Balcatherine Ready for the Challenge
Champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr has overcome the disadvantage of a back line draw in the $125,000 Westral Mares Classic twice, and he has high hopes that Balcatherine will emerge triumphant in the 2536m event at Gloucester Park on Friday night after starting from the outside barrier (No. 3) on the back line.
Hall holds the record of three victories in the 15-year history of the rich Group 1 event, being successful from the back line with Im Elsa in 2011 and Ideal Alice in 2017. He also drove Aussie Made Lombo when she started from the back line and finished second to Baby Bling after charging home from tenth at the 400m mark.
He also won the big race in 2014 when Majorly Foxy Styx set the pace and beat Bellas Delight, and he was second from the front line with Country Change in 2009 and third from the No. 6 barrier with Ideal Alice in 2015.
Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr has produced Balcatherine in excellent shape for her first three outings after a five-month absence. He and his son were delighted with the New Zealand-bred four-year-old’s superb performance last Friday night when she began smartly from out wide at barrier eight, raced three wide early and then applied plenty of pressure on the pacemaker and $1.95 favourite Somebeachparty.
Balcatherine continued to race in the breeze before she gained the upper hand in the closing stages and defeated Somebeachparty by a head at a 1.54.3 rate over the 2130m journey.
It was an outstanding performance from both Balcatherine and Somebeachparty to dash over the final quarters in 29sec., 28.9sec., 27.9sec. and 28.7sec.
Somebeachparty, to be handled by Emily Suvaljko from the inside of the back line for Busselton trainer Barry Howlett, is one of many talented mares who are expected to make bold bids for victory.
Ace trainer-reinsman Colin Brown has sound prospects of breaking through for his first victory in the Mares Classic after a third with Little Big Sister in 2010, a second with $78.80 outsider Jungle Jewell in 2015 and a fourth with Eden Franco in 2017.
He will handle the speedy four-year-old Typhoon Tiff, who has raced 23 times for 11 wins and five placings. Typhoon Tiff will start from barrier four and there is a strong possibility that she could burst to an early lead and enjoy the role of pacemaker.
Has No Fear, who has earned $235,437 from ten wins and 14 placings from 51 starts, is in sound form for trainer-driver Jocelyn Young, who should be prominent from the No. 1 barrier. The only previous occasion Has No Fear started from barrier one was 47 starts ago when she led and won from Bettor Captured in an event over 1730m for two-year-olds on March 16, 2018.
Six-year-old Gotta Go Gabbana will be attempting to become the first dual winner of the event when Chris Lewis drives her from the unfavourable No. 7 barrier. She started from barrier one in this event last December and gave a bold frontrunning exhibition to win easily at a 1.57.3 rate from Our Alfie Romeo and Arma Indie. Her past two runs --- thirds behind Wainui Creek and Our Alfie Romeo and behind Braeview Bondi and American Brave have been sound efforts.
Lewis has won the Mares Classic behind Jilsander in 2007 and Ima Spicey Lombo in 2010.
Chris Voak, who is heading the drivers’ premiership table this season, will handle the Ross Olivieri-trained Queen Shenandoah from barrier six. Queen Shenandoah is one of only five mares in this year’s event who have been successful over 2536m. She is capable of unwinding a powerful finish.
Wainui Creek is in excellent form for leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond and cannot be dismissed as a leading candidate despite the considerable disadvantage of starting out wide at barrier nine.
Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed will be relying on Arma Indie regaining her best form after disappointing unplaced runs at her past three outings. Arma Indie (barrier two on the back line) will be driven by Mark Reed and she is a proven stayer, having won over 2536m three times. Last-start winner Talkerup has won twice over that distance.
Capel trainer Aiden de Campo will be represented by smart mares Millwood Molly (barrier three) and Mandy Joan (five). Each mare possesses good gate speed. De Campo will drive Millwood Molly, an excellent last-start fourth behind Wainui Creed in the Norms Daughter Classic, with Dylan Egerton-Green taking the drive behind Mandy Joan.