Always Arjay is Poised for a Big Cup Effort

For many years Always Arjay was considered an honest standing-start performer, with 11 of his 15 wins from 71 starts in Western Australia coming in stands but now star reinsman Shannon Suvaljko declares that the seven-year-old deserves his place in open-class mobile feature events.

“He’s now racing out of his skin and is a great chance in the Governor’s Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night,” Suvaljko said.

Always Arjay, has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier in Friday night’s Group 2 $50,000 event and Suvaljko said that the gelding was capable of leading all the way and beating better performed rivals.

“He’s got enough speed to hold up,” he said. “I have got him out quickly in mobiles. He drew ten in the RWWA Cup last week and was hard on the back of the one horse (Herrick Roosevelt) when the mobile released the field. He then almost ran down Handsandwheels.”

Always Arjay, trained at Serpentine by Matt Scott and owned by Catherine Cousins, is unfashionably bred, but has done a tremendous job on the track, earning $204,737 from 21 wins and 25 placings from 86 starts.

Bred in New South Wales, Always Arjay is by American stallion Always A Virgin, a talented pacer who raced only 39 times for 18 wins, nine placings and stakes of $1,135,559. Always Arjay is the fourth (and last) foal out of Albert Albert mare Shove Off, who raced four times as a two-year-old on NSW for two last placings and two second-last efforts before being retired.

Before Always Arjay, Shove Off produced Jobs Right (nine wins in modesty company and $32,108 in stakes from 64 starts) and Not The Full Deck (four wins and $14,661 from 26 starts). Shove Off’s dam Tonitangles won once and earned $5840 from 15 starts and then of her nine of her progeny who raced only three managed to win in modest company. 

“If this week’s Cup was over 2500m, I’d probably take a sit with Always Arjay,” Suvaljko said. “But it’s over 2130m and in Free-For-All company it is all about a bit of luck, barrier draws and the distance. “If Matt wants me to take a sit, I’ll sit. However, he doesn’t usually give me instructions and my preference is to lead.

“Always Arjay is a tough horse who has won heaps of races rolling along in front. He’s a big chance. I think that Rocknroll Lincoln will probably have to race outside of us.”

Handsandwheels, a 20/1 chance, enjoyed a perfect sit in the one-out, one-back position before bursting to the front on the home turn and holding on to defeat the fast-finishing Always Arjay by a head in the 2130m RWWA Cup. He will start from barrier two on the back line and should again be able to slot into a favourable position in the one-wide line. Reinsman Aiden de Campo said that the WA-bred five-year-old had thrived since his victory last week.

Champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr predicted a tough battle for Rocknroll Lincoln, the star Justin Prentice-trained five-year-old who will be making his first appearance since he set the pace and won the 2936m WA Pacing Cup from El Jacko five weeks ago.

Rocknroll Lincoln will have to overcome the distinct disadvantage of starting out wide at barrier No. 7 on the front line. “Obviously, he will be favourite at even money, or shorter, because of his last start,” Hall said. “If he hadn’t won the Pacing Cup he’d probably be a $3 to $4 chance. It looks tough, but he should look the winner at some stage.”

El Jacko, a fast-finishing second to Rocknroll Lincoln in the WA Pacing Cup two starts ago, looms as a major hope in this week’s Cup in which Ryan Warwick will; be looking for a smooth passage after starting from barrier five.

The Phil Costello-trained Vultan Tin (Chris Voak) fared poorly in the random draw and is likely to be forced to cover quite a deal of extra ground after starting from barrier nine.

Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri will be represented by Mr Mojito (No. 2 barrier) and Lord Willoughby (outside of the back line). Mr Mojito (Chris Lewis) should be prominent throughout and will have admirers after his eye-catching performance last Friday night when he started from the outside barrier and swamped his rivals in the final circuit, charging to the front 520m from home and winning by three lengths from Mattjestic Star, rating 1.54 over 1730m.

Lord Willoughby, an ultra-consistent performer coming through the classes with 15 wins and 26 placings from 59 starts, faces an acid test at his first appearance in open-class ranks.