Ken Casellas | Photo Credit: Hamilton Content Creators
Veteran pacer Batavia On Fire, who broke down with a serious leg injury 16 months ago, has made a successful comeback to racing.
At his second appearance after that long absence, the WA-bred eight-year-old gelding Batavia On Fire, trained by Giles Inwood and driven superbly by Chris Voak, trailed the pacemaker and $2.90 favourite Deeorse before finishing fast to race away in the closing stages and beat Blockjorg by almost three lengths in the 2130m Ultimate Sniper At Alabar Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Batavia On Fire resumed racing a fortnight earlier when he was a $26 chance and raced in the one-out, one-back position before fading to finish last behind Powerplay in a field of eleven. However, he was at no fancy price on Friday night and started fourth favourite at $7.20.
Voak got Batavia On Fire away speedily from the No. 5 barrier and made a spirited bid for the early lead. But he was unable to cross Deeorse, who was able to jump straight to the front after the polemarker and $5.50 chance Delightfull lacked sparkle.
After Deeorse had held out Batavia On Fire, Voak was able to restrain the gelding and angle him across to the pegs to trail Deeorse 250m after the start.
Voak eased Batavia On Fire off the pegs with 500m to travel to get the trail behind the breeze horse Blockjorg. Batavia On Fire then went three wide approaching the home turn and he dashed to the front at the 100m mark and careered away from his rivals to win at a 1.57.8 rate.
A delighted Inwood said he would award Voak twelve out of a possible ten for his skilful drive. He added that Batavia On Fire needed his first-up run when he pulled up big in condition.
“Batavia On Fire damaged the suspensory ligament in his nearside foreleg and had a year off before Damon Briggs (the managing part-owner) jogged him during his rehabilitation,” said Inwood. “And now I’ve had him in work for a few months.
“He is very narrow framed and wears go-straights. Hopefully, he can remain sound and win another race.”
Briggs, who hails from Cranbrook in the Great Southern, gained a licence to train pacers last year and he prepared his first winner when Born A Tiger was successful in Albany last February.
Batavia On Fire, by former New Zealand champion pacer Courage Under Fire, is out of the Rich And Spoilt mare Batavia Touchngo, who was retired after her 18 starts had produced eight wins, four placings and $117,878 in prizemoney. As a two-year-old Batavia Touchngo won the Western Crown Classic and the group 1 State Sires Series Classic in which she defeated Centrefold Angel.
Batavia On Fire certainly looks capable of winning more races. He has had 73 starts for 11 wins, 20 placings and stakes of $86,363.