Fifty Five Reborn turns the corner
Ace trainer-reinsman Colin Brown held no high hopes for Fifty Five Reborn two years ago when she caused him many heartaches with her poor manners. She was sent back to trials after her first two appearances as a two-year-old and Brown was forced to give her nine trials that season as he worked feverishly to get her to become more tractable.
She managed to win three races from eight starts as a two-year-old, but Brown was far from convinced that she would develop into a smart performer.
“At the time I would have been happy if she was able to win four races on country tracks, let alone win four in a row at Gloucester Park,” Brown said after driving Fifty Five Reborn to a gutsy all-the-way victory in the group 3 $30,000 Pacing For Pink Kerry Clarke Four and Five-Year-Old Classic on Friday night.
“We had no high expectations of her, but she has developed into a very honest, sound and genuine little mare.”
Four-year-old Fifty Five Reborn, the only mare in the field of twelve, was equal favourite at $2.40 with Alta Blues, and she excelled with her gate speed, her ability to relax and her strength and character to hold Alta Blues and $50 outsider The Kraken at bay after they had issued spirited challenges in the closing stages.
“She toughed it out when the challenges came, when others could’ve put the cue back in the rack,” said Brown.
“There was a bit of speed there at the start, but we were never in any trouble about holding up. She has turned into a lovely racehorse. I sprinted her up in the prelim and she came back to me. And then she did the same in the race.
“Winning this race makes her ineligible to run in the $30,000 WASBA event for mares in a fortnight. So, I think we might back off her now and we will zero in on the major events for mares in the summer with the hope that she steps up again.”
Fifty Five Reborn, who is by Renaissance Man from the Bettors Delight mare Arma Fifty Five, now has earned $178,277 from 14r wins and four placings from 41 starts.
Vampiro back to his best
Seven-year-old Vampiro showed that he is far from a spent force when he outclassed his six rivals in the $25,000 All Tech In July We Wear Pink Pace over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The New Zealand-bred gelding, trained by Greg and Skye Bond and favourite at $2.20, was driven with great confidence by Dylan Egerton-Green at his third appearance after a six-month absence. He began with great alacrity from the No. 4 barrier, burst straight to the front and relished his frontrunning role to win by seven lengths from stablemate Patronus Star ($6), with $31 chance Ideal Liner finishing strongly to be third.
“He has improved with each of his three runs since resuming from a spell,” said Egerton-Green. “The instructions were to let him run. He likes bowling along and I knew he had the gate speed to lead from barrier four, so I was keen to make every post a winner.”
Vampiro’s win followed his first-up third behind Patronus Star over 1730m and his head second to Chiaroscuro (after setting the pace over 2536m) and the son of Rocknroll Hanover now has raced 74 times for 27 wins, 24 placings and stakes of $615,137.
Egerton-Green has formed a splendid association with Vampiro, having driven him six times for a win, a second, two thirds and two fourths. Ther gelding, owned by Skye Bond and Rob Gartrell, is sure to be one of several star pacers from the powerful Bond stable to be prominent in the rich Fremantle Cup and WA Pacing Cup at Gloucester Park’s summer carnival.
Vampiro was unplaced in the two major Cup events last summer after his outstanding efforts 12 months earlier when he finished a head second to Caviar Star in the Fremantle Cup and a head second to Mighty Conqueror in the WA Pacing Cup.
Four-year-old Patronus Star is also developing into a leading candidate for the big Cup events. He maintained his excellent form when he started from the outside barrier in the field of seven and was in last place 300m from home before surging forward, five wide, at the 250m and finishing with a powerful burst. The final quarters were run in 27.9sec. and 28.6sec. and Vampiro rated 1.55.9.
Warwick returns in style
Star reinsman Ryan Warwick resumed driving in grand style after enjoying a winter holiday when he gave a skilful performance to guide the brilliant four-year-old Minstrel to a superb victory in the 2503m Jandakot Training Centre Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Minstrel, prepared by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, was the lone backmarker off 40 metres and was the $2.10 favourite for his expected clash with the speedy frontrunner Awaitinginstructions, the second fancy at $3.60.
Shannon Suvaljko’s strategy in his bid to take full advantage of the front-line draw was to set a solid pace with Awaitinginstructions. This he did, and Minstrel’s supporters must have felt somewhat apprehensive when Minstrel galloped for a few strides at the start and settled down a distant last.
However, Warwick did not panic, and Minstrel gradually caught up with the rest of the field. Warwick bided his time until he dashed Minstrel forward, three wide, with about 1450m to travel to quickly move outside the pacemaker.
