Patience with Balcatherine pays off
Up-and-coming mare Balcathertine notched her third group success when Gary Hall jnr drove her to an emphatic victory in the group 3 Christmas Belles Pace at Gloucester Park on Thursday night.
Having only her 19TH start Balcatherine, who turns five next week, is rewarding champion trainer Gary Hall snr and owners Steve and Tina Chapman and their children Danielle and Ben for their patience.
The Chapmans were disappointed when Balcatherine suffered a leg injury and had to be scratched from the rich WA Oaks early in 2019 after she had won a prelude of the classic in fine style from her smart stablemate Fake News.
The lightly-framed Balcatherine was then found to be suffering from a slight suspensory problem, and Hall wisely decided to give her plenty of time to mature and gain weight and muscle.
She was off the scene for 12 months and resumed racing last April as a more robust mare. Since resuming she has had 14 starts for seven wins and three placings.
Her wins have included the group 1 $125,000 Westral Mares Classic, the group 3 Pure Steel Pace and Thursday night’s group 3 feature event as well as a second to Millwood Molly in the group 3 Johnson final, a third behind Arma Indie in the group 2 WASBA Breeders Stakes, a fourth in the group 2 Lord Mayor’s Cup and a fifth behind Wainui Creek in the group 2 Norms Daughter Classic.
Balcatherine is racing with such authority that Chapman is considering a start in the $200,000 Ladyship Mile at Menangle on February 27. Much will depend on the lifting on travel restrictions between the Australian States.
Balcatherine started from out wide at barrier seven in Thursday night’s 2130m event in which she was a hot $1.60 favourite. Vivere Damore, second fancy at $3.50 after smart wins at her past two outings, began speedily from the No. 4 barrier and dashed to the front after 100m, with Balcatherine settling in fifth position.
Hall jnr sent Balcatherine forward, three wide after a lap and into the breeze. She got to the front 220m from home and won in fine style from the fast-finishing Queen Shenandoah ($11) and Vivere Damore, rating 1.54.5. This took Balcatherine’s record to 19 starts for ten wins and four placings for earnings of $197,338. She won at her only two starts in New Zealand as a three-year-old before being purchased by Steve Chapman.
Magnificent Storm set for Pinjarra classic
Star youngster Magnificent Storm will contest the Four-Year-Old Classic at Pinjarra next Monday providing he recovers well after his splendid victory in fast time in the 2130m Murphy’s Lore Live At GP on NYE Pace at Gloucester Park on Thursday night.
Driven with supreme confidence by Aldo Cortopassi, Magnificent Storm, favourite at $1.20, raced three wide early and then in the breeze, with the $5.50 second fancy Gardys Legacy setting a scorching pace.
Magnificent Storm took the lead 375m from home and won by a neck from $61 outsider Jaspervellabeach at a 1.54 rate, with the final quarters whizzing by in 27.8sec., 28sec., 28.2sec. and 29.7sec. Copy N Pace ($50) charged home from last at the bell to be an eye-catching third, a length ahead of the wilting Gardys Legacy.
Magnificent Storm, prepared at Mt Helena by Ray Williams, is unbeaten at his ten starts in Western Australia, after finishing ninth at his only start in New Zealand.
“The heat didn’t seem to worry him, and he pulled up pretty good and his heart (rate) was good,” said an admiring Williams. “Nothing worries him too much and though it might appear that he pulled up on the line, that’s just one of his little things at the moment.
“It seems that once he’s there (in front), he looks around. Aldo said that he had the race in his keeping all the way. I think that the horse is just smart, and I’m pretty excited about him. If he pulls up all right in the next few days, he will run in the Pinjarra classic. That’s the plan at this stage.”
Young targets Northam Cup
Hopelands trainer Michael Young declared that Yes Hes A Ladys Man would be set for the Northam Cup, a 2500m stand early in February, after the New Zealand-bred five-year-old had scored an impressive all-the-way victory in the 2096m Book Your Tickets To NYE At GP Online Pace at Gloucester Park on Thursday night.
This was the Auckland Reactor gelding’s fifth win from seven starts in Western Australia, with his latest three wins being in standing-start events.
“After this win he will go back to racing in mobiles,” said Young. “And he will be aimed at the Northam Cup.”
Leading reinsman Chris Voak sent Yes Hes A Ladys Man straight to the front, and after a leisurely opening first quarter of the final mile in 31.1sec. the gelding dashed over the next three 400m sections in 29sec., 28.6sec. and 27.8sec. to give his rivals little chance to threaten him.
He won by just under two lengths from $51 outsider Major Artist, who trailed him throughout. Triroyale Brigade ($7.50) finished a neck away in third place after working in the breeze all the way.
Yes Hes A Ladys Man has now earned $66,803 from eight wins, eight seconds and two thirds from 42 starts. He is raced on lease from New Zealand owner Cheree Wigg by Young, Matt McMahen, Samantha Grantham and Matt Joss.
American Brave overcomes fractured leg
American Brave, a beaten favourite at four successive starts, bounced back to his best form with an effortless victory in the 2536m Book Your NYE Hospitality Pace at Gloucester Park on Thursday night.
He began brilliantly from barrier three before setting the pace and leaving his rivals in his wake by sprinting over the final quarters in 28.2sec. and 26.8sec. on his way to winning by three lengths at a 1.58.1 rate from Sangue Reale, who trailed him throughout.
This was the New Zealand-bred five-year-old’s ninth win from 26 starts for earnings of $99,105. He won at five of his 11 New Zealand starts and has raced 15 times for premier trainer Gary Hall snr in Western Australia for four wins and four placings.
