Day At The Track

Belated Christmas bells for Ray

11:49 AM 31 Dec 2019 NZDT
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Michael Bellman
Michael Bellman – enjoying a purple patch at the moment, particularly with the square-gaiters
Stuart McCormick Photo

Much-travelled Ararat freelance driver Michael Bellman was the ticket for some post-Christmas cheer for passionate central Victorian harness racing couple Ray and Janelle Cross.

The combination teamed up to shoot punters out of the water with a couple of long-shot winners at the Ballarat Boxing Day night meeting.

Cross, 80, had been a respected trainer-driver for decades while based in and around the Ipswich area of Queensland, but the couple decided on a Victorian seachange nearly 12 months ago, believing it provided more opportunities for their stable of predominantly square gaiters.

And Bellman, who is enjoying a purple patch at present, duly landed a winning double for the Cross team – and no prizes for guessing it was in the two trotting events on the program!

Honey Please (Yankee Spider-Kumbya (Sundon) won the John Valves Trotters Handicap at the luxurious odds of 40/1 and the Cross-Bellman combination backup it up in the very next event, the Drever Signs Trot, with Ima Calvert Rose (Majestic Son-I’m Rite Or Wrong (Dr Ronerail) at 14/1.

Five-year-old mare Honey Please was obviously ignored because of making mistakes in her two previous starts. However not long before those she strung together back-to-back wins at Ballarat (Bellman) and Maryborough (Greg Sugars).

Ima Calvert Rose, on the other hand, hadn’t saluted since late May when she was a Bendigo winner for Scott Rains. She had however been placed four times in good company.

The wins were timely, because after spending some months with longtime friend Mick Clover at Carisbrook, while finding their feet, Ray and Janelle recently moved to a nearby property of their own.

Without doubt the highlight at Ballarat was the sensational performance of Emma Stewart flying machine The Storm Inside (Rocknroll Hanover-Spirited Storm (Artsplace) in the $20,000 Lightning Sprint.

The six-year-old smashed the previous track record by a second when he stopped the clock at a spine-tingling 1.50-7. It was the second leg of a double for Chris Alford.

Trainer Stewart is almost certain to put a circle around the coming Ballarat Cup as an assignment for her champion, winner of 16 of 18 starts. He finished runner-up in the other two!

“Bomber” Bellman, who is keen on Essendon finding their mojo next season in the AFL competition, recorded another double the following day at the Stawell fixture.

He won on Eastbro Katie (Artistic Fella-Western Watch (Fake Left) for Rebecca East and Rocknroll Opal (Rock N Roll Heaven-Wattabout A Smile (Grinfromeartoear) for Brad Hunt.

And to continue on his winning way, Bellman got the money at Melton on Saturday night, coincidentally in the DNR Logistics Trot with 16/1 shot Ten Spanners (Tennotrump-Spannerintheworks (Safely Kept).

Honors on the night were shared by Jackie Barker and Chris Alford, both enjoying doubles.

Terry Gange

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