Roberts lands her biggest winner
Talented driver Deni Roberts celebrated her biggest success in the sulky when her aggressive tactics paid off handsomely, with $7.30 chance Socrates scoring a thrilling half-head victory in the $50,000 Direct Trades Supply San Simeon Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
This gave the 26-year-old Roberts her first victory in a group 2 feature event, with Socrates beating stablemates Himself, the $3.10 favourite, and $20 chance Markham Eyre to give leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond a notable trifecta result.
Roberts, who was driving Socrates for the first time, made a bold bid for the lead, getting the New Zealand-bred five-year-old away speedily from the No. 3 barrier and leading by a length in the early stages. But Socrates was unable to cross to the front, with the polemarker Major Freeway ($4) resisting the challenge.
Socrates then was left in the breeze until Himself, after settling in ninth position, surged forward with a strong three-wide burst to move outside Major Freeway 650m after the start.
Himself, driven by Ryan Warwick, forged to the front about 600m from home, and moments after being passed, Major Freeway galloped and dropped back through the field after his spreader extension broke.
Roberts then urged Socrates forward and the gelding took the lead by a neck with about 470m to travel. Then Socrates and Himself became locked together in a titanic duel, with Socrates gaining the verdict by a half-head, with Mitch Miller bringing Markham Eyre home with a strong burst from eighth at the bell to be third.
“I thought that Socrates was the quickest off the arm, so the plan was to lead,” said Roberts. “He almost crossed (to the front). It was a massive performance for him to win, particularly after the early burn.
“When he eventually got to the front I didn’t want to kick away, considering what he had done at the start. I was just holding my spot, and Himself definitely kicked back at me in the closing stages.”
Socrates, a winner at two of his five New Zealand starts, has blossomed under the care of the Bonds and his 13 starts in WA have produced seven wins and three placings to take his career earnings to $90,755.
He is by Art Major and is the eighth foal out of the unraced mare Pita Pocket, who is the dam of four-year-old Alcippes Delight, who won at her Australian debut when she beat Maddy Rocks in a race at Pinjarra last Monday to take her record to 11 starts for three wins, four placings and stakes of $22,666.
Interestingly, Socrates is a half-brother to Kristoff, who managed just four wins from 74 starts. His wins (one at Gloucester Park and three at Northam) came from 68 starts in WA between 2012 and 2016.
Earlier on Friday, Roberts drove Auckland Jet ($1.85) to victory at Bunbury, and then on Saturday night she landed a double at Northam, scoring with Belonero ($12) and Roll Up ($1.24).
McDonald seizes his chance
Stuart McDonald was booked for just two drives at Gloucester Park on Friday night before he discovered on Thursday that he was required to replace champion reinsman Gary Hall jnr on four horses after Hall had succumbed to an attack of coronavirus.
He seized his unexpected bonus with three winners and a third from those drives, completing his successful night by guiding up-and-coming four-year-old Jumpingjackmac to an easy all-the-way win in the $30,000 DTS All Your Civil And Construction Supply Needs Free-For-All.
Jumpingjackmac’s triumph followed McDonald’s wins with Orlando Blue and Will I Rocknroll and his third with Euphoria.
“It certainly makes life easier with draws like that,” said McDonald as he referred to Orlando Blue starting from barrier two and Will I Rocknroll, Jumpingjackmac and Euphoria all starting from the prized No. 1 barrier.
“I think I had had three Gloucester Park Friday night trebles before tonight, and I am disappointed that I didn’t drive four winners for the first time on any track, with Euphoria suffering from early pressure.”
McDonald’s red letter night on Friday came less than a fortnight after the 27-year-old New Zealand-born reinsman had returned to Western Australia after a 15-month stint working with trainer Nathan Purdon in Victoria.
He said he was particularly pleased to be reunited with Jumpingjackmac (trained by Gary Hall snr). “He is a lovely horse to drive, and I really wanted to win a race with him,” said McDonald. “I did a lot of work with him as a two-year-old and I drove him at his debut when he won a race at Pinjarra.
“Tonight, there was no pressure early and we went a bit slower than we needed to, mainly because I was a bit concerned about the track which looked like it could bog down pretty quickly. So, I didn’t want to want to press my luck and run along.
“He did it nice and comfortably. I pulled the plugs out in the final 50 metres, just to wake him up, and he sprinted through the line.”
Jumpingjackmac, the $1.80 favourite, dawdled through the lead time in 40.2sec. and ambled through the opening quarters of the final mile in 32.2sec. and 30.3sec. before sprinting home over the final 400m sections in 28.7sec. and 27.4sec. to win at a 2min. rate over 2130m.
