Shockwave Can Buck the Odds
Gloucester Park Harness Racing vice-president Kevin Jeavons is a realist, but he has high expectations that Shockwave has the ability to buck considerable odds and win the $300,000 Retravision Fremantle Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Jeavons, who races Shockwave in partnership with his son Kyle and Howard King, is hoping the stallion will become only the fifth four-year-old to win the prestigious Group 1 feature event in the 90-year history of the race. And he is also looking for Shockwave to break the stranglehold of New Zealand-bred pacers who have won 13 of the past 14 and 17 of the past 19 Fremantle Cups.
Shockwave, bred by Kevin and Annette Charles and sold for $46,000 as a yearling, is one of three West Australian-bred pacers in the field for the 2536m Cup, the others being Handsandwheels and Vultan Tin. The only WA-bred pacer to have won the Fremantle Cup in the past quarter of a century is David Hercules, who led and beat Northview Punter in January 2015.
“Whether a four-year-old can measure up and beat his more experienced rivals, that’s the question,” said Jeavons after Shockwave had drawn favourably at barrier No. 2 on the front line. “But I think he’s up to them; I wouldn’t start him if I didn’t think he was on the way up.”
Shockwave, trained by Ryan Bell, will be driven by champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr, who has won the Fremantle Cup a record eight times scoring with The Falcon Strike (2002 and 2003), Im Themightyquinn (2009-10-11), Im Victorious (2014), Beaudiene Boaz (2016) and Chicago Bull (2017).
The Falcon Strike, Im Themightyquinn, Beaudiene Boaz and Chicago Bull are the only four-year-olds to have won the Fremantle Cup.
Regarding tactics, Jeavons said he would leave Hall with making the decisions. “I think we’ll leave it to Gary to plan his tactics after seeing what eventuates out of the gate,” he said. “Gary has driven Shockwave eight times as a three-year-old for four wins and two thirds. Twice he led (from barrier five) and won (beating Eloquent Mach and Gee Jay Kay over 1730m and beating Robbie Easton and Eloquent Mach over 2130m). So, there’s nothing wrong with leading.”
Shockwave has thrived since he stormed home from 11th at the bell to snatch a head victory over the pacemaker Patrickthepiranha in the 2536m $200,000 Golden Nugget four Fridays ago.
He then impressed greatly in a 2185m trial at Pinjarra last Sunday week when he trailed the pacemaker Mighty Conqueror, surged to the front 420m from home and won by 2m from his talented rival after a scorching final 400m in 25.8sec.
“We were hoping for a good, solid trial, like a race,” Jeavons explained. “And as it turned out, Shockwave and Mighty Conqueror had a good battle and they ran good time.”
The toughest opponents to Shockwave loom large as the New Zealand-bred New South Wales performers My Field Marshal and Alta Orlando and the brilliant WA pacer Galactic Star, one of four runners from the outstanding Forrestdale training establishment of leading WA trainers Greg and Skye Bond.
Galactic Star, to be driven by WA’s leading reinsman Ryan Warwick from barrier No. 10 (inside of the back line), is in peak form and gave a superb performance in the 1730m Village Kid Sprint last Friday week when he started from the outside of the back line, was seventh at the bell and unleashed a withering finishing burst, out five wide on the home turn, to be an eye-catching third behind stablemate Vampiro and the pacemaker Herrick Roosevelt.
Two starts before that, Galactic Star raced in the breeze for 1150m before taking the lead in the home straight and winning from Vultan Tin and Ana Malak.
Galactic Star, prepared by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, has amassed $488,947 in stakes from 26 wins (four in New Zealand, two in New South Wales, one in Victoria and 19 from 46 starts in WA). He also started from the inside of the back line in last year’s Fremantle Cup when Warwick got him off the pegs immediately after the start. He then raced in eighth position before sustaining a powerful three-wide burst to finish a half-length second to My Field Marshal.
Skye Bond was eloquent in her succinct appraisal of Galactic Star’s prospects on Friday night, saying: “He has proven himself at this level and all his runs back (after a spell) have been fantastic.”
The Bonds will also be represented by Ana Malak (Michael Grantham, barrier seven), Vampiro (Colin Brown, barrier nine) and El Jacko (Dylan Egerton-Green, barrier 11). El Jacko also started from barrier 11 in last year’s Fremantle Cup when he raced in sixth place, three back on the pegs, and was hopelessly blocked for a run when an unlucky seventh behind My Field Marshal. He is a brilliant sit-sprinter and capable of causing an upset.
Champion trainer Gary Hall Snr has prepared a record eight winners of the Fremantle Cup, and without injured stable stars Chicago Bull and Major Trojan he will be pinning his hopes on Caviar Star (Stuart McDonald, barrier three) and Herrick Roosevelt (Maddison Brown, barrier eight).
“It looks a very even field in which I think Galactic Star is the best horse, with My Field Marshal a bit suspect over this journey and Shockwave facing a task at his first appearance in top company,” Hall said. “Caviar Star did all the work in the race and was brave in defeat when second to Bill Haley last week.
“Obviously, Caviar Star is not the best horse in the race, but he’s very tough and never runs a bad race. I think he’s equal to most of the horses in the race. Herrick Roosevelt did a fine job, racing wide in the last lap and finishing third behind Bill Haley. He has had a lot of injuries and hardly ever runs a bad race.”
McDonald is upbeat about Caviar Star’s prospects, saying: “I know he’s good enough to be in this grade. He ran fast time over 2130m last week and the longer trip (2536m) this week will suit him down to the ground.”
The Debra Lewis-trained five-year-old Bill Haley bounced back to his best form last Friday night when he sprinted home strongly from tenth and last the bell to win from Caviar Star and his owners are delighted at drawing the coveted No. 1 barrier. Champion reinsman Chris Lewis is sure to take full advantage of the draw and the gelding’s excellent gate speed.
My Field Marshal, trained by Tim Butt and to be handled by his brother Anthony, has drawn barrier No. 4 and has bright prospects of repeating his all-the-way victory (from barrier two) in last year’s Fremantle Cup after setting the pace and winning the Village Kid Sprint at his previous outing.
My Field Marshall has raced superbly at his two starts last month after resuming racing after a nine-month absence. He reappeared in a group 3 2300m Free-For-All at Menangle on December 14 when he started from the outside barrier (No. 10) and raced in ninth position before charging home to finish second to Alta Orlando.
Then, on December 26 Mr Field Marshal contested the group 2 Shirley Turnbull Memorial over 2790m at Bathurst when he started from the outside of the back line and was in 11th position when he started a three-wide move at the bell. His run was followed by Alta Orlando, who finished strongly to win from Our Uncle Sam, with My Field Marshal a close-up fourth.
There was a significant omen for the Butt brothers when they combined to score a thrilling last-stride debut victory for four-year-old Surreal in 1.53.6 over 1609m at Menangle on Tuesday afternoon. Surreal is a full-brother to My Field Marshal, who has raced 66 times for 26 wins, 22 placings and $1,373,612 in stakes.
Also, at Menangle on Tuesday trainer Craig Cross and reinsman Luke McCarthy joined forces to win with 9/2 chance Flingandwingit. Cross and McCarthy have high hopes that eight-year-old Alta Orlando will complete a winning hat-trick when he starts from barrier No. 5 on the front line in the Fremantle Cup.