One of the best short-course specialists running in Victoria is four-year-old mare Belwazi and it returns to Moonee Valley this Friday night.
The Jerome Hunter-trained runner is backing up a week after her stellar three-length victory at Cranbourne and she looks set for more night racing success in the Ladbrokes 55 Second Challenge (955m).
The five-time winner has a clear liking for the tight-turning tracks and that evident with her poor effort for eighth at Sandown on January 10. She wasn’t able to hold off the challengers down the longer straight, but punters should be forgiving of that run for more than one reason.
Belwazi was carrying 60.5kg after the 3kg claim from Stephanie Thornton and she was racing on an unsuitable track, but she more than made up for it last time out with an easy victory at Cranbourne.
“We think it was because the Sandown track is downhill then back uphill, she just didn’t like it,” Hunter told justhorseracing.com.au. “The tracks she’s won on, they’ve all been tight turning tracks.
“Her first preparation she won easy at Cranbourne then I took her to Pakenham, which has a massive straight and she just didn’t finish it off, so I put it down to not handling the wet, but also the longer straight.”
Hunter is expecting another excellent performance at Moonee Valley on Friday after clocking another effortless win last week.
“She’s been excellent since and she didn’t have to do much in the run, she was ridden hands and heels for the most part,” Hunter said.
“She hasn’t left an oat and she didn’t lose any weight.
“The track rider said she feels enormous.”
The 55 Second Challenge at Moonee Valley always offers up some excitement and there’s added interest for the trainers. The winning prize for clocking the fastest time used to be a Jeep, but now a handsome cash prize is on offer and that has enticed Hunter.
“I’ll be telling Stephanie (Thornton, jockey) not to slow down on the line,” Hunter quipped. “I think if we’re five in front, she won’t be pulling up 100m before the post.
“I think it’s $55,000 for the trainer and I’d much rather that than the car anyway.”
Hunter is keen to keep the daughter of Bel Esprit racing at this level for the meantime, but isn’t against trying for something bigger later in the year.
“I’ll just keep going through the classes and if she keeps winning, she’ll end up in something bigger,” he said. “I have no long term plans, but I’ll decide how many runs she has left in her this campaign then I want to bring her back just before the spring carnival and win some more races with her.
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