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By Graham Potter | Sunday, August 28, 2011

Doomben, August 27, 2011.
Track - Heavy 8. Rail - out 2m.
Benchmark 90 Handicap (Fillies And Mares) - 1010m.
1 Belletrist; 2 Pointe Dancer; 3 Multire Music; 4 Carry To Fortune.
Time: 59.72. Last 600m: 35.30.
Margins: Neck; Neck.

We didn’t know it at the time, but Belletrist’s astonishing, flying finish and the subsequent tragedy that engulfed the mare and her connections was to be the final play of the day at Doomben on Saturday.

It could not have been a sadder finale.

Strung up near the rear of the field for much of the running before switched out sharply into clear running with 250m left to run, Belletrist looked for all the world like she would finish as an ‘also ran’, but somehow she found the heart to not only range into contention from a hopeless position, but to finish off with rare acceleration to run down the dueling Pointe Dancer ($6.00) and Multire Music ($6.50) to claim what was a spectacular victory.

But if one stride brought glory, the next served up heartbreak as Belletrist broke down badly as she crossed the line.

A look of terror was etched on the face of apprentice jockey Mitchell Wood as he scrambled from the saddle. That was replaced by an expression of utter desperation as Wood then turned towards those in the stewards tower for help he would have known would arrive too late to serve any purpose. Given the scope of her injuries, Belletrist was beyond anything but humane intervention and the final outcome was inevitable.

The sadness then exploded and reached every corner of the ground. The fact that Wood managed to walk back and complete his professional duty by weighing in while weeping openly for his lost friend says much for his character. The strapper’s distress was even more poignant. She had to be assisted from the track in a complete state of shock and grief and the degree of her suffering permeated through to those who witnessed it.

Trainer Troy Hall was not at the track.

In her final race Belletrist moved her race record up to eight wins and five minor placings from twenty-four starts for stake earnings of $142 350.

Forgotten in the gloom was the stout efforts of both Pointe Dancer and Multire Music who were brave in defeat. Both did plenty of work early and then they showed good commitment when they joined issue in a battle which lasted the length of the straight. That two-way shoot-out looked to be the chase for the win, but then before Belletrist came from the clouds to relegate Pointe Dancer and Multire Music into the minor placings.

Belletrist won the sixth race on the card. After taking advice from jockeys about their concerns regarding the visibility issue out on the track, stewards decided to abandon the remainder of the meeting.

Jockey Mitchell Wood (Speaking the day after his traumatic experience): “ It was a tremendous and an enormous win to say the least.

“She came from so far off them. I was under the pump at the 600 and under the persuader at the 500, but the way she just picked up when she got around that corner and got into the clear … at the 300 when I hooked her out and she got that clear run she just picked up and let down like a good horse does. I was just stoked with the win.

“Then, as we all saw, the way the tragedy unfolded just after the winning post … there’s not much you can say. She was a good horse. She will be missed by everyone. Loved by all!”

Winner (Belletrist): 5.00 out to 6.50 in to 5.50.
Favourite (Carry To Fortune): 4.40 in to 3.80. Finished fourth.

Carry To Fortune (R. McMahon) was slow to begin.

Approaching the first turn Seductive Grey (C. McIver) had to be steadied when momentarily tightened for room by Beethog (A. Butler).

Billy Blue Gum (T. Bell) raced wide throughout.

Pointe Dancer (R. Wiggins) laid out during the middle stages.

Apprentice M. Wood, the rider of Belletrist, was issued with a charge of careless riding under AR. 137(a) in that near the 250m he permitted his mount to shift out when insufficiently clear of Aspiran (B. Looker), which after shifting away from Belletrist, was taken out further off its line of running by Belletrist which resulted in Billy Blue Gum having to be checked when tightened for room between Aspiran and Carry To Fortune.

Stewards acceded to a request by apprentice Wood to have his master present at the inquiry and adjourned the matter until 9 a.m. on Monday, 29 August 2011, at the offices of Racing Queensland, Deagon.

R. McMahon reported that Carry To Fortune was fractious in the barriers and as the start was effected shifted back and as a result was slow to begin.

He added that whilst he endeavoured to ride the horse forward as instructed, several other runners which were drawn to his outside had crossed his running shortly after the start and as a result he was not able to progress forward. R. McMahon added that Carry To Fortune had a tendency to lay out in the middle stages and as a result raced wide for the majority of the event.

Belletrist (M. Wood) broke down shortly after passing the finish line, fracturing both sesamoids, and was subsequently euthanased on humane grounds.

Following the running of Race 6, a majority of the rider group approached stewards, voicing concerns with the lack of visibility following continued rain throughout the day. After giving consideration to the concerns expressed by the riders, stewards took the decision to abandon the remainder of the meeting in the interests of safety.

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