Leading owners Albert and Julie Walmsley are full of hope that their talented five-year-old Bletchley Park will go one better than he did a year ago by winning the $50,000 Direct Trades Supply Four And Five-Year-Old Championship at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The Victorian-bred Bletchley Park was the sole back line runner in this Group 2 event in March 2020 when, as second favourite at $7.50, he trailed the pacemaker and $1.20 favourite Shockwave and fought on gamely to finish second to that four-year-old and two lengths in front of the third placegetter Ocean Ridge.
This week Bletchley Park, trained in Bunbury by Stephen Reed and to be driven by Lindsay Harper, will start from the coveted No. 1 barrier in the 2130m event and will be attempting to set the pace and hold his eight rivals at bay.
The Walmsleys have tasted success in this event, with the Mike Reed-trained Kiwi Legend, favourite at $1.90 and handled by Shannon Suvaljko, leading from the No. 3 barrier and winning by three lengths from Ideal Tyson.
Harper has also won the race, scoring with the 5/1 chance and Terry Ferguson-trained Backina Falcon in 2003, with the five-year-old overcoming the disadvantage of starting from the back line.
Bletchley Park, a full-brother to star performer Bling It On (100 starts for 49 wins, 24 placings and stakes of $1,882,957), gave a sample of his frontrunning prowess three starts ago when he led from barrier two and won the 1730m Village Kid Sprint at a 1.52.4 rate from Vultan Tin and Cant Refuse.
He then had a month off before resuming racing last week when he contested the Pinjarra Cup and Bunbury Cup in the space of four days. He was not prominent from a back-line draw when seventh behind Vultan Tin in the 2692m Pinjarra Cup and then finished strongly from seventh at the bell to be an excellent third behind Major Times and The Bird Dance in the 2569m Bunbury Cup.
Those two runs should ensure that Bletchley Park is close to his peak for this week’s assignment when he will clash with in-form quality pacers Texas Tiger, The Bird Dance, Miracle Moose and Silent Major.
Texas Tiger, a New Zealand-bred four-year-old, looms as a serious threat to Bletchley Park. Trained by Gary Hall Snr and driven by his son Gary, Texas Tiger has been extremely impressive in winning at his first five starts in Western Australia.
He led from barrier one and sped over the final quarters in 28.1sec. and 27.4sec. when an easy winner over Stroke Of Luck and Chiaroscuro in a 2130m Free-For-All last Saturday night.
Texas Tiger, who like Bletchley Park is by American Ideal, will start from the No. 5 barrier on Friday night and Hall jnr is looking for another brilliant performance from the gelding.
“With Bletchley Park drawn one, it makes it tough, but Texas Tiger is getting better and better, and Bletchley Park will know he’s in the race,” said Hall. “If Bletchley Park performs the way he did at his past two runs, Texas Tiger can beat him. But if he goes at his absolute best, I would say that we won’t be able to beat him because he can run the times (in front) which make it impossible.”
Hall snr will be seeking his sixth victory in this event after scoring with Love Of Glory (1990), Zakara (1991), Make The Rules (1999), Northview Punter (2014) and Chicago Bull (2018). Apart from Texas Tiger, Hall will be represented by Silent major and Diego, who will need all the breaks to score an upset victory.
The Bird Dance (barrier three) and Miracle Moose (two) are drawn to be prominent, and each is capable of winning.
The Bird Dance is prepared by Greg and Skye Bond, who have won this event with Ohokas Bondy (2012) and Your Good Fortune (2013). The Bird Dance, to be driven by Ryan Warwick, started from the No. 1 barrier in the Bunbury Cup when he led early and then trailed the pacemaker Major Times, who went on to win by two and a half lengths from The Bird Dance, who was an easy fast-finishing winner from Cyclone Banner and Simba Bromac over 2536m at Gloucester Park at his previous outing.
Aiden de Campo will drive Miracle Moose for Ravenswood trainer Nathan Turvey. Miracle Moose, a winner at ten of his 38 starts, is in top form with strong-finishing efforts for seconds at his past two starts. He came from four back on the pegs at the bell when second to Wildwest in the Governor’s Cup and surged home from eleventh at the bell to be second to Vultan Tin in the Pinjarra Cup. De Campo drove Handsandwheels to an all-the-way victory in the 2019 Four And Five-Year-Old Championship.
Chris Lewis, who has won the event behind Village Kid (1995), Hilarion Star (1992), Heros Knight (1998) and Make The Rules (1999), faces a tough task with Mirragon, who is awkwardly drawn out wide at barrier eight.
By Ken Casellas