A Rare Experience for El Jacko

Talented six-year-old El Jacko, one of the few pacers to have beaten champion Chicago Bull in Western Australia, will reappear after a brief spell when he contests the $30,000 Group 3 TABtouch York Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

For the New Zealand-bred gelding, who is being aimed at feature summer carnival events, this will be a rare experience starting from the coveted No. 1 barrier.

El Jacko, owned by Skye Bond and prepared by her and her husband Greg, has had 33 starts in WA for 14 wins and 12 placings and the only time he started from the No. 1 barrier was at Pinjarra in February 2016 when he set the pace and won by four lengths from stablemate Donegal Kahlum.

That remains as his only all-the-way victory in Australia. He has worked forward in the first lap to take the lead only three times. Many of his wins have come after he has worked hard in the breeze.

El Jacko possesses excellent gate speed and leading reinsman Ryan Warwick is sure to take advantage of the draw by attempting to hold up and set the pace. He has been out of action for 11 weeks since he was a 5/1 on favourite from barrier No. 8 and finished a 5m second to stablemate and pacemaker Mighty Mr Sharkey over 2536m at Gloucester Park on August 24 when the final 800m was covered in 56.8sec.

It will not be an easy task for El Jacko to hold the early lead against several speedy beginners, including Overboard Again (barrier two), Eden Franco, Maczaffair, Devendra and Argyle Red.

Overboard Again, prepared by Gary Hall Snr, will be strongly fancied, despite his seventh behind Vampiro in the James Brennan Memorial last Friday night when he was a $45 outsider from the outside of the back line. He raced four back on the pegs and was hampered for room in the closing stages.

Overboard Again impressed a week earlier when he started from barrier four, raced three wide early and took the lead after 500m before bowling along in front and winning by a half-length from odds-on favourite Eden Franco, with final quarters of 27.8sec. and 28.2sec.

Lauren Jones has been engaged to drive Overboard Again for the first time, in the absence of star reinsman Gary Hall Jnr (in New Zealand) and Stuart McDonald (serving a seven-day suspension).

The Colin Brown-trained and driven Eden Franco was gallant in defeat when second to Overboard Again last Friday week and she is set to run a bold race. That strong effort followed Eden Franco’s excellent first-up all-the-way win over Mitch Maguire.

Maczaffair, the other mare in Friday night’s Cup, will start from the No. 4 barrier and is capable of vast improvement after unplaced runs at her past two starts. She will again be driven by Dylan Egerton-Green for trainer Mike Reed.

The prospects of the Justin Prentice-trained and driven Rocknroll Lincoln, a winner at five of his past nine starts, slumped when he drew the outside barrier (No. 9) on the front line.

For the record, El Jacko raced without cover before winning from the pacemaker Franco Rayner and Chicago Bull (at his Australian debut) in a 1730m event for three-year-olds at Gloucester Park on November 27, 2015. Then, El Jacko again asserted his authority over Chicago Bull when he won the 2692 Alcoa Cup at Pinjarra on September 26, 2016, beating the runner-up, Chicago Bull, by 2.2m.