Ocean Ridge is Flying

Ocean Ridge is one of the State’s most promising pacers and he should continue another successful week for the all-conquering Greg and Skye Bond stable and ace reinsman Ryan Warwick by winning the $50,000 Channel 7 San Simeon Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

The formidable combination started the week in style by scoring dashing victories at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon with Justasec and Kingslayer before The Bird Dance was a most impressive winner at Gloucester Park on Tuesday evening. All three New Zealand-bred pacers were racing for the first time in Australia.

Ocean Ridge is a New Zealand-bred four-year-old who should carry too many guns for his rivals on Friday night when he will start from the No. 4 barrier and should be in a commanding position throughout.

He made a wonderful return to racing after an injury-enforced absence of 14 months when he contested a 2692m event at Pinjarra three Mondays ago. He began from the back line and raced in sixth position in the one-wide line until he began a lightning sprint at the 800m to burst to the front 130m later and careered away to win by eight and a half lengths from Starlight Brigade, rating 1.57.8, with fast final quarters of 27.7sec. and 28.4sec.

That was Ocean Ridge’s first appearance since he set the pace and won from McArdles Gem over 2185m at Pinjarra in May 2018 and it took his record to seven wins and three thirds from 15 starts. A winner at three of his ten New Zealand starts, Ocean Ridge has excelled in Western Australia with his five starts producing four wins and a splendid fourth behind King of Swing in the 2018 WA Derby.

The Bonds are the leading trainers in WA this season, with 169 winners, while Warwick has been in marvellous form, landing 162 winners.

While three-year-olds Justasec and The Bird Dance performed superbly, first-up, this week and five-year-old Kingslayer gave a dominant display in a 2631m stand at Pinjarra, it was not all plain sailing for the Bond camp.

Four-year-old Captain Kirk was expected to win easily at his WA debut on Tuesday night, but had to be scratched from a 2536m event after injuring his nearside hind led in a mishap in his stall in the Gloucester Park birdcage.

Captain Kirk bucked in his stall and got his hind leg over the dividing railing before slamming his foot into the brick wall. Warwick was quickly able to get the gelding’s leg back over the rail. Captain Kirk suffered superficial abrasions and bruising, and it is hoped that he will be able to start his Australian career within a few weeks.

The Ross Olivieri-trained Space Junk should be prominent in his battle against Ocean Ridge on Friday night. He will be having his first start for five weeks and warmed up for the race with a sound trial at Byford on Sunday morning when, driven by Chris Lewis, he led for the first 250m and then led the chase after the freewheeling pacemaker King of Swing. He fought on gamely to finish second to King of Swing.

Space Junk’s regular reinsman Chris Voak predicted that the gelding would have derived considerable benefit from Sunday’s trial, saying: “He chased King of Swing the whole way and finished only a couple of lengths off him. And the fact that he beat home Tommy Be Good was very good and he should be much improved off that run.

“One Off Delight, with a stable change, might try to lead from the inside barrier and, hopefully, we can sit, one-one, on the back of Ocean Ridge.”

One Off Delight is a noted frontrunner who led when second to Pradas Ideal Dahling over 2130m last Friday night. He has changed stables since then and is now prepared by Debra Lewis, who also has Wabi Sabi (barrier two) engaged in the race.

The prospects of up-and-coming four-year-old Son of A Tiger diminished when he drew out wide at barrier eight. However, the inexperienced four-year-old has created a most favourable impression in WA where his five starts have produced three easy wins on Great Southern tracks and a creditable third behind Convert Denario and Courage Tells at Gloucester Park.