Bellastar is Country Championship bound after an impressive display in accounting for a quality field in the $60,000 Great Northern Brewing Queen of the North at Port Macquarie meeting on Friday.
Victory by the Bel Esprit mare provided the popular Wayne Wilkes stable with an imposing recent record in the prestigious race following victories by Lucciola Belle last year and Shotgun Roulette in 2017.
The stable is intent to capitalise on the path taken by Lucciola Belle who progressed from Queen of the North success to district representative in the $500,000 Newhaven Park Country Championship before a gallant second in the Randwick final behind Noble Boy.
With two runs under her belt since resuming from a spell, Andrew Gibbons provided Bellastar with a perfect journey just behind the pacesetters before a dominant sprint down the straight resulted in success by just under two lengths.
Gibbons currently sits in the leading group of riders for the season and has also made the Port feature his own with a previous victory on Lucciola Belle and a narrow defeat when Never Out was claimed in the shadows of the post by Ellie's Encore in 2018.
Bedtime Stories dictated terms in front for the majority of the race and ran a gallant placing for the Allan Kehoe and Winona Costin combination with Northern Wilderose proving the Paul Smith trained mare can handle the rise in class to claim third.
As a previous winner in the classic, Ellie's Encore ran an improved performance to be just behind the placegetters with Danzibar Dancer finishing in the middle of the pack on the inside.
The effort of Shelley Beach Road was encouraging at only her first appearance from a spell with the daughter of Shellscrape not enjoying the clearest of runs down the home straight after being cluttered up in traffic.
Training honour on the program went to Hawkesbury mentor, Terry Croft, when Just a Horse held off the finishing challenge of Pride of Adelaide to land the prize in race three before Lu's in Charge charged down the outside to score later in the day.
Non claiming apprentice, Mikayla Weir, was seen to advantage to take the riding mantle on the day with a comprehensive victory on Friendly before teaming up with Croft to pilot Just a Horse a winner in the following event.
Ben Looker came down the outside to land the first event on the John Sprague trained gelding, Lucky for Some while Café Royal kept her unblemished record intact with a resounding win in the Class 1 Handicap.
Casino Delight landed good wagers for the Graham Payne stable when Leah Kilner and the mare were able to hold the finishing burst of Gypsy Queen in the fifth while Salad Dodger returned to the track with glory later on the card.
Okay Boss proved to be a horse on the rise when the Matthew McCudden trained gelding provided a dominant front running display in the last to account for Power of Wexford and Up the Stairs.
Racing was conducted in steamy conditions before a good crowd of holiday makers with the track providing on paced runners with some advantage before settling down later in the day.
The club would like to acknowledge the great support of the Great Northern Brewing Company for the success of the day together with associated sponsorship of Balmoor Distributors, Hastings Fresh Meats, The Providores, Hire Port, John Oxley Motors, Programmed property Maintenance, Woodbridge Glass and B-Safe Storage Solutions.
The next meeting to be conducted at the track in on Sunday, February 9 highlighted by the Mid North Coast Country Championship Preview Class 4 Handicap over 1200 metres.
Review of the races:
Race 1 - 1.20pm B-Safe Storage Solutions Maiden Plate (1500 M)
The Jenny Graham trained gelding, Wandzel, was backed to the exclusion of all other runners and started at prohibitive odds with a sprinkling of money at longer quotes for Major Heist.
Serg Lisnyy allowed Sunset Ruby to stride around the face of the field and take up the running from Bru Na Boyne with the Paul Perry trained gelding, Swordsman, taking up third position in front of stablemate, Sweet Jamaica.
Lucky for Some was planted wide in the early stages of the event in front of Dr Mayhem and Izzat with Major Heist in the second half of the field while Wandzel showed no early speed and was relegated to the tail.
Sunset Ruby led as the field approached the home bend before Ben Looker made his move on Lucky for Some after covering additional ground to challenge for the lead with the pair clearing out from Sweet Jamaica and Hitman while Waldzel was still near the rear of proceedings.
Lucky for Some cleared away at the furlong post and the son of All American gave John Sprague another training victory at his home track with a comprehensive effort to score by just under two lengths.
Izzat and Hitman made up good ground late to fill the placings while Wandzel finished officially seventh after Robert Thompson weaved a passage between runners down the home straight.
Race 2 - 2.00pm Programmed Property Maintenance F M Maiden Hcp (1100 M)
The confident support for Exotic Pearl caused the early favourite, Always Hot, to drift noticeably with the pair starting equal elects while Just Cosmos and to a lesser extent, Dawn Thunder, shortening significantly.
There was a real charge for early supremacy with Always Hot just leading from Friendly and Just Cosmos with All a Lady and Dawn Thunder in the firing line while I'm With Flex was travelling wide before moving around the outside and claim the lead.
