Day At The Track

Gloucester Park review

12:44 PM 06 Apr 2020 NZST
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Dylan Egerton-Green WA Derby,Harness racing
Gloucester Park photo

Patronus Star explodes

Four weeks ago, Patronus Star was in New Zealand, a winner at two of his seven starts for a modest $14,020. He is now happily settled in Western Australia and $132,484 richer.

Leading WA trainer Greg Bond and his major racing partner Rob Gartrell, keen judges of horseflesh, made a wise decision to buy the inexperienced gelding, who looks destined for big things in harness racing after he exploded into action with a whirlwind burst which carried him to a thrilling last-stride victory in an action-packed $200,000 Sky Racing WA Derby at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Bond prepares Patronus Star in partnership with his wife Skye and this gave him his fourth success in the group 1 classic, after wins with Richard Henry (2005), In The Force (2009) and Seel N Print (2011).

Patronus Star rated 1.56.4 over the 2536m trip which equalled Chicago Bull’s race record set when he defeated Lets Chase The Dream in 2016.

Patronus Star, by American Ideal, is the sixth foal out of the unraced In The Pocket mare Star Command. He is a full-brother to Billies A Star, who won 12 races, including wins at seven of his first 11 starts in WA in 2014 and 2015, as well as finishing third behind Libertybelle Midfrew and Waylade in the Golden Nugget championship in December 2014.

Star Command is a half-sister to Anvils Star, who earned $470,115 from 17 wins and 33 placings. In 1997, Anvils Star finished a neck second to Desperate Command in the Victoria Cup and a half-head second to Surprise Packet in the Hunter Cup at Moonee Valley before finishing fourth behind Our Sir Vancelot in the final of the Interdominion Championship at Globe Derby Park. 

Petronus Star is also closely related to former star pacer Our Ian Mac, winner of the 1987 WA Pacing Cup.

He made an impressive Australian debut in a 1609m event at Bunbury last Saturday week when Ryan Warwick drove him to an all-the-way victory in 1.53.2. On Friday night he was a well-supported $7.50 chance from the inside of the back line, with Dylan Egerton-Green in the sulky.

Warwick drove Petronus Star’s stablemate Howard Hughes, a winner at six of his eight starts who was the $2.50 favourite from the prized No. 1 barrier.  Howard Hughes was first out and Egerton-Green settled Petronus Star immediately behind his stablemate.

However, wide runners Mach Da Vinci (barrier nine) and Hampton Banner (eight) began with great alacrity and Jocelyn Young sent Hampton Banner to the front after 220m. Franco Ecuador settled in sixth position before Kim Prentice dashed him forward to wrest the lead from Hampton Banner after 700m had been covered. Warwick moved Howard Hughes off the pegs and into the breeze in the first circuit.

Major Martini, the $2.70 favourite, was travelling strongly in the one-out, two-back position in seventh place before Gary Hall jnr set the gelding alight with a spirited three-wide burst 900m from home. Major Martini sustained his three-wide sprint before surging past Franco Ecuador and into the lead with 500m to travel.

Major Martini led by one and a half lengths at the 250m mark, with Petronus Star being eased off the pegs. Petronus Star was still in fifth place 150m from the post but finishing with a tremendous burst. He flew over the final stages and got up to score by a neck from Major Martini, with Franco Ecuador ($13) fighting on grandly to be third.

The Derby victory gave the 27-year-old Egerton-Green his fourth group 1 success, following wins behind Patrickthepiranha in the Westbred Classic for three-year-old colts and gelding last June, Mighty Conqueror in the WA Pacing Cup in January and Talks Up A Storm in the Sales Classic for two-year-old colts and gelding in February.

Happy memories for Suvaljko

Fond memories of Shannon Suvaljko driving Terrifying to several wins ten and 11 years ago were revived when he guided two-year-old filly Benesari Lane to a smart all-the-way victory in the 2130m Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Benesari Lane (named after a well-known street in Bali) is the first foal out of Terrifying, who won at two of her four runs as a two-year-old in 2009 and went on to earn $131,200 from 19 wins and 16 placings from 104 starts.

Suvaljko, owned, trained and drove Terrifying for much of her career and was in the sulky for seven of her wins, including her narrow victory over Lucky Angel on her debut at Pinjarra in April 2009.

Benesari Lane, after a fourth and two thirds from her first three starts, was second favourite at $2.60 from the No. 2 barrier on Friday night, with the polemarker Secret Reaction favourite at $2.25.

Suvaljko stole a march when he sent Benesari Lane straight to the front. Aiden de Campo took the sit behind Benesari Lane with Secret Reaction before he eased the filly off the pegs inside the final 350m to issue a challenge to the pacemaker. However, Benesari Lane sprinted over the final 400m in 28sec. and won by more than a length from Secret Reaction.

