Gloucester Park Review 30 September 2022

04 October 2022 | Ken Casellas
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Girl power reigns supreme

The deft skills of Western Australia’s small but richly talented group of female drivers were on full display at Gloucester Park on Friday night when they set a significant record of landing seven winners on a program.

It was indeed a historic record-breaking occasion when girl power reigned supreme, climaxing with 21-year-old Emily Suvaljko guiding Jaspervellabeach, the $1.80 favourite, to an all-the-way victory in the 7Plus Stream For Free Pace to chalk up a memorable century of winners for the season.

This completed a double for Suvaljko, who had been successful earlier in the evening with $16.20 chance Boom Time, and it followed victories for Jocelyn Young (Athabascan, $21.40, and The Amber Hare, $6.70), Maddison Brown (Plutonium, $1.55) and Deni Roberts (Markham Eyre, $26.70, and Jett Star, $2.70).

The other four winners on the 11-event program were driven by champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr, who said that the emergence of outstanding young female drivers in recent years had been a major breakthrough in harness racing.

“Back in the day, more often than not, female drivers would get abused for doing any little thing wrong,” he said. “But now that stuff has all died down, and it is good that they can be out there, competing, now. And there are some good girl drivers here at the moment. They are all light, and a light weight is a big advantage.”

Roberts, delighted with her double, said: “It’s girl power, winning seven of the first nine races. There is only a small pool of us five who drive regularly, especially on Friday nights at Gloucester Park. We are all getting good opportunities, and this is shown on the winners’ board.”

Jocelyn Young said: “We don’t need a helping hand or a kick start. We have proven that, and it is good to give the boys a shake up and get them on their toes.”

Young (29) and her younger sister Madeliene (28) and Suvaljko (21), Brown (26) and Roberts (27) are the five regular female drivers at Gloucester Park, with Madeliene giving a sample of her ability on Friday night by bringing $26 chance Skylord home with a spirited burst from eighth at the bell to finish a splendid second to hot favourite Never Ending in the $150,00 group 1 Golden Slipper.

Between those five they have driven 1511 winners, with Suvaljko showing the way with 460 winners, followed by Jocelyn Young (342), Roberts (331), Brown (215) and Madeliene Young (163).

Female drivers also notched seven minor placegetters on Friday night, with Suvaljko having third placings with Seven No Trumps, Cool Water Paddy and Ideal Whitby, Roberts notching thirds with Jumpingjackmac and Lusaka, Brown finishing second with Arma Einstein and Madeliene Young earning $27,000 with Skylord’s second placing for herself and her sister and part-owner and trainer Jocelyn.

Never Ending defies early burn

Magnificent youngster Never Ending had champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr concerned when he fired up and failed to settle down after being hotly challenged in the early stages by $41 chance Rocket City in the $150,000 Channel Seven Perth Golden Slipper at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

However, Never Ending’s class prevailed, and he shook off Rocket City’s attack and then became fired up as he set the pace and went on to score a superb victory in the group 1 classic, rating 1.55.1 to set a race record, lowering Mighty Ronaldo’s 1.55.5 when he defeated Give Us A Wave in the 2020 Golden Slipper.

The victory completed an unprecedented Golden Slipper hat-trick for the 34-year-old trainer Justin Prentice, following the wins of Mighty Ronaldo and Tricky Miki last year. It also gave Prentice his 25TH success in a Group 1 feature event. For Hall it was his 61ST win in a Group 1 race and his second driving success in the event, following his win with Beaudiene Boaz in 2014.

“Never Ending went super,” said a jubilant Hall. “He pulled his brains out. I had to rev him up to hold the lead when challenged. I had to give him a little smack, and then I couldn’t hold him. He was pulling so hard that I was worried.

“We know he’s good, but we didn’t know whether he could keep going after pulling so hard. But he won easily. He didn’t have much left in the tank, but neither did any of the others. here is still a lot of improvement in him. He is now going for a spell before he comes back as a three-year-old next year.”

Never Ending, raced by a syndicate of 13, was purchased for $57,000 at the 2021 APG Perth yearling sale, and he now has raced six times for six wins and $274,485 in prizemoney.

He was the $1.30 favourite from the No. 1 barrier on Friday night, and after a smart lead time of 36.1sec. he dashed over the final quarters in 30sec., 29.1sec., 28sec. and 29.2sec. He won by just over a length from $26 chance Skylord, who ran home strongly from eighth at the bell to be second, just ahead of $34 chance Lusaka, who trailed the leader all the way.

Never Ending is by American stallion Sweet Lou and is the eighth foal out of the Die Laughing mare Endless Journey, who managed two placings from nine starts, a third at Bunbury and a second at Northam.