His latest success was his first taste of victory for just over 12 months.
“He is a horse who we will never see him reach his full potential because he has had too many serious issues,” said his reinsman Gary Hall jnr. American Brave won at his WA debut when he beat Parisian Partygirl by 22.7m over 2130m at Gloucester Park on July 14, 2018.
Then at his second start in the State, a month later, he finished eighth behind Our Corelli when he fractured a hind leg during the race.
“It took forever to heal,” said Hall. “The vets said that the break was an inch away from ending his career. The bone he broke is unusual because normally you could hit the leg with a baseball bat without causing any serious damage.”
The fracture resulted in American Brave being out of action for 15 months and since he resumed (when eighth behind Pradas Ideal Dahling on November 1, 2019) he has had 12 starts for three wins and four placings.
“He did it pretty easily when he ran the final 400m in 26.8sec., but I’m afraid he won’t realise his potential,” said Hall. “He is settling down a bit better now and I’ve got him dropping the bit after hunting him out of the gate. His biggest asset is his point-to-point speed, and he should show that when he gets up in class.”
Brief spell for American Arma
Talented filly American Arma will have a brief spell before tackling the Daintys Daughter Classic and the Sales Classic in February as part of her program leading into the WA Oaks later in the season.
American Arma, trained and driven by Colin Brown, is a coming star who notched her fifth win from only six starts when she was not fully extended in winning by a length from Rumour has It in the 2130m Merry Christmas Pace at Gloucester park on Thursday night.
Favourite at $1.60 from the No. 6 barrier, American Arma was not bustled early and settled down in sixth position, seven lengths behind the early leader Our Shooting Star before Brown sent her forward, three wide, after a lap to quickly move alongside the pacemaker Rumour Has It. Armerican Arma got to the front 220m from home and won convincingly at a 1.56.7 rate.
“I wasn’t worried at any stage and she had Rumour Has It covered the whole way,” said Brown. “She is showing all the signs of maturing into a very nice racehorse. Her work has been super and she seems to be improving all the time, even on the track where she attacks the line and runs right through it.
”It’s nice to drive a horse when you don’t have to worry about how to drive her. You don’t have to fly the gate; we have plenty of alternatives.
“She has grown a lot and I’d like to give her a good spell, but I don’t think that is possible with the calendar the way it is. We made a conscious decision to keep her racing for the two-year-old dollars because of the 75 per cent discount.”
Bond stars stake claims for classics
Brilliant New Zealand-bred three-year-olds Howard Hughes and Patronus Star have returned to racing after spells in superb form for leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond and will be major candidates for the rich classics for four-year-olds in the coming season.
Howard Hughes, the $1.70 favourite, shone at his first appearance for 16 weeks when he raced wide early and then in the breeze before bursting to the front 200m from home to score an easy victory over older and more experienced rivals in Shadow Roll and Babyface Adda in the 2130m Retravision Pace. He sprinted over the final 800m in 55.8sec. and rated 1.56.4. It was his fifth win in a row since he was the $2.50 favourite and finished eighth behind Patronus Star in the WA Derby on April 3 this year.
Patronus Star was favourite at $1.20 from the No. 1 barrier in the 2130m NYE At Gloucester Park Pace and was untroubled to set the pace and dash over the final 800m in 55.1sec. in defeating open-class performer Patrickthepiranha at a 1.57.3 rate.
This was Patronus Star’s second outing after a spell and it improved his West Australian record to eight wins and a second placing from nine starts.
Patronus Star and Howard Hughes were driven in fine style by Dylan Egerton-Green, who was delighted at the opportunity with the Bond stable’s No. 1 driver Ryan Warwick enjoying a well-deserved Christmas holiday.
Howard Hughes, a winner at one of his two New Zealand appearances, has been successful at ten of his 12 starts in Western Australia and is set for stardom.
Free To Air surprises
Evergreen pacer Free To Air, unplaced at his eight previous starts, caused an upset when he started at $11 and finished fast to beat the pacemaker and $3.40 favourite A Boy Named Rosie in the 2536m www.gloucesterpark.com.au Pace at Gloucester Park on Thursday night.
He started from the inside of the back line and enjoyed the perfect trail behind A Boy Named Rosie before getting clear on the home turn and charging to the front in the final 45m to surge away and win by just over a length at a 1.58.2 rate.
Free To Air, an eight-year-old having his 163RD start in a race, was driven by Emily Suvaljko, whose previous drive behind the veteran pacer was nine starts earlier, when he trailed the pacemaker Star Armbro and finished fast to win from Machrie on September 22. Free To Air, trained at Pinjarra by Chris King, has earned $114,819 from 11 wins and 29 placings.
Diego and Roman Aviator each took full advantage of the No. 1 barrier at Gloucester Park on Thursday night when they led and scored comfortable victories.
Diego, the $1.10 favourite for trainer Gary Hall snr and reinsman Gary Hall jnr, rated 1.55.1 when he beat stablemate Antero ($34) in the 1730m Celebrate New Year’s Eve at Gloucester Park Pace. It was his fourth win from five WA starts and his seventh in a 22-start career.
“He is still very laid back and is a bit green,” said Hall jnr.
Roman Aviator, a fast-finishing winner over American Brave the previous week, relished his pacemaking role and was untroubled to win by two lengths from the fast-finishing Bracken Sky, rating 1.55.1 in the 2130m Pre Book for NYE Pace.
The five-year-old gelding, trained and driven by Aldo Cortopassi, has had 83 starts for breeder-owner Peter George for 18 wins, 19 placings and $191,149 in stakes.