Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
Smart New Zealand-bred five-year-old Doc Holliday warmed up for his return to racing after a four-month absence with an impressive victory in a 2150m mobile trial at Byford on Sunday morning.
He will start from barrier No. 3 on the front line in the Etch Coatings Professional Powder Coating Handicap, a standing-start event over 2503m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
His four wins from seven starts in Western Australia have been in mobiles, and his only appearance in a stand was at his second-last start in New Zealand at Alexandra Park last June when he galloped hopelessly from barrier three on the front line.
He did not get into a pace until after galloping for 250m, and he settled down in tenth and last position, about 50 metres from the leader before making up a good deal of ground to finish seventh in the field of ten.
“He qualified in New Zealand to race in stands, and he is a genuine kind of horse who I expect to step and step well,” said trainer Michael Young. “I think he will be favourite and prove hard to beat. If he gets to the front, I can’t see him being beaten.”
Gary Hall jnr will drive Doc Holliday, who raced without cover for the first 550m of his Byford trial on Sunday before forging to the front and covering the final quarters in 29.6sec. and 28.3sec. on his way to beating stablemate Zazu by 4m, rating 1.56.8.
“His trial was really good,” said Young. “He’s a bit of a lazy horse, and I don’t think he was fully extended in the trial, so he seems to have come back in good form after a break.”
Looming as the main rivals for Doc Holliday on Friday night are the Nathan Turvey-trained Captured Delight and Regal Scribe, who will begin off the 10m mark. Captured Delight, to be driven by Mitch Miller, notched her eleventh victory when she set the pace and beat Beat City and Babyface Adda in the Northam Cup, a 2560m stand, last Saturday fortnight.
Regal Scribe had a tough run in the breeze before winning a 2130m mobile event from Tiger Royal and Joey James last Friday night. “They should both run a good race,” said Turvey, who will be in the sulky behind Regal Scribe.
“They tell me that Regal Scribe was a good stand horse in Adelaide.”
Zazu, who led early and then sat behind Doc Holliday in Sunday’s Byford trial, will start from the No. 1 barrier in the opening event on Friday night, the 2130m Simmonds Steel Precision Laser Cutting Pace in which he will be handled by Gary Hall jnr.
This will be Zazu’s first appearance since he finished a sound fourth behind Finvarra at Gloucester Park late last October. “His trial was pretty good, and he would’ve needed it,” said Young.
“I hadn’t done much with him in between (since his latest run). The plan is to lead; he has the speed to lead, and if he takes his trial performance into the race, he will be hard to beat.”
Backline runners Star Of Willoughby and Pradason appear to be Zazu’s chief rivals, while Kyle Harper is looking forward to driving the Bob Mellsop-trained Iamthefirecracker from barrier two at his first start for almost three months.
“Iamthefirecracker is a nice horse who usually goes well fresh,” said Harper. