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Another week of bright blue skies – another week of mixed results – that is pretty much the headline for today’s Belmont Park program, as Perth’s dry winter continued to provide excellent racing conditions. More favourites won than expected proving a decisive victory for the Punters on paper, but despite the public elects finding the line in a majority of the races – the starting markets were tight, with a number of conveyances catching the eye of the turf investors. Premiership hoop William Pike continued his winning form in the saddle with a race to race double when leading all the way aboard Express Service for Darren McAuliffe in the second, before providing the Ascot trainer with a stable double when extending Ram Jam’s winning run to five on the trot with a clinical victory in the third. Jockey Jarrad Noske emulated the riding feat when securing a desperate win for the resuming Generous Choice for Dan Pearce in the fourth, before making a statement aboard Rock Magic for Chris Gangemi in the sixth. Aside from McAuliffe’s training success for the day, the Gangemi family was also celebrating multiple successes – father John preparing Broome Cup victor Central Park for a crushing victory in the north/west feature.

PR1). Westspeed HCP 3YO BM64+ 1400m.            

There may have only been six runners contesting the opener, but the “money-go-round” was immense as Punters pondered over who would win. Rodeo Drive ($2.80 fav) was literally the only horse that remained firm in the market throughout, while a late splash of cash saw Maximus Mak ($4.00 – $3.00) narrow the ledger – and the money move would be right. Flying Roar ($6.00 – $5.00) led, with Maximus Mak tracking closely in second, and swinging for home the pair shot clear – Maximus Mak doing the best over the concluding stages to prevail by a mere neck. Rodeo Drive was found out of its ground, but still ran on well into third – a further 2 ¾ lengths adrift.

WATCH: You really needed to be in the leading division to have any chance today – we’ll stay with the swooping Rodeo Drive as a result.

PR2). Belmont Park Cup BM84+ 1650m.

You could have got as much as $7.50 for Express Service ($4.60 – $4.00) prerace on the fixed markets, and despite the huge tip for another (Full Steam Ahead – $3.30 fav) the Danehill Express 5yo had shown enough to Punters in its three runs since resuming to suggest it was narrowing in on a well overdue victory. Winning the Magic Millions and Challenge Stakes as a 3yo, Express Service hadn’t returned to scale victorious for over a year, but when William Pike led his mount to the turn with ease – all that was about to change. Straightening up Express Service just kept going, as The Alleged ($19.00) and Bippo No Bungus ($5.50) failed to pick up the leader, before Operational ($16.00) came late to get within ¾ length.

WATCH: Bippo No Bungus looked one run away from its peak – will keep very safe next start.

PR3). Westspeed Stayers’ Bonus BM65+ 2000m.

There are not too many horses that win four on end and receive as much flak as Ram Jam ($2.70 – 3.20 fav) had endured during the week, but there is no better feeling than silencing the critics and trainer Darren McAuliffe would be one of faithful “laughing last”. Latin General ($201.00) and Carney ($14.00) set a steady tempo upfront, but Ram Jam was looming large, and as they swung for home William Pike unleashed the favourite with a stunning turn of foot to career to the line for a dominant 1 ¼ length win. Heart Show ($7.00) and Korenica ($10.00) both ran on late to finish second and third respectively. A double for Pike – a double for McAuliffe – and five in a row for Ram Jam.

WATCH: When Latin General stopped, it dragged a luckless Dubai Escapade back through the field – bit effort to collect itself and finish where it did (2 ½ lengths fifth).

PR4). Westspeed HCP 3YO 1MW 1200m.

By race four the Bookies were reeling following a string of fiscal plunges that went against them, but relief was insight as the last leg of the early quaddie would present a result few saw coming. First starter Pernella Miss ($10.00) had been the focus of media attention during the week following a string of recent trial victories, and when the Rock Of Gibraltar filly led to the turn and extended in the straight it was looking like the hype was right. But Jarrad Noske had the resuming Generous Choice ($17.00) in the sweet seats, and took off after the leader inside the final furlong – nailing it on the line by a desperate neck. William Pike who was looking for an early treble in the saddle, charged favourite Miss Cyclonic ($2.70 fav) late to gather third a further ¾ length astern.

WATCH: Really impressed with the run of Pernella Miss – a bright future looks imminent for the filly.

PR5). TABtouch Home Of Racing & Sports Betting BM72+ 1200m.

