Day At The Track

Shannon Suvaljko sets a cracking pace

07:39 PM 12 Apr 2018 NZST
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Shannon Suvaljko, harness racing
Shannon Suvaljko
Gloucester Park Photo

Shannon Suvaljko continues to set a cracking pace in the state-wide drivers’ premiership and punters should get a flying start to the ten-event program at Gloucester Park on Friday night by supporting Raffaello in the opening event, the $20,000 The Sports Daily On TABradio Pace.

Raffaello, a New Zealand-bred seven-year-old trained at Warawarrup by Peter Kimberley, has struck a purple patch and looks a star bet after drawing the coveted No. 1 barrier on the front line in the 2130m event.

Three weeks ago Raffaello had a losing sequence of 38 before he chalked up three wins in the space of 15 days.

He was driven by Deni Roberts when he gave a splendid performance to win a heat of the Garrard’s Junior Drivers Challenge at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon. He was restrained from barrier five and was seventh at the bell before sustaining a powerful late burst to get up and beat Our Jaccka Mara and Attack On Command. This victory played a pivotal part in Roberts winning the series.

Suvaljko drove Raffaello to victory at Pinjarra on the two previous Mondays. The gelding led from barrier four and fought on grimly to defeat The Freedom Fighter by a head and a week later Raffaello again set the pace from the No. 4 barrier and won by a half-head from Pick My Pocket. He should again be capable of setting the pace, despite the presence of 13-year-old Shardons Rocket in barrier two.

Shardons Rocket, owned and trained by Tony Svilicich, is in the twilight of his 358-start career and boasts a losing sequence of 33, with only one placing in that sequence (a second 19 starts ago). He still has good gate speed, but Suvaljko should be able to hold him at bay in the early stages.

Another veteran performer, nine-year-old El Machine, has excellent place prospects. He has won once from his past 64 starts but should enjoy a trouble-free run at the rear after starting from the outside of the back line before unwinding a spirited late charge.

Kimberley also prepares experienced performer Terraforce, who is capable of a bold first-up showing in the final event, the Christmas In July at the Beau Rivage Pace over 1730m.

Terraforce, to be handled by Jocelyn Young, is favourably drawn at the No. 2 barrier on the front line. The WA-bred gelding is a winner at ten of his 92 starts. His latest success was when he made most of the running and defeated Red Hot Roxy over 2100m at Bunbury on December 2 last year.

For the record, Suvaljko leads the premiership table with 115 wins from Chris Lewis (102), Gary Hall Jnr (101) and Chris Voak (95).

Ken Casellas

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