Markham Eyre flies home

Experienced New Zealand-bred six-year-old Markham Eyre caused an upset when he was a $26.70 outsider and charged home, out wide, from eighth at the 350m to snatch a last-stride victory by a head from $4 favourite Finvarra in the $30,000 group 3 Telethon The Kersley Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

The gelding, prepared by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, gave Deni Roberts her fourth feature race success, following wins with the Bond-trained pacers J B Mauney in the group 3 Don Randall Memorial at Pinjarra in November 2020, See Ya Write in the group 3 Higgins Memorial in July 2021 and Socrates in the Group 2 San Simeon Classic in August this year.

Markham Eyre, a last-start winner, began from barrier six and was suited by the fast early pace, with a brisk lead time of 35.1sec., and Roberts was content to keep the gelding at the rear on the pegs, with Talks Up A Storm setting a solid pace.

Finvarra, reappearing after a spell, settled at the rear before Gary Hall jnr sent him forward to move into the breeze 1200m from home. Finvarra then forged to the front with 380m to travel and was overhauled in the final stride.

Markham Eyre rated 1.57.5 over the 2130m and took his WA record to 19 starts for six wins and five placings to improve his career record to 68 starts for 11 wins 12 placings and $108,038 in stakes.

He is by American sire Sportswriter and is the fifth foal out of South Eyre, who managed just one win and eight placings for $19,836 from 39 starts.

“Once the early (fast) tempo was set I felt we could win,” said Roberts. “He loves that, and he keeps going at the same bat on the rails and following that speed. Everything fell into place, and he got off at the right time.”

Plutonium set for big Cups

The rich Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups in January are on the agenda for the vastly-improved Plutonium after the six-year-old maintained his brilliant form with a thrilling victory in the $30,000 Australia’s Got Talent Free-For-All at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

“The Cups are the aim for him now, and he has certainly done nothing wrong since coming back after recovering from a bowed tendon,” said trainer Michael Young after Maddison Brown had driven the New Zealand-bred gelding to an all-the-way win over Gambit and Jumpingjackmac.

Plutonium was a hot $1.55 favourite after the pre-post favourite Hampton Banner was scratched following an unfortunate paddock accident at trainer Debra Lewis’s Hopeland stables.

“He was kicked by his paddock mate Mirragon during the night and had a bit of a sore neck,” said part-owner Mark Lewis. “We were advised by the vet to be conservative and not to run him. It is only a minor injury, and he will be back racing within a week or two.”

With Hampton Banner’s withdrawal, Plutonium began from the prized No. 1 barrier, and he was able to amble through the lead time in a slow 39.4sec. and then coast through the first quarters of the final mile in dawdling times of 32.7sec. and 30.9sec. before dashing over the final 400m sections in 29.1sec. and 26.9sec.

Plutonium held on to beat $13 chance Gambit by a half-head after that pacer had raced in the breeze. Jumpingjackmac ($8) raced in the one-out and one-back position before finishing fast, out wide, to be a half-head away in third place. The winner rated a slow 2.0.1 over the 2130m.

Plutonium has been superb in his current campaign (after a 13-month absence) with his nine runs producing seven wins, one second and one third placing for stakes of $115,913 to take his career record to 41 starts for 15 wins, nine placings and stakes of $175,734.

“Going too slowly tonight probably almost got him beaten tonight,” said Young. “The Cups are the aim for him now. In his previous campaign it took me 12 runs to win an M0 with him.”

Suvaljko’s perfect record

Outstanding young driver Emily Suvaljko improved her record to a perfect three out of three drives when she drove $16.20 chance Boom Time to a dashing victory in the 2130m Home And Away On Seven Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Boom Time, prepared by Oakland trainer Ross Olivieri, began from barrier five, and Suvaljko was content to restrain the New Zealand-bred eight-year-old back to the rear while $8.50 chance Mirragon was setting a fast pace after a slow lead time of 38.4sec.

After an opening quarter of 30.5sec. Mirragon sped over the next 400msections in 28.5sec. and 28.2sec. --- and Boom Time was still in seventh position with 250m to travel before Suvaljko switched the gelding three wide. He was sixth on the home turn and sprinted fast to get to the front inside the final 50m to win by one and a half lengths from Arma Einstein, with the $1.75 favourite Fanci A Dance a nose away in third place.

Boom Time, a winner at two of his five New Zealand starts and at three of his seven starts in Victoria, has excelled under Olivieri’s care and his 48 WA starts have produced 11 wins and 17 placings to take his career record to 60 starts for 16 wins, 20 placings and stakes of $177,212.

“He is versatile and does it every which way,” said Olivieri. “He is a good frontrunner but is better from behind. He has a really good turn of foot.”

Derby distance will suit High Price

High Price, an immature three-year-old, was on his best behaviour when he scored an effortless victory in the 2536m 7Mate Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

“I’m rapt with the run, and he deserved that win,” said reinsman Gary Hall Jnr. High Price, trained by Gary Hall Snr, had broken in the score-up three times in his brief career.

