Cortopassi for Walkinshaw

In-form reinsman Ado Cortopassi, with 20 wins in the first two months of the 2018-19 season, has been engaged to drive Walkinshaw for the first time when the New Zealand-bred six-year-old stallion starts from the prized No. 1 barrier in the opening event, the Ballantyne Showcase Jewellers Pace, at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Walkinshaw, trained at Mt Helena by Ray Williams, will resume his rivalry with the exciting Kimani and their clash should be one of the highlights on the ten-event program.

Kimani showed that he will win many more races with a dashing performance last Friday night when he started from barrier eight and thundered home from eighth at the bell to hit the front 120m from the post and win easily from Starlight Brigade, rating 1.57.5 over 2130m.

That was Kimani’s second outing after a spell (following his excellent second to Chiaroscuro) and he looms large as the chief rival for Walkinshaw, who will be resuming racing after an absence of 15 weeks.

Walkinshaw made his debut when he started in a heat of the Young Guns (for two-year-olds) at Alexandra Park on December 31, 2014 and finished a sound fifth behind Lazarus and just a neck behind Kimani in fourth place.

The two pacers met again in two heats of the three-year-old Sires, with Kimani holding the upper hand with a second and a third to Walkinshaw’s fifth and fourth placings. Then they clashed again, with Walkinshaw finishing third behind Lazarus and Chase The Dream in the Group 1 Great Northern Derby at Alexandra Park, and Kimani finishing ninth.

Walkinshaw won at six of his 17 starts in New Zealand and his 16 starts in Western Australia have produced seven wins and five placings. He has an impeccable first-up record for Williams, having scored strong victories at each of his two first WA runs after a spell.

This will be the first time in WA that Walkinshaw will start from the No. 1 barrier. He has started three times from the No. 8 barrier for two seconds and a sixth, five times from barrier six for four wins and a sixth, twice from barrier five for a first and a second, twice from barrier four for a win and a fourth and four times from the back line for a first, second, third and a fourth placing.

Young Banjup trainer-reinsman Dylan Egerton-Green will be anxious to be the fly in the ointment by upstaging Walkinshaw and Kimani with his smart, lightly-raced seven-year-old Suspicious Life, who is ideally drawn at barrier two on the front line.

Suspicious Life has sparkling gate speed and Egerton-Green will be strongly tempted to make a spirited bid for the early lead. Egerton-Green restrained Suspicious Life from barrier six last Friday night and the gelding raced in ninth position before he sustained a powerful three-wide burst from eighth at the bell to finish third behind Danieljohn and Bettor Not Bitter. Suspicious Life was hampered by a flat tyre over the final 400m.

At his previous appearance, Suspicious Life began from the inside of the back line and impressed when he finished fast to win from Scotlynn Beach at a 1.55.6 rate over 1730m.

Serpentine trainer Clint Hall has engaged Michael Blakemore to drive Mattjestic Star to take advantage of Blakemore’s claim as a novice. Mattjestic Star ended a losing sequence of 38 when he raced fiercely in the breeze for the first 1000m before charging to the front and racing away to win by almost seven lengths over 2130m. He is the solitary runner off the back line this week.