Guineas Day at Belmont Park this year will be remembered for a variety of reasons – most of which centring around the dreadful weather conditions both rider and steed were forced to negotiate. But as the heavens opened, we were in a series of terrific races as the “mud-larks” finally got their chance to shine – and shine they did… Jockeys Brad Parnham and William Pike did best in the saddle scoring riding doubles – Parnham successful for father Neville (Parnham) twice with a brilliant victory aboard Top Show in the second, before bursting through late with Dominating in the sixth. Pike emulated the feat – surging Wild Stratus to the line for Simon Miller, before producing the near impossible in the Guineas feature aboard Tick Tick Bloom for Adam Durrant.

PR1). Westspeed Stayers HCP BM78+ 2200m.
Small fields are thwart with danger – not only for the runners, but also for punters alike. With only four going around in the opener, the question was who would do what, when and how – as the speed map got thrown out the window. Fancy Feet ($4.40) did lead as expected, but a desperate game of “cat and mouse” ensued as the small field crawled over the first mile. When the speed was finally applied, public elect Ora Dare ($1.80 fav) again struggled to pick up the pace, as Operational ($4.80) loomed up late to gather Fancy Feet and score by a long neck.
WATCH: If we’ve learn’t one thing here, it’s that Ora Dare hates small fields – is better than that, and should win again soon.

PR2). Westspeed Nursery HCP 2YO BM60+ 1600m.
There was a lot of media attention during the week surrounding the third clash between Stratum filly Top Show ($2.10 – 1.80 fav) and Keysbrook ($4.40) – and for the third time we would see this pair run one/two. With one victory each, today would be the decider (for now), as punters rallied hard for Top Show to turn the tables in the minutes prior to the jump. As most expected, the swing in the weights would prove the difference, as Brad Parnham and Top Show emerged from their handy position on the turn to race away with a 1 ½ length victory. Keysbrook was game in defeat – rattling home from ninth to secure the runner up cheque for the second time.
WATCH: It’s all about these two wonderful fillies – Top Show and Keysbrook – daylight to the rest…

PR3). Westspeed HCP 3YO BM62+ 1000m.
Looking to continue its unbeaten run, the Simon Miller trained Wild Stratus ($2.10 – $2.70 fav) looked a treat prerace, but it wasn’t enough to convince punters as the Hurricane Sky filly drifted markedly as the first of the major weather fronts descended upon Belmont Park. Ignition ($15.00) hit the ground running to take up the lead, as Wild Stratus took a handy sit in third. But as they turned for home it would be Jest Envy Her ($19.00) doing best along the rail to take the lead momentarily, before William Pike worked Wild Stratus towards the firmer ground to salute by a length. Ignition came again to edge out Jest Envy Her for second.
WATCH: Nice performance from Jest Envy Her to work through the bog – we will be watching closely next start on a firmer track.

PR4). Vale Ivan Jones HCP BM66+ 1000m.
The second of the five furlong sprints was a relatively open affair, as punters tipped against a possible Aquanita training double – dumping War Prince ($3.60 – $5.50) to throw everything they had at last start winner Wombie’s Legacy ($4.40 – $3.60 fav) – and they would be half right. War Prince was sent to the lead which was looking like the place “not to be”, and as they swung for home the swoopers were lining up. Wombie’s Legacy swept past War Prince but was shortening stride dramatically inside the final furlong, as Flying Time ($6.00) emerged from the pack to career away with a dominant two length spanking.
WATCH: It was a massive run late from Heavy Set to claim second – just about ready to win a race on that run.

PR5). Westspeed Noms Closing 18/7 BM72+ 1200m.
As the Belmont Park track deteriorated from dead to slow going, it was only a matter of time until a mud lark would prevail – but there weren’t many who predicted what was going to happen next. The David Harrison trained McScar ($61.00) had not won for 630 days, but had performed well dead tracks prior, and when Renee Forrest came again with the McFlirt 7yo after being headed by Mendicity ($7.00) at the 200m mark – the major upset of the day was secured. Fiddlers Elbow ($2.60 fav) and the resuming Back To A Walk ($3.30) were never in the race – finishing sixth and fifth respectively.
WATCH: Mendicity was another which found itself on the worst part of the track late – would have won otherwise.

PR6). Perth Racing VIP Package BM78+ 1400m.
Only a questionable upheld protest had marred the “rise and rise” of Trade Fair 4yo Trading Day ($2.30 fav), and punters were happy to go again with the multiple winner. Zester ($19.00) led to the turn, but in a blink of the eye Trading Day stormed forward from its handy position to kick clear. But this race was far from over, as Dominating ($6.50) peeled away from the fence to come after the raging favourite – picking it up late for a boil-over ¾ length victory. The run of the race went to Full Reign ($51.00) who came from near last to round out the minors.
WATCH: It was a brave effort from Trading Day – this is one quality horse with a big future in store.

PR7). $100,000 Listed WAROA – Belmont Guineas 3YO 1600m.
Once in a while you witness something very special, and this year’s Belmont Guineas mile for the three year olds would provide the back drop for a remarkable triumph. The Adam Durrant trained Tick Tick Bloom ($5.50) had been super impressive in its recent performances, but many couldn’t see this classy conveyance winning from barrier 16. Bayatorio ($4.20 fav) started favourite, and looked the goods in transit as it popped into a handy position with cover. Meanwhile William Pike had Tick Tick Bloom sitting dead last, with little hope of featuring at the business end. In the run to the line, three main chances presented as Midnight Shimmer ($11.00), Happy With Kendal ($21.00), and Dabang ($21.00) came together to fight out the finish. But from the clouds came Tick Tick Bloom – storming down the outside of the track, and in one of the most amazing conclusions to a race – somehow managed to gather rivals in the final stride to win by a nose.
WATCH: Holy Cow!!! – Tick Tick Bloom wasn’t even called – that run makes my Top 10 finishes of all time…

PR8). Ascent Sales Trophies BM60+ 1600m.
Topping the finish to the Guineas would be a hard task for any runner, but we were about to see another stunning performance from a horse starting in the “river”. Trade Down ($5.00 – $6.00) had opened favourite, but the money had swung towards the ideally drawn Gladstone ($2.90 fav – barrier 5) as punters looked to recover lost revenue from the Dylan Thomas 4yo following a series of luckless runs prior. Trapped four wide in transit before swinging six wide on the turn, Trade Down was a horse on a mission – passing rival after rival with consummate ease, before kicking clear inside the final furlong to outlast the fast finishing Gladstone by a long head.
WATCH: What a great end to the card – two sensational mile performances in a row – how on earth did Trade Down win from there???

Considering the weather conditions on the day, we did reasonably well. We got $3.30 fixed for our best bet Top Show, before collecting with Wild Stratus in the third and Trade Down in the last. What topped us up were the exactas in those three races paying $4.60, $28.90, and $27.20 respectively. No luck again with the Multi going down in the final leg, while the Quaddies eluded us also.

The Verdict: We’re going to take a small pass on what was an otherwise difficult day at the office.

Chris Blackwell