Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
The stage is set for another exciting duel between star two-year-old geldings Valedictorian and Rocket City when they clash in the $50,000 APG Gold Bullion final for colts and geldings at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
They have met twice, with honours even. Valedictorian won from Rocket City in the group 1 Sales Classic on February 25 before Rocket City gained his revenge with a brilliant victory over Valedictorian in a heat of the APG Classic on Tuesday of last week.
The Justin Prentice-trained Valedictorian will start from barrier five, with Rocket City, trained and driven by Dylan Egerton-Green, at barrier No. 6 in the field of six runners.
In the heat, Rocket City was a heavily-supported $1.60 favourite from barrier two, with Valedictorian an easing $3.70 chance from barrier five. Rocket City began speedily and led for the first 350m before Chris Lewis sent the speedy Major Overs to the front, leaving Valedictorian in the breeze.
Valedictorian took a narrow lead 400m from home but had no answer to the finishing sprint of Rocket City, who went three wide on the home turn and burst to the front 50m from the post. The final 800m was covered in 56.9sec. Major Overs wilted to finish fifth.
Champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr is under no false illusion that Valedictorian faces an easy assignment this week, declaring: “It’s a tricky race. I expect Major Overs will lead and then Valedictorian will most likely be in the breeze.
“I will have to stay in front of Rocket City. It promises to be a hard race for me because I’ve got to do enough to get over Major Overs and then be able to hold off Rocket City, who is a future star. I think Valedictorian will improve on his latest run. We will go forward and hope to turn the tables on Rocket City.”
There were excuses for the fading last-start run of Major Overs, who was having his third start in the space of 19 days. His previous form was hard to fault — all-the-way wins at Pinjarra and Northam followed by Gloucester Park seconds to Lord Titanium and Lethal Edition.