Allotted an overwhelmingly favourable weight advantage Balazo (Oshane Nugent), trained by Nicholas Smith, was predictably sent off the odds-on market choice and was always clear of rivals to land the opening event by over seven lengths, thus setting the stage for the form players to have a productive afternoon.
Trainer Patrick Lynch’s much-raced grey filly Sheboom (Robert Halledeen) at even money escaped the embarrassment of being labelled a professional maiden when she won the second event.
It was the 16th attempt by the daughter of American Dance who made the frame in 10 of her previous starts, with odds of 9/5 being her highest in the last nine starts.
Acquired recently and trained by Ryan Derby, Night Light’s very dark bay coat glistened in the afternoon sunshine during the post parade and he justified his looks, making all the running piloted by Javaniel Patterson to be the third winning favourite on the 10-race promotion.
Form players were sent happily to payout windows for the fourth-consecutive time when the Wayne DaCosta-conditioned colt Sudden Flight (Anthony Thomas) led clearly over the 1000-metre straight course and became the second even money favourite entering the winners’ enclosure.
Provisional joint 2020 champion jockey Dane Nelson, having ended the season sharing 168 winners with Anthony Thomas, his friend and chief rival, got his personal 2021 season underway when 7/5 favourite Star Lee, trained by Victor Williams, came home just over a length in front of the 14-horse field contesting the fifth event. Note that a Nelson mount returned a positive, and there is an appeal of Thomas’s award of a winner on a disqualification which is yet to be decided.
It got better for the legion of supporters of “Warrior Chief” Nelson over races six and seven as he secured a three-timer. Long odds-on favourite Princess Lauren, from the Alford Brown camp, in the sixth went clear in the upper stretch and scored by six lengths, while in race seven 11-year-old Royal Vibes at 5/2 , under a great ride, demonstrated it had retained enough ability to win for the twelfth time in a 122-race career – thus giving conditioner Brown an early season double.
Fairly talented US-bred colt Excessive Force essentially toyed with his eight rivals over the 1500-metre gallop of the eighth race, winning by over seven lengths and with jockey Linton Steadman making sure the Philip Feanny-schooled son of Broken Vow did no more than necessary. Still, the impressive chestnut’s wide victory margin could hardly be avoided and is an indication there is plenty of scope for further improvement.
Fans got a treat in the ninth event when 2020 Classic aspirants Another Affair (Anthony Thomas) and Double Crown (Dane Dawkins), the two most fancied in the betting, faced off.
Another Affair was second in both the 1000 Guineas and the Oaks and went close in the Derby while Double Crown was only third in the 2000 Guineas and made no impression in the remaining Classics. Both riders treated the 1700-metre gallop as a match and worked hard to outdo each other in the headlines. However, it was the gelded Double Crown who had the better reserve of stamina and scored by three and a half lengths over the game filly as the 7/5 second favourite.
Crafty And Ready, piloted by 2019 champion Christopher Mamdeen, made all in the nightcap at odds of 2/1 for trainer Steven Todd’s good form to be extended.
In conclusion trainer Ian Parsard is given special mention for reforming Double Crown, who had seemingly lost his zest during the Futurities but has returned to impress in his last two races. Jockey Dane Dawkins is deservingly recognised with the Jockeyship Award for his tactical acumen in making the race a test of both speed and stamina.