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Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators

Former champion juvenile pacer Double Expresso has recovered from a serious injury to her nearside hind leg and will make a long-awaited return to action when she contests the $17,000 Nova 93.7 Pace at Gloucester Park on Saturday night.

Eight-time West Australian premier trainer Ross Olivieri and his wife and part-owner Jemma Hayman have nursed the four-year-old mare back to full health and are looking forward keenly to her making a successful comeback after an absence of 14 months.

Double Expresso, who has raced 22 times for 12 wins and seven placings for stakes of $313,196, will start from the outside barrier (No. 3) on the back line in Saturday night’s 2130m event in which she will be handled by her regular reinsman, champion Chris Lewis. This will be her first her first appearance in open company after having raced exclusively in events restricted to two and three-year-olds.

She has impressed in three recent trials at Pinjarra and is capable of a bold first-up performance.

“It’s always hard to make a comeback,” said Olivieri. “She hasn’t raced for 14 months, but she has come up in good style from the trials. Remember, she is going into open company and against race-hardened horses.

“But she has a lot of class. However, race fitness counts for a lot, and that’s why we have given her three trials. She needed those trials because Jemma had been galloping her on the sand to keep the concussion out of her near-side pastern area.

“She suffered stone bruising in the T2 and the sesamoid, and she has pleased us so far and is giving no signs of there being a problem.

“After she has had two or three starts and if she is still okay, we will press on. But if she is not okay, we will retire her and put her to stud. She is a very valuable mare, and we don’t want to trash her.

“I’m not expecting her to go out and dominate and win at her first start. Just a nice run would be good. She is pretty fit and will acquit herself well. The only thing she can improve on is race fitness.

“Her hind conformation is not the greatest, and she’s a big mare who puts her feet down hard, and that was what caused the damage. We have got her as fit as we can get her.”

On August 18 in the first of her comeback trials, all over 2185m at Pinjarra, Double Expresso raced in the breeze and finished a 2m second to Vulcan Star, rating 1.58.3 after final quarters of 29.7sec. and 28.5sec.    

A week later she set the pace in a field of seven and rated 1.56.1 in beating Mister Ardee by 1m, with 400m sections of 30.7sec., 28.8sec., 28.9sec. and 29.3sec. And a week after that Double Expresso set the pace on a slow track and rated 2.0.1 in beating her only rival Iceenothink. “We gave her an easy one in that trial in which she dashed home in 27.1swec.,” said Olivieri.

As a two-year-old Double Expresso won two group 1 events, The Sales Classic and Westbred Classic as well as the Western Crown, a listed classic. As a three-year-old Double Expresso won two group 2 features, the Daintys Daughter Classic and Sales Classic, and the group 3 Caduceus Club Classic in which she defeated Major Martini. She also finished a head second to Sports Package in the group 1 WA Oaks.

Double Expresso’s main rival on Saturday night looms as the smart four-year-old Euphoria, whose six starts after a spell have produced two wins and four second placings. Trained by Gary Hall snr, Euphoria will be driven by Gary Hall jnr and should appreciate a favourable draw at barrier No. 2. He raced in the breeze for almost two laps and fought on determinedly to be a head second to the pacemaker Whatabro over 2536m, with the final 800m taking 57sec.