There were a number of close finishes today at Belmont Park; none more so than the first leg of the major quaddie. Punters struggled to separate sprint specialist Thateldo ($3.50 – $3.30 fav) and the resuming multiple winner Son Of Something ($3.00 – $3.60) and rightly so as only a nose would determine the eventual winner. Roman Knows ($51.00) and Hans Up ($11.00) vied for the early lead with gusto, but turning for home Oz Racing’s Comfysofa ($8.00) appeared from its handy position to charge to the front – quickly putting a couple of lengths on rivals. But the 59.5kg impost was telling on the Comfy 6yo as Thateldo loomed up and shot past Comfysofa, before Son Of Something and Wild Charger ($10.00) rattled home late to force a three-way photo on the line – Thateldo clinging on by a nose from Son Of Something, with a further long head to Wild Charger.

WATCH: Massive run from Son Of Something who will further improve as it steps up in distance.

PR6). Perth Racing In Facebook & Twitter BM71+ 1400m.

There has been many a horse owner who has gambled furiously on their own investment – some successfully – most not – but today for the owners of Rock Magic ($7.00) their plunge would not only come off, but go relatively unnoticed by fellow Punters. Early four figure bets saw the Redoute’s Choice 5yo come in from $9.00 into $7.00 – where it stayed in the market for the majority of the lead up to the sixth, but when Jarrad Noske strolled his mount past Dream Lifter ($3.80) and Stagnite ($3.60 fav) inside the final furlong and kicked clear by win by nearly two lengths – fiscal bliss was achieved – well, for the lucky owners anyway.

WATCH: Trade Down produced the fastest final 600m for the day to finish fourth from well back – super consist this one and should win again soon.

PR7). BGC Contracting P/L HCP BM60+ 1650m.

The Trade Fair progeny had taken all before it this Belmont Park season, and we were about to see another of its talented offspring add to the sires amazing success rate. Cougar Nights ($3.00 fav) had resumed well from a 71 week layoff, which had seen it smash midweek rivals first up, before going down by a neck to Kheleva a fortnight ago at weekend winter headquarters, and when Troy Turner stormed the Michael Lane trained 5yo past a gutsy Bradford Badboy ($11.00) on straightening, a deserved 1 ½ length victory was ensured. Bradford Badboy held onto second, a half-length clear of the fast finishing Silver Painted ($7.50).

WATCH: Two big runs from the rear for Silver Painted and Red Blast – both stay under notice going forward.

PR8). Happy 35th Nathan Bennett BM60+ 1200m.

Dropping dramatically back through the classes is one way that you can improve your horse’s chance of victory, but this is usually met with the keen eye of the Handicapper who has a large impost in mind. But sometimes the equation works out in favour of the horse, and for the JJ Miller trained Heavy Set ($5.50 – $4.60 equ fav) today was its day. Detection ($11.00) and Marmaa ($17.00) went hammer and tong upfront early, as Jerry Noske and Heavy Set took a handy sit in transit. Inside the final 300m Heavy Set pounced, sprinting past the leaders before Ysmael ($14.00) jumped out of the ground late to make it a contest – only to go down by a long neck. Oakhurst Flyer ($5.50) rounded out the minors a further ¾ length away in third.

WATCH: We hadn’t seen Ysmael for over 18 months, but certainly did today – one to watch on that run.

PUNT POSTMORTEM 

I’m not usually one to highlight our punting exploits, but I am happy to tell the near comical story of those plunges that go horribly wrong.

Belmont Park did not appeal this week (and this would be clearly evident, as only an early punt on Heavy Set at $8.50 managed a return), but we had high-hopes on this year’s Broome Cup – and a series of bets on the north/west feature that “could not” see us loose… OK – here’s how it played out.

With the three favourites for the Cup, and the only chances in single figures on the tote, we had determined that one the Rob Gulberti trio of Gladstone ($2.00 fav), Reale Fury ($5.00), and Galaxon ($9.00) must take out the honours, so we unveiled a two-step plan which if successful, would see us at the very least double our money. Basically, we had to get Gladstone (who we weren’t confident about) up to $5.00 to create a safety net, so we searched the country for a safe bet to link into the Cup favourite. Gregers was the chosen horse in the last at Caulfield which we secured at $2.50, and when it won easily – step one was secured.

So with Gladstone where we wanted it, we then topped up on Reale Fury and Galaxon. The final equation suggested if any of the three horses win – we at the very least doubled our combined investment. Three chances, covering the three favourites to win regardless of the result seemed too good to be true – and it was…

Feeling very proud of oneself prerace would have been a vast underestimation, for what could possibly go wrong? – Central Park (backed into $9.00) – that’s what could have gone wrong, and as Cam McCallum and the Kimberley Cup runner-up beat off the raging favourite inside the final furlong, yet another cunning “punting” plan was destined for the scrap heap… and to make matters worse, we didn’t even back Gregers straight out – a lesson in what NOT to do on the punt…

The Verdict: A weekend to definitely forget as quickly as possible – a big FAIL…

Chris Blackwell