Day At The Track

Big test for Double Expresso

05:55 PM 02 Apr 2020 NZDT
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Double Expresso,Harness racing
Double Expresso
Scott Hamilton Photo

Double Expresso has won more races (11), has earned more stakemony ($272,179) and has the best winning percentage (79%) in the field of twelve three-year-olds in the $200,000 Sky Racing WA Derby at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

But she faces a moment of truth and a serious test in the 2536m classic in which she is awkwardly drawn at barrier six on the front line.

Double Expresso, trained by Ross Olivieri and to be driven by Chris Lewis, is one of two fillies in the race, the other being the Peter Anderson-trained Star Fromthepalace, who will start out wide at barrier seven, with Aldo Cortopassi in the sulky.

History reveals that Double Expresso and Star Fromthepalace face a very difficult task against the colts and gelding. Only five fillies Happy Mint (1950), Swahili (1962), Hill Oro (1969), Via Vista (1981) and Whitbys Miss Penny (1991) have won the WA Derby in the past 70 years.

The inaugural WA Derby in 1917 was won by Freckles at a 3.3.3 rate and the classic has been dominated by colts and geldings except for an 18-year period between 1923 and 1941 when fillies were successful on ten occasions.

Double Expresso has not raced since March 6 when she was an easy all-the-way winner of the 2130m Group 2 Sales Classic for fillies. She warmed up for this week’s assignment in fine style when she dashed to an early lead, set the pace and won a 2150m trial at Byford on Sunday morning by just under ten lengths, rating 1.56.9.

Admirers of Double Expresso will point out that she has proven herself against male rivals when she raced in fifth position on the pegs and charged home from fifth at the 250m mark to win from the fast-finishing Major Martini in the 2130m Caduceus Club Classic on February 21. She set a race record with a mile rate of 1.55.4 and became the first filly to win this event since Whitbys Miss Penny in 1991.

Star Fromthepalace has been a consistent and reliable performer, with three wins and nine placings from 20 starts. She maintained her sound form when she raced four back on the pegs before finishing fast on the inside to be third behind Major Martini and Gardys Legacy in the Western Gateway Pace last Friday week.

Chris Voak will be the new driver for Mach Da Vinci, with Dylan Egerton-Green choosing to handle the Bond-trained Patronus Star from the inside of the back line. Egerton-Green drove Mach Da Vinci when the New Zealand-bred colt covered a lot of extra ground before fighting in determinedly to score a narrow victory over One For Dave Andme last Friday night.

Mach Da Vinci’s prospects slumped when he drew the outside (No. 9), with Hampton Banner, a recent arrival from New Zealand, also drawing poorly at barrier eight for trainer Debra Lewis.

Chris Lewis has decided to drive Double Expresso in preference to Hampton Banner, who will be driven by Jocelyn Young. Hampton Banner made his Australian debut at Gloucester Park last Friday night when he began from barrier eight and finished solidly from eighth at the bell to be a neck second to Harley Zest.

Harley Zest, trained and driven by Brad Stampalia, earned a start in the Derby with his victory last week when he enjoyed the one-out, one-back trail before sustaining a strong three-wide run over the final 650m.

Franco Ecuador, an early fancy for the Derby, is likely to be at double figure odds from barrier No. 5. He has excellent potential but is still learning to race. He is the least experienced runner in the field, with three wins from five starts.


Ken Casellas

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