On a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Hastings Racecourse, we had plenty of Racing Club activity as Square Dancer made his third appearance of the season and members got their first glimpse of Fast Bid as she paddock schooled.
Ever the professional, Square Dancer breezed through his paddock and post-parade and made it out to the backstretch to take the three-hole in the starting gate. The field of seven had already been shortened with the scratch of Convergent, before an issue in the gate with City Steel saw the runners further reduced. For most horses a smaller field is good news for their chances, however with City Steel projected to be one of the few pacesetters in the race, this was not the best news for Dancer who likes there to be some honest fractions set ahead of him.
After breaking cleanly. Dancer took a familiar position at the back of the pack while Speculator and Rak City set a comfortable early pace. Jockey Scott Williams held his Club I mount patiently throughout the whole of the first circuit, not panicking about the lack of a speed duel up front. As the speed quickened around the turn for home, Rak City started to struggle with the increased pace while European also showed signs of tiring, leaving Speculator and his off-the-pace challenger, Highway Boss fighting for the lead.
In a welcome sign to Club I members, upon asking at the top of the stretch Dancer found a faster step, picking off the two tiring horses with relative ease. The soft pace had however left plenty of energy for the two leaders who put on a fantastic head-bobbing display for the crowd with Speculator winning out by a nose. Dancer was five lengths back from those two but Scott eased off a little once he had third wrapped up, finishing a comfortable two lengths ahead of European.
Dancer’s much improved performance will no doubt be a welcome sight for Club members and racing fans alike. Trainer Steve was pleased with his effort and was happy to see his trademark stretch drive for the first time this year. The first and second placed horses have both hit the board at the $25,000 level this year and the pace scenario wasn’t in Dancer’s favour so when reviewing the race with the head, rather than the heart, this was probably a best case scenario for our boy.
We’ll check back in with Steve in a few days to see how he came out of his race, but hopefully this signals a return to full fitness and a step towards some improved form for Dancer who still has plenty of time to leave his mark on this season.
“I wish I could bet on that schooling horse!” was overheard from outside of the paddock as our newest Club II acquisition, Fast Bid headed out to meet the Hastings public for the first time.
The five-year-old daughter of Fast Company looked impressive in the paddock and seemed to take everything in stride. She has worked out three times now and trainer Pat Jarvis is just waiting for a spot in the condition book to open up so we can see how she takes to the bullring.