The Ben Blay-trained Be My Romeo caught punters off guard at Tamworth on Monday when flashing late to win the 1000m Maiden Handicap – the Honor In War gelding paying well over $50 for the win with bookmakers.
Jockey Billy Cray sat last and well off the pace in the five-furlong event, but the four-year-old showed off an almighty finish, with Cray ducking and weaving the bay gelding through the field to win by 0.29 of a length from the Justin Bowen-trained Sunny Side Up, while Soopat for Cody Morgan finished in third.
“It was a very close finish, and we were happy to be in front at the end,” Blay said.
The Gundagai product has made a habit of landing high-priced winners during his short but successful training career, highlighted by Rationally winning at 100/1 at Mudgee earlier last year.
Blay admitted he missed the boat with Be My Romeo, but connections were pleased after backing the Muswellbrook runner to win.
“I didn’t have a cent on him either,” Blay laughed.
“The first one we missed (Alot to Hoffa), then I got the next one (Rationally), but this one I didn’t; some of my owners and fiends got on but I missed out.”
Be My Romeo hadn’t demonstrated a whole lot in his four starts prior to Tamworth and Blay explained that jockey Billy Cray was confident his galloper could win following a fifth-placing at Muswellbrook.
“I thought at Muswellbrook the penny had dropped and Billy (Cray) came back and said the horse went well,” Blay said.
“He said let’s find him a long straight and 1000m, and he said he was ready to run a good race and he was exactly right.
“He relished a fast speed; the faster they went, the better he got, and he just went so well.”
The Muswellbrook galloper might get out over further, but for now, Blay is happy to stick with the sprints.
“We thought he was a miler, and he might end up being one,” Blay said.
“For now, we will stick around the 1000m or 1100m.”
Be My Romeo had every excuse not to win the race too, sitting well off the pace, which led to a dirt clog giving the winner a swollen eye.
“He actually got a dirt clog to the eye, which makes the win more impressive as some horses won’t run through that,” Blay said.
“He is just so competitive and wants to win.”
As far as what the future holds for the youngster, Blay believes Be My Romeo is a progressive type that has another win in him.
“He gallops like a nice horse,” Blay said.
“I think he should be able to keep improving. His family has produced a lot of winners with multiple wins.
“They might not be close up in his dam line, but further back a lot of horses have won a lot of races.”
Blay’s yard is in fine form of late, with Kamikaze Kid breaking through for a maiden win at Port Macquarie earlier this month.
The four-year-old, also by Honor In War, had Mikayla Weir in the saddle, and despite traveling wide in the 1200m event, he was too strong.
“I was quietly confident he would win,” Blay said.
“I wasn’t confident enough to have a bet because we had a bit of disappointment the starts before, but going there, I was really happy with how he was on the day, and he just won well.”
Blay, who only has a small team in work, is pleased to have landed a handful of winners since kicking off his training operation in Muswellbrook.
“I’ve got four in work at the moment,” Blay said.
“It’s been fantastic. Kate (Roots) and I feel like we have found our niche and our way to do things.
“It’s all come together and we are happy with how things are going at the moment.”
Incredibly, his two recent winners were freebies, and Blay explained that a lot of first-time owners were enjoying their foray into thoroughbred racing.
“Be My Romeo and Kamikaze Kid; I got them at the same time,” Blay said.
“David Bay is the editor of Bluebloods and he was downsizing and he gave them to us for free as unbroken two-year-olds.
“They are the only horses we have done everything with and they are by the same stallion and have the same damsire and just have different dam lines.
“It’s been really good and we do really well with horses we start ourselves and go the whole way with.”
“We have multiple first-time owners in these horses too, and their runners to winners are 100% and they have barely been in the sport two minutes.”
Blay is looking forward to adding some more yearlings to his set-up and is ready to start targeting sales as his stable grows into the future.
Readers wanting to get involved with Blay and his team can find out more by clicking here.