Gloucester Park Friday Night Review
Friday 21st March 2008
WOODLEY HEAPS PRAISE ON SCRUFFY MURPHY
Morgan Woodley spoke enthusiastically about trucks and bulldogs after driving veteran pacer Scruffy Murphy to a decisive victory in the $40,000 Peters Ice Cream Easter Cup at Gloucester Park on Thursday night.
He described Scruffy Murphy as possessing bulldog tenacity and said the gelding had the strength of a powerful truck after he had given a brilliant exhibition in the sulky to land the eight-year-old a superb winner over Dartmoor and De Galdearno.
“He’s a superstar,” Woodley declared. “He’s turned into a truck; he used to be a lot better with a sit, but of late we’ve been getting him around and letting him slide, and he’s been thriving on it.
“It’s funny, he puts his nose in front no matter what and it’s hard to know where the bottom is. Saying that, Dartmoor put up a really good fight and had us worried for a little bit. But this bloke’s such a bulldog.
“He looked a lot better in the last 20m than what he did in the last 400m. That’s where it counts.”
Scruffy Murphy’s win made partial amends for his extremely bad luck when he was hopelessly blocked for a clear run and finished third behind Dartmoor in the Australian Pacing Championship the previous Friday night. Then he was disqualified for having gone inside the marker pegs in the home straight.
Scruffy Murphy, the lone backmarker off 30m, was a heavily-backed 6/4 favourite in the Easter Cup, with Dartmoor, off 20m, a clear-cut second favourite at 4/1.
Woodley virtually sealed the issue when he got Scruffy Murphy away smoothly and settled a couple of lengths ahead of Dartmoor (who also began well).
The 19-year-old Woodley drove aggressively and Scruffy Murphy raced three wide for the first lap before moving outside the pacemaker De Galdearno. As soon as Scruffy Murphy moved into the breeze, Gary Hall jun. dashed Dartmoor forward from the rear.
Woodley sent Scruffy Murphy to the front with 1900m to travel, and this left Dartmoor working hard in the breeze.
Dartmoor moved to within a neck of Scruffy Murphy on the home turn, but he was unable to make any impression on the favourite in the run home and was beaten by just under two lengths.
Scruffy Murphy, owned by Geoff Webster and Greg and Carol Lutze, now has had 120 starts for 34 wins, 39 placings and earnings of $383,986.
Trainer Justin Warwick praised Woodley, saying: “Scruffy Murphy is not the easiest horse to drive, but Morgan makes it look easy. This time last Friday we were licking our wounds. But this week we’ll be celebrating.”
The win gave Warwick his fourth success in an Easter Cup. He trained and drove the 1998 Cup winner Allwoods Chief and drove Admirals Ecstasy (1996) and Transit Earl (2002) to victory in the oldest feature event in WA harness racing.
Scruffy Murphy gave his rivals little chance when he covered the final mile in 1.58, with the last 800m taking 58.3sec. His rate of 2.0.8 was just outside the track record of 2.0.7 when he won the Fremantle Cup over 2902m in January.
SPIN THE WHEEL CONTINUES TO SHINE
Five-year-old Spin The Wheel continued on his winning way at Gloucester Park on Thursday night when he gave a brilliant frontrunning display to beat stablemate Devastating by a neck in the Cadbury Ice Cream Stakes over 2536m.
And driver Gary Hall jun. predicted more successes for the gelding who now has had six starts in WA for five wins.
The former Victorian pacer, who is raced by the Kcc group of Kilmore (managed by Laurie Boyd) and Kevin Grocock, of Reservior, has advanced to an M3 mark and Hall said he was confident the gelding would be highly competitive in open-class ranks.
“I’ve had a high opinion of him, but I didn’t think he was that good,” Hall said. “When he came out on the track tonight he was a little bit fired up and pretty itchy and I thought he might have been showing signs of going off.
“But I think it’s the other way; he’s getting better and better with every run. He has thrived since arriving here and relishes the conditions at home. There’s good things to come from him.”
Spin The Wheel was heavily supported from 2/1 to evens and his win gave Hall the second leg of a driving treble. He also was successful with Black Moon Magic (5/4) and Hilton Adonis (5/2). The three winners were trained by Hall’s father Gary.
Black Moon Magic notched his fourth win of the season and revealed admirable toughness in working hard before beating Urjokin by a head in the Peters Trumpet Stakes.
Black Moon Magic started from the outside barrier and he raced three for much of the 1730m journey after settling down in the one-wide line.
Calafia, backed from 10/1 to 4/1, set the pace, but was tackled hard by Urjokin and Jilliby Lightning before Jilliby Lightning eventually got to the front 460m from home. Black Moon Magic fought on grandly to take the lead in the final 40m.
“He’s tough and he’s really come to form lately since we made a gear change, by taking the block blinkers off him,” Hall jun. said. “That has settled him right down.”
Nine-year-old Hilton Adonis chalked up his fourth win of the season and the 21st of his 123-start career when he enjoyed a perfect trail, one-out and one-back, before going three wide 700m from home and surging past the leader Roydon Holmes 100m from the post in the Connoisseur Ice Cream Stakes.
He went on to win by two lengths from Black Line, with Roydon Holmes third. Iron horse Demoralizer raced without cover before fading to tenth in the 2130m event.
Three claims were lodged, and all were for Demoralizer at $5000. A ballot was held and the successful claimant was the eight-year-old’s former owner-trainer Tony Svilicich. The unsuccessful claimants were local trainer Skye Manley and Mark Carey, of Adelaide.
MIXED FORTUNES FOR TURVEY
Nathan Turvey, a former South Fremantle and Hawthorn footballer, had a topsy turvy night at Gloucester Park on Thursday night when he landed his first metropolitan winner as a trainer and then was suspended from driving for 24 days.
