Billy Badger backs up superbly in Winter Cup win
Having refound his best form on the first day at Nelson on Friday, Billy Badger was accorded some respect in today's Winter Cup, starting second favourite. However, it was the well performed Alpha Rock and Mongolian Hero that dominated the markets. In the end though, it was the Art Major colt that proved too good registering the sixth win of his 29 start career.
A dual winner on the Nelson/Marlborough circuit back in January, Billy Badger had raced well at times since then. However, he was forced to race against some pretty hot fields, laden with a number of superstars of the future. Included in these starts was an unplaced run in Vincent's derby, where in coming 13th he still managed to record a highly respectable 3.08.1 for the 2600m mobile.
The Nelson winter meeting has served as an excellent means of recovering form and confidence for Billy Badger. An emphatic winner on day one, he was allowed to go out at the very generous odds of $8.
After stepping well and finding the lead early in the race, he was able to hand up to the right runner in favourite Alpha Rock for the last mile. Well poised turning for home, he was able to push out of the trail for his run at the 200m. He loomed up to Mongolian Hero at the 100m, but took all of the last 100m to head that runner. He put in the deciding stride right on the line getting a nose decision.
This was a fine performance by both runners and a top effort by Billy Badger having his first start in this grade. He has taken his stake-earnings now to over the $70,000 mark.
A couple of races later and it was the turn of stablemate Dream To Reality driven by Gavin Smith. A good third on day one, Dream To Reality went back early from his wide draw today. Sent forward to find the lead over a lap out, he always looked to be travelling well within himself. Favourite Ace High looked the only threat turning for home, but despite closing the whole length of the straight, he came up short by a head, as Dream To Reality rounded out the trip in a very good 2.58.7 for the 2400m, the last 800m in 57.5, the last 400m in 28.3.
Owned by the Leadleys, Dream To Reality has been a consistent performer throughout his short career, with today's win the 4th in just 14 race starts.
The win of Dream To Reality was the 81st for the stable from 605 runners. They are now a clear second in the premiership, but some 27 wins adrift of runaway leaders the Purdon/Rasmussen stable.
As a driver, John is up to 65 wins and sits 5th in the drivers premiership. Brother Dexter again dominates the leaderboard on 199 wins. He is also just 22 wins away from his 2000th winner as a driver.
Posted: Sun 11 Jun 2017