Grant Buckley positioned the Shamus Award filly, Exotic Pearl, in second last position in front of the debutant from the Tony Green stable, Brazen Dynamo.
I'm With Flex kicked two lengths clear down the side of the track from Just Cosmos with Dawn Thunder on the outside and Always Hot and Friendly not far away.
Just Cosmos raced to the lead in the straight before being challenged by Dawn Thunder with Always Hot and Friendly extricating into the clear while Exotic Pearl began to made ground right down the outside.
Mikayla Weir moved up the centre on the Grant Prosser trained mare, Friendly, to round up the leaders with the daughter of Strategic Maneuver racing clear to score by two lengths.
Exotic Pearl raced ungenerously down the home running but made up enormous ground over the concluding stages with All a Lady gaining third in front of Dawn Thunder, Always Hot and Just Cosmos.
Race 3 - 2.35pm Woodbridge Glass CG E Maiden Hcp (1100 M)
Pride of Adelaide was firmly labelled as $1.35 favourite for the event with Sebago the only horse who attracted any attention from a double figure quote.
Just a Horse and Not Out began well from Balboa with Koby Jennings trapped wide aboard the Nathan Doyle trained favourite, Pride of Adelaide, while Sebago settled third last early in front of Apache Cove and Secret Lago.
Mikayla Weir cleared out down the side of the course on Just a Horse to bound the son of Albrecht as a clear leader from Mr Perfection and Balboa with Pride of Adelaide making up good ground on the outside of Not Out.
Just a Horse was being nursed by Mikayla Weir down the straight and the Terry Croft trained gelding was able to repel the challenge of Pride of Adelaide to score by just under a length with Balboa holding on for third in front of Sebago who made up good ground over the concluding stages.
Pride of Adelaide will derive a great deal of benefit by the outing at only his second official start after looking the winner in the home straight before shifting ground down the outside section of the track.
Race 4 - 3.10pm John Oxley Motors Class 1 Hcp (1200 M)
Café Royal was looking to continue her unbeaten status with the Nathan Doyle trained filly confidently supported into odds on favourite with the weight of money causing Reveal the Magic and Firefly Poppy to drift.
Darryl McLellan powered the Neil Godbolt trained gelding, Full of Spirit, to a clear lead from Tears He Cried and Delight with Reveal the Magic and September Girl handily positioned early.
Koby Jennings was trapped wide on Café Royal with the Snitzel filly continuing to make ground into the firing line while Firefly Poppy travelled in the centre of the pack in front of Valley's Sister and No Dreams All Hope.
Full of Spirit still dictated terms in front as the field prepared to navigate the home bend with Reveal the Magic handily placed while Café Royal continued her run towards the leaders as the trio raced clear from Tears He Cried and Dark Secret.
Full of Spirit was still the front runner half way down the straight with Café Royal challenging resolutely before the favourite hit the front in the shadows of the post to score an impressive victory after covering plenty of additional ground.
Reveal the Magic claimed third in front of Firefly Poppy who made up ground over the concluding stages with Delight finishing officially fifth.
Race 5 - 3.45pm Hire Port Class 1 Hcp (1200 M)
Many keen judges were attracted to the chances of Casino Delight with a confident betting move causing the mare to shorten a point and resulting in Animate blowing significantly while there was a sprinkling of money for Gypsy Queen.
Following the scratching at the barrier of Nayvadius, Pass of Gold and Brazen Gypsy both began poorly and settled clearly at the tail of the field.
Casino Delight and Leah Kilner assumed the early lead from Danishki and Gypsy Queen with Castleton and Dashing Savanna handily positioned early while Animate showed no early speed and settled in fourth last placing.
Casino Delight dictated terms in front as the field headed for the judge and raced clear from Danishki and Gypsy Queen with Andrew Gibbons commencing a move aboard Animate while Rioli was making up good ground.
Casino Delight's lead was being narrowed by Belinda Hodder aboard Gypsy Queen half way down the straight but the post was too close as the Graham Payne trained mare, Casino Delight, was able to hold on for a narrow victory from Gypsy Queen with Animate making up many lengths down the outside to claim the minor prize in front of Rioli.
Race 6 - 4.20pm The Provedores Class 2 Hcp (1000 M)
Red Light Dancer was labelled as firm favourite for the race with Siege Warfare relatively firm in betting while Act of Fame, Lu's in Charge and Alshahhad were on the next line of betting.
There was a real battle for early supremacy with Inwithachance, Quite Neat and Western Alliance all challenging for the front with Red Light Dancer in the firing line despite tracking wide from Persue, Bed Talk and Lu's in Charge.
