Gloucester Park Review Friday 25th November 2022

28 November 2022 | Ken Casellas
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Reinsman Kyle Symington and connections of Miss Limelight.

Reinsman Kyle Symington and connections of Miss Limelight. Photo by Hamilton Content Creators

Symington in the limelight

Twenty-year-old Kyle Symington was the toast of the town at Gloucester Park on Friday night when he became one of the youngest drivers in Australian harness racing history to land a group 1 winner.

He formulated a plan to set the pace with Miss Limelight to make life difficult for star mares Eighteen Carat and The Amber Hare in the $150,000 Westral Mares Classic --- and he followed his tactics perfectly as he guided the Ryan Bell-trained five-year-old to a superb all-the-way victory over a gallant Eighteen Carat, American Arma and The Amber Hare.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet, but I’m full of excitement at the moment,” said the level-headed Symington, who took a most unexpected path to become involved in harness racing.

“We lived in Frankland River, and I competed in eventing competitions and State championships for about six years, mainly riding a retired pacing mare Too Busy Talking,” he said. “And it was just by chance that I became interested in pacing --- when I got a job helping out at Justin Prentice’s stables on the weekends, just to get a bit of pocket money.

“Once I started working horses there, I fell in love with the sport. Initially, Mum and Dad were a bit sceptical about the industry. I was at school at the Harvey Agricultural College, trying to get into the agri. business. But the course I wanted wasn’t at the Uni I wanted to attend, so there was a change of plans.

“I had started at university before I began driving, and now I’m studying part-time for a Bachelor of Business degree, majoring in accounting, at Murdock University.”

While Symington has diverse interests, his twin brother Jake has taken a different course. “He’s into footy and is scared of horses,” he said. Jake is looking forward to breaking into league ranks next year after showing good form in 15 appearances in East Perth’s reserves side this year.

Kyle Symington’s first metropolitan winner was, fittingly, with Miss Limelight at Gloucester Park last May. He now has driven in 946 races for 103 winners, and horses he has handled in those events have earned a total of $1,079,705 in prizemoney.

“The plan tonight was to lead (from barrier one) and try to make every post a winner,” he explained. “We were happy to get away with a moderate opening quarter (31.3sec.) over the longer trip (2536m).”

Miss Limelight, the $4 second fancy, sprinted strongly over the final 400m sections in 27.6sec. and 28.6sec. and won by a half-length from Eighteen Carat ($4.80), rating 1.58.3. American Arma ($15), who raced three back on the pegs, finished strongly to be third, with the $3 favourite The Amber Hare sustaining a spirited burst from ninth at the bell to be fourth.

Bell said that he wasn’t expecting Miss Limelight to get things so easy, particularly in the early stages, but added: “I think she would’ve still run a very good race whatever the circumstances. She loves a dog fight and loves to roll along.

“Kyle had his plan, and I didn’t tell him much except that the one thing I wanted him to do was to make sure they didn’t get on top of him (by rating up and not letting a horse get past her wheel). Miss Limelight is so honest, and this was only the second time for me that she has been able to paint the rail.

“I think the others underestimated her a bit. She can zip some fast quarters, and she zipped three of them tonight. She is just hitting form and will be set for the Christmas Belles (a $50,000 group 3 2130m event for fillies and mares on December 23).

“Kyle deserved that win; he works hard and our results we have had this year would not have been achieved without him.”

Miss Limelight is owned by Albert and Julie Walmsley and was their second choice when they purchased her as a yearling in New Zealand. Their first choice was Sweet Maddison, who won at six of her first ten starts as a two and three-year-old in WA and has a record of 37 starts for nine wins, four placings and $71,676.

Miss Limelight has exceeded expectations, and she has earned $233,980 from 15 wins and 12 placings from 52 starts. She is by champion sire Bettors Delight and is the ninth foal out of the unraced Falcons Future mare Its Showtime. Her full-brother Elios has raced 28 times for ten wins, eight placings and $220,176.

