One could not have asked for better racing conditions on a beautiful August day, as the sun was yet again on display for the Belmont Newmarket feature at WA winter headquarters. Mixed fortunes defined proceedings, as Punter and Bookie went head to head in a titanic struggle for fiscal bragging rights – and when all was said and done – neither party would be celebrating. Premiership hoop William Pike did best in the saddle with a masterful riding treble when doing enough to salute aboard Stagnite for Sharon Miller in the fourth, lunging late to get Kheleva up for Vern Brockman in the sixth, before producing a devastating all the way hiding with Smoko for Ross & Clint Price in the Newmarket. Young apprentice Jerry Noske struck early with a riding double when leading throughout aboard Rive Gauche for Justin Warwick in the second, before returning Soldier’s Lass to the winners list for Dan Morton in the third. The trainers shared the spoils, but there were none happier that Ross & Clint Price when their sprinting hot-pot Smoko disposed of rivals in the Newmarket feature when leading all the way for a three length exhibition.

PR1). Westspeed HCP 3YO BM62+ 1000m.            

There were a few very difficult fields on offer today at Belmont Park, and the opener was definitely one of those. The money came and went for the resuming Palace Intruder ($3.20 – $4.20), as Punters finally settled on the Fred Kersley prepared Shengmu ($4.60 – $3.50 fav) in a major betting sting that would ultimately prevail. When promising apprentice Lucy Warwick fully utilized for 3kg allowance to lead early, it was simply a case of “catch me if you can” – and there were no takers – Shengmu ridden hands and heels to the line for a 2 ¼ length whitewash. Palace Intruder did get home late for second, a half-length clear of the tiring Castle Retreat in the third.

WATCH: First starter Ripper Rio seems to have some class about it – worked home well from near late into fourth after early problems and stays under notice..

PR2). Westspeed Stayers’ Bonus BM76+ 2000m.

The winning run of the Irish bred Lucciola ($2.25 – $3.20) was at seven, but few had faith in Justin Warwick’s wonder horse extending it to eight – but in what would be a welcomed relieve to Bookies, neither the multiple victor nor the eventual public elect would salute. True Gold ($3.00 – $2.70 fav) was all the rage following two recent runner-up performances of merit, and leading jockey William Pike looked to have the race planned to a tee when he forced Lucciola to race four wide as they broached the final turn. But notorious front-runner Rive Gauche ($8.00) had been left alone upfront, and skipped away as they straightened to run away a dashing 1 ¾ victor. Verdello Blue ($5.50) tried hard from its handy position, but failed to accelerate when asked – as did True Gold – the duo finishing second and third respectively.

WATCH: One very ordinary race – but we should give credit to a nice ride from Jerry Noske on Rive Gauche.

PR3). The Ultimate Sports Day 3YO F&M BM66+ 1200m.

One is always wary of horses dropping dramatically in class – despite their exposed form – and today’s third event would reinforce such a theory. Punters unleashed on Wink And A Nod ($3.00 fav) following a clinical weekend thrashing prior, together with Songburg ($3.80) who had been racing in career best form. But no one blinked an eye at Soldier’s Lass ($8.00) – Dan Morton’s mare who was racing third up following luckless runs against Listed company, and when apprentice jock Jerry Noske produced the Soldier’s Tale 5yo on straightening, her mount responded to hit the line for a dominant ¾ length win. Songburg flashed home late for second in a photo finish with the exhausted Ziva Star ($8.00). Wink And A Nod was never in the race, limping across the line a disappointing second last.

WATCH: Songburg provided the run of the race coming from eighth to get within ¾ length – should be winning again soon.

PR4). TABtouch Home Of Racing/Sport Betting BM72+ 1300m.

Punters were catching on that handy or better runners were looking the goods, as the main money move came for Lenience ($4.60 – $4.20) who surprised few when it took up the lead. Despite the spirited investment on Lenience, the favourite Stagnite ($2.60 – $2.70 fav) was still under firm notice following a soft trial win prior, and when William Pike took off after the leader as they swung for home a desperate fight to the line ensued – Stagnite doing the best in the shadows of the post to salute by a mere long head. New Time ($8.00) thundered home from eighth to finish within a length and a half.