The pace was on in earnest approaching the home turn as Inwithachance led with Quite Neat obtaining the run through the centre while Red Light Dancer began to labour under pressure after covering plenty of additional ground.
The outside division began their moves with Liam Blanch flashing home on the Terry Croft trained mare, Lu's in Charge, to claim the front at the distance marker and survive the finishing run of Siege Warfare who came from the near the tail of the field to claim second. Alshahhad came down the crown of the track and made a flashing run for third in front of Wolfgram with Persue who wasn't beaten far after having a chequered passage down the home running.
Red Light Dancer yielded ground over the latter stages of the event after a wide run throughout to finish officially tenth and it might be wise to dismiss the effort.
Race 7 - 4.55pm Balmoor Distributors BM 66 Hcp (1100 M)
Alternative Facts remained favourite for the event despite easing to $2.60 with Salad Dodger attracting a significant long price move which caused Fair Dinkum to drift in the market.
Penfold was able to set the early tempo from Capannello and I'm a Jet with Edea and Just Sizzling handily placed early in front of Just Sizzling.
Salad Dodger raced in the centre of the pack in front of Smokey Eye and Fair Dinkum with Alternative Facts settling near the tail of proceedings.
Penfold still had a good lead as the field rounded the final bend from Capannello and Edea with Salad Dodger warming up to his task and Alternative Facts beginning a forward move.
Belinda Hodder claimed the lead on Salad Dodger near the one hundred metre marker and the Colt Prosser trained Star Witness gelding was able to repel the finishing burst of Alternative Facts to score a strong win with Penfold holding on for third in front of Just Sizzling.
Fair Dinkum failed to fire over the concluding stages and finished officially tenth in front of Smokey Eye and Quick Nick while Crackneck trailed the field home.
Race 8 - 5.30pm Great Northern Queen of The North- F&M BM 74 Hcp (1200 M)
Northern Wilderose was stepping up in grade from a recent Coffs Harbour victory and clung onto favourite despite drifting noticeably with a significant move for Bellastar and Bedtime Stories while Danzibar Dancer remained solid throughout betting operations.
After an even dispatch, Winona Costin allowed Bedtime Stories to take up the running from Northern Wilderose with Danzibar Dancer probing up along the fence while Ellie's Encore was handily positioned around Shelley Beach Road.
Andrew Gibbons had the Wayne Wilkes trained mare, Bellastar, perfectly placed in the centre of the field in front of Elle's Nel while Ready to Go Go settled near the tail with Yulong Monoceros.
Bedtime Stories dictated the tempo as the field approached the home bend before being challenged by the Paul Smith trained mare, Northern Wilderose, with Grant Buckley electing to sneak up along the rails aboard Danzibar Dancer.
Ellie's Encore and Bellastar commenced their runs together while Shelley Beach Road became cluttered behind the leading division.
Bedtime Stories still led at the 200-metre pole before a concerted challenge by Bellastar resulted in the daughter of Bel Esprit powering away to claim the major prize in dominant fashion.
Bedtime Stories battled on well for second after dictating terms in the lead with Northern Wilderose holding her ground to claim the minor end of the prizemoney.
Ellie's Encore battled on well for fourth with Danzibar labouring over the concluding stages while Shelley Beach Road will derive a great deal of benefit from the outing.
Race 9 - 6.05pm Hastings Fresh Meats Class 3 Hcp (1500 M)
Eurogem was the easing elect in the race from Power of Wexford with movement around Scenic Sight, Okay Boss and the Con Karakatsanis trained galloper, Damit.
After plenty of horses attacking for the lead at barrier rise, Okay Boss gained the ascendancy over Pierino with Damit and Stylish Pattern handily placed in front of Gordon's Leap, who was caught wide.
Up the Stairs and Pride of Wexford were stationed in the centre of the field just in front of Eurogem while Scenic Sight and Blinkin Snazzy showed no early speed and dropped to the rear of proceedings.
Luke Rolls and Okay Boss led narrowly from Gordon's Leap down of the side of the track with the latter not enjoying any luck in the run after being planted deep before Eurogem began a move towards the outside.
Up the Stairs began to make progress towards the front with Scenic Sight and Damit also working into the race as the fiend set sail for the run home.
Okay Gem shifted to the centre of the track with a narrow lead as the Street Boss gelding attempted to repel the challenge of Eurogem with Up the Stairs and Power of Wexford motoring home.
As the judge called a halt it was the Matthew McCudden trained galloper, Okay Boss, holding on for a decisive victory over Power of Wexford with Up the Stairs responsible for a gallant run to claim third in front of Eurogem and Scenic Shot.
Damit yielded ground over the concluding stages while Pierino weakened out of the finish after being prominently placed in the early stages of the event.
Horses to follow:
Exotic Pearl, Pride of Adelaide, Siege Warfare
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