Diego is Cups bound

Six-year-old Diego, driven with supreme confidence and aggression by Maddison Brown, gave further proof that he will be a leading contender in the rich Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups in January when he gave a bold frontrunning display to win the 2130m Westral Shadetrack Outdoor Blinds Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

The New Zealand-bred gelding is more mature and is racing with greater authority than he was when unplaced from awkward barriers in the two big Cups early this year.

Diego, prepared by master trainer Gary Hall snr, was the $1.70 favourite from the No. 5 barrier, and after settling down in fourth position he was sent forward by Brown after 250m and dashed to the front 300m later.

His stablemate Gambit ($9.50) began from the outside of the back line and Stuart McDonald showed his confidence in the gelding by sending him forward in the first circuit to move to the breeze after a lap.

After moderate opening quarters of 30.8sec. and 31.4sec. Diego sped over the final 400m sections in 28.5sec. and 27.4sec. to win by a half-length from Gambit, with $8 chance Patronus Star, finishing strongly, out wide, from eighth at the bell to be third.

Brown has formed a strong and successful relationship with Diego, having driven the Bettors Delight gelding 25 times for six wins, five seconds and three thirds. Diego, a winner at three of his 17 starts in New Zealand, now has earned $295,984 from 18 wins and 18 placings from 72 starts. He is the fourth and last foal out of the Christian Cullen mare Sakura, who managed one third placings from three starts as a four-year-old.

Fly To Fame completes Suvaljko’s treble

Outstanding young driver Emily Suvaljko had to quickly revise her tactics before scoring an impressive victory with promising two-year-old filly Fly To Fame in the $20,250 Westral Roller Blinds Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

This completed a treble for the 21-year-old Suvaljko, who had been successful earlier in the night with Rockmyster ($11.50) and El Chema ($1.60).

She was planning to send Fly To Fame, the $2.30 favourite from the No. 3 barrier to the front in the 2130m event. Fly To Fame began swiftly and Suvaljko made a spirited early challenge for the lead. But Aiden de Campo, driving the polemarker Dontwakemeup ($3.30) resisted the challenge.

Suvaljko did not panic. Instead, she steadied Fly To Fame, who dropped back to fifth position, still in the breeze position and four lengths from the pacemaker, after opting not to restrain and look for a position on the pegs.

Fly To Fame gradually moved forward, and when Dontwakemeup began to wilt in the back straight in the final circuit Suvaljko dashed Fly To Fame to the front with 420m to travel. Fly To Fame sped over the final 400m in 28.5sec. and was not extended in winning by 4m from $61 outsider Valentinathebullet, with Flying To Win ($4.40) fighting on into third place after trailing the leader all the way.

“Fly To Fame has good gate speed and I was keen to lead, so I had a good crack for the front,” said Suvaljko. “The connections told me not to get stuck in the breeze, so I thought I’d have a decent crack, and it probably helped me in the end with Dontwakemeup fading late.

“Fly To Fame pulled her way to the front at the 400m, and I didn’t think she would keep going the way she did. But she came home in 28.5sec., and I was quite impressed with that. She had started to hang at her past couple of runs. Changes to some head gear helped her and she has been working well.”

Fly To Fame, bred and owned by Bob Fowler, is trained by Katja Warwick. She has earned $30,940 from two wins and six placings from her 16 starts. The filly is by Follow The Stars and is out of former smart Bettors Delight mare Chevrons Champion, who won twice in New Zealand and 13 times in WA before retiring with a record of 95 starts for 15 wins, 25 placings and $171,957 in stakes. One of her best performances was her second to Dodolicious in the $50,000 Daintys Daughter Classic in February 2016.

Tricky Ric makes it seven in a row

Smart square gaiter Tricky Ric extended his winning sequence to seven when Gary Hall jnr drove him to victory in the $20,250m Westral Quality Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

The New Zealand-bred six-year-old, the $2.60 favourite, again revealed excellent manners with a smooth beginning from the 30m mark in the 2503m standing-start event, while the $3.10 second fancy Ace Commander ruined his chances by breaking into a gallop soon after the start when in front after beginning safely from the inside of the front line.