After Awaitinginstructions had dashed over the second quarter of the final mile in 29.3sec. Suvaljko tested his arch rival with a blistering third 400m section of 27.4sec. This failed to unsettle Minstrel, who got to the front 250m from home on his way to his half-length victory over the gallant pacemaker. Minstrel ran the final 400m in 29.4sec. and rated 1.58.9.
Minstrel extended his winning sequence to four and improved his record to 22 starts for 12 wins, six placings and $253,161 in stakes. His eleven starts in Western Australia have produced eight wins and one second placing.
Catching the eye in Friday night’s event was the New Zealand-bred six-year-old Hit the Sky, who was last at the bell before running home with a strong burst, out five wide, to finish third, two lengths behind the second horse.
Seven No Trumps overcomes setback
Star reinsman Shannon Suvaljko’s plans for an all-the-way win with Seven No Trumps in the 2130m In Memory of Alec Barnfield Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night were thrown into disarray when the colt bumped into the mobile barrier arm and was beaten for early pace by Hoppys Way.
Seven No Trumps then was left behind Hoppys Way and was badly hemmed in for much of the event by Make Your Mark in the breeze.
However, Suvaljko remained cool and finally was able to ease Seven No Trumps off the pegs 400m from home before the $1.50 favourite went three wide at the 250m and ran on strongly to win by a half-length from Make Your Mark ($16), with Hoppys Way ($6.50) in third place.
Trainer Peter Tilbrook admitted that he had many anxious moments before Seven No Trumps got up to win, saying: “The plan was to lead (from the No. 1 barrier), but that didn’t work out. Shannon said that he was trying to time the start and the horse got a bit keen, got on to the gate too early and banged his head on to the gate, which threw his momentum off.
“Shannon waited until the right time to get him off the pegs and into the clear --- and he got the job done. It wasn’t an easy move, but he got it done.”
Seven No Trumps, a colt by Advance Attack, went into the race with a record of unplaced runs at his previous five starts after his first six starts had produced three wins, a second and a third.
“He was unlucky at his three previous starts,” said Tilbrook. “He didn’t have a lot of luck in the Westbred final and had no luck at all in the Golden Slipper.”
The win by Seven No Trumps completed a treble for Suvaljko, who had been successful earlier in the program with Vespa and Bracken Sky.
Reed hits it off with Whoswhointhezoo
Talented reinsman Mark Reed continued his wonderful association with veteran pacer Whozwhointhezoo when he drove the giant seven-year-old to victory in the 2130m Tammy, Tara and Dorina Giving Back Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Whoswhointhezoo, who had managed just one win from his previous 66 starts, was not greatly fancied from the outside barrier in the field of eight and was a $16.40 chance.
But he was driven perfectly by Reed who was having his eighth drive behind one of the State’s biggest pacers, and the victory gave him the splendid record of having handled Whoswhointhezoo eight times in a 113-start career for three wins, two seconds, two thirds and a seventh.
Reed won with his first two drives behind Whoswhointhezoo --- by a short half-head over Loaded Aussie at Gloucester Park on July 31, 2018 (almost exactly three years ago) and when he led and won at Northam eight starts later, on November 24, 2018.
Polemarker My Sweet Deal ($5.50) held out a spirited early challenge from Heza Head Honch ($31) and led for the first 660m before Shannon Suvaljko sent $4.40 chance Alice Kay to the front. Whoswhointhezoo was then in last position, and with the $2.35 favourite Alta Intrigue left in the breeze Reed dashed his drive forward to obtain a perfect sit, one-out and one-back.
Alta Intrigue got his nose in front with about 300m to travel but was unable to withstand Whoswhointhezoo’s finishing burst which took him to victory by a neck at a 1.57.5 rate.
Whoswhointhezoo was bred and is owned and trained by Karen Thompson, and this was the gelding’s second metropolitan-class success. By Major In Art, Whoswhointhezoo has earned $125,679 from nine wins and 38 placings from 113 starts.
He is out of Art And Soul, who won eight minor events in South Australia before coming to WA in 2009 and having four country runs for Thompson’s husband David, with her only glimpse of form finishing second, seven lengths behind Styx By Me as a $92 outsider at Northam.
Whoswhointhezoo is a half-brother to Debt Free Charlie, who raced 96 times for 126 wins, 27 placings and stakes of $133,594.
Earlier in Friday night’s program David Thompson trained $13 chance Machs Gold, who set the pace and was beaten by a nose in the final stride by Vespa in the Australian Premium Feeds Pace.