He won by just under a length from his veteran stablemate and $14 chance Chicago Bull, who was driven by Justin Prentice and began speedily from the outside barrier the field of nine before racing in the breeze all the way. Diego ($7.50) raced in fifth position, three back on the pegs, before finishing strongly to be third to give Hall Of Fame trainer Gary Hall snr a trifecta result.
“I was a bit surprised when Chicago Bull raced up alongside us straight after the start,” said McDonald. “This heightened my worst fears that Chicago Bull would race outside of me and beat me. But Jack is too good for Bull when he leads.”
Jumpingjackmac has already amassed $255,054 in prizemoney from 15 wins and six seconds from 27 placings and he is destined to play a strong part in rich summer carnival events, including the Golden Nugget, Fremantle Cup and WA Pacing Cup.
Pocketful Of Opals is a Diamond hope
The $100,000 Diamond Classic for two-year-old fillies next Friday week is the target for the promising Pocketful Of Opals, who scored a smart victory in the DTS 65,000 Stock Lines Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Pocketful Of Opals, bred, part-owned and trained in Collie by Bianca Ashcroft, will return to Gloucester Park on Tuesday night when she will start out wide at barrier eight in the first qualifying heat for the Diamond Classic in which she will clash with the talented Zephyra.
Pocketful Of Opals was a $23 chance from the No. 6 barrier on Friday night when Kyle Harper was able to send her to the front 50 metres after the start when the early leader Feeling Empathy ($21) galloped.
After a slow lead time of 38sec. and dawdling opening quarters of 34sec. and 31.4sec., Pocketful Of Opals covered the final 400m sections in 29.2sec. and 30.4sec. as she held on to defeat the fast-finishing $7.50 chance Morissette by a half-neck, with Chewysloosechange ($6.50) a close-up third.
Wanea, the $1.45 favourite, disappointed in wilting to finish sixth in the field of seven after she had raced behind the pacemaking Pocketful Of Opals for most of the way.
Pocketful Of Opals is by the New Zealand-bred stallion Foreclosure and is out of the Courage Under Fire mare Tella, who won races in New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia before being retired to stud with a record of 131 starts for 14 wins, 26 placings and $72,903 in stakes.
Pocketful Of Opals has raced nine times for three wins and a third placing for stakes of $23,253. Her victory on Friday night revived memories for Harper, who drove Tella 24 times for two wins and five placings for Ashcroft, including a victory at $24.60 as an eight-year-old at her final appearance in a race at Collie on April 1, 2018.
Harper went on to win with Bramante Steps ($2.25) at Northam on Saturday night.
Plutonium’s successful return
New Zealand-bred six-year-old Plutonium made a successful return to racing after a 13-month absence when Maddison Brown drove him to a convincing victory in the 2536m Direct Trades Supply We’ve Got Shedloads Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Plutonium was a $5.30 chance from barrier three, and Brown was happy to let him relax while $8 chance Jaspervellabeach began speedily from barrier five in a determined bid to take up the running from the polemarker and $2.70 favourite Euphoria.
Jaspervellabeach led by a length but was unable to cross Euphoria, who was driven hard by Stuart McDonald to hold the front before the consistent five-year-old was able to amble through the opening 400m section of the final mile in 33.1sec.
Fanci A Dance, the $3.60 second fancy, made a fast move to get to the breeze with 1200m to travel, giving Plutonium an ideal trail in the one-out, one-back position.
McDonald made a bold bid for victory, with Euphoria dashing over the final three quarters in 28.6sec., 28.3sec. and 28.3sec. But the energy Euphoria had expended in withstanding Jaspervellabeach’s early challenge took its toll and the gelding wilted late to finish third behind Plutonium, who burst to the front 50m from the post and won by 4m from Fanci A Dance, rating 2.0.2 over the 2536m journey.
“The early burn didn’t help Euphoria,” said McDonald. “I had to win a battle to win a war, and Euphoria had to wear a bit of pressure.”
Plutonium damaged his nearside front tendon during the running of his previous start when he finished strongly to win from Alta Engen at Gloucester Park in July last year.
“He came off the track sore after that win,” said trainer Michael Young. “We gave him plenty of time off and when Joseph Suvaljko drove him in a recent trial at Pinjarra it was the first time I had hopples on him since he was injured.
“Joseph has been riding him and galloping him at home, and before the trial I had to trust that he had done enough with him. Obviously, he had because the trial (second to Always Fast) was sensational, and now he has come out and won. So, all the credit has to go to Joseph.
“Plutonium is a bit of a plodder, but he has done a great job for us.” Plutonium, a gelding by former star pacer Auckland Reactor, has had 16 starts in WA for three wins and five placings to boost his career figures to 33 starts for nine wins, seven placings and $70,552.
