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Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators

Promising, lightly-raced four-year-old Blitzembye has derived great benefit from a brief respite from racing and he should give punters a flying start to the meeting at Gloucester Park on Friday night by winning the opening event, the 2130m Retravision Lowest Price Guaranteed Pace.

Blitzembye, trained by Mike Reed, will be driven by Shannon Suvaljko, who will be aiming to take full advantage of the No. 1 barrier by setting the pace.

The New Zealand-bred four-year-old resumed after a five-week absence when he gave a bold frontrunning display to score an easy victory over 2190m at Northam last Saturday night.

“I think he will hold up and lead, and whatever beats him home will win,” said Reed. “It’s a step up from the race in which he led and won at Northam. But he has raced against better class horses than he will meet on Friday night.

“I gave him a little break before he raced at Northam, and the run has done him the world of good, and I reckon it has improved him a lot. After the race Shannon was very happy. Blitzembye got home in 26.9sec., and he didn’t say go until half-way around the bend. He will run quick sectionals.”

Suvaljko drove Blitzembye for the first time last Saturday night. He replaced Mark Reed, who had driven the gelding at his previous six starts for three wins.

The talented 41-year-old Mark Reed has decided to retire from race driving, mainly because he has been unable to lose weight.

“Mark said to me six weeks ago that Emily Suvaljko is 32 kilos lighter, and that her father Shannon is 17 kilos lighter than he is,” said Mike Reed.

“He weighs about 89kg, and he said: ‘What would you rather push, a half wheelbarrow of sand or a barrow full of sand.’ He said he wasn’t enjoying driving, and he’s getting involved in training. I’m taking a backward step and Mark is getting more involved in training, and, hopefully, down the track he will get his licence to train.

“He is down at the stables at five every morning, working the horses. He has run his race at driving. He is too heavy and is getting older.

“The situation came to a head last month when Mark was driving Ragazzo Mach, who set the pace before being beaten by Ideal Agent. Mark said that if someone lighter, like Shannon or Emily, had driven Ragazzo Mach, he would have won.

“Mark said that having a heavier driver cost Ragazzo Mach a half length. He tried lap band treatment, and that failed, and he got sick and spent time in hospital. He was also going to the sauna four times a week. But he simply couldn’t lose weight.”

The 41-year-old Mark Reed will be a great loss to the ranks of drivers in WA. He drove his first winner when he was 16, and his many notable triumphs included winning a Hunter Cup in Melbourne with Another Party and the Victorian Derby and the Golden Nugget at Gloucester Park in 2002 with Tricky Vic.