Bill Haley Drops in Class

Eye-catching sparkling late finishing bursts in strong Group 2 feature events on the past two Friday nights have stamped Bill Haley as a star bet at Gloucester Park this week when he will appreciate a drop in class when he contests the $25,000 Retravision Pace over 2130m.

The New Zealand-bred five-year-old, trained by Debra Lewis and driven by her husband Chris, has the ability to overcome an awkward draw at barrier six in the field of eight.

Bill Haley was 11th at the bell in the 2130m Group 2 Governor’s Cup last Friday night before he went four wide on the home turn and sprinted fast to be third behind Handsandwheels and Galactic Star. A week earlier, after starting out wide at barrier eight, Bill Haley was tenth and last at the bell before surging home, out five wide, to finish fifth behind Handsandwheels and El Jacko.  

A winner of 12 races from 51 starts, Bill Haley will clash with up-and-coming five-year-old Ocean Ridge, who ideally drawn at barrier three, giving Ryan Warwick an excellent opportunity to use the gelding’s good gate speed in a bid to burst to the front in the early stages. Ocean Ridge has set the pace and has won very easily over 1730m at his past two outings, rating 1.53.5 and 1.52.6.

Adding interest to the race will be the return to racing of the Barry Howlett-trained Three Bears, a smart frontrunner who will be handled by Gary Hall jnr from the prized No. 1 barrier. The eight-year-old, a winner at 19 of his 55 starts, has not raced for five months. Whether he can hold out Ocean Ridge in the early battle for the lead remains to be seen.

And adding further intrigue will be trainer Murray Lindau’s speedy six-year-old Chiaroscuro, who will be driven by Dylan Egerton-Green from barrier four. Chiaroscuro, a winner at 15 of his 50 starts, possesses explosive gate speed. He made his first appearance after a five-month absence when he was restrained from barrier six and raced near the rear before finishing eighth behind Handsandwheels last Friday week.

That was his first appearance since he revealed dazzling gate speed to lead from the No. 4 barrier and win easily in modest company at a 1.55 rate over 2130m early last August. He led from barrier seven when he won over 1730m from Livura two starts before that.

Ideal Liner (Maddison Brown) and Rock Me Over (Chris Voak) have been in sound form in top company and are sure to appreciate a drop in class.

Voak has given punters a good lead by choosing to drive The Last Drop for trainer Ross Olivieri in the 2130m Choices Flooring Pace in preference to stablemate Salacious Gossip.

The Last Drop, a good frontrunner, has drawn perfectly at barrier one and Voak is set to make every post a winner by attempting an all-the-way victory. The Last Drop, a four-year-old who has had 21 starts for six wins and four placings, started from the outside of the front line and was restrained to the rear before fighting on from last at the bell to finish sixth behind My Carbon Copy over 2130m on Tuesday of last week.

He set the pace and won over 2185m and 2692m at Pinjarra at his two previous outings. Salacious Gossip will be handled by Chris Lewis from barrier No. 3 on the front line and has solid each-way claims. She started from the outside of the back line and raced in seventh position, four back on the pegs, before running home solidly to finish fourth behind Parisian Partygirl last Friday night.

Olivieri also has sound prospects with his two runners, Atmospherical (Voak) and The Dali Express (Lewis) in the Perth Plasterboard Centre Pace over 2130m. Atmospherical, a versatile six-year-old, will start from the No. 1 barrier, with The Dali Express at barrier four.

Atmospherical has had a short let-up and is capable of a bold showing, while The Dali Express maintained his sound form when he finished solidly from seventh at the bell to be fourth behind his stablemate James Butt last Friday night. Northam Cup winner Son of a Tiger, veteran Waylade and stylish last-start winner Theo Aviator will have plenty of admirers.