Capel horseman Aiden de Campo, delighted after driving Rock On Top to a brilliant all-the-way victory by six lengths in a heat of the APG Sales Classic for colts and geldings on Tuesday of last week, has opted to drive stablemate Floewriter in the $100,000 final at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
His decision was influenced by the barrier draw for the 1730m classic, with Floewriter drawing the prized No. 1 barrier, and Rock On Top faring poorly at No. 9, the outside of the front line. Rock On Top will be handled by Dylan Egerton-Green.
Floewriter started from barrier seven in a qualifying heat in which he enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back, before finishing solidly to be a one-length second to Whataretheodds.
“Floewriter has improved a lot since his heat win, and from the draw this week he’s probably a better chance than Rock On Top,” said de Campo. “I can’t split the two horses at home, but Floewriter should be able to lead and I reckon he’ll give it a good shake.”
De Campo, who trained and drove $31 chance Rock On The Beach when he sustained a strong burst from the rear to finish second to Talks Up A Storm in last year’s Sales Classic for two-year-olds, has a sentimental attachment to this event, with his father Andrew driving Son of Otara (trained by Andrew’s late father Ray) to victory in this race in 1991.
Floewriter, by Sportswriter, is the second foal out of Maddy White, a mare who was trained by Andrew de Campo for her 11 wins, with Aiden in the sulky for seven of those victories.
“At the sales, Floewriter was the dead-ringer for Maddy White, a big lanky type of horse who has an action exactly like his dam’s,” said Aiden de Campo, who purchased the colt for $30,000 on behalf of several stable clients.
Whataretheodds, a colt by American stallion Betting Line and out of Generally Outspoken, who won the Group 3 Gold Bracelet at Gloucester Park in July 2013, was the fastest and most impressive of the three heat winners who looms as a major hope in the final despite drawing out wide at barrier eight.
Baskerville trainer Ryan Bell also qualified Speedwagon for the final after the gelding’s encouraging race debut in a heat when he worked hard in the breeze and fought on to finish a close third behind the pacemaker Dunamis and the fast-finishing Soho Santorini.
Speedwagon also drew out wide at barrier No. 7. “I’ll stick with Whataretheodds, mainly because he’s a bit tricky to drive,” said Bell. Speedwagon will be driven by Michael Grantham, who maintained his excellent form in the sulky with a double at Gloucester Park on Tuesday evening.
“Whataretheodds surprised me in the heat,” said Bell, who drove Schinzig Buller to victory in this event in 2007. “He doesn’t give you much impression at home but each time he has got behind the mobile he has gone better and better and stronger and stronger. He was nodding off a bit towards the line last week, not because he was tired but because he was wondering what was going on. He has never felt better than he did at his work on Saturday and his pacework on Monday.
“With our two horses, we’ve got no specific option apart from just letting things unfold. Hopefully, there’s a quick first quarter which will bring us into the race.
“Watching the replays of the qualifying heats I consider that every horse in the final is capable of winning. Speedwagon ran a faster last half than Whataretheodds, and he has improved and I’m upbeat about his chances.”
Boyanup trainer Justin Prentice, who won the classic with Major Martini in 2019, has two finalists, Dream Walker (barrier three) and Tomlous Jambo (No. 10). Cody Wallrodt will drive Dream Walker, and Gary Hall Jnr will be in the sulky behind Tomlous Jambo.
Hall has won this event three times with Blissful Boy (2010), Black Aquila (2011) and Allmightyjoelouis (2016) and he is hoping to gain a perfect run behind the likely pacemaker Floewriter.
Kim Prentice, who won this classic event with Fake Embrace in 2004 and Aikido Whitby in 2006, is looking for a strong performance from Soho Santorini, who charged home from the rear to finish an eye-catching second to the pacemaker Dunamis in a heat.
Dunamis, the Greek word for strength, made a splendid debut when he led and won his heat for part-owner and trainer Greg Schofield and driver Mitch Miller.
Dunamis is favourably drawn at barrier three.
Ace trainer-reinsman Colin Brown, who won the classic with Armadon in 2002 and Its Rock And Roll in 2018, will be pinning his faith on Mister Piccolo from the No. 4 barrier.
By Ken Casellas