Benesari Lane, who will be set for the rich feature events for two-year-old fillies later this season, was purchased at the 2019 APG yearling sales in Perth by Ron Huston and trainer Vicki Lea for $16,000. The filly has already earned $20,122 in stakes.

El Jacko warms up for Easter Cup

Consistent open-class pacer El Jacko warmed up for the $40,000 Easter Cup on Thursday night when he bounced back to form with a strong all-the-way win in the $22,000 Inthegig Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

The New Zealand-bred seven-year-old, a $3.60 chance, ended a losing sequence of 11 when he started from the No. 1 barrier and ambled through the lead time of 37.8sec. and opening quarters of 31.6sec. and 30.1sec. before a reasonable third quarter in 29.3sec. and a final 400m sprint in 27.2sec. to withstand a spirited late challenge from Im Soxy to win by a neck at a 1.57.3 rate over 2130m.

This completed a double for leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond and reinsman Dylan Egerton-Green, who had combined 35 minutes earlier to win the $200,000 Sky Channel WA Derby with Patronus Star.

The Bond stable’s other runner, Galactic Star, favourite at $1.65, finished a close third after racing three back on the pegs in third place before moving to the breeze with 1000m to travel. He fought on doggedly, but at no stage appeared likely to overhaul El Jacko.

El Jacko, a winner at two of his seven starts in New Zealand, has had 66 starts in WA for 21 wins and 21 placings. A half-brother to VC Manoeuvre, who had 20 starts in WA for ten wins, five seconds and one third placing, El Jacko now has amassed $425,151 in stakes.

Padberg’s quinella result

Wanneroo trainer Debbie Padberg had no concerns when the judge at Gloucester Park on Friday night called for a photo to decide the winner of the $18,000 Sky Sports Radio Pace over 2130m after La Suleiman and Allwood Peacemaker crossed the finishing line locked together.

She didn’t care whether the photo revealed La Suleiman, a $13.70 chance, or Allwood Peacemaker, the rank outsider at $126, had been successful. The reason was simple: She owns both pacers in partnership with her husband John.

The photo revealed that La Suleiman, driven by Luke Edwards, had beaten Allwood Peacemaker, driven by Dylan Egerton-Green, by a head, with Our Virtuoso, a half-head away in third place. The quinella returned a dividend of $537 and Allwood Peacemaker paid $15.70 for a place.

It was a vastly different story when La Suleiman and Allwood Peacemaker had raced at Gloucester Park four days earlier, when La Suleiman broke into a gallop on the first turn and finished last 209 metres behind My Sweet Deal and Allwood Peacemaker finished seventh in a field of nine behind Art Tudor.

From the No. 1 barrier on Friday night La Suleiman enjoyed a perfect passage behind the pacemaker Our Virtuoso before finishing solidly to get to the front 10 metres from the post. Allwood Peacemaker started from the outside barrier (No. 12) on the back line and finished strongly from eighth at the bell.

Twenty minutes before driving La Suleiman to victory Edwards had the satisfaction of watching Leap of Faith, a promising four-year-old mare he trains, set the pace and score a smart win over Rockinthebox in a 2503m stand at Bunbury. The New Zealand-bred Leap of Faith was handled by Edwards’s younger brother Isaac for the first time in a race. The mare is now unbeaten at her five starts in Western Australia.

Millwood Molly shines

Seven-year-old New Zealand-bred mare Millwood Molly is showing some of the ability which made her full-sister Millwood Meg a superstar a decade ago.

At her second appearance after a nine-week absence, Millwood Molly finished strongly to score a convincing victory over her stablemate Delightful Reaction and Countess Grace in the 2130m $20,000 Skyharness Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Trained and driven by Capel horseman Aiden de Campo, Millwood Molly, a $11.20 chance from barrier No. 12 (the outside of the back line), quickly settled into a commanding position, one-out and two-back, while Talkerup overraced in the breeze and kept the pacemaker and $1.50 favourite Madame Meilland under pressure.

De Campo switched Millwood Molly three wide 300m from home and the mare burst to the front 80m later and went on to score in convincing fashion at a 1.57.1 rate.

Millwood Molly, owned by Craig Lynn, arrived in Australia from New Zealand as a yearling and has raced only 35 times for ten wins, six seconds, three thirds and $94,821 in stakes. Millwood Meg, a winner of five races in New Zealand, won the 2010 WA Oaks and Queensland Oaks and was retired after 19 wins and 15 placings from 68 starts for $415,667 in prizemoney.

Fifteen minutes after Millwood Molly’s win on Friday night, de Campo was represented by Keptain Courageous, also from the No. 12 barrier in the third event over 1609m at Bunbury’s Donaldson Park. Keptain Courageous, a $4.50 chance, was driven by Mark Johnson and impressed in finishing strongly from the rear to win from The Boxer.

