Ken Casellas | Photo: Gloucester Park Harness Racing
David Bushell was a feisty rover who loved kicking goals for East Fremantle in the 1980s, and now he is thoroughly enjoying kicking goals in the sport of harness racing.
He and his mate Kevin Smith, another former East Fremantle footballer, were in high spirits at Gloucester Park on Friday night as they celebrated another victory with smart New Zealand-bred five-year-old Glenledi Chief in the $23,750 Our Jimmy Johnstone Pace, a pacer they race in partnership with champion trainer Greg Bond’s Team Bond Pty Ltd.
“Glenledi Chief almost died last year when he was struck down by cancer,” said the 62-year-old Bushell. “But he’s going very well now.”
Bushell and Smith have enjoyed racing pacers since they hung up their footy boots, and they have fond memories of Holy Grail winning ten races before being sold to America five years ago. Among several pacers part-owned by Bushell was Mister Mona Lisa, who won at eight of his 21 starts when trained by Shannon Suvaljko 15-odd years ago. For good measure Bushell was a part-owner of rank outsider Talent Show, who won the Perth Cup at Ascot in January 2013.
Glenledi Chief was the $6.70 third favourite when he started from the outside barrier in the field of seven on Friday night, and Bushell and Smith were full of praise for star reinsman Ryan Warwick’s aggressive tactics.
Beat City, the $1.65 favourite, dashed to an early lead, and Warwick was not prepared to allow Gary Hall Jnr to have an easy time in front with Beat City. Glenledi Chief moved alongside Beat City in the first lap and applied pressure on the pacemaker. After an opening quarter of a slow 31.9sec. the tempo lifted and the next 400m sections went by in 29.2sec., 28sec. and 28.7sec.
Glenledi Chief had his head in front at the bell, and his advantage increased to a neck 520m from home. The protagonists then fought out a head-to-head battle, with Glenledi Chief gaining the verdict by a head.
This improved Glenledi Chief’s record to 37 starts for 13 wins, ten placings and $133,287 in prizemoney. Thirteen of Glenledi Chief’s 14 WA starts before Friday night’s race were in stands, but the gelding by American sire Well Said showed that he is equally proficient in mobiles.
Bond, who prepares Glenledi Chief with his wife Skye, explained that the pacer had been raced almost exclusively in stands because he was given a program in stands in preparation for the standing-start Easter Cup in April 2021.
Glenledi Chief finished third in the Cup, and he continued racing in stands because there were no suitable country mobile events for the horse. “Also, it helped us because we had several horses on the same mark, and with Glenledi Chief running in stands it generally prevented us having three horses in the same race,” said Bond.