“He had to go back to trials after doing things wrong out of the gate,” said Hall Jnr. “He’s quite a nice horse who could mature and make it through to a good grade.

“He will be aimed at the WA Derby next month. His best asset is his speed from a sit, and the 2536m of the Derby will suit him, tucked away on the rails. He could be a knockout horse because the distance won’t worry him, and he can reel off a good quarter.”

High Price was the $2.10 favourite from the outside barrier (No. 9) on the front line, and he settled down at the rear while the $3.50 second fancy Vintage Blu ran past Name In Lights to take up the running after 200m.

High price was tenth in the middle stages before Hall dashed him forward three wide 1500m from home to burst to the front 200m later. He covered the final 400m sections in 29.5sec. and 29.6sec. and won by just over two lengths from Vintage Blu, rating 1.59.1.

The WA-bred High Price is by former champion pacer Alta Christiano and is out of the Grinfromeartoear mare Harriet Price, who managed two wins and two placings from 17 starts for earnings of $11,189.

The Amber Hare is on the way up

Promising four-year-old The Amber Hare is continuing to impress and is looming as a strong contender for the $100,000 Norms Daughter Classic and the $150,000 Mares Classic next month.

Starting the second fancy at $6.70, The Amber Hare gave a spirited display in the breeze before getting up in the final stages to snatch a head victory over the pacemaker and $1.780 favourite Three Rumours in the 2130m Farmer Wants A Wife On 7 Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

The Amber Hare started out wide at barrier seven and her trainer Jocelyn Young drove aggressively in a bid to beat the favourite by sending her forward, three wide, in the early stages to put pressure on Three Rumours.

“I thought that the only way to beat Three Rumours was to outstay her but getting to the breeze she got a bit keen, which was a bit unusual for her,” said Young. “About the 400m I thought we would run second. However, it was probably a combination of The Amber Hare digging in and Three Rumours feeling the pinch that enables us to win.

“I’d love to see The Amber Hare in the big races for the mares. She shows that she is fast enough, so she will be suited in races in which there is a genuine tempo. She would be a chance if she gets out in front or if she doesn’t have to do all the tough work. She is progressing nicely.”

The Amber Hare won once from five starts in New South Wales and her 11 starts in WA have produced seven wins and three seconds.

She is by former star pacer For A Reason and is the seventh foal out of the unraced Blissfull Hall mare Amber Bliss. For A Reason raced 64 times for 27 wins, 17 placings and stakes of $1,111,470. He was retired after his final four starts were in Western Australia in November and December 2015 when he was unplaced in the Don Randall Cup at Pinjarra and in three heats of the Interdominion Championship.

For A Reason won the 2010 New South Wales and Queensland Derbies and finished third behind Beautide in the Interdominion Championship finals at Menangle early in 2014 and 2015.

Jett Star does it tough

New Zealand-bred four-year-old Jett Star gave a sample of his class and revealed wonderful fighting qualities when he scored an impressive victory in the 2536m The Chase On Seven Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Starting second favourite at $2.70, the Greg and Skye Bond-trained Jett Star was eighth early and then raced three wide into the breeze after 600m before forging to the front 1450m from home and running the final quarters in 28.7sec. and 29.7sec. as he won by almost a length from the $2.25 favourite Cool Water Paddy.

Cool Water Paddy, the polemarker, led for the first 1100m and then trailed the pacemaker before finishing solidly along the inside.

“I had driven Jett Star three times previously when he raced on a helmet with cover and raced okay,” said driver Deni Roberts. “This was the first time I’ve been without cover with Jett Star. The plan was to go forward (from barrier five). I didn’t need to rush out of the gate because I thought that the position outside the leader was always going to be there for him.

“The lead time was pretty good and when I got there (into the breeze) he didn’t have any intention of slowing down. And once he got his head in front, I thought he would come back to me. But he got a bit worse and I had to relent --- and that was the end of that. So, I let him go to the front.

“Runs like that don’t really bother him, and he toughed it out really good.”

Roberts now has driven Jett Star four times for two wins and two seconds and the Bettors Delight stallion has earned $134,821 from 13 wins and five placings from 24 starts, with the highlight of his career being his victory over Lavra Joe in the Pearly for two-year-olds in June 2020.

Athabascan proves a sound buy

A $5000 investment three years ago has proved quite profitable for Mark Lewis, who enjoyed watching nine-year-old Athabascan score a narrow victory in the Sunrise On Seven Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

The veteran Mach Three gelding has now raced 57 times for Lewis for seven wins, 15 placings and earnings of $90,509. He has been prepared by his mother Debra Lewis at her Hopeland property.