Argyle Red likes No. 1 barrier

Veteran pacer Argyle Red, placed only once from his previous 15 starts, again showed his liking for the No. 1 barrier when Morgan Woodley drove him to narrow victory over outsider Tommy Be Good, who flew home along the pegs in the $25,000 Sky Racing Active Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Argyle Red had led and won from barrier one six times previously, but this time he led for the first 200m before Woodley took the sit behind the speedy $1.70 favourite Talktomumattjesty. After a fast lead time of 35.7sec., followed by quarters of 28.3sec. and 28.9sec., the pace slackened and Talktomeurmattjesty wilted over the final stages.

Argyle Red hit the front on the home turn and held on to beat Tommy Be Good by a half-head, with that pacer running on strongly from fifth at the bell. My Carbon Copy, who raced in fourth place, came home strongly to be a close third, with Talktomeurmattjesty fading to sixth.

The eight-year-old Argyle Red has enjoyed a wonderful career for Pinjarra breeder-owner-trainer Rob Macdonald of 135 starts for 18 wins, 31 placings and $268,583 in prizemoney. The gelding, by American sire Dawn Of A New Day, is the first foal out of Dekker Diamond, who earned $63,249 from eight wins and 16 placings from 109 starts.

Easy for Soho Thunderstruck

The much-travelled four-year-old Soho Thunderstruck was not extended in setting the pace and winning by two and a half lengths from the fast-finishing Miracle Moose in the 2536m Racing Replays Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Trainer-reinsman Kim Prentice resisted an early challenge from Bettor Be Oscar and Soho Thunderstruck had an easy time in front before sprinting over the final 400m sections in 27.6sec. and 28.3sec. This took the son of Art Major’s record to 38 starts for nine wins, 13 placings and $89,231 in stakes.

Soho Thunderstruck’s first eight starts were as a two-year-old in Victoria for one win and six placings. His next three starts were in WA for a third and two fourths before he returned to the eastern states to race five times in Victoria, Canberra and New South Wales for wins at Ballarat and Maryborough (two). His WA record now stands at five wins and seven placings from 23 starts.

He is the only foal out of the New Zealand-bred mare Hear No Secret to have raced. Hear No Secret raced in WA between 2009 and 2013 and was retired with a record of 113 starts for 11 wins, 33 placings and stakes of $96,464.

Crocodile Kid gets up

Victorian-bred six-year-old Crocodile Kid ended a losing sequence of 13 when he started from the inside of the back line and trailed the pacemaker and hot favourite Marquisard before Michael Grantham brought him home with a well-timed burst to gain a last-stride victory over Brookies Jet (who had raced in the breeze and taken the lead ten metres from the post) in the 2130m In The Gig On Sky Racing Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night..

Grantham eased Crocodile Kid, a $5.90 chance, off the pegs 220m from home, with Marquisard beginning to show signs of tiring.

Crocodile Kid, trained at Wanneroo by Craig Saligari and raced by him and his partner Chris Plozza, is the only foal to have raced out of the Safely Kept mare Crocodile Tears, who won only four times from 66 starts. Crocodile Kid, purchased for $30,000 by Saligari and Plozza, now has had 17 starts for them for three wins, five placings and stakes of $53,407.

 Drop in class suits Happy

Consistent eight-year-old As Happy As Larry appreciated a massive drop in class when he contested the $20,000 Follow Sky Racing On Twitter Pace over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Driven by Henley Brook trainer Robbie Williams, Happy As Larry, hot favourite at $1.10, jumped straight to the front from barrier two and was not extended in coasting to victory over Aussie Delight and Bee Seventeen, rating 1.57.7.

A winner of two races from 17 starts as a three-year-old in New Zealand, As Happy As Larry has had 52 starts in WA for 13 wins and 22 placings. His overall record stands at 69 starts for 15 wins, 28 placings and $194,364.

As Happy As Larry is the third (and last) foal out of Smart Shelley, who won once from five starts before being retired to stud.

Always An Honour’s 50% record

Promising four-year-old Always An Honour maintained his excellent form and improved his winning record to 50 per cent when he outclassed his rivals in the Sky Racing Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Starting from the No. 6 barrier and at $3.70 on the tote, the New Zealand-bred Always An Honour stole a march on his rivals when he began brilliantly and burst straight to the front before Gary Hall jnr dictated terms in front. Final quarters of 28.5sec. and 28.3sec. gave his rivals little hope and Always An Honour, trained by Justin Prentice, beat Sergeant Oats by just under four lengths at a 1.58.1 rate.

Always An Honour, by Art Major, now has won at 11 of his 22 starts and looks destined for further successes.


Ken Casellas

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