Wesley wins, but bad news for Belle

By Michael Guerin

The shock failure of NZ Oaks winner Ideal Belle at Alexandra Park on Friday remains a mystery.

And champion trainer Barry Purdon says he has no choice but to turn the page and press on with her campaign aimed at qualifying for the Jewels.

Ideal Belle gutted punters when she stopped suddenly when leading in the $25,000 Kumeu Stakes, dropping out to finish 28m from the winner Wesley Silcox – who continued a great run of success at Alexandra Park since becoming part of the North Island branch of Robert Dunn’s stable.

Purdon knows something must have been wrong with the outstanding mare but he still has no idea what is was.

“We had her vetted after the race and couldn’t find anything,” says Purdon.

“Clearly something was up because it wasn’t like she faded out and finished a length of two behind them. She stopped really badly.

“But we have done the test and found nothing so we really have to turn the page and keep going.

“To be fair to everybody we will take her back to the trials on Saturday week and  make sure she performs well before racing her again.”

The performance puts Ideal Belle under extra pressure as she is still a long way off having enough money to qualify for the Jewels, with probably only three races left to win another $20,000 before the mid-May deadline.

Her stablemate Sky Major faces an even more daunting task as he tries to qualify for his shot at becoming the first ever three-time Jewels winner.

He has not raced since winning the Chariots of Fire in Sydney on March 1, missing the Auckland Cup because of a lung infection.

Because Sky Major has only raced once here this season he has almost no stakes toward a Jewels qualification and will need placings at worst in the Taylor Mile and Messenger next month to make the Jewels, with around $30,000 in stakes probably enough to sneak into the field.

He heads to the trials tomorrow and again on Saturday week before the Mile on April 17.

“We don’t really have much choice but to head into the Taylor Mile fresh and if he is good enough to win it or the Messenger then we will be in (the Jewels) or even a couple of placings,” says Purdon.

“Then we might even have a race after if we need a few more dollars but if he can’t run placings in those big races he probably doesn’t deserve to be there.”