Ace Commander lost about ten lengths, and Hall was quite content to race Trick Ric without cover, but several lengths from the pacemaker and $3.90 third fancy Midnight Assassin. Tricky Ric moved alongside the leader approaching the bell before taking a clear lead 400m from home. He went on to win by 2m from Chumani ($9), with Ace Commander finishing solidly from sixth at the 250m to be an eye-catching third.

Though it appeared to be a comfortable win, Hall said that he was far from confident approaching the home turn. “I thought he was gone turning for home,” said Hall. “He was sending out distress signals. But I got up him and he found another gear.”

Tricky Ric, trained by Gary Hall snr, finished third in the Trotters Cup last January, and he will again be set for the $50,000 feature event on February 3.     

Fast start aids Rockstar Rebel

A flying star from the No. 6 barrier paved the way for Rockstar Rebel’s convincing win in the 1730m Westral Window Blinds Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Rockstar Rebel, the $2.60 favourite, ended a losing sequence of nine when Capel trainer Aiden de Campo got him away brilliantly to burst straight to the front.

After opening quarters of 30.3sec. and 30.5sec. Rockstar Rebel dashed over the final 400m sections in 29.1sec. and 28sec. to win by 5m from $17 chance Ultimate Rocker, with the $3.20 second fancy Suing You finishing third after racing wide early and then without cover.

“Rockstar Rebel has been racing really well, but has been very unlucky,” said de Campo. “Tonight, he got his luck and got the job done which was good reward for consistent efforts. Once he got across them early, he was pretty comfortable from there onwards.”

Rockstar Rebel, bred and owned by Sean Barrett, has earned $58,941 from eight wins and 12 placings from 44 starts. By American stallion Rock N Roll Heaven, he is the first foal out of the unraced Art Major mare Penny Wonda, whose half-brother Mista Rush raced 20 times for eight wins, six placings and $82,535.

Mista Rush won the South-West Derby at Pinjarra and the Country Derby at Bunbury early in 2014. He also finished second to Mister Jadore in the group 1 Westbred Classic for three-year-old colts and geldings at Gloucester Park in July 2014.

Watch for Moonlite Drive’s half-brother

Five-year-old New Zealand-bred pacer Moonlite Drive has been more than a handy pacer for Mundijong trainer Michael Young since arriving in Western Australia this year --- and now Young is looking forward keenly to racing the gelding’s half-brother Serious Moonlite.

Four-year-old Serious Moonlite arrived in WA just over three months ago and after a spell he is now ready to make his Australian debut. He contested a 2150m Byford trial on Sunday morning, and after racing in fifth position in an Indian file affair, he finished strongly and was not extended in running second to his stablemate and pacemaker Ideal Tomato.

Serious Moonlite has raced 25 times for four wins, seven placings and $41,405. Earlier this year he was a winner at successive starts at Addington, over 2600m and 1980m.

Moonlite Drive was having his third start after a spell when he was the $2.70 favourite from the No. 2 barrier in the 2130m Westral Roller Shutters Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

He was handled by Kyle Symington, who celebrated his first drive in a race for the Young stable by guiding the Bettors Delight gelding to an all-the-way win at a 1.57.7 rate.  He just held on to score by a nose from the $23 chance Platinum Sparkle, who had begun very fast from out wide at barrier eight, led by three-quarters of a length early but was unable to cross Moonlite Drive.

After Moonlite Drive had withstood this challenge, Stuart McDonald restrained Platinum Sparkle and was able to obtain the one-out, one-back position behind the breeze horse Dont Bother Me None ($3.80). McDonald switched Platinum Sparkle three wide at the 300m and the four-year-old Justin Prentice-trained mare finished with great determination.

“It got a bit stressful close to the line,” admitted Symington. “However, he went good; he had to run the gate hard early and also ran home in 56.4sec., so it was a pretty good performance.”

