West Coast test for Belmont Major
By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
A refreshed Belmont Major will head to Patterson Park on Saturday to contest the Pulse Energy Westport Cup (3200m).
The Tom Bagrie-trained gelding was given a freshen-up after his two runs over New Zealand Cup week last month and is now primed for a West Coast campaign.
Bagrie was pleased with Belmont Major’s efforts at Addington Raceway last month, where he finished runner-up on Cup Day before posting an unplaced result on Show Day.
“I thought he went really well,” Bagrie said. “On the first day when he ran second, he worked early to find the lead and then handed up. He found the line pretty strong in a 1:54 mile rate, which is pretty good going.
“On the second day he drew wide (8) and it became one of those situations where we got the bad luck and sat parked. He never gave it in, he did a lot of work and they went a hard time.
“Backing up after the Tuesday, after a couple of hard runs, told a bit.
“I gave him a freshen-up after Cup Week because of that.”
Belmont Major had a trial last week, where he finished runner-up behind Saturday race rival Rocknroll Rod, and Bagrie said that run topped him off nicely for his three race West Coast campaign.
“He had a trial last week. John Dunn drove him and he was happy. He has come through the run well,” Bagrie said.
Belmont Major will start behind the 10m tapes and Bagrie is expecting the gelding to begin well from the back mark.
“I think he will step away quite well with horses in front of him,” Bagrie said.
“It will give him something to chase and it will be good to get in front of Rocknroll Rod and stay in front of him. He will probably be the hardest one to beat.
“On the grass, over two miles, it will be a bit of a slog if it’s wet. Hopefully we will be able to go close or be there in the finish anyway.”
All going to plan, Belmont Major will continue on the West Coast circuit after his Boxing Day run.
“We will play it by ear, but if we can get away with it, he will probably go to all three days and we will reassess after Reefton,” Bagrie said.
Bagrie will also line-up siblings Wickenheiser and Starvin Marvin in the Pat Scanlon Memorial Mobile Pace (2600m) and Graeme & Joan McMaster Mobile Pace (2600m) respectively.
“They are half-brother and sister,” Bagrie said. “Wickenheiser is a year older and has got a bit more on Starvin Marvin at the moment because of that.
“She is a nice mare who went well in her first start and hit the line well. She has got a good draw (1) so I am hoping we can make the most of it.
“Starvin Marvin has got a draw (10) that suits him as well. Being one on the second line he won’t have to do much work and hopefully he can have some luck because that will suit him down to the ground, just having one run at them.
“They are good, genuine chances.”
Bagrie is looking forward to heading across to the West Coast and said it should be on every harness racing enthusiasts bucket list.
“It is definitely a bucket list item,” he said. “It is a really good trip and we are really looked after by the locals.
“It is their Cup Week, all the locals go and pack it out and make a couple of days of it.
“Hopefully it is dry and people can enjoy it for what it is.”