Ken Casellas | Photo Credit: Hamilton Content Creators
Capel trainer-reinsman Aiden de Campo is delighted with Alta Engen’s progress, and he is planning to take full advantage of the No. 1 barrier in the $50,000 Vale Bob Sweet San Simeon Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
“It’s a good, even race and the plan will be to lead and stay in front, hopefully,” he said. “He was beaten in front two starts ago, but he then was a lot more switched on at his next start when he breezed (and finished third behind See Ya Write in the Higgins final last Friday week).
“And I expect him to be even more switched on this week, and from one I think he is a nice enough horse to go pretty close. At his latest start he did all the work and was still coming into full fitness. I was happy with him, and he seems to race better with two weeks between runs. He worked well this morning (Tuesday).”
Alta Engen is relatively inexperienced, with the Alta Christiano four-year-old having had only 18 starts for ten wins and four placings. He has demonstrated his ability as a frontrunner in several of his victories.
Another four-year-old who is in sparkling form is the Matt Scott-trained Awaitinginstructions, a noted frontrunner who has had 16 starts for nine wins and four seconds.
Awaitinginstructions is favourably drawn at barrier No. 4, but it is difficult to visualise him being able to cross Alta Engen at the start. Ten of his 13 WA starts have been in stands for eight wins and two seconds (both behind brilliant New Zealand-bred four-year-old Minstrel).
Star reinsman Shannon Suvaljko has a high opinion of Awaitinginstructions, and he said that the Courage Under Fire gelding possessed abundant gate speed. However, he agreed that Awaitinginstructions was unlikely to cross Alta Engen.
“If he had drawn barrier one, he would be winning,” he said. Suvaljko drove Awaitingstructions in a mobile event at Northam 11 starts ago when the gelding began brilliantly from the No. 6 barrier and was untroubled to set the pace and win by six lengths from Withoutthetuh.
“He flew out at Northam,” said Suvaljko. “However, he is versatile. It’s a really good field and he will run a good race. He’s up to them (the opposition).”
Chris Voak, who caused a major upset when he brought $74.60 outsider Shamrock Tango home with a spirited three-wide burst from seventh at the bell to win the 2012 San Simeon Classic from Zenthura, has opted to drive Beat City in preference to another handy four-year-old Whatabro.
Beat City, a former Victorian performer now prepared by Ross Olivieri, has shown promise at his first two runs in Western Australia, racing three wide for much of the way and winning from The Watch Maker at Pinjarra and working hard in the breeze when a close second to the pacemaker Baylan Jett at Gloucester Park. He faces a stern test from the outside barrier (No. 9) on the front line.
Voak has driven the Michael Brennan-trained Whatabro at his first three starts in the State after the gelding arrived from South Australia about seven weeks ago. Whatabro, who recorded seconds to See Ya Write and Powerplay and a last-start fifth in the Higgins final, will be handled by Michael Grantham, and from the inside of the back line, looks set to enjoy a perfect passage behind Alta Engen.
Whatabro, a seasoned performer of 73 starts for 18 wins and 32 placings, is one of four Brennan runners in the race, the others being Miss Limelight (Dylan Egerton-Green), The Code Breaker (Kim Young) and Doctor Tom (Kyle Harper).
Grantham’s decision to drive Whatabro is quite significant, considering that he has driven Miss Limelight for eight of her niner wins, The Code Breaker for nine of his ten wins and Doctor Tom in 11 of his 12 starts for eight wins.
Champion trainer Gary Hall snr will be looking for seven-year-old Alta Intrigue to take advantage of the No. 2 barrier and end a losing sequence of eleven.
Alta Intrigue, who will be driven by Gary Hall jnr, finished strongly when a head second to See Ya Write in the Higgins Memorial final two weeks ago, and raced without cover when a fighting neck second to Whoswhointhezoo last Friday night.
Four-year-old Poisedtopounce, prepared by Greg and Skye Bond, will reappear after a three-month absence and is capable of causing an upset. He will start from barrier two on the back line and should enjoy a good passage.