Eloquent Mach Ready to Create History
Champion trainer Gary Hall Snr is poised to equal Ross Olivieri’s record of four winners of the Marathon Handicap by scoring with the inexperienced New Zealand-bred gelding Eloquent Mach in the 3309m standing-start feature event at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
And Eloquent Mach is also firmly on target to create history by becoming the first three-year-old to win the gruelling event, with the innovative Hall not reluctant to set the youngster the task of proving superior to his vastly more experienced campaigners.
Eloquent Mach, to be driven by Stuart McDonald, is a comparative novice with a record of only 17 starts for eight wins, five seconds and one third placing. The Mach Three pacer will become the first three-year-old to compete in the 27-year history of the Marathon Handicap, which has been won in the past two years by four-year-olds Motu Premier and Runrunjimmydunn.
Hall trained Runrunjimmydunn when he began off the 40m mark and finished strongly from sixth at the bell to win last year’s race from Motu Premier, who started from 30m the previous year when he won from The Bucket List.
Motu Premier gave Olivieri his fourth success in the Marathon Handicap after he had been successful with Nickelmeldon in 2009, Chief Thundercloud in 2015 and Our Jericho in 2016. All four of Olivieri’s winners were driven by Hall of Fame reinsman Chris Lewis.
Olivieri and Lewis were denied a chance to improve their records when The Dali Express was not an acceptor, suffering the effects of a virus.
Eloquent Mach is inexperienced in stands, having had only one standing-start trial and one attempt in a race from a stand when he reappeared after a four-month absence last Friday night in a 2096m event in which he galloped from the inside of the 10m line and lost 40m.
He was seventh after a lap and sixth at the bell before he sprinted fast, out three wide, to be third 600m from home. He sustained his effort and took the lead with 250m to travel before winning from Atmospherical, with final quarters of 28.8sec. and 28.4sec.
Eloquent Mach has raced beyond 2200m only twice, but he shapes as a strong staying type, having raced twice over 2536m for a notable victory over Franco Edward and Major Trojan in the Western Gateway Classic and a solid sixth behind Major Trojan in the WA Derby earlier this year.
Eloquent Mach will start from 10m on Friday night when two of his main rivals appear to be four-year-olds Fizzing and Roman Aviator, strong stayers and experienced standing-start performers.
Fizzing, prepared by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, will be driven by Ryan Warwick and is the lone backmarker off 40m. He has an outstanding record in stands and gave a powerful performance two starts ago when he began from the back mark of 30m and enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back, before finishing strongly to win easily from Cracka Star and Athabascan in the 2503m BOTRA Cup.
Aldo Cortopassi trains and drives Roman Aviator, who will start from the 10m mark and will have many admirers. Tough and dependable, Roman Aviator gave a fighting display last Friday night when he worked hard in the breeze throughout and fought on grandly to finish fourth behind the speedy Chiaroscuro in the group 3 Kerry Clarke Four and Five-Year-Old Westbred Pace. He was an impressive winner over Waimac Attack and Shockwave two starts before that.
The powerful Bond stable will also have a strong second-string runner on Friday night in seven-year-old Better Scoot, who will start from 20m with Dylan Egerton-Green in the sulky. Better Scoot finished strongly to win from Livura over 2536m two starts ago, after placings behind Chiaroscuro and Saying Grace at his two previous starts.
Wanneroo trainer Debbie Padberg, who won the Marathon Handicap in 2014 with veteran Rocket Reign, will be pinning her faith in Cracka Star, an experienced standing-start performer who will start from 20m and will be handled by Shannon Suvaljko. Mrs Padberg has also prepared Marathon placegetters in Patches (2007), Salliwood (2013) and Our Amazing Art (2015).
Hall’s Marathon winners have been Im Themightyquinn (off 80m in 2010), frontmarker Code Red in 2012 and Runrunjimmydunn (off 40m last year).