Capel trainer-reinsman Aiden de Campo is planning a change of tactics in his bid to win the $100,000 Diamond Classic for the second time when he drives up-and-coming two-year-old filly Artistic Scribe in the Group 1 feature at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
“Artistic Scribe hasn’t led at any of her five starts,” he said. “I’ve always been a bit wary with her out of the gate, but we’ll be doing our best to hold up from the good draw (barrier one) and give her every chance.”
De Campo drove Artistic Copper and Sovrana to victory in qualifying heats, and he is more than happy that his fillies have drawn good barriers for the 2130m final.
Sovrana will start from the No. 3 barrier and de Campo has engaged star reinsman Gary Hall Jnr to drive her. Hall will be bidding for an unprecedented fifth consecutive win in the Diamond Classic after winning with Cimorene (2017), Majorpride (2018), Askmeilltellya (2019) and Always An Angel (2020). He also was successful with Before Night Falls in 2008.
De Campo said that he considered that Artistic Scribe and Sovrana had equal ability and he had a tough choice to chose to drive Artistic Scribe.
“I can’t really split them at home, and each has a good chance from a good draw,” he said. “Taking The Miki (barrier No. 2) is probably the one to beat. She is the proven filly in the race, but my two are on the way up.”
De Campo drove the Jesse Moore-trained Tricky Styx to a thrilling victory in the 2014 Diamond Classic when Tricky Styx was fourth at the 100m mark before storming home, four wide, to snatch a dramatic last-stride victory by a head over Soho Tokyo.
Artistic Scribe is a filly by American stallion Sportswriter and is the third foal out of Artistic Copper, who was bred and owned by Mike Howie. Artistic Copper won the Group 1 Sales Classic for two-year-old fillies in April 2013 and was retired with earnings of $100,014 from seven wins and three placings from 31 starts.
Howie and de Campo had high hopes of winning the 2019 Diamond Classic with Artistic Copper’s first foal Some Copper Beach, who finished sixth behind Askmeilltellya and then blossomed at her following three starts which produced a second to Double Expresso in the Group 1 Westbred Classic, a victory in the Group 3 Gold Bracelet and a third placing behind Jaspervellabeach and Major Martini in the Golden Slipper.
In her qualifying heat on Tuesday of last week Artistic Scribe trailed the pacemaker and odds-on favourite Valhalla Miss before finishing strongly to win by a length and a half from outsider Motor On Lilly.
Sovrana set the pace from barrier two in her heat in which she held on grimly to defeat outsider Bramante Steps by a nose. Impressive winners of the other two heats were Taking the Miki and In The Spotlight.
The Ross Olivieri-trained Taking the Miki started from barrier five and raced three wide early before taking the lead after 500m and racing away to win by five lengths from Beyond The Sea. That was her fourth win from seven starts.
Star reinsman Chris Voak is confident that Taking The Miki will prove hard to beat, saying: “She has trained on well since her heat win, and, naturally, we will be trying to lead. If she doesn’t lead, she can still win. She is versatile and is a major player.
“Taking The Miki raced in an easy heat, and that’s an advantage because the other heat winners and placegetters had hard runs. Taking The Miki won with something in reserve, and she should be the freshest and sharpest runner in the race.”
Olivieri has an excellent second string in Eagle Royalty, who will start from barrier two on the back line. Eagle Royalty began from the outside barrier in her heat in which she settled at the rear before dashing forward to race in the breeze and fighting on to finish third behind Sovrana.
“She was racing first-up and will improve greatly,” said Olivieri. Eagle Royalty will be handled by champion reinsman Chris Lewis, who has won the Diamond Classic behind Dilingers Reign (2005), Sensational Gabby (2011) and Lady Luca (2016).
In The Spotlight, trained by Greg and Skye Bond and to be driven by Ryan Warwick, cannot be underestimated, even from the outside of the back line. She is unbeaten, after having worked hard in each of her two appearances. She started from the outside barrier and raced without cover before finishing with great determination to snatch a nose victory over Extraordinary Mary in her qualifying heat.
by Ken Casellas