Orlando Blue ends losing run of 14
Four-year-old Orlando Blue, unplaced at his first three appearances after a spell, bounced back to form with a solid win in the 2536m Happy 50TH John Ramage Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Starting favourite at $1.80, Orlando Blue was bounced straight to the front from barrier two by Stuart McDonald and was untroubled to set a modest pace and win by just over a length from $101 outsider One For Dave Andme, who ran home solidly from sixth on the pegs at the bell.
The win was the first leg of a training double for Michael Young, who prepared Plutorium for his win in the following event.
“Orlando Blue hasn’t come back after a spell as good as he was during his previous preparation, and that explains his three unplaced runs,” said Young. “His runs during his previous preparation, when he wasn’t winning, were brilliant against decent horses. He is not a slouch when he’s right, and he has led and beaten horses like Finvarra.
“There is no reason now why he has been a bit ordinary recently and is not quite right. I’m not sure that he has turned the corner; he just found the right race tonight. However, on Tuesday I know he stopped a bit (when fifth behind Sahara Storm), but he had run 27.7sec. down the back on a cold, windy and wet night.
“That said to me that if he led tonight and got his own way in front there was a 27.7sec. there for him if he needed it. Hopefully, he can get back to somewhere near his best form because he’s probably a fringe Golden Nugget horse.” Orlando Blue has raced 31 times for eight wins, nine placings and stakes of $79,501.
No trouble for Will I Rocknroll
Enigmatic seven-year-old Will I Rocknroll took full advantage of the prized No. 1 barrier when Stuart McDonald enjoyed an armchair drive in guiding him to an easy all-the-way win in the 2130m Farmlock Fencing Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Supporters of the $1.30 favourite had no concerns after Will I Rocknroll burst straight to the front and was not extended in winning from Angel In White ($6.50) and Alta Rhett ($7), rating 1.57.6 after final quarters of 29.2sec., 28.8sec. and 28.3sec.
“He is certainly a good horse on the rail,” said McDonald. “There was no real pressure, and he was able to cruise around at his own happy tempo. He was probably going better on the line that what he looked like. He was pretty casual and wasn’t going to let any horses go past him.”
Will I Rocknroll, who is prepared by Gary Hall snr, was a smart winner over Typhoon Banner a week earlier, and he now has won at four of past eleven starts.
He has raced 38 times in Western Australia for six wins and five placings and boasts a career record of 72 starts for 17 wins, eleven placings and stakes of $170,555.
Patched recovers his health
Rising trotting star Patched has made a good recovery from a worrying urinary tract infection and he simply outclassed the opposition when he set the pace and strolled to an effortless victory in the DTS Farm Fence Trot, a stand over 2503m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
“The main thing tonight was that he showed that he was over the infection which affected him at his two previous starts,” said Pinjarra trainer David Young.
Patched, the $1.50 favourite, began smoothly for Aiden de Campo and he relished his pacemaking role as he was untroubled to beat $6 chance Son Of A Whiz by four lengths at a 2.5.2 rate on a muddy track.
This was his sixth win from eight starts in WA, after his 30 Victorian starts produced four wins and eleven placings.
“There’s no particular plan for him; we’re just happy to make hay while the sun is shining,” said Young. “He is owned in Melbourne by Vicki Woodhouse, the mother of Alison Alford, and if he goes through the grades here, we may nominate for the Interdominion Trotting Championship in Victoria in November and December.
“The times he is running here indicate that he could take another step. Tonight, Aiden didn’t pull the plugs and said that he was back to his best.”
Young’s only previous square gaiter was Conquer All, who won six races for him as an 11 and 12-year-old in 2012 and 2013. Now the five-year-old Patched appears certain to exceed the deeds of Conquer All.
Young also bred and owns a young mare he named Thats Not My Gait because she was a natural trotter, even though her sire Follow The Stars and her dam Forever Happy raced as pacers.
Young sent Thats Not My Gait to Victoria to be trained by Chris Alford, and the mare’s first 27 starts have produced four wins and eight placings for earnings of $43,528. She has finished second at her past two starts, at Geelong and Maryborough.
Swingband in tune for the Westbred
Classy Alta Christiano gelding Swingband resumed after a spell in dazzling style with a splendid victory in the 2130m Noah George Fundraiser Night Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
His powerful performance in winning from The Miki Taker and Tricky Miki was a firm indication that he is on song for a crack at the $100,000 Westbred Classic for three-year-old colts and geldings on September 9.
Swingband was the $4.30 second favourite in the race in which many pundits considered that it would be fought out by The Miki Taker ($1.75) and Tricky Miki ($6.50), each of whom had scored impressive first-up victories at Bunbury.
But it was another Miki in reinsman Micky Grantham who was hellbent on spoiling the party.
