Brown Seeks Sixth Christmas Gift

Ace reinsman Colin Brown has high hopes of winning the $50,000 Christmas Gift at Gloucester Park on Friday night after Patrickthepiranha drew the coveted No. 1 barrier in the Group 2 feature event.

Brown, who has won the Group 2 Christmas Gift a record five times, prepares the four-year-old Patrickthepiranha, the youngest runner in the 2130m event, but has driven him only once in an outstanding 23-start career of ten wins and five placings.

He replaces Dylan Egerton-Green, who has handled Patrickthepiranha in 22 of his racetrack appearances. Egerton-Green will drive his own nomination Tyler Brett, who fared poorly in the random draw and faces a tough assignment from the outside (No. 9) on the front line on Friday night.

Brown’s only race drive behind Patrickthepiranha was when the WA-bred gelding led from barrier three and finished a well-beaten second to star pacer Mighty Conqueror over 2130m on October 18.

Patrickthepiranha has begun from barrier one three times. He led and won the 2130m Caduceus Club Classic from Eloquent Mach and Gee Jay Kay last February, he led and wilted to sixth behind Eloquent Mach in the 2536m Western Gateway Pace in March and he set the pace when second, beaten a head by Shockwave in the 2536m Golden Nugget last Friday night.  

Brown has no peer in WA as a frontrunning driver and he is sure to make a bold bid to lead throughout with the son of Canadian stallion Four Starzzz Shark, who is proving a great buy for Liam O’Connor and Jim Currie. The gelding was purchased as a yearling for $30,000 and now has amassed $215,106 in stakes.  

His dam is the New Zealand-bred Thats The Spirit, who won 22 races one in New South Wales, ten in Queensland and 11 in Victoria. That’s The Spirit’s half-sister Fake Spirit was a smart performer, who earned $184,368 from five wins (including the NSW Oaks in March 2003) and nine placings from 27 starts.

The Christmas Gift was first run in 1963 when Alan Woodworth drove Johnny Scott to victory over Jack Junior at a 2.9 rate and Brown has been successful with Simeon Bay (1988), Julian Doe (1991), All The Answers (2002), Motu Treasure (2010) and Russley Rascal (2011). He trained Simeon Bay, Sue Tolcon trained Julian Doe, Les Coulson was the trainer of All The Answers, Greg Bond trained Motu Treasure and Bond and his wife Skye prepared Russley Rascal when he won from stablemates Dundee Three and Talk It Up.

The Bond stable’s only runner in this year’s Christmas Gift is five-year-old Ocean Ridge, a winner at nine of his 24 starts. He was won in good style at two of his past three starts and has sound prospects, despite his poor draw at barrier seven.

Ocean Ridge will be driven by Ryan Warwick, who drove the Bond-trained Saying Grace, favourite at 3/1 on, to victory over Gotta Go Gabbana in last year’s event.

Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr will be pinning his faith on the talented and lightly-raced American Brave, who will need a touch of luck to overcome the disadvantage of starting out wide at barrier eight.     

Hall is the leading trainer in the history of the Christmas Gift, having been successful with Nixons Creed (1993), Allioop (2004), McRaes Mate (2007), Livingontheinterest (2012), Toretto (2013) and Herrick Roosevelt (2017).

The Christmas Gift is one of the very few feature events that has eluded champion reinsman Chris Lewis, who will drive Carrera Mach from barrier two on the back line for trainer Ross Olivieri, who has won the Gift with Savette in 2002 And Im A Peregrine in 2015.

The Craig Saligari-trained Crocodile Kid is in sparkling form and has bright prospects from the inside of the back line for reinsman Michael Grantham. Crocodile Kid raced three back on the pegs and went to the line strongly when an impressive and close-up fourth behind Stefsbest over 1730m last Friday night, following stylish victories over the same distance on the two previous Friday nights.