In-form Blythewood trainer Michael Brennan has high hopes of landing a double at Gloucester Park on Friday night with smart New Zealand-bred pacers Power And Grace and Valbonne.
Both pacers will be driven by Brennan’s nephew Michael Grantham, who will be planning to set the pace and win the 2130m Australian Marine Corporation Pace with Power And Grace, who is ideally drawn at barrier one.
“Power And Grace has got great gate speed and I expect he will be very hard to beat, particularly with Alta Blues drawn out wide at barrier eight,” said Brennan.
Power And Grace notched his twelfth win from 36 starts when he was restrained from the No. 5 barrier and was eighth at the bell before sustaining a powerful burst to win from The Watch Maker and Classic Choice at a 1.565 rate over 2185m at Pinjarra three Mondays ago.
“I was impressed with the way he quickened up and sprinted away from them,” Brennan said.
Alta Blues will have admirers, even from his wide barrier. The lightly-raced four-year-old notched his seventh win from just 14 starts when he was untroubled to set the pace from barrier one and win by four lengths from the fast-finishing The Stars Above at a 1.56.8 rate over 2130m last Friday night.
“Obviously, Power And Grace will be hard to beat, but I expect Alta Blues to perform strongly,” said the gelding’s driver Gary Hall Jnr. “We will go back at the start and work into the race at some stage.”
Valbonne has been unplaced from unfavourable barriers at his past four starts but looks to have excellent prospects from the No. 3 barrier in the 2130m Cash Converters Pace.
“This is a drop in class and I’m expecting Valbonne to improve sharply, numerically,” said Brennan.
There is little exposed form in this event, in which the well-credentialled Will I Rocknroll will start from the outside barrier (No. 9). He has been unplaced at his five starts in Western Australia for trainer Gary Hall snr after winning at his final appearance in Victoria when he finished strongly to defeat Untitled at a 1.52.8 rate over 1720m at Melton last September.
by Ken Casellas