Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
Michael Young will be the busiest trainer at Gloucester Park on Friday night with six runners, and he is bubbling with confidence that Eighteen Carat will shine at her return to racing after an absence of 18 weeks.
The New Zealand-bred Eighteen Carat has recovered from a knee fracture she received on her winning Australian debut, at Gloucester Park on March 18, and the only negative surrounding her comeback appearance is that she will start from the inside of the back line in the group 3 Retravision Lewis Pace.
“I would have taken any barrier, even the outside of the front line, in preference to the inside of the back line,” said Young. “So, obviously, Junior (Gary Hall Jnr) will have to weave a bit of magic early.
“However, I’m still super confident, and if she gets beaten it will be because of the barrier. Eighteen Carat is working as good as any horse I have put a bridle on. She is a really smart mare and I think she will progress to be one of the better mares in the State.”
Eighteen Carat will start immediately behind the polemarker Stormyskyes, who has led and won in modest company from barrier one four times. But she has also started from the No. 1 barrier on three other occasions when she has been restrained to take a sit.
Young is anxious that Eighteen Carat will be able to ease off the inside as soon as possible after the start of Friday’s 2130m event and move forward into a prominent position.
Eighteen Carat, a winner at five of her 38 New Zealand starts, arrived in Western Australia in late January this year and impressed at her WA debut when she started from barrier four, raced in the breeze for 900m before taking the lead and winning by a length from the fast-finishing Booraa, despite hanging out throughout. She dashed over the final 400m in 28.6sec. and rated 1.56.4 over 2130m.
“After the race she had a fracture in a knee,” said Young. “It was just a slight fracture which didn’t require surgery, and all she needed was time to recover.”
Looming large as Eighteen Carat’s main dangers are the Annie Belton-trained pair of Lady Zegna and Lady Jadore, each of whom have been driven by Hall for their last-start wins at Gloucester Park.
Four-year-old Lady Zegna will be driven by Kyle Symington from a favourable barrier at No. 3, while Chris Lewis will drive Lady Jadore from out wide at barrier No. 7.
Lady Zegna has been most impressive this year in her first season of racing, with her eight starts producing five wins, a second, a third and a fourth placing.
She gave a dazzling performance at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week when she was eighth in a field of eight at the bell before flying home with a sizzling burst to win easily from Benji. She sprinted over the final 800m in 56.02sec. and the last 400m in 27.7sec. — by far the fastest sectionals recorded at the meeting.
On the same program, Lady Jadore notched her seventh win from 21 starts with an effortless victory when she began with a supercharged burst from the outside of the front line (barrier nine) to surge to the front after 100m and then set the pace on the way to beating The Amber Hare by two lengths.