Gloucester Park Preview Friday 19 April 2024

18 April 2024 | Ken Casellas

Callaghan aims to go one better

Ace reinsman Jack Callaghan has issued a strong warning to Spirit Of St Louis’s rivals in the $1,250,000 TABtouch Nullarbor slot race at Gloucester Park on Friday night when he declared that the veteran millionaire pacer was poised to lead the opposition on a merry dance.

“I’d say that Spirit Of St Louis is a lot better now than when he finished second in this event last year,” said the 22-year-old Callaghan.

Spirit Of St Louis, who finished a head behind the winner Betterzippit in last year’s Nullarbor, has drawn perfectly at barrier No. 1 in the 2536m event.

“Barrier one is the one we wanted, and he is very fast, and I’d be surprised if any horse in the country could cross him,” said Callaghan.

Spirit Of St Louis gave an example of his sparkling gate speed in last year’s Nullarbor when he began brilliantly from barrier eight and burst to the front after 80m. Betterzippit settled down in eighth position in the one-wide line before Cam Hart set him alight with two laps to travel and charged to the front.

Spirit Of St Louis then trailed the frontrunning Betterzippit before Callaghan got him into the clear 220m from home, and the gelding finished powerfully to fail narrowly.

Callaghan has enjoyed a wonderful association with the Luke McCarthy-trained Spirit Of St Louis, having driven him 41 times for 13 wins, 13 seconds and one third placing. Spirit Of St Louis, who now has a losing sequence of twelve, has earned $1,408,227 from 28 wins and 24 placings.

Friday night’s field of ten runners has between them earned $7,072,203 from 197 wins and 146 placings, with Menangle trainer Jason Grimson aiming to win with Hot And Treacherous, who will be handled by star reinsman Cam Hart.

Hart drove the Grimson-trained Betterzippit to victory in the inaugural Nullarbor a year ago. Hot And Treacherous, who has had six starts for Gimson for three wins and a second placing, is favourably drawn at barrier No. 3.

“If I was able to pick my draw, I would’ve chosen three or four,” said Grimson. “Everyone over here thinks that you have to draw one or two to lead, but I don’t agree with that.

“I haven’t spoken to Cam yet too much about tactics, but I’d say Hot And Treacherous will be going forward. The horse has very high gate speed, and I’d like to be somewhere near the front. And if we don’t get to the front there will be a few three wide for the trip (a strong indication that Hart would not be surrendering the breeze position if the horse failed to get to the lead).

“Hot And Treacherous has a good all-round game. He has very good gate speed and is quite fast and strong. The distance won’t worry him. He is in a good place and is rock hard fit. I hoppled him yesterday (Monday) and he was very sharp.”

Andy Gath, trainer of star Victorian pacer Catch A Wave, said that he expected the five-year-old, a millionaire winner at 20 of his 36 starts, to improve on his fourth behind Diego in a 2130m Free-For-All last Friday night.

“Barrier four is not a bad draw,” he said. “However, the one horse (Spirit Of St Louis) is pretty quick out and he holds all the aces and can hold the lead if he wants to.

“Catch A Wave is very quick, but he is not as quick as Spirit Of St Louis. Kate (driver Kate Gath) has options, and the main thing is that the horse is in very good order.

“The two other Eastern States runners are quality horses, and I’ve been impressed with Minstrel.”

Minstrel, prepared by leading WA trainers Greg and Skye Bond, is in superb form with six wins and one half-head second from his past seven starts, and he has shown a level of toughness superior to his nine rivals.

But Minstrel’s prospects when he drew the outside barrier (No. 9). However, Minstrel’s driver Deni Roberts is optimistic that the seven-year-old is capable of a powerful performance.

Roberts notched her 42ND winner for the season and the 593RD of her career when she drove the $1.04 Bond-trained favourite Ladieshavtime to an easy victory in the Minstrel Pace, the final event at Gloucester Park on Tuesday night after the filly had galloped badly at the start and settled down more than a dozen lengths behind the early leader.

“I hope that’s an omen,” said Roberts. “Barrier nine on Friday night is not great. I would have liked to have drawn a bit closer in. But Minstrel is tough, and he is probably the one horse in the field who is capable of overcoming that draw.

“Minstrel is at the top of his game, and if the speed backs off, whenever that is, we should get into the race. He’s got to be up there; that’s his go.”

Greg Bond said: “The draw hurts Minstrel, but it doesn’t mean he can’t win. He will need a few things to go his way, and you will see a good version of him.”

Lavra Joe, to be driven by Kyle Harper for owner-trainer Ray Jones, is racing in splendid form, but his prospects diminished when he drew out wide at barrier eight.

Other WA pacers Jumpingjackmac (barrier five), Swingband (six) and Blitzembye (seven) will be tested from awkward draws, while Mighty Ronaldo (two) and Never Ending (the sole runner off the back line) should appreciate their good barriers.

