Strapper ?Willy? is right on the mark
By GREG WHITE
RACECOURSES are full of characters and the most popular at Coffs Harbour races on Saturday was the the regular known by everyone simply as 'Willy the Strapper.'
The bearded figure beneath the straw hat is a familiar figure in the mounting yard at local meetings and while not many know his actual name, he's recognised as a wizard with a form guide.
"Willy checks the form then approaches the trainers to lead around the one he thinks has the best chance," racing club committeeman Merv Mercer explained.
"He's got the gift of an incredible judge."
'Willy the Strapper' was remarkable accurate on Saturday.
Three of his charges were winners while a further three were placed, on a seven race card.
Another on course 'character' was premiership-leading trainer Brett Bellamy who broke the hoodoo of not wearing his customary green shirt to land the money with Hayiling Gold in the Coffs Coast Advocate Maiden Plate.
Instead, his father Kevin donned a shirt in the stable colours.
But certainly not one other item of importance.
"Margaret my wife asked what colour socks I was wearing and I said to mind her own business," Bellamy senior quipped.
The winner managed to get under the stable's guard.
"I thought the 807 metres may be a touch too short for him and was using it to build him for the Gold Coast in a couple of weeks," the trainer revealed.
"But when Peter Graham let him go he just flew to the line."
Graham said there was huge potential in the big two-year-old colt who was having only his second race start.
"He's a nice type," the jockey said.
"Plenty more wins like that and in better company for sure."
One popular character was Kempsey trainer Peter Cooper who looked more startled than the punters when he broke a long run of outs with the roughie Glenrock Tiarne who almost gave winning rider Jasen Watkins heart failure on the home turn.
"The ride was a bloody nightmare," Watkins said.
"It was an unusual run and he tried to throw the race away.
"Did you see how he pigrooted on the corner?" the jockey asked the trainer.
Leading jockeys at the city's first ever Saturday TAB meeting were Nigel Seymour and Peter Graham who claimed winning doubles while in addition to Brett Bellamy, local trainers Paul Smith and Philip Minter picked up winners to keep the dollars circulating through the local racing community.