No trouble for Black Jack Baby
A sizzling start from the outside barrier in a field of eight paved the way for an effortless victory by Black Jack Baby in the 1730m TABtouch Lounge on SEN Track 657 Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Black Jack Baby, driven by Chris Vopak and second fancy at $2.20, simply had too much speed for the polemarker and $2.05 favourite Royal Essence, and after opening quarters of 30.6sec. and 29.8sec. the brilliant three-year-old filly zoomed over the final 400m sections in 27.7sec. and 28.5sec. to beat Royal Essence by just under a length, rating 1.55.9.
This improved Black Jack Baby’s record to 14 wins, six placings and stakes of $211,651 from 27 starts.
Breeder, owner and trainer Shane Quadrio had no hesitation in declaring that Black Jack Baby is the best pacer he has had in a lifetime involvement in harness racing.
“In tonight’s sprint event we thought we would use her brilliant gate speed and have a crack for the front,” he said. “She overraced a bit in front, but still ran a fast time. You can’t complain that after a fast start she was able to run a 27.7sec. third quarter which showed that she has many weapons.
“We couldn’t be happier with her. To be honest, we have never screwed her down. She is showing no signs of tiredness. She is a racehorse who just loves to run. We will give her a few more runs before giving her a break.”
Mini Mine Yet in a purple patch
New Zealand-bred five-year-old Mini Mine Yet continued in her purple patch of form and notched her fourth win from her past ten starts when Emily Suvaljkjo drove her to an emphatic victory in the 2130m Northern Rivers Equine Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Mini Mine Yet, the $3.10 favourite, began speedily from barrier five and took up the running after 250m before she was challenged by $3.90 chance Mandy Joan. With a fast lead time of 35.1sec., Suvaljko wisely opted out of the speed battle and surrendered the lead to Mandy Joan.
The change of lead left the $3.20 second fancy Star Of Diamonds racing without cover. Suvaljko eased the Nathan Turvey-trained Mini Mine Yet off the pegs and into the clear approaching the home turn. Mini Mine Yet finished fast to beat the gallant Star Of Diamonds by just under a length, rating 1.57.1. Mandy Joan wilted to finish eighth.
Mini Mine Yet has had 45 starts for ten wins, 11 placings and $87,672 in stakes and is developing into a serious contender in the rich feature events for mares in the summer months.
Saligari’s birthday present
Craig Saligari, foreman for Wanneroo trainer Debbie Padberg, celebrated his 44TH birthday on Friday night in joyful style when the stable’s indefatigable and consistent performer Bracken Sky thundered home from the rear to snatch a dramatic last-stride victory in the 2130m Delta Print Excellence In Service Pace.
Bracken Sky, a $9.40 chance, was patiently handled by Shannon Suvaljko, who was happy to restrain the New South Wales-bred gelding from the No. 5 barrier and race in seventh position in the field of eight while the polemarker and $5.50 chance Space Junk was bowling along in front, with the $1.45 favourite Miracle Moose enjoying an ideal passage in the one-out, one-back position.
Emily Suvaljko sent Miracle Moose forward, three wide, with 900m to travel, but the favourite did not sprint as strongly as generally expected. Shannon Suvaljko, who had followed Miracle Moose, elected to remain in the one-wide line and was shuffled back to seventh in the field of eight before starting a three-wide move at the 650m mark.
Soon after that, Bracken Sky was able to get the trail behind Miracle Moose in the one-wide line. Miracle Moose was fighting on doggedly but was unable to overhaul the pacemaker. Bracken Sky was off again three wide at the 250m and he flew home to snatch victory by a half-head from Space Junk, with Miracle Moose a close third and Tyler Brett an unlucky fourth.
Bracken Sky thoroughly deserved to break through for a win and end a losing run of eleven after he had finished second at his two previous starts. A week earlier he had set the pace in a 2536m event and was beaten a half-head by the flying Will I Rocknroll.
Padberg said that Bracken Sky possessed excellent gate speed, but she decided against using this asset on Friday night. “He’s fast and last week he found the 2500m was just a bit too far and he was beaten on the line,” she said.
“Even with his gate speed I don’t like using it every week. Otherwise, you run the risk of breaking him down. Tonight, we decided to bale out (at the start), and it worked perfectly.
“The win helped Craig to celebrate his birthday. He has been working for me, on and off, for the past 20 years. He drives all the trackwork, and Bracken Sky and he click together.”
Bracken Sky, purchased for $20,000 from NSW breeder John Starr in September 2019, has proved to be a wonderful investment for Padberg, her husband John and long-time stable clients David and Adele Simmonds. His 66 starts in WA have produced seven wins and 18 placings for stakes of $144,506. His lifetime record is 111 starts for 17 wins, 32 placings and $213,287.
Bracken Sky, by American sire Rocknroll Heaven, is out of Redemption, who had 27 starts for ten wins, six placings and $60,768. Redemption also produced Absolution, who won five races in WA for John and Debbie Padberg in a 15-start career of 20 wins and 53 placings for stakes of $132,211.
