excel Life HCP BM66+ 2100m.
The fourth race of the day saw a combination of proven staying performers going head to head with a number of middle distance challengers, and when apprentice hoop of the moment Lucy Warwick led from “go to woe” aboard Rive Gauche ($4.00) for father Justin Warwick – common sense prevailed. The Zabeel 5yo had taken up the running in its last two staying events, and looked to be heading for another minor placing as public elect Gladstone ($3.70) made a spirited charge at the leader in the straight. But the final furlong proved a step too far for Gladstone – the favourite dying on its run over the concluding stages to present the Warwick camp with a 1 ½ length victory. It was daylight to third…
WATCH: Gladstone looks a stayer in the making and will benefit from further exposure over the distance trip.

PR5). MM Electrical HCP F&M BM60+ 1400m.
If ever there was reason to plonk the field in the first leg of a quaddie, todays fifth race was it – but despite the open market, the eventual favourite would prevail. The Graham Ballantyne trained Korenica ($5.00 – $4.40 fav) had been a model of consistency this time in as it worked its way through the classes to weekend company, but winners were coming from the leading division today and when the Trade Fair 4yo was found near last on the turn, premiership jock William Pike had a battle on his hands. Angel Rose ($8.00) led into the straight, but Korenica was firing up – Pike releasing his mount with a devastating turn of foot – rounding up the field comfortably to score by a length.
WATCH: Not much impressed here except Korenica – more to come from this mare one would think.

PR6). $100,000 Listed Beaufine Stakes 1000m.
The classic showdown between the undefeated Smoko ($1.60 fav) and the seasoned sprint performer Magnifisio ($3.60) would fall flat for punters, as one of the most amazing upsets was about to ensue. Despite finding form in its last two outings the unwanted Pins 5yo Pininci ($41.00) was given little hope against the state’s best, but when hoop Pat Carbery pulled his mount off the rails and kicked clear in the run for home – Bookies would be seen licking their collective lips. Smoko had a torrid run and came late at the long-shot, but the bird had flown – Pininci saluting by a length to deadly silence as a rare boil over was secured. Recode ($51.00) added further value to the trifecta when it rattled home into third, a half-length clear of a struggling Magnifisio in fourth.
WATCH: Plenty of excuses for Smoko who tracked wide the entire trip – one classy customer who will win many more races.

PR7). Belmont Midweek Races Singapore BM72+ 1400m.
There is nothing more frustrating than being tipped three horses in the same race, but when the preferred trio runs the trifecta – all is forgiven. Arguably the run of the meet at Belmont Park three weeks ago was that of Trade Fair 4yo Trade Down – circling the field with consummate ease to salute on a day where the slow conditions were not meant to suit – and today would see another stirring victory of the like. Right Honourable ($14.00) seemed to do the right thing in leading, but gave up the ghost quickly in the straight as Brother Patrick ($4.80) shot past the spent leader before Trade Down ($3.80 fav) climbed out of the ground late from ninth on the turn to claim the race by a half-length – rewarding jockey Pat Carbery a riding treble. Danablue ($5.00) rushed into third to secure the “tipped” $75.60 trifecta return.
WATCH: Brother Patrick looks to have settled in well with the Warwick stable – the ex-Goldfields conveyance looks back to its best on that run.

PR8). LD Total HCP C,H&G’s BM60+ 1400m.
Just as it seemed the leaders’ advantage had come to an end for the day, one more bolter would round out the card. Notorious front runner Rusty Peaches ($10.00) was dropping in class for this BM60+ event, and apprentice Natasha Faithfull had no hesitation in surging the Danehill Express 4yo forward from barrier four. Challengers came, and challengers went as favourite Fonzarelli ($3.50 fav) desperately tried to pick up the leader – alas to no avail – Rusty Peaches and Faithfull negotiating a clever two length winning margin. Traded Halo ($6.00) made up late ground to finish third – a further 1 ¼ lengths astern.
WATCH: Really liked the run of Civil Rights – running on from near last into fourth – one to watch…

Dear Oh Dear! – What a shocker… It was always going to be a tough day on the punt, but finding only one winner and one exotic result is unacceptable. There were plenty of races with a handful of chances, and we managed to pick incorrectly nearly all day. Trade Down winning the penultimate, together with the in-order trifecta ($75.60) came far too late as the damage had been well and truly done.
The Verdict: I’m taking up Bridge…

Chris Blackwell