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Article 29th August 2023 Newmarket

By Graham Clark

Amateur rider Belinda Rose finally saw her persistence in the saddle pay off after securing what she described as a ‘fantastic’ success aboard Dancing Shadow in the 353rd staging of Newmarket Town Plate - which she swiftly dedicated to trainer Mick Mullineaux.     

The 41 year old from Newmarket made it fourth time lucky in the historic contest which was inaugurated by King Charles II, and first staged in 1666, when galvanising the sprightly veteran to victory following an entertaining conclusion to the race. 

Having finished nearer last than first in the race 12 months ago, which was shortened to two miles one furlong, the self-employed vet made full use of the 14 year-old’s stamina on the race’s return to the full distance of three and three-quarter miles. 

Taking an early lead, the gelded son of Craigsteel remained handy throughout the race in the hands of Rose, who has spent time practicing her trade in Dubai, before getting into a sustained battle with eventual runner-up during the concluding stages of the race.   

With Don Bersy under a full drive half a mile from home, Rose bided her time on the Sarah Humphrey-trained Dancing Shadow before forging on into what would turn out to be a race winning lead inside the final furlong. 

Although Don Bersy and Ryan Potter, who was carrying the ashes of Con Rutledge who this year’s race was being run in memory of, mounted one final challenge it was not enough to stop Rose and Dancing Shadow from winning by half a length. 

And following the race Rose admitted the success was as much as for her as it was for Cheshire-based trainer, and 2018 Town Plate winner Mick Mullineaux, who was diagnosed with renal cancer just over a year ago.

Rose said: “It’s the fourth time I’ve ridden in the race and I’ve finally got over the line and it feels fantastic. I knew (Dancing) Shadow and I knew he would stay the trip, but as it was shortened last year I knew it was going to be difficult for him.  

“I knew he could do it, but it was just age was going to get the better of him this year. I knew he had the ability to stay and he went on and did it. 

“Mick Mullineaux, who I had ridden for in the race previously, always had runners in the Town Plate, and he has won it himself. He has been ill the last 12 months and I really wanted to go back and do it for him a bit for him.  

“I was pointing for Sarah this season, and Shadow was trained by her and she has really taken me under her wing. 

“This is as much for Mick as well as a thank you for all that he has put into me. I’m bringing the Town Plate back for him.          

“All my other rides have been for him and he has coached me through it. He has given me horses and helped me all the way. 

“He is doing really well since being diagnosed with his illness. It would have been nice if he was here today, but he was racing elsewhere, but I will take the Town Plate to go visit him though.”

When it comes to tactics Rose feels that she couldn’t have got them any better if she tried.

She added: “He doesn’t have a turn of foot, but he stays all day. I just wanted to make them chase a little bit to start with and get him started in a rhythm. One horse went off around the bend and got away and that settled him. 

“I could see them coming up behind but up the hill he stayed on and kept going. I was thinking when I got up to Don Bersy how far can I start pushing before I get too tired. 

“I knew I still had my horse underneath me it was a case of timing it so I didn’t get there too soon. When I have been pointing on him he loves going up a hill and a stamina test. He just climbs them and he goes.

“As soon as I got to that last half a furlong I thought I would push now as I knew he would go on if it came to a scrap at the end.”

Although Rose has enjoyed several rides in the point-to-point sphere during the last season she admits she is unsure as if to whether she will be back to defend her Town Plate crown in 12 months’ time. 

She added: “The last few years I’ve done lots of training to make sure my fitness is alright when I have won the race before. 

“Going pointing this season I’ve been more race-fit as I’ve not spent as long in the gym. I’ve spent more time in the saddle and I was happy with my condition going into the race.

“I don’t know if I will come back next year. I would quite like to end on a high. We will see when the entry forms come out.”

As for triumphant trainer Humphrey, who finished fifth in the race around 20 years ago, she was confident Rose well in advance of the finish line, however she admits to missing most of the closing stages following a pre-race incident involving her husband Tony. 

The West Wratting based handler said: “He just stays forever. If you can get a good start and get into a lovely rhythm he just goes on. He is not the fastest, but he is an out-and-out stayer. At 14 years old you wouldn’t have been if something else came up. 

“Belinda was very confident and all week she said she was going to win. A confident rider fills the horse full of confidence. The horse is a bit quirky so we turned him out this morning. 

“We grabbed him from the field, gave him a bath at 2pm and arrived here to race and it worked very well. 

“When she turned into the home straight I was pleased to see her still second or third and then she was sensible and gave him a breather. I had to dash off though to see Tony as he had stitches put in his head as the horse caught him on the head before the race.

“I missed most of the end, but then I looked up and saw she was behind the runner-up, and I was hoping she would give him a push. 

“I thought she would win three furlongs from home, and she did which was great.”


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