Prentice's Birthday Wish
Justin Prentice turns 30 today and he has high hopes of celebrating this milestone by driving Dracarys to victory in the $125,000 TABtouch Golden Slipper at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The New Zealand-bred Dracarys is unbeaten at five Western Australian starts and Prentice, who trains the filly at Boyanup, was delighted with her all-the-way win in the Gold Bracelet last Friday night, so much so that he has decided to test her against the State’s best colts and geldings in the Group 1 Golden Slipper.
Dracarys will start from the No. 3 barrier on the front line and should be prominent throughout the 2130m journey. She has revealed wonderful versatility in her races in WA and impressed when she sped over the final 400m section of the Gold Bracelet in 27.4sec.
Prentice is hoping that Dracarys will perform better than his former stable star Major Reality, a brilliant juvenile who won the Gold Bracelet in 2014 and then was favourite at 5/4 for the Golden Slipper a week later when she set the pace from the No. 1 barrier before finishing third behind Beaudiene Boaz and Mister Ardee.
Only eight fillies, Sordice (1968), Omista (1971), Via Vista (1980), Mazzini Magic (1988), Whitbys Miss Penny (1990), Whitbys Merit (1993), Spirit of Navajo (2005) and Arma Xpress (2012) have been successful in the 50-year history of the Golden Slipper. Mazzini Magic, Whitbys Miss Penny, Whitbys Merit, Spirit of Navajo and Arma Xpress also won the Gold Bracelet.
Apart from Major Reality, several fillies Priscilla Rocks, Centrefold Angel, Miss Baypoint, Eagle Rox, Dodolicious, Sheer Rocknroll and Cott Beach have been placed in the Golden Slipper in recent years.
The only other filly apart from Dracarys in this year’s classic is the Glenn Elliott-trained Soho Interceptor, the all-the-way winner of the Group 1 $100,000 Westbred Classic two starts ago.
Soho Interceptor, to be driven by Chris Voak from the No. 2 barrier on the front line, is owned by Rob Watson and Grace Inwood. Watson holds a strong hand in the race in which he will also be represented by Soho Thunderstruck and Franco Edward.
Kyle Harper trains Soho Thunderstruck and Franco Edward and has opted to handle Franco Edward, who will start from barrier two on the back line. Soho Thunderstruck will be driven by Gary Hall Jnr, who drove the colt for the first time when he finished fourth behind Bletchley Park in a prelude of the Golden Slipper last Friday night.
Soho Thunderstruck started from barrier six in last week’s prelude and settled down in last position in the seven-horse field before he dashed forward to move outside the pacemaker Its Rock And Roll after a lap had been covered. Soho Thunderstruck took the lead with 400m to travel before wilting in the closing stages. He will have many admirers from the No. 1 barrier this week.
Franco Edward enjoyed an ideal passage in the one-out, one-back position for much of the way last week before he got to the front on the home turn and was beaten by a head by the fast-finishing Bletchley Park.
Bletchley Park raced in fifth place in the one-wide line and was most impressive in producing a whirlwind late burst, with the final quarters in 28.8sec. and 27.8sec. He rated 1.55.4 which broke the track record of 1.55.9 for three-year-olds over 2130m, held jointly by Mitch Maguire and Jack Mac.
Bletchley Park is trained by Mike Reed and his son Mark will drive the black colt, who has won at five of his seven starts. Mark Reed has completed a two-week term of suspension and will replace Dylan Egerton-Green, who was successful in the sulky behind Bletchley Park last week. Mark Reed trained and drove Aussie Reactor when he finished strongly to win the 2008 Golden Slipper from the 10/1 on favourite James Matthew by a nose.
In what appears to be an open affair, Shockwave and Babyface Adda also have excellent each-way prospects. Shockwave, trained and driven by Ryan Bell, is awkwardly drawn at barrier seven on the front line, but is overdue for a change of fortune after finishing second in three $100,000 Group 1 classics. He is capable of unwinding a powerful finishing burst and should fight out the finish.
Babyface Adda, trained by Ross Olivieri and to be handled by Shannon Suvaljko, faces a stern test from barrier eight but he is in sound form and he fought on gamely from sixth (on the pegs) at the bell to be third behind To Fast To Serious and Shockwave in the Group 1 Westbred Classic last Friday week. Olivieri has won the Golden Slipper with Harry Gunn (1995), Saab (1997), Talladega (1999) and Western Cullen (2011).