WATCH: Another big run from New Time who remains in arguably career best form.

PR5). TABtouch-Your Industry Your TAB BM72+ 1600m.

The first leg of the major quaddie was again a raffle, with “$4.60 the field” defining runners – and you would have needed to have looked wide to remain alive. On The Ropes ($4.60 fav) captured the most interest in the ring, but little hope was given to the Gino Poletti trained Excellently ($26.00) despite an “excellent” last preparation – and when Lucas Camilleri stormed straight to the front on the Conatus 5yo, we all awaited the charge from the rear. Inside the final furlong, Korenica ($11.00) looked the only danger as it stormed home last from seventh on the turn, but the bird had flown – Excellently clinging on for a well-timed short neck victory.

WATCH: Korenica again stays in the Black Book, as does The Alleged who had every chance of winning after it sat behind the leader throughout before securing a clear run late – both maybe needing the extra run…

PR6). Marylin Raina Memorial BM60+ 1400m.

Punters were keen on the return to form continuing for Cougar Nights ($2.40 fav) following a massive midweek win upon resuming from a 71 week spell – but again they would be narrowly denied. Strangely no-one was eager to lead, which saw Numerous Secret ($41.00) taking command early – and the hoops got it right, as the swoopers loomed large. Fonzarelli ($4.60) had been well supported and hit the front on straightening, before Cougar Nights and Miki Two Toes ($4.60) took control. But this fancied trio had cut each other to pieces, as Kheleva ($8.00) unleashed late to gather all to triumph by a neck. Cougar Nights second, with a further half-length to Miki Two Toes.

WATCH: What a mix-match of a race – Cougar Nights will win soon in a race run to suit.

PR7). $100,000 Listed Belmont Newmarket 1200m.

The Punters collective blood pressure had taken a hit, but relief was in store as the final two races on the card would provide crushing victories for the public elects. WA’s latest sprint sensation Smoko ($1.70 – $1.50 fav) needed no introduction – the Snitzel 5yo murdering rivals in its first five starts, before an upset second in the Beaufine Stakes after racing wide throughout from a poor draw. Excuses aside, Punters were lining up to recoup their Beaufine losses, and when William Pike strolled his mount to the lead upon barrier rise – the race was over – Smoko spacing the field inside the final furlong before pulling up 3 lengths clear. Dominating ($6.00) and Celebrity Miss ($7.50) made up the minors – but were completely outclassed.

WATCH: All hail the winning return of Smoko – onwards and upwards for this exciting prospect…

PR8). Rosanna Smith Birthday Wish BM60+ 1000m.

And if you thought Smoko’s win in the penultimate was clear cut enough – the final would raise the bar further. The David Harrison trained Benito ($4.40 fav) had produced a fine preparation to date with two big wins over the five furlong trip, and Punters again rallied hard behind the its chances. Renee Forrest had no hesitation in taking the Due Sasso 4yo to the front, and with a touch of de ja vu in mind, careered away from the rest of the field in the straight to produce a 3 ¼ winning margin. Nightingale Road ($4.60) came from last to claim second – a half-length clear of Jack ‘N’ Sam ($26.00).

WATCH: Massive run from Nightingale Road – this Bel Esprit mare has been sensational this time in, and looks to have a bright future in weekend company.


A comforting return of “fun coupons” to the back pocket this week. Best bet Stagnite ($2.70) did the job, as did each way fancy Soldier’s Lass ($8.00) – and securing the $1311.10 early quaddie had us well up mid-program. The Alleged ($11.00) was our worst result (really should have won from there…), as the upset result quashed our main quaddie hopes. The seemingly obvious $63.30 quartet (first 4) in the Newmarket topped off a good day on the punt.

The Verdict: A credible pass – about time…

Chris Blackwell