Grantham got Swingband away fast from the No. 4 barrier, and the gelding burst to the front after about 75m. But Swingband shifted down and checked The Miki Taker, causing that pacer to be carried inwards with his nearside sulky wheel contacting the legs of $8 chance Hoppys Way, causing him to gallop.
The stewards charged Grantham with causing interference, and he pleaded guilty and was suspended for 16 days.
After comfortable opening quarters of 31.6sec. and 30.6sec., Swingband increased the tempo with final 400m sections of 29.4sec. and 27.6sec. to win by a half-length from The Miki Taker, who finished strongly after trailing the leader all the way. Tricky Miki ran on fast from the one-out, one-back position to be a nose away in third place.
Swingband, trained by Ryan Bell, has already amassed $176,747 in prizemoney from ten wins and three placings from 16 starts.
“I didn’t expect that he would get to the front as easy as he did,” said Bell. “He will race again in a fortnight on his way to the Westbred Classic. He has always been good, right from his first start when Aiden (de Campo) won on him at Pinjarra, rating 1.54.2. He is a bit headstrong, but even when he is naughty, he is still good enough.”
Machlani ends 857-day drought
A flying start from barrier four paved the way for Machlani’s long overdue win in the 2536m Direct Trades Supply Maddington Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The six-year-old gelding’s victory over Allwoods Rocknroll ($4.40) and Withoutthetuh ($2.50 favourite) ended an 857-day drought and a losing sequence of 35, stretching back to his win at Gloucester Park on March 31, 2020.
Machlani, an $11.90 chance at his second appearance after a spell, flew out for 20-year-old reinsman Kyle Symington, who had driven $7 chance Bayardo to victory at Bunbury seven hours earlier.
Symington then rated Machlani perfectly in front and the gelding won by just under a length from Allwoods Rocknroll, who had enjoyed the perfect trip behind the pacemaker all the way.
“This was the right race for him and the 2536m was ideal,” said Machlani’s trainer Michael Brennan, just back from an enjoyable three-week holiday in Ireland. “Special thanks for Aleesha Bynder and Kim Young, who have done a great job looking after the horses in the stable while I was away.”
Machlani, who is owned by Brian Ridley, was placed only once from his previous 14 starts. He impressed with his first-up run the previous week when he finished strongly into seventh place behind Rock Me Over.
He is by Mach Three and is the fourth foal out of Leilani Lombo, who raced 23 times for ten wins, six placings and stakes of $224,595. The highlight of her career was her victory in the group 1 APG final for three-year-old fillies at Albion Park in April 2010. Leilani Lombo’s dam Indyanna Lombo won the $60,000 State Sires Series final for three-year-old fillies at Gloucester Park in May 2002 when she beat Montana Lombo by a nose.
Machlani’s stablemate Withoutthetuh was slightly disappointing in finishing third on Friday night. He raced in fifth position, three back on the pegs, and battled on gamely at his second appearance after a spell.
“Withoutthetuh didn’t have much luck tonight, but he is not going as well as he should be,” said Brennan. “He has come back from the paddock quite heavy.”
Paroquet, overlooked as a $3000 bargain
Early this year Paula Petricevich was so disappointed with Paroquet, a four-year-old mare she had bred, that she advertised her for sale at just $3000.
She received a few tentative nibbles, but nobody was willing to outlay this small price to buy her. Eventually, Serpentine trainer Michael Munro took an interest in the daughter of American sire Shadow Play, and he agreed to lease the mare, who had managed one win (by a head over Classnsmart at Northam in July last year) and two placings from 20 starts.
Paroquet’s first 14 starts had produced two thirds, at Wagin and Narrogin, and Petricevich, a veterinary nurse, despaired that she would ever develop into a reasonable performer.
However, in a remarkable transformation for the 49-year-old Munro, Paroquet has matured into a quality pacer who continued her rise as one of the State’s smartest mares with a dashing victory in the DTS Security Fence Specialists Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Paroquet was the $1.50 favourite from the No. 1 barrier when she simply outclassed her rivals by setting a solid pace and winning by 13 metres from her stablemate Sheza Bromac, the $5.50 second fancy who trailed the leader throughout.
Illustrating what a bargain that has been missed is the fact that Munro has now given Paroquet eleven starts for six wins, two seconds and a third for earnings of $53,948.
Paroquet has a parrot mouth (a form of an overshot jaw) and was named by Petricevich after a variety of a small parrot. She is the tenth and last foal out of the unraced Walton Hanover mare Smooth Moven.
Paroquet’s victory gave reinsman Shannon Suvaljko his 100TH winner for the season, and he celebrated this milestone by landing a double with Queeninthecorner ($1.20) and Patrikiar ($12) at Northam on Saturday night.