Vespa motors home to snatch victory
Few pacers in Western Australia stand up to such a rigorous program of racing as the New Zealand-bred five-year-old Vespa, who has raced 21 times in a 20-week period.
He thrives on this program of racing every week for Hopelands trainer Michael Young --- and even puts on weight.
Vespa was a $2.80 favourite in the 2130m Australian Premium Feeds Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night when he trailed the pacemaker Machs Gold and was hopelessly hemmed in until the final stages before he flashed home to snatch a last-stride win by a nose from the frontrunner.
He was driven with great patience by Shannon Suvaljko, who finally was able to get into the clear 150m from the post when the breeze horse Baylan Jett began to wilt. This ended an unlucky losing sequence of twelve.
“He is a good sit-sprinter and is very fast,” said Young. “He loves to be saved up for one run. But he is probably the unluckiest horse I’ve ever had because he rarely gets clear. But tonight was the night.
“I was thinking he wasn’t going to get out, and Shannon did well to get him into the clear. That’s the kind of run he needs. He is so unlucky; he has been in that spot so many times but has failed to get out. That is his second metro win for us, but he has banked almost $60,000.
“He is a little warrior, and I think that was about the 15TH Friday in a row that he has been here. Looking at him you would think that I had just pulled him out of the paddock because he’s that fat.
“He just jogs in training and doesn’t do any hoppled work. He is the easiest horse you could ever ask to train. He wears no gear and tries his heart out. He is just a perfect horse. I can’t get the weight off him, so we’ve got no say in the matter.
“You would think that a horse who has raced for four months straight would lose a bit of weight. And now I can’t see any reason why he won’t go around for another couple of months before he has a spell.”
For the record, Vespa has had 21 WA starts for four wins, eight placings and $56,960 in prizemoney for a career record of 52 starts for eight wins, 12 placings and $96,300.
Vespa is the first pacer sent by the Summit Bloodstock syndicate in Victoria and the Aaron Bain Racing syndicate in South Australia to be prepared in WA by Young. Those syndicates race Vespa in partnership with several small shareholders.
Batavia On Fire’s successful comeback
Veteran pacer Batavia On Fire, who broke down with a serious leg injury 16 months ago, has made a successful comeback to racing.
At his second appearance after that long absence, the WA-bred eight-year-old gelding Batavia On Fire, trained by Giles Inwood and driven superbly by Chris Voak, trailed the pacemaker and $2.90 favourite Deeorse before finishing fast to race away in the closing stages and beat Blockjorg by almost three lengths in the 2130m Ultimate Sniper At Alabar Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Batavia On Fire resumed racing a fortnight earlier when he was a $26 chance and raced in the one-out, one-back position before fading to finish last behind Powerplay in a field of eleven. However, he was at no fancy price on Friday night and started fourth favourite at $7.20.
Voak got Batavia On Fire away speedily from the No. 5 barrier and made a spirited bid for the early lead. But he was unable to cross Deeorse, who was able to jump straight to the front after the polemarker and $5.50 chance Delightfull lacked sparkle.
After Deeorse had held out Batavia On Fire, Voak was able to restrain the gelding and angle him across to the pegs to trail Deeorse 250m after the start.
Voak eased Batavia On Fire off the pegs with 500m to travel to get the trail behind the breeze horse Blockjorg. Batavia On Fire then went three wide approaching the home turn and he dashed to the front at the 100m mark and careered away from his rivals to win at a 1.57.8 rate.
A delighted Inwood said he would award Voak twelve out of a possible ten for his skilful drive. He added that Batavia On Fire needed his first-up run when he pulled up big in condition.
“Batavia On Fire damaged the suspensory ligament in his nearside foreleg and had a year off before Damon Briggs (the managing part-owner) jogged him during his rehabilitation,” said Inwood. “And now I’ve had him in work for a few months.
“He is very narrow framed and wears go-straights. Hopefully, he can remain sound and win another race.”
Briggs, who hails from Cranbrook in the Great Southern, gained a licence to train pacers last year and he prepared his first winner when Born A Tiger was successful in Albany last February.
Batavia On Fire, by former New Zealand champion pacer Courage Under Fire, is out of the Rich And Spoilt mare Batavia Touchngo, who was retired after her 18 starts had produced eight wins, four placings and $117,878 in prizemoney. As a two-year-old Batavia Touchngo won the Western Crown Classic and the group 1 State Sires Series Classic in which she defeated Centrefold Angel.
Batavia On Fire certainly looks capable of winning more races. He has had 73 starts for 11 wins, 20 placings and stakes of $86,363.