Emily Suvaljko will be keen to obtain a prominent position with cover before asking the Justin Prentice-trained Mighty Ronaldo to unwind a strong finishing burst. Prentice also trains Never Ending, a brilliant four-year-old who has won at 14 of his 17 starts.

Star reinsman Gary Hall jnr admitted he was happy with Never Ending’s draw, saying: “We knew that he probably would have to be driven with a sit.

“It would be nice if Spirit Of St Louis held up and Never Ending was able to take the sit behind him. To win, Never Ending needs to be on the leader’s back or three back on the pegs. Then it would be ideal if I was able to get out when I wanted to.

“I have no doubt that if Never Ending gets the split at the right time they will know he’s there.”

Swingband, to be driven by Kyle Symington for trainer Ryan Bell, will need luck from barrier six. “It could have been worse, but it’s a bit daunting that the three Eastern States horses have drawn one, three and four,” said Bell.

“We can’t go out there with any plans,” said Bell. “Kyle will have to take it the way it comes. Swingband is as good as I can get him.”

Test for New Zealand Oaks winner

Aardiebytheseaside, the winner of the prestigious group 1 New Zealand Oaks at Addington last December, will have her next start --- at her Australian debut --- when she lines up at the No. 1 barrier in the $75,000 group 2 Empress Stakes at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

The four-year-old, a winner at eight of her 21 starts in New Zealand, faces a stern test when she clashes with the outstanding five-year-old Steno, who has drawn the No. 4 barrier in the 2536m feature event.

Steno possesses dazzling gate speed and trainer-driver Jocelyn Young is sure to make a bold bid to dash to the front in the early stages.

Interestingly, the Empress Stakes has been won in the past two years by the mare who has started from the coveted No. 1 barrier and has led all the way.

Trainer Justin Prentice and reinsman Gary Hall jnr combined to win the race in 2022 with $7.60 chance Bettor Get It On, and last year trainer Peter Anderson and reinsman Trent Wheeler combined with Simply Shaz ($13) to win the race by a half-head from Wonderful To Fly.

Aardiebytheseaside was not bustled from barrier three in the 2600m New Zealand Oaks on December 10 when she raced in the breeze for the first 300m before taking the lead and then surrendering the front 400m later to the favourite Mantra Blue.

Aardiebytheseaside took advantage of the sprint lane to score a half-head victory over Mantra Blue, rating 1.59.8, with the final 800m in 56.4sec. and the last 400m in 26.7sec.

At her previous start, over 1980m at Addington on December 1 Aardiebytheseaside began out wide at barrier eight and dashed forward to race without cover for the first 600m before getting to the front. She fought on grandly to finish a well-beaten second to the brilliant Millwood Nike, who remained unbeaten after 17 starts. The winner rated 1.56.6. The last 800m was covered in 55.8sec. and the final 400m was run in 27.7sec.

Three starts ago Aardiebytheseaside revealed splendid gate speed from barrier two to set a fast pace before wilting in the home straight to finish fourth behind Millwood Nike (1.54) in the 1980m group 1 Nevele R Classic at Addington.

Aardiebytheseaside is trained by Greg and Skye Bond and will be driven by Deni Roberts, who drove the mare in a 2150m Byford trial last Sunday morning.

Aardiebytheseaside was the sole runner on the back line in the five-horse trial in which she settled down in fourth position in an Indian file affair before Roberts sent her forward into the breeze 400m after the start.

The pacemaker Have Ago Joe was driven hard to keep Aardiebytheseaside at bay, and the four quarters of the final mile were run in 29.4sec., 28.9sec., 28.7sec. and 30sec. Aardiebytheseaside got her neck in front and then was not driven out by Roberts, finishing an excellent neck second to the seven-year-old frontrunner, a metropolitan maiden performer who has won once from his past 17 starts.

“She trialled really good (with the winner rating 1.57.4),” said Roberts. “We wanted to give her the experience of getting around a small track, and I was really happy at how she got around. She ran a good time and had a good blow out.

“I’m not sure about her gate speed but from driving her, I get the feeling she should get out good.”

Steno is sure to take a power of beating, and punters should pay to overlook her fading fifth behind Cyclone Charlotte in the 2130m Free-For-All for mares last Friday night.

She began from the outside barrier in the field of nine and challenged hard for the lead before getting past Cyclone Charlotte after 400m, with the lead time a sizzling 34.8sec.

The opening quarters were run more sedately in 31.4sec. and 30.1sec. before the final 400m sections whizzed by in 28.6sec. and 28sec. Cyclone Charlotte took the lead 120m from home and won by a length from Acharne Girl, with Mighthavtiime in third place and Steno fading to fifth. The winner rated 1.55.5.

Steno illustrated her wonderful ability and superb gate speed in winning at her six previous starts.

Acharne Girl, trained by Gary Hall snr and to be driven by Gary Hall jnr, impressed last week at her second start after a spell when she was seventh early and fifth at the bell before running home strongly to finish second to Cyclone Charlotte last week.

