Stern Test for Lavra Joe

The meeting at Gloucester Park on Friday night looks set to get underway with plenty of excitement with star two-year-old Lavra Joe, unbeaten at four runs in his current campaign, facing one of the stiffest tests of his brilliant career when he starts from the outside barrier (No. 9) in the opening event, the 2130m Retravision 60 Day Price Promise Pace.

In an 11-horse field full of talent, Lavra Joe, to be driven by champion reinsman Chris Lewis for Greenbushes trainer Ray Jones, will need to be at his top to keep his challengers, notably Eldaytona, Jumpingjackmac, Machnificent, Robbie Rocket and Sugar Street, at bay.

Lavra Joe, a powerful colt, is extremely versatile, having shown splendid ability as a frontrunner, a breeze horse and a pacer capable of unleashing a spirited finishing burst.

Lavra Joe settled last in a field of six last Tuesday week before Lewis sent him forward, three wide, after about 150m. He then raced outside the pacemaker Eldaytona, who fought on grandly and was defeated by a nose in the final stride by Lavra Joe, with Machnificent finishing gamely to be third. The final quarters whizzed by in 27.3sec. and 27.8sec. and the winner rated 1.56.8, improving his record to 19 starts for ten wins, four placings and $106,481 in stakes.

Eldaytona, trained by Sue Wiscombe and driven by Lindsay Harper, is a speedy beginner and he has a strong chance to set the pace from the No. 3 barrier, despite the last-start all-the-way Pinjarra winner Our Shelley Beach drawn on his inside at barrier two.

The least experienced runner Jumpingjackmac shows great potential, and he looms as a serious contender for trainer Gary Hall Snr and in-form reinsman Stuart McDonald.

Jumpingjackmac made a successful debut when he raced at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon. He started from the inside of the back line and McDonald immediately eased him off the pegs. He settled down in ninth position and was about ten lengths from the leader after 600m.

He then lost momentum with a lap to travel when checked by a galloping horse before he revealed sparkling speed to charge to the front with 650m to travel. The final 800m was covered in 56.7sec. and he was not extended in winning by a half-length from Disco Dynamo. That victory came eight days after he was a most impressive winner in a Byford trial.

Robbie Rocket, to be driven by Shannon Suvaljko for Byford trainer Ron Huston, will have admirers after excellent wins in Byford trials on the past two Sundays. He raced in third place in an Indian file four-horse trial on Sunday before dashing to the front 450m from home and sprinting the final 400m in 27.6sec. to rate 1.58.1 in beating Squeezeme Pleaseme by ten lengths.

A week earlier Robbie Rocket set the pace and covered the final 400m in 27.2sec. to win easily at a 2.2.8 rate in a five-horse 2150m trial.

The Barry Howlett-trained Sugar Street has resumed after a spell in fine style with a close first-up second to Our Shelley Beach at Pinjarra after racing in the breeze. Then, at Gloucester Park last Sunday Sugar Street enjoyed the one-out, one-back trail before finishing strongly with a final 800m in 56.1sec. to easily beat the promising filly American Arma.