Athabascan, driven by Jocelyn Young, was a $21.40 chance from the No. 3 barrier on Friday night. He burst straight to the front and gave a strong frontrunning performance to win by a head from $4.40 chance Cordero, who finished solidly along the inside after having trailed the pacemaker throughout.

Athabascan rated 1.57.9 over 2536m and he improved his career record to 116 starts for 17 wins, 35 placings and stakes of $157,670.

It was sage advice from Young that influenced Mark Lewis to purchase Athabascan in June 2019. “I recommended him to Mark after Matty (trainer Matt Saw) was sick of him and was putting him up for sale for $5000,” said Young.

“Athabascan has been a bit of a headache. He occasionally wants to buck out of the gate and during a race.”

Lewis said that he bought the gelding ages ago, revealing: “Jocelyn told me to buy him. He was cheap, and for no good reason I bought him. He did well and then fractured his nearside fore pedal bone and was out for a long time.”

Athabascan damaged his pedal bone in a race at Gloucester Park in June 2020 and he was out of action for 16 months.

Ferguson’s quirk of fate

Veteran trainer Terry Ferguson freely admits that he never had the slightest desire to own or train a square gaiter. But a strange quirk of fate has resulted in him owning and training four trotters.

One of them Line The Starzzz was successful in the $20,250 The Nullarbor Slot Race In April 2023 Trot at Gloucester Park on Friday night when Gary Hall Jnr drove the six-year-old to an all-the-way victory to take the mare’s record to 28 starts for nine wins, nine seconds and one third from 28 starts for earnings of $60,572.

The 73-year-old Ferguson has been a successful trainer and reinsman for many years, with one of his best pacers being Backina Falcon, who twice won six in a row in a 73-start career of 19 wins, 15 placings and $149,385. The highlight of Backina Falcon’s career was his second to Baltic Eagle in the WA Pacing Cup in January 2003.

“I bought Backina Falcon’s mother Walkin The Line as a three-year-old pacer and she produced seven winners, including Life On The Line, who turned out to be a trotter,” said Ferguson. “So, I sent her east where she raced in Victoria (for three wins, at Bendigo, Maryborough and Kilmore in 2008-09).

“I then bred from Life On the Line, who has produced two pacers (Paint The Wind and Art On The Line) and two trotters (Lifes Delight and Line The Starzzz).”

Paint The Wind raced 109 times for 12 wins, 23 placings and $70,505, and Art On the Line had only one start for an eighth placing at Narrogin in October 2016. Lifes Delight has raced 67 times for seven wins, 22 placings and stakes of $78,176.

Ferguson explained Line The Starzzz’s comparatively restricted career of 28 starts, saying: “She has had issues with wind galls and therefore I have had to race her conservatively. Her record is good, and it’s a matter of keeping her sound. She works on the beach at Busselton, jogging on the soft sand.”

Ferguson said that he had been busy recently, burning the midnight oil. “Between training nine horses and running a restaurant in the main street in Busselton with my partner Mildred Malazarte, it’s been interesting,” he said.

“I had an earth moving business for 25 years before retiring, and running a restaurant is another challenge.”

Line The Starzzz gave Hall his fourth winner on Friday night when she started at $3.60 and excelled in her frontrunning role in winning by a half-length from the $1.50 favourite Patched, who battled on gamely after racing without cover over the final 1500m.

Smart Watch a major WA Derby hope

The outstanding combination of trainer Gary Hall Snr and reinsman Gary Hall Jnr are looking forward with plenty of confidence to the $200,000 WA Derby on November 4 with the highly-promising Smart Watch.

The New Zealand-bred Smart Watch, a colt by American sire Hes Watching, impressed with the ease of his victory in the 2130m 7News Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

He was the $1.70 favourite who started from barrier two and dashed past the polemarker and last-start winner Linebacker to take the lead after 250m before covering the first 800m of the final mile in a comfortable 60.7sec. and then sprinting over the final 400m sections in 27.9sec. and 28.2sec. to beat Linebacker by seven metres at a 1.56.3 rate.

This followed his successful West Australian debut three days earlier when he scored an effortless runaway victory over Mancave at a 1.57.7 rate.

Street Hawk, a highly-regarded New Zealand-bred gelding by Bettors Delight in the stables of Greg and Skye Bond went into Friday night’s event as the winner at seven of his eleven starts, including wins at his five previous outings.

He was a $3 chance from out wide at barrier eight, with Ryan Warwick sending him forward early to race in the breeze. He battled on gamely to finish fourth.

“Smart Watch is a Derby hope,” said Hall jnr. “But you never know what you’ve got with him. He has never really got his mind on the job until late in the race. Tonight, he got out of the gate better than he did on Tuesday, and won easily, even though it wasn’t ideal having to back up so quickly after Tuesday’s race.

“Smart Watch had the advantage of leading, but he handled Street Hawk pretty comfortably.”

 

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