Champion reinsman Chris Lewis rates current all-conquering star Dasher VC in the same class as former superstar Village Kid and other top-flight-pacers he has driven and is confident that the lightly-raced New Zealand-bred six-year-old will win the $35,000 Members Sprint at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
When asked to assess Dasher VC’s prospects in the 1700m event and to compare the gelding with Village Kid, Black Irish and Ohoka Ace, Lewis said: “Well, they were all group type horses and he’s a group type horse himself … so he’s right up there with them.”
Dasher VC, a brilliant winner at each of his past four starts, is favourably drawn at barrier No. 3 on the front line in a field of eight and will be at odds-on to give Lewis a remarkable eleventh victory in the Members Sprint.
Lewis has won the race four times with Village Kid (1985, 1986, 1989 and 1990), twice each with Black Irish (1982 and 1983) and Ohoka Ace (2005 and 2006) as well as with Hilarion Star (1993) and Sneakyn Down Under (2009).
Dasher VC is prepared at Capel by Andrew de Campo, who trained Ohoka Ace for his wins in the feature sprint.
“Dasher VC has a good amount of ability and is an all-round horse well suited over 1700m,” Lewis said. “His latest run was super and you can’t complain about his past few runs. From barrier three he’ll probably be in the breeze. Grinjaro (barrier one) gets out quickly and you would think he might be holding up over the short distance.”
Dasher VC’s recent victories have been over 2506m and 2100m and he has not contested a 1700m event since July 20 when he was trapped four wide early and then forced to work hard without cover before finishing fourth behind David Hercules at Gloucester Park on July 20. David Hercules set a track record, rating 1,.52.8.
Dasher VC’s two other runs over 1700m this season were outstanding. He started from the outside of the back line, started a three-wide run after 550m and then raced in the breeze before bursting to the front 420m from home and winning by three lengths from Lightning Raider at a 1.54.2 rate on July 13.
His previous 1700m run was in a heart of the interdominion championship on February 17 when he started out wide at the No. 8 barrier and sustained a powerful three-wide burst to come from seventh at the bell to finish a half-length second to Smoken Up, who rated 1.53.7.
Grinjaro, owned and trained by Ken White, bounced back to his best form at Gloucester Park last Friday night when he charged to the front 650m after the start and set a brisk pace before winning by four lengths from Falcons Medley at a 1.57.3 rate over 2100m. Gary Hall jun. looks set to attempt an all-the-way win from the prized No. 1 barrier on Friday night.
“I’m quite happy with barrier one and that should bring us into the race,” White said. “I never give instructions (how to drive). My only instruction is to go out and do the best you can. I would think that Gary would try to lead.
“But if Lewis decides to go forward with his horse, then we’ll be sitting on him and you never know what might happen after that. I was pleased with Grinjaro’s run last week.
“Junior (Hall) announced what he was going to do before he went out and he did exactly what he said he was going to do. The horse has come through very well and his work at Wanneroo this morning (Tuesday) was tremendous.
“He worked by himself, with Robert Saligari in the cart, and he worked over two one-mile heats with a five-minute gap in between. Grinjaro ran his last two quarters in 28sec. and 29sec. and not many horses can get around Wanneroo running a last half in 57sec.”
Grinjaro relishes sprint racing and he has won six times over 1730m and 1700m at Gloucester Park as well as finishing second five times over those sprint trips.
Ten-year-old Has The Answers, who set the pace and won the Members Sprint from Can Return Fire 12 months ago, will reappear after a seven-week absence when he will be the sole back-line runner in a field of eight.
Has The Answers, who has an outstanding record in sprint events and has won 73 races and $1,264,912, will be driven for the first time (at his 224th start) by Nathan Turvey.
Mysta Magical Mach, a winner of 25 races and $1,033,591 in stakes, has a losing sequence of 16, but his recent efforts have been most encouraging, finishing second at each of his past three starts, twice behind Dasher VC and then behind Outstandin in the BOTRA Cup last Friday night when he started from the back mark of 50m. He will start from the No. 4 barrier with Morgan Woodley in the sulky and is capable of a bold showing.