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NO MAGIC MILLIONS – BUT CANTERBURY WAS A NICE “CONSOLATION”




STRANGE game this racing!

Wyong trainer Brett Partelle had hoped to run his stable stalwart Commander Bell in the $1m Subzero (2200m) at the Magic Millions carnival at the Gold Coast last Saturday, and went as far as Coffs Harbour en route with him, intending to continue the trip on race morning if he got a start.

However, the gelding was fourth emergency and didn’t make the cut, so Partelle returned home and headed in the other direction to Canterbury last night, where Commander Bell again was an emergency for the $60,000 Benchmark 64 Handicap (1900m).

Fortunately, he got a start this time and a heady Adam Hyeronimus ride landed him a $41 winner, giving his trainer his first city success in nearly two years.

Ironically, the first two emergencies gained starts – and ran the quinella.

As far as punters were concerned, the wrong “commander” won as the Wyong roughie beat $4.20 favorite Fleet Commander, but it mattered nought to Partelle, who was surprised his horse was sent out at such lengthy odds.

“Commander Bell won a similar race over 1900m at Gosford in late November, and should have won the Lord Mayor’s Cup there over the same distance on New Year’s Eve,” he said today.

“He drew the outside barrier and had no luck at all after racing wide, but kept coming to the line to finish fifth.”

Commander Bell was trapped wide again last night, so Hyeronimus took off in the back straight to take up the running and kept going.

In a strong staying performance, the gelding never gave his opposition a look-in thereafter, comfortably defeating Fleet Commander and Lord Mayor’s Cup winner Jack Duggan ($7.50), who met Commander Bell 2kg worse from their Gosford clash.

“I’ve got only a small team (12) in work these days, and don’t go to town very often,” Partelle said.

“Commander Bell won the Tuncurry Cup last September, and it was great to see the old horse win in town for the first time.”




Partelle not only has a “soft spot” for Commander Bell, but Canterbury as well – and it’s understandable.

His previous city runner was the unplaced Iconic Story there last July, and his last city winner also was at Canterbury, where he has won 11 races (five more than at Rosehill Gardens).

Bedtime Stories (William Pike) won a Benchmark 72 Handicap (1100m) against her own sex on February 18, 2022 at $14.

“We got her later in his career after she had run last at Moree in July, 2020,” Partelle recalled.

“We managed to win a couple with her, including that Canterbury race, before she was retired.”

Commander Bell, an eight-year-old by Pierro, has raced 85 times and won nine races and been placed on 18 occasions.

He lost his rider Aaron Bullock in a 2YO Maiden Plate (1200m) on debut at Newcastle on March 31, 2018 (runner-up El Dorado Dreaming a week later won the Group 1 Sires (1400m) at Royal Randwick), and 10 runs and 15 months later broke through at Scone in a 1200m Maiden, with Greg Ryan aboard.

“Bert Vieira (of Trapeze Artist fame) raced Commander Bell early but decided not to go on with him, and a new client bought into the horse,” Partelle explained.

“He has been a terrific horse for our stable, and has won nearly $400,000 in prizemoney.

“He doesn’t like flint-hard tracks, and I try to avoid them whenever I can.”

Commander Bell is the first foal of now deceased Melbourne mare Hi Belle (eight wins including a Group 3 and two at Listed level), who died in August last year.

“Being out of a Clangalang mare, Commander Bell likes wet tracks and has won four on heavy ground and two on the soft.

“Canterbury was drying out last night to a ‘Soft 5’, but there was enough give in the track to suit him.”

Fellow Wyong trainer Sara Ryan continued her outstanding season when Cirebon ($3.70) took the Benchmark 72 Handicap (1550m); her second victory from her last three starts.

Ryan has now 17 races since August, including the $3m Big Dance with Attractable at Randwick last November, and 30 in a brief career which keeps getting better.

Story John Curtis, January 20, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos

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