As the rain teemed down throughout the week and into race day, we knew we were in for an interesting fourth chapter to the Belmont Park season. With the rail out nine metres and a Dead 4 track presented, the leaders failed to impress, with the majority of winners saluting from a handy position. There were no major upsets on the day, but punters were forced to choose between the favoured few with limited success, as most victors appeared from the second and third line of betting. Promising apprentice Chantelle O’Grady continued her impressive form in the saddle with a riding double aboard Peck for Adam Durrant in the second, before success with Prohurst Express for Brett Pope in the fourth, while Steven Parnham emulated the feat piloting Top Show for a boil-over win for Neville Parnham in the opener, before landing On The Ropes at the death for Fred Kersley in the sixth. Brett Pope did best of the trainers, securing his first weekend double in town with Bayatorio and Prohurst Express both saluting in style.

PR1). Passages Resource Centre 2YO BM61+ 1300m.
With the rail out nine and the dead surface, we all expected the well-drawn leaders to feature prominently – oh how wrong we would be, and it would not take long to have to reassess plans. The undefeated Cuanzo ($2.00 fav) was expected to string together its third win on end with a bold forward showing, but when the Oratorio gelding failed to lead we sat back and watched the unthinkable unfold. Fathing Fast ($8.00) led to the turn with Cuanzo in fourth, but the swoopers were lining up as Top Show ($7.50) and Keysbrook ($14.00) stormed home from near last – the former doing best to prevail by a half-length.
WATCH: Oh dear!!! – what a mess to start proceedings – not a lot to report here, but maybe keep an eye on Keysbrook next time they are running on.

PR2). St Vincent De Paul BM78+ 2100m.
A small field of only seven runners competed in today’s staying event, and the heavens opened up as they jumped to add another spanner into the works. Five of the seven could win, and when no-one was keen to lead Shaun Meeres was forced to defy riding instructions and pushed forward with Daneclicked ($8.00). Public elect Ora Dare ($2.35 fav) was returning to open company following a good win a fortnight prior, but found itself last in transit and struggling to keep in touch. Albany Cup victor Peck ($4.80) and Operational ($6.50) accounted for Daneclicked at the 200m mark and went head to head to the line – the photo finish saw Peck had done enough to fall in by a mere nose.
WATCH: We’ll be staying with Ora Dare – worked home well, but will need to hunt a bit closer in this class.

PR3). Rotary Club Of Perth 3YO BM64+ 1400m.
Punters were keen to get some runs on the board, and the classy Saint Bro ($2.40 fav) looked to be their savior – wrong again… The Flying Pegasus gelding stormed to the front with Bayatorio ($4.80) forced to press forward from barrier five to sit outside the leader. As they swung for home locked together, Saint Bro looked to be struggling as Bayatorio kept coming – accounting for its fancied counterpart inside the final furlong, before warding off the fast finishing Step Right Up ($14.00 – $8.00) by a neck. Saint Bro faded to finish a disappointing 2 ½ length fourth.
WATCH: Step Right Up was smashed to pieces in the ring prerace and was a stride off victory – one to follow.

PR4). Reed Resources HCP 3YO 1MW 1000m.
The first of three sprint races exposed a field of promising “up and comers”, but punters went “barleese” as “$4.20 the field” defined the market. L’Rondine ($14.00) took up the running and ensured a decent clip. Fancied pair Kyleena ($4.20 fav) and the resuming Prohurst Express ($6.00) positioned fifth and third respectively, and as they turned for home one would peeled wide – the other would shoot through on the rails. Matching Motors ($7.50) hit the front at the 200m, but Chantelle O’Grady had found an opening for Prohurst Express along the fence and dashed clear for a stirring ¾ length victory – and a riding double secured. Kyleena came late to finish second, a half-length clear of Matching Motors in third.
WATCH: Kyleena looks a very promising filly, and probably would have won on a firmer track – will pay to watch.

PR5). Westralian Drillers HCP BM78+ 1000m.
The second of the sprint events was a battle royale for punters, as the money fluctuated between the fancied duo Travinator ($2.70 – $3.50) and Thateldo ($3.50 – $2.90 fav) – and for the first time today, punters would have something to smile about. You could have remortgaged the house with confidence predicting Travinator and Park Lane ($26.00) would set the pace – and that they did with dominance as the field strung out behind the notorious leaders. But upfront was a dangerous place to be, and when Jason Brown produced Thateldo from its handy position late in the race and shot past the tiring Travinator the result was complete. Dominating ($9.00) raced wide throughout and came from near last to claim second in a blanket finish with Modello ($12.00).
WATCH: Massive performance from Dominating – the run of the race for mine.

PR6). H&N Perry HCP BM66+ 1000m.
The last leg of the sprint triple was a beauty, and for a brief moment we thought a leader might prevail – alas (for some – myself included) it was not to be. You could hear the fractious punters sigh with relief when the well fancied On The Ropes ($3.00 fav) jettisoned to the line from nowhere to claim a remarkable half-length victory. It’s A Merc ($21.00) was resuming without a trial, and when Ryan Hill flew the gates with his mount, together with Cherie Amour ($4.60), we all expected the backmarkers to run over the top them. But It’s A Merc kicked clear on straightening and looked home, but On The Ropes was too good – picking up the bolter in the shadows of the post for a well-timed victory.
WATCH: Cassidy Cowboy relished the conditions and came from the rear to round out the minors – could well be back to its best.

PR7). Computer Recycling HCP BM72+ 1650m.
We realised early Saturday morning that my brother-in-laws’ business was sponsoring todays penultimate event, but little did we know that race seven would provide our only winner for the day. Irony aside, we were in for a treat from the Shane Quilty trained Fancy Feet ($8.00), for the Fath mare was about to produce the win of the day. Drawing the carpark (barrier 13 of 14), we still can’t believe how Brad Parnham managed to get Fancy Feet into a forward position with cover so easily. And then, all of a sudden, Fancy Feet was in the lead at the top of the straight – far too early, as Dash For Home loomed up and kicked clear inside the final furlong. But Parnham and Fancy Feet were not done with yet – reclaiming the lead with a sensational turn of foot to career away for a barnstorming 2 ¾ length whitewash.
WATCH: Tower Of Lonhro was well supported and had numerous excuses – rattled home from well back to finish second and will be returning to the winners list shortly on that run.

PR8). Morton Racing HCP BM60+ 1400m.
There hadn’t been a “blow-out” result for the day, and we weren’t about to get one, as the final event would see the favourites fight out the finish. The money had poured in for the Dylan Thomas 4yo Gladstone ($5.00 – $4.40 fav) following a luckless run first up, but support was also present for William Pike and the New Zealand bred mare Fashion Princess ($5.00) – another conveyance which should have won more races this preparation. In the dash to the line, Need A Lift ($9.00) hit the front momentarily before Pike clicked Fashion Princess into gear – but Gladstone was coming home like a train and dived at Fashion Princess in the last stride – only to miss by a half head.
WATCH: Gladstone did everything but win – a must next start.

What a strange old day on the punt. We managed to find the winners for all races amongst the selections, but failed to capitalise. The “good things” did nought, and our eachway and Maddie were nutted on the line. We did pick up a nice quartet (first 4) in the second that paid a handsome $253.80, but gave it all back when Saint Bro and Travinator failed to lead all the way as expected in their respective races. It’s A Merc broke our hearts in the sixth, but we scored a nice $45.50 quinella as a consultation prize, before Fancy Feet provided our only winner in the penultimate. Our worst result was Gladstone in the last, but the $1002.70 quaddie result returned our money. The Verdict: Happy to crawl away with a nil-all draw.

Chris Blackwell