Alta Louisa Out to Emulate Majorpride
The powerful combination of Boyanup trainer Justin Prentice and champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr is looking forward to history repeating itself when Alta Louisa contests the $50,000 Perth Plasterboard Diamond Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Twelve months ago Prentice and Hall combined to win this Group 2 feature event for three-year-old fillies when the New Zealand-bred Art Major filly Majorpride started from the No. 1 barrier and led throughout the 2130m journey to win by just under a half-length from $81 outsider Hello Hotshot.
This week Prentice and Hall will join forces again with the New Zealand-bred Art Major filly Alta Louisa, who will start from the coveted No. 1 barrier.
Prentice also contested the inaugural Diamond Classic in May 2018 when he drove the New Zealand-bred Art Major filly Our Major Mama, who started from the No. 6 barrier and at $7.40 when she thundered home with a powerful three-wide burst from tenth at the bell to finish second to the pacemaker and $1.30 favourite Lady De la Renta.
Prentice was also represented in that race by $41 chance De La Tourbie, who ran home boldly from twelfth at the bell to finish fifth.
Alta Louisa is, by far, the least experienced runner in this week’s classic, with only four starts for two wins at Bunbury followed by two runs at Gloucester Park for a sixth behind Star Fromthepalace after starting from the outside barrier and racing wide for much of the way and a solid third behind Blockjorg and Double Expresso on Tuesday of last week after enjoying an ideal passage in the out-out, one-back position.
Hall enjoys a strong connection with Alta Louisa, not only having driven her at all her four starts, but having driven Alta Louisa’s dam, the Mach Three mare Famous Alchemist, for six of her 11 wins in Western Australia when she was trained by Gary Hall snr. Alta Louisa is the first foal out of Famous Alchemist, who earned $322,869 from 16 wins and 16 placings from 51 starts.
Alta Louisa has revealed her versatility by setting the pace from barrier five and winning by six lengths at her debut over 2100m at Bunbury on April 4 and then, at Bunbury a week later, breaking at the start and surging home from eighth at the bell to win by one and a half lengths from Farawayeyes, with final quarters of 27.6sec. and 28.4sec.
This week’s race will be a major test for Alta Louisa, who is sure to meet with serious opposition from experienced and talented fillies Double Expresso, Star Fromthepalace and Blockjorg.
The Ross Olivieri-trained Double Expresso is sure to prove hard to beat, even from the outside barrier (No. 3) on the back line. She has been most impressive, with her 18 starts producing 12 wins and five placings for earnings of $303,046. She will again be handled by Chris Lewis, who will determine his tactics as the race unfolds. A likely scenario is that Double Expresso will be sent forward, three wide, in the first circuit or a little later in a bid to get to the breeze.
Double Expresso has been beaten at odds-on by a head in the final stride at each of her past two starts by Sports Package in the WA Oaks and by Blockjorg in a qualifying heat of the Diamond Classic.
Star Fromthepalace, trained at Byford by Peter Anderson, is a realistic winning prospect, particularly after drawing favourably at barrier two. She will be handled by the in-form Aldo Cortopassi, who is sure to be tempted to make full use of her good gate speed in a bid to burst past Alta Louisa and set the pace.
Star Fromthepalace led from the No. 1 barrier and was untroubled to win a qualifying heat from Weewah and Misstiano after speeding over the final 400m in 27.5sec. That improved her record to six wins and nine placings from 26 starts. She is the most experienced filly in the field on Friday night.
Blockjorg, to be driven by Jocelyn Young for Vasse trainer Colin Reeves, is handily drawn on the inside of the back line. Two starts ago, as a $21.40 chance, Blockjorg trailed the pacemaking Double Expresso before finishing powerfully to defeat that filly at a 1.55.5 rate over 2130m.
Twelve months ago in the Group 1 Diamond Classic for two-year-old fillies Blockjorg was restrained at the start from out wide at barrier eight and was eleventh at the 1200m mark where she began a three-wide burst which carried her into second place behind the pacemaker Askmeilltellya.
Askmeilltellya was prepared by Katja Warwick, who will be pinning her hopes on Friday night on Rockin The Trend, who will be handled by Shannon Suvaljko from barrier three. Rockin The Trend, a winner at three of her 17 starts, impressed in a 2150m trial at Byford on Sunday morning when she dashed to the front after 700m and careered away from her rivals to win by almost 12 lengths from Soho Crucio, rating 2.0.2 with a final quarter of 28.2sec.
Leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond will be represented by Weewah (Dylan Egerton-Green) and Intheskyrocket (Ryan Warwick). Weewah (seven wins) and Intheskyrocket (five wins) are in sound form, but face tough tasks from barriers seven and nine, respectively.