What a weekend it was for good mates and dynamic duo Brett Bellamy and Ray Spokes.
The pair, who have combined for a remarkable 265 wins over the past two decades, won back-to-back feature races at Glen Innes on Saturday and Coffs Harbour on Sunday.
Spokes added his third Glen Innes Cup (1400m) to the mantlepiece, riding Mister Smartee ($6.50) to victory in the $19,000 feature.
Formerly trained by Tas Morton, the nine-year-old Country Cup campaigner is now in Bellamy’s care and owned by Ray’s son, Grady, and some of Bellamy’s loyal owners.
“That was a bit of a buzz, mainly because Grady owns him as well,” Spokes told NSW Country and Picnic Racing.
“Plus, I’ve been riding for Brett for so long, and I think it was my third Glen Innes Cup, so the race has been good to me.”
Ray explained how his son ended up with Mister Smartee, now a nine-time winner from 85 career starts.
“Tas put him up for sale, and Grady rang him and asked him about the horse, and there were a couple of Brett’s loyal owners interested, too,” Spokes said.
“Tas knew they were interested and let him go. He didn’t ask for as much as he was going to and helped them out a bit.”
A win at Glen Innes is always a special moment, with the parochial racing town out in force on Saturday.
“It was a good day, and heaps of people were there, so it was a good atmosphere,” Spokes said.
“It’s never like that at the TAB meetings, and people just seem a lot more excited to be there, so it’s always good.”
On Sunday, it was another memorable win for connections, with Bellamy and Spokes winning a race close to their hearts.
Racing the brilliant mare Boncassie, they took out the $27,000 Wayne Glenn Pink Silks Cup (1200m).
The race is named in honour of the late Wayne Glenn, a good friend of Bellamy’s and a loyal owner who backed Bellamy and his team until he died from cancer in 2014.
“She has been a good little mare, and she’s won the Queen of the North, the Daniel Baker Sprint, and that race means a lot to us, too, and it was good to see her win the Pink Silks Cup,” Spokes said.
“Wayne Glenn was Brett’s best mate, and the fella (Neville Foley) that owns Boncassie was going into partnership with Wayne before he passed away, but he stuck around, and he owns Boncassie, so it pretty special for everyone.”
When asked about his consistent success for the stable and his remarkable 894 career wins, Spokes said it all came back to an enduring friendship with Bellamy and his love of racing in the area.
“When you think about it, I’ve been Brett’s stable rider for 18 years or so,” Spokes said.
“I always used to do 60% of his track work, and I don’t ride as much now, and only ride four or five in the morning for him, but back in the day, I would ride 20 a morning, and we won some races.”
While the 46-year-old doesn’t travel as far these days, he’d love to bring up 1000 winners in the near future.
“It would be nice, but I don’t ride as much as a lot of the other boys,” Spokes said.
“I travel more around the coast and don’t go out west, and I’ll just keep doing what works for me.”
It’s set to be a big two days of racing in the Northern Rivers and Mid-North Coast later this week, with the $65,000 Ballina Cup (1590m) on Friday ahead of Tuncurry-Forster Jockey Club’s annual seafood race day on Saturday.
Following those back-to-back programs, Coffs Harbour race on Monday and Murwillumbah on Tuesday.