Queen Shenandoah Resumes
Much travelled five-year-old mare Queen Shenandoah will reappear after an absence of almost five months when she contests the 2130m Etch Coatings Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night and a solid run in a 2150m trial at Byford on Sunday morning was a firm indication that she should be prominent first-up.
Star reinsman Chris Voak was in the sulky for the trial and he has given punters a lead by opting to drive her on Friday night in preference to My Prayer and Bettor Pack It.
Queen Shenandoah, trained by Ross Olivieri, began smoothly in the trial and went to the front after 120m before setting the pace and sprinting over the final 400m section in 28.4sec. She was overhauled by Eloquent Mach in the final 15m and was not extended in crossing the line just under a length behind Eloquent Mach.
Queen Shenandoah won once in New Zealand, four times in Victoria and three times from four appearances in South Australia before arriving in Western Australia late last year. She raced six times at Gloucester Park before being sent for a spell. Those runs included seconds behind Ocean Ridge and Live Like A Royal.
Likely to be among the toughest rivals for Queen Shenandoah are Delightfulreaction (barrier three) and Countess Grace (barrier one).
Delightfulreaction, trained and driven by Aiden de Campo, is in sparkling form and will have many admirers. She sat behind the pacemaker Arma Indie and fought on gamely when second to that mare in the WASBA Breeders Stakes last Friday night when the final quarters of the 2130m event were covered in 28.5sec. and 27.7sec.
A week earlier, Delightfulreaction came from fifth at the bell to hit the front in the home straight before finishing a short half-head second to Semiramide in the 2503m Race For Roses. And that followed a strong-finishing head victory over Semiramide at her previous outing. She is favourably drawn at barrier three on Friday night.
Countess Grace, to be driven by Michael Grantham for trainer Mike Reed, has a losing sequence of 13 but has the distinct advantage of starting from the prized No. 1 barrier. All her six wins from 48 starts have been when she has set the pace.
Other runners capable of strong showings include the Terry Ferguson-trained Bettor Copagoodone, who has won at five of her past nine starts and should appreciate starting from barrier No. 2, and Leap Of Faith, a promising four-year-old who has won at five of her ten starts. She will start from the No. 3 barrier, with trainer Luke Edwards in the sulky.
The Matt Scott-trained gelding Neighlor, who has been unplaced at his past seven starts, gets a good opportunity to bounce back to good form when he starts from the No. 1 barrier in the 2536m Westral Pace. He possesses good gate speed and is a proven frontrunner.
Next to him at barrier two will be six-year-old mare Madame Meilland, who has a losing sequence of 21. Two of her 11 wins have been over 2536m, including the Empress Stakes in March 2018. She has been placed only twice from her past 16 starts but is capable of causing an upset.