Start and finish with Suvaljko
Start and finish the nine-event program at Gloucester Park on Friday night by backing Shannon Suvaljko to win the opening and final events.
That’s the advice from Suvaljko, who is setting a hot pace in the Statewide drivers’ premiership table. He leads with 76 winners from Chris Lewis (69), Chris Voak (68) and Gary Hall jun. and Ryan Warwick (55).
Suvaljko has eight drives on Friday night and said: “My best drives will be in the first and last races --- with Bechers Brook and Brookies Jet. My best drive is Brookies Jet in the last.”
Brookies Jet, trained at Serpentine by Matt Scott, will start from the No. 3 barrier on the front line in the final event, the 1730m Worldwide Bentley Pace and Suvaljko gives the New Zealand-bred six-year-old a strong winning chance.
“He gets his chance from this barrier over the sprint trip, particularly if he can find the front,” Suvaljko said. “It’s an even field in which Tactile Sensation is a pretty good horse.”
Brookies Jet warmed up for Friday night’s assignment with a solid performance at Gloucester Park on Tuesday evening. He was beaten for early speed from barrier three and settled in sixth position. He was tenth (and last) with 400m to travel and about 180m later was inconvenienced and forced out very wide. However, he recovered and finished with a determined burst to be fifth behind The Spinster.
Brookies Jet showed his liking for pacemaking five starts five starts earlier when he set the pace and won from Attack On Command and Backpage Screamer over 2100m at Bunbury in mid-December. Suvaljko has had 11 drives behind Brookies Jet for one win and three third placings. The win came when Brookies Jet started from the No. 1 barrier and set the pace over 2130m at Kellerberrin early last October.
Four-year-old Tactile Sensation, trained and driven by Peter Tilbrook, is racing with admirable enthusiasm and will have many admirers, despite the stallion’s awkward draw at barrier eight. Tactile Sensation, a winner at Gloucester Park and Northam in December, worked hard in the breeze and finished an extremely close fourth behind Nothingbutadream at Bunbury on Sunday.
Whitbys Gamble, the only other four-year-old in Friday night’s race, is racing with plenty of spirit for trainer-reinsman Aldo Cortopassi. The mare will start out wide at barrier seven and Cortopassi predicted that a win was not far away for the mare.
Whitbys Gamble gave an encouraging performance as a $126.90 outsider at Gloucester Park on Tuesday evening when she was last in a field of ten with 450m to travel and was four wide on the home turn before finishing strongly from seventh at the 100m mark to be fourth behind Lord Willoughby.
Suvaljko spoke in glowing terms of Bechers Brook, a talented colt who has raced only six times for four wins, a second and a fifth. Bechers Brook, trained by Mike Reed, will start from barrier five in the field of nine in the opening event, the Worldwide Osborne Park Pace for three-year-olds.
Bechers Brook was untroubled to set the pace from barrier one and win easily at a 1.58.2 rate from Captured Delight and Murphys Bettor over 2130m last Friday week.
“He is a really nice horse and whatever he does this week he will continue to improve,” Suvaljko said. “He doesn’t have to lead; he’s got good versatility and can sit up and come home. He’s definitely a WA Derby prospect.”
Bechers Brook’s clash with several talented three-year-olds, including stablemates Speed Man and One Off Delight (trained by Gary Hall sen.), should prove to be one of the highlights of the program.
Speed Man shows excellent promise and his first five starts have produced three wins and two seconds. Gary Hall jun. will drive him from the No. 4 barrier.
“Speed Man is still pretty inexperienced, but he’s a strong stayer who gave a good performance at his latest start when he raced in the breeze outside Mistahmistah and finished a close second to that horse,” said Hall sen.
One Off Delight, to be driven by Stuart McDonald from the coveted No. 1 barrier, has resumed after a spell in fine style and impressed at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon when he led and held on to win from Carrera Mach and Play The Boys.
Adding interest to the race will be the first appearance in Western Australia of Victorian filly Amelias Courage, a seasoned performer who has raced 25 times for eight wins, ten seconds and two thirds. She will be driven by her new trainer Colin Brown and faces a stern test from the outside barrier in the field of nine.
Amelias Courage has finished second at each of her past four starts, the latest being over 2240m at Melton three Fridays ago. The other fillies in the race, Infinite Symbol and Lady De La Renta, are in good form, but have drawn out wide at barriers seven and eight, respectively.