WA Trotting Media Guild Friday's Thoughts 17th January
The $450,000 Group 1 WA Pacing Cup (2936m - almost four laps around Gloucester Park) takes pride of place at headquarters on Friday night.
No prizes for guessing who’ll take home the major prize, with husband and wife team Greg and Skye Bond qualifying seven of the 12 starters - a record for the time-honoured event.
But which Bond-trained pacer will pocket the winning $288,000 cheque?
Members of the WA Trotting Guild are divided in their summation of the great race.
TABradio’s youngest racecaller and form analyst Hayden King was so impressed by Vampiro’s gallant effort in last week’s Fremantle Cup that he’s made the courageous six-year-old gelding his best bet on a star-studded 11-event card.
“Vampiro sizzled across and led from the outside barrier last week and can do the same once more,” King predicts. “He set the fractions in track record time and was very plucky, going down by a narrow margin. He can go one better this week.”
Four other Guild members believe Vampiro’s stablemate, Galactic Star, will win the cup, while one has opted for another Bond runner, Mighty Conqueror, to rule the roost.
Radio Great Southern’s form expert Warren Wishart and veteran stats man Ken Casellas believe the Bonds will dominate the cup, tipping Galactic Star to salute from stablemates Vampiro, Mighty Conqueror and Our Jimmy Johnstone.
Wishart’s best bet is As Happy As Larry, who steps out in the 10th event.
“As Happy As Larry is my best and punters will be just that if they invest heavily on the pacer,” Wishart said. “He led with ease last start and just went a shade to quick mid race but fought on well. Only danger drawn to his outside - Larry will lead and win.”
The West Australian’s racing co-ordinator Ryan Havercroft is in the same corner.
“As Happy As Larry looks close to a win after four runs since resuming,” Havercroft said. “He led until the shadows of the post last week and the extra 400m won’t worry him.”
Casellas, along with longshot guru Pat Harding, have found one earlier in the program.
“Ocean Ridge has been unplaced at his past three starts, but he is poised to bounce back to winning form by taking full advantage of the No. 1 barrier in the second heat of the Nights of Thunder on Friday night - and he’s my best bet,” Casellas said. “He started from barrier one four starts ago when he set the pace and won from Ideal Liner over 2536m.”
“Another great night of racing ahead at GP this Friday night,” Harding said. “My best bet for the meeting comes up in race two with Ocean Ridge coming out of barrier No. 1. He hasn't had a great deal of luck at his last three starts, but did have some good wins before that. I think he is ideally placed over the sprint distance to lead and win.“
The West Australian’s Ernie Manning is keen on Joe With The Flow in race nine.
“Joe With The Flow is in line for a Gloucester Park winning hat-trick after two recent smart victories and has the early speed to take advantage of gate three,” Manning said. ”He handled a class rise in fine style when notching a front-running success two weeks ago. A winner of five Gloucester Park races, he should be a top chance for the long-time formidable combination of trainer Ross Olivieri and reinsman Chris Lewis.“
But TABradio’s racecaller Matt Young disagrees with Manning.
“Tyler Brett, getting down in grade, looks very well placed to win,” Young said. “He is versatile and looks the goods.”
Guild president Wayne Currall envisages The Dali Express posting an all-the-way victory in the third heat of the Nights of Thunder.
“Concession driver Corey Peterson jumps in the bike for the first time behind The Dali Express,” Currall said. “From the pole, Peterson will be keen to make every post a winner with the freewheeling The Dali Express. The Ross Olivieri-trained black gelding ran a slick 55.8sec. for his last 800m when he led all the way over 2130m here in September. They won’t catch him if he reproduces that effort.”
HAYDEN: Dracarys was a brilliant winner last start and she won't be too short this week. She can sit off the pace and whiz home all over the top.
WARREN: Golden State is drawn to get a great run and fitter for two runs back. He was an eye-catcher from the back last week. I’m thinking he will be each-way odds and is a knockout chance.
RYAN: Clarenden Hustler has been thereabouts without threatening lately, but a good draw over the sprint trip in a nine-horse field gives him options.
KEN: For value, I suggest Theo Aviator in race 10 when I predict he has the class to upset the favourite As Happy As Larry over 2536m. He should be storming home off a soft passage.
PAT: Bob Wheel won’t know himself coming out of barrier one. Has good gate speed and I think Michael Grantham can keep him out in front in the first race.
ERNIE: Mighty Santana has won only once in his past nine starts, but shows signs of a return to form that delivered him three Gloucester Park victories. After three unplaced runs, he impressed when facing the breeze and finishing fourth a fortnight ago.
MATT: Our Jimmy Johnstone is beautifully drawn and the old boy has options. Should get a lovely run and could be the fresh legs late.
WAYNE: The last time Nitro Lad came out of gate one at GP he finished a close third behind Tarooma Bromac at big odds. He’s poised to play a part in the last at good each-way value.