Young was pleased with the win, but said he thought the gelding would have won more easily. “Maybe I didn’t have him a hundred per cent right,” he said. “But he was still able to get the job done.”

Moonlite Drive has earned $109,584 from 11 wins and 16 placings from 51 starts. He won once from four starts as a four-year-old in New Zealand and his 31 Victorian starts produced four wins and seven placings. He has raced 16 times in WA for six wins and seven placings.

Moonlite Drive is out of the Christian Cullen mare Miss Moonlite, who earned $184,249 from 13 wins and 14 placings from 67 starts. The best of her wins was in the group 1 $100,000 Breeders Crown for four-year-old mares at Melton in August 2012.

Grout fills in with a winner

With Banjup trainer Dylan Egerton-Green in Melbourne with To Fast To Serious contesting the Interdominion championship series he left his stable forewoman Sara Grout with the responsibility of taking Rockmyster to race at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

The 21-year-old Grout filled in perfectly and enjoyed her moment in the sun when Emily Suvaljko drove $11.50 chance Rockmyster to victory in the $20,250 Go One Better With Westral Pace.

The New Zealand-bred Rockmyster was untroubled to lead from the No. 1 barrier and he gave a bold frontrunning display to go on and win by a length from the $5.50 chance Little Darling, rating 1.57.3 over the 2130m.

“I had not sat behind Rockmyster before, and I spoke on the phone to Dylan on my way to the course,” said Suvaljko. “He said that he is one of the best three-year-olds he’s got, and that he possesses good gate speed as well as good point-to-point speed. And he told me to come out at the start, and if we didn’t get too much pressure, to hold up.”

Suvaljko followed Egerton-Green’s advice, and Rockmyster relished his frontrunning role. The gelding, the eleventh foal out of the unraced Armbro Operative mare Operative Asset, won once from nine New Zealand starts, and his eight WA starts have produced three wins and two placings to improve his career record to 17 starts for four wins, three placings and $34,251.

Grout is now looking forward to preparing her first winner. She trains one pacer, the eight-year-old mare Trinity Bromac, and she is looking forward to gaining a licence to drive in races.

Blitzembye bounces back

Talented New Zealand-bred gelding Blitzembye disappointed last Friday week when he faded in the final lap to finish tenth behind Lavra Joe in the group 2 Four-Year-Old Championship. But he bounced back to form in fine style at Gloucester Park on Friday night when he scored an impressive victory in the 1730m Westral Meshlock Security Doors And Screens Pace.

He was a $6.40 chance from the No. 5 barrier, and Shannon Suvaljko stole a march on his rivals by getting the son of Bettors Delight away brilliantly to charge straight to the front.

Blitzembye set a brisk pace, with the $1.85 favourite Glenledi Chief working hard in the breeze. Blitzembye went on to win by a length from $6 chance Beat City, who surged home, out wide, from sixth at the bell. The final 800m was covered in 57sec. and Blitzembye rated 1.54.9.

“I was a bit disappointed with his run the previous week,” said trainer Mike Reed. “I blamed myself. I think I might have overdone him during the week when I upped his work. In the past week I haven’t hoppled him, and he has improved.

“Blitzembye will run in the $125,000 Four-Year-Old Classic next Friday night, and then, hopefully, in the $200,000 Golden Nugget two weeks later.

“I didn’t expect him to get straight to the front tonight. This was the first time we had really tested him for speed (at the start), mainly because in New Zealand he was put out of the draw in mobiles because of his bad manners. So, we hadn’t chased him out at the start, but tonight we decided to come out and hope to get outside of Glenledi Chief. And it turned out that he was able to get to the front.”

Blitzembye, a winner at two of his eight starts in New Zealand, has won at 11 of his 23 WA starts and now has a record of 31 starts fort 13 wins, six placings and $117,697.

Big plans for Prince Of Pleasure

Prince Of Pleasure is an inexperienced rising six-year-old who has had only 15 starts. But champion reinsman Gary Hall jnr is excited at his wonderful potential and has high expectations of him developing quickly into a runner in the rich Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups in January.

The New Zealand-bred prince Of Pleasure extended his winning sequence to eight when Hall drove him to an effortless victory in the $20,250 Westral Meshlock Security, None Stronger Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Prince Of Pleasure, trained by Gary Hall snr and the $1.04 favourite from the outside of the back line, settled in eighth position before he made a fast three-wide move 1100m from home to burst to the front 200m later. He dashed over the final 400m sections in 28.1sec. and 28.2sec. and beat $26 outsider Ifeel Sikdarl by just under a length, rating 1.54.7 over the 1730m journey.

Prince Of Pleasure, who managed one win and one second placing from eight starts in New Zealand, is unbeaten at seven starts in Western Australia. By champion sire Bettors Delight, he is the second foal out of the Christian Cullen mare Holly Maddison, who raced 17 times for five wins, five placings and $43,101.

“We will have to keep racing him through the grades if we want to get him into the Cups,” said Hall jnr. “It has been a while since I’ve driven a horse with that sort of speed, and horses who do have such speed look good coming through the classes. Contesting the big Cups is not out of the question, at all.”

El Chema shows his class

Problem pacer El Chema gave a sample of his class when he overcame difficulties to score a thrilling win in the 2130m Westral Plantation Shutters Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

The four-year-old New Zealand-bred El Chema was the $1.60 favourite from the prized No. 1 barrier and the chunky little gelding gave his supporters many anxious moments after he was crossed at the start by the $3.10 second fancy Stamford and was hopelessly hemmed in as Stamford led his rivals into the home bend.

Once the field had straightened for the run home Aiden de Campo looked to his right and saw Ragazzo Mach sprinting strongly out wide on the track, and he dashed away with Stamford in a bid to keep that pacer at bay.

This enabled Emily Suvaljko to get El Chema into the clear 110m from the post, and the favourite sprouted wings to rocket home and get up and snatch victory by a head from Stamford, with Ragazzo Mach finishing third.

Suvaljkjo admitted that she was concerned after Stamford had beaten El Chema out at the start, saying: “Stamford is a pretty quick beginner, and this was El Chema’s first time back under lights for a while (since winning at Gloucester Park on May 17 this year). So, I didn’t want to put ourselves out of the race (by pushing too hard out of the gate and perhaps breaking).

“It would have been nice to lead, but I didn’t want the free-legged El Chema to gallop. I was a bit nervous when I got crossed, and I didn’t know if I would be able to get out (in the last lap) when I had Aiden in front, and Chris Lewis (Classic Choice) and Junior (Gary Hall jnr on Firerockfireroll) boxing me in. So, I was nervous.

“I was trying to sit back off Aiden to come wide on the corner. But the horse didn’t want to do that. Then he got that lucky split, and he’s so fast.”

This was El Chema’s first appearance at Gloucester Park since last May when he began from barrier six, galloped in the score-up and lost ten lengths. He was last at the 700m before charging to the front 310m later and winning by three lengths from Armarockstar.

El Chema raced with hopples for his first nine starts before racing free-legged for his next 15 starts.

“He has let me down quite a few times,” said trainer Justin Prentice. “Early on he had problems with overracing, and seeming unhappy.”

El Chema is by champion sire Bettors Delight and is the third foal out of Spirit Of Shard, who earned $55,703 from six wins and six placings from 26 starts. His full-sister Dracarys had a splendid career with Prentice, winning 13 races before being retired with a record of 59 starts for 17 wins, 12 placings and $211,371.

Dracarys and El Chema’s half-brother Spirit Of St Louis is one of Australia’s best pacers who boasts a record of 46 starts for 20 wins, 13 placings and stakes of $711,126, with highlights of his career including seconds to King Of Swing in the Miracle Mile at Menangle early this year and to Majestic Cruiser in the Blacks A Fake Championship at Albion Park in July.

  

 

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