Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
New Zealand-bred five-year-old Double Up went into the first qualifying heat of the Etch Coatings Nights of Thunder at Gloucester Park on Friday night having started favourite at ten of his 13 appearances in WA and at odds-on in eight of those events.
He was drawn on the outside in the field of eight and was the rank outsider at $86 on the tote and at the remarkable odds of $126 on the fixed market. The longest price he had started at his first 13 WA outings was $7.50.
Double Up, prepared by Greg and Skye Bond, had Deni Roberts in the sulky, taking over from Ryan Warwick, who had driven the American Ideal gelding at all his previous WA starts. Warwick missed the meeting because of a family commitment.
Punters overlooked Double Up’s claims, with Mighty Ronaldo ($2.10), Jumpingjackmac ($2.65), Bettortstartdreaming ($6.50) and Machnificent ($7.50) dominating the betting.
Double Up was three wide early before being restrained to the rear, while Bettorstartdreaming was setting a fast pace, with Jumpingjackmac in the breeze and Mighty Ronaldo in the favourable one-out, one-back position.
Double Up was seventh, on the pegs, with 300m to travel. Mighty Ronaldo was surging forward with a three-wide burst, but the race changed drastically as the runners approached the home turn. Mighty Ronaldo and Jumpingjackmac locked sulky wheels and galloped out of contention, and Typhoon Banner and Machnificent met with severe interference, with Typhoon Banner dislodging his driver Dylan Egerton-Green and then crashing to the track.
Bettorstartdreaming remained in front in the home straight, but was unable to hold out Double Up, who had missed interference and flew home with a dazzling burst of speed to get up and beat the frontrunner by a half-length, rating 1.52.4, with a final quarter of 28.5sec. after earlier 400m sections of 28.5sec., 28.3sec. and 27.6sec.
“I was contemplating moving off the pegs approaching the home turn, but decided against it,” said Roberts. “If I had left the pegs I would have been involved in the mix-up.”
Double Up was having his third start after a spell, with his previous two runs being in stands for a third behind Beat City and a fifth behind the same pacer.
“There was no special reason why Double Up raced in those stands,” said Mrs Bond. “He did simply because he’s good at them. He hasn’t been super lucky, and a week ago he got stuck in the breeze. I think he’s more a sprinter than a stayer, and his late sprint didn’t surprise me. He is a very quick horse.”
Double Up won at two of his 14 New Zealand starts and he has raced 14 times in WA for nine wins and three placings.