The 30-year-old Turvey prepared six-year-old Our Slick Whitby for owner Don Knowles for the stallion’s win over the fast-finishing Maggies Boy and Bergerac in the Bob Jones Young Drivers’ Stakes.
The winning drive went to Ryan Bell, who sent Our Slick Whitby past the heavily-supported Handsome Fella and into the lead 650m after the start of the 2130m event.
Our Slick Whitby set a moderate pace and won in good style. Then, 70 minutes after the event, Turvey was suspended for having caused interference to Holme In A Gem (Donald Harper) on the first turn in the Cadbury Ice Cream Handicap. Holme In A Gem went down on his nose and his mouth struck the track. But Harper maintained wonderful control of the gelding who was gradually eased out of the race.
Turvey was driving The Midnight Rocket for the gelding’s trainer Grant Williams, who is overseas on his honeymoon.
Turvey will now be unable to drive for Williams while he is away and the stable driving in the next couple of weeks could be done by Bell, who, like Turvey, assists Williams with his team of pacers.
Our Slick Whitby badly damaged both suspensory ligaments 12 months ago and his successful comeback reflects great credit on Turvey and his ability as a trainer.
Turvey does not give Our Slick Whitby any hopple work and confines his training to jogging in the cart in the heavy sand.
“His legs look pretty bad, but so far he’s not having any problems,” Turvey said. Turvey has given Our Slick Whitby four starts for two wins and two placings.
He drove the gelding for a first-up second at Wagin, followed by a third at Bunbury and a fighting win over Zoomin Holme in a C3/C4 event at Gloucester Park.
After Our Slick Whitby’s victory the stewards quizzed 16-year-old Emma Perie-Dhillon at length over her tactics behind Handsome Fella, who led easily from barrier one before surrendering the lead after 650m --- and a slow lead time of 39.7sec.
The stewards suspended Perie-Dhillon (who was having her 47th drive in a race) for one month for failing to take all reasonable measures for the gelding to finish in the best possible position.
Handsome Fella, who was supported from 5/1 to 7/2, trailed the pacemaker Our Slick Whitby before finishing sixth.
VOAK TRAINS FIRST WINNER
Teenager Chris Voak chalked up his first winner as a trainer when Mark Reed drove Jessica Jasper to a smart all-the-way victory over Paekakariki Express and Perfect Rhoie in the Interhash/City of Perth Stakes at Gloucester Park on Thursday night.
Jessica Jasper was having only her third start for the 19-year-old East Perth footballer who has taken over the training of the mare from his father Danny Voak.
“The instructions were to come out and have a look for a sit,” Reed said. “We didn’t think she could cross the two runners on her inside (Paekakariki Express and Midnight Chill).
“But she came out of the gates strongly and led on her ear. And after that, she was not going to be beaten.”
Jessica Jasper (6/4) travelled smoothly in front, with Midnight Chill (5/4) on her outside and Paekakariki Express next on the inside.
GOLDEN SLIPPER WINNER BOUNCES BACK
Former star two-year-old Spirit of Navajo returned to form with a vengeance when she finished full of running to win easily from pacemaker Mabel Rose and Fake Occasion in the Ross North Homes Handicap for mares at Gloucester Park on Thursday night.
Driven by Aiden Warwick, Spirit of Navajo (12/1) raced three wide for much of the journey before bursting to the front 80m from the post and then racing away from her rivals.
The win ended a losing sequence of 13 and gave Albany trainer Charlie Draper his first metropolitan success.
Spirit of Navajo was an outstanding two-year-old when she won four races, including the Golden Slipper Stakes and Gold Bracelet at Gloucester Park in the winter of 2005.
“Charlie was very, very happy with her this week, and especially after her run last week (when she ran on from tenth at the bell to finish sixth behind The Power Within) he said she should win,” Warwick said.
“I didn’t mind going three wide. She felt terrific. History shows that she does take a long time to get back in form and I told Charlie not to worry about it too much. When she’s right, she’ll tell you.
“When she’s right, she’s one of the best mares in the State. She has already beaten the best mares.”
JUST A BREEZE FOR JUSTLIKECHOCOLATE
Outstanding filly Justlikechocolate strengthened her claims of winning the $150,000 WA Oaks in May when she set the pace and won impressively from Cuvee Riche and Copper Beach Girl in the 1730m Interhash/Expatjob.net group Stakes at Gloucester Park on Thursday night.
After she had notched her seventh win from 16 starts, driver Brad Stampalia said that the filly was good enough to contest and perform strongly against the colts and geldings in the $175,000 WA Derby on April 18.
River Valley Song began speedily from barrier two and though she led by more than a half-length for the first 400m, she was unable to cross Justlikechocolate and go to the lead.
“We got a bit of a scare early, but she managed to hold up,” Stampalia said. “Then we got away with a little bit and she held them (the opposition) quite easily.
“It’s hard to gauge how good she really is because she does it so easily.”
Star trotter Nacokee made his record three wins from three starts after a spell when he raced without cover before cruising to victory over stablemate Sundotcom in the Interhash Red Dress Run Stakes.
Callan Suvaljo sent him to the front 520m from home and he was not extended in winning by just over three lengths from Sundotcom, who ran home solidly from sixth at the bell.
“He’s gone to the line jogging; it was an absolutely super run,” Suvaljko said.
Serpentine trainer Trevor Major and ace reinsman Chris Lewis combined to cause an upset when Shoot And Scoot (3/1) set the pace and won in good style from the 10/9 on favourite Jay Bee Aitch in the 1730m Memphis Meltdown Big Nuts Stakes.