Acharne Girl has won at nine of her 25 starts, and Hall jnr said: “She is getting fitter and went really well last week.”

Simply Shaz, who led and beat Wonderful To Fly in last year’s Empress Stakes, reappeared after a 20-week absence in last week’s Free-For-All when she began out wide at barrier eight and raced at the rear before running home solidly to finish eighth behind Cyclone Charlotte. She is sure to be improved by the run but will be tested from barrier five.

Pinny Tiger is set to shine

Part-owner and trainer Michael Brennan has speedy pacer Pinny Tiger racing in the best form of his career, and he has high hopes of the six-year-old winning the $31,000 TABtouch Parliamentarians Cup over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

“Pinny Tiger is in great order and his past two runs have been brilliant,” said Brennan. “We have always considered the best way to drive him was as a sit-sprinter, but in saying that he is also very good in front.

“His run at his latest start, in the 2569m Bunbury Cup, was outstanding. The quality of the horses he took ground off in fast final quarter was sensational.”

Pinny Tiger raced four back on the pegs and he charged home along the sprint lane to finish second to Jumpingjackmac when he sprinted over the final 400m in 26.96sec.

At his previous start, over 2130m at Gloucester Park, Pinny Tiger began brilliantly from the No. 6 barrier and set a fast pace to win by more than two lengths from Arma Einstein, who trailed him throughout. Pinny Tiger rated 1.54.9 after sprinting over the final three 400m sections in 28.7sec., 27.3sec. and 28.3sec.

Pinny Tiger will start out wide at barrier No. 8 on Friday night and there is a strong possibility that Chris Voak  will set the gelding alight in a bid to burst straight to the front in what is a quality field which includes WA Pacing Cup winner Diego, Steel The Show and Tenzing Bromac from the stables of Greg and Skye Bond, and Arma Einstein, Alcopony and Hector, who will begin from the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 barriers.

Diego was driven by Maddison Brown when he set the pace and won in good style from Blitzembye and Arma Einstein over 2130m last Friday night. This week he will be driven by Gary Hall jnr, who replaces Brown who has opted to drive the polemarker Arma Einstein for her father Colin.

Diego will start from the No. 4 barrier, and he should be prominent all the way before fighting out the finish. “I’ll be planning to go forward at the start,” said Hall.

Deni Roberts has given punters a valuable lead by choosing to drive Steel The Show from barrier five ahead of Tenzing Bromac, who will start from the inside of the back line. Tenzing Bromac is in fine form, having finished a head second to Minstrel last Friday week, a fortnight after covering a lot of extra ground before winning from Tricky Miki.

Tenzing Bromac has won at 17 of his 34 starts, while Steel The Show has had 63 starts for 13 wins and 18 placings. He has excellent gate speed and there is a possibility he will make a bid for the early lead.

Watch Name In Lights

Shannon Suvaljko is leading the WA drivers’ premiership table with 61 winners, a tally he is sure to improve on by guiding outstanding filly Water Lou to victory in the final event at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

While Water Lou will be at an extremely short quote, Suvaljko suggests punters consider a few of his less-fancied drives, including Name In Lights, who has a losing sequence of 54.

Suvaljko has given punters a lead by choosing to drive Name In Lights ahead of the Debbie Padberg-trained stablemate You Fly With Me and the Matt Scott-trained Follow The Music.

Name In Lights, who will begin from the No. 2 barrier in the TABtouch International Form Pace, is a handy frontrunner who showed a welcome glimpse of form last Friday week when he raced in fifth place, three back on the pegs, before fighting on to finish second to speedy mare Queeninthecorner when the final quarters were run in 28sec. and 28.6sec.

“Name In Lights is going pretty good and I think he can lead,” said Suvaljko. You Fly With Me, a winner at six of his 41 starts, will be driven by Chris Voak. Deni Roberts will drive Follow The Music from barrier four. He has been unplaced at his past five starts after Suvaljko drove him to a win over 2190m at Bridgetown on March 10.

Suvaljko gives Feeling Aces, a seven-year-old trained by Scott, a good chance in the opening event, the 2130m Download The TABtouch App Pace, in which the gelding will start from the inside of the back line, immediately behind eight-year-old polemarker The Kraken, a noted frontrunner.

“Feeling Aces has covered extra ground at his past two starts and he goes ten lengths better when he races on the fence,” said Suvaljko. “We will be close up on Friday night and he sprints better from the rails, and he is capable of winning.”

Feeling Aces, who has a losing sequence of 14, is likely to find the Colin Brown-trained Loucid Dreams his toughest rival. Loucid Dreams will begin from the No. 5 barrier with Maddison Brown in the sulky.

Loucid Dreams should appreciate a drop in class after trailing the pacemaker Dominus Factum and finishing a sound third behind Solesseo Matuca and Acuto last Friday night.

Suvaljko said that State Of Heaven (barrier one) in race two and Rupert Of Lincoln (inside of the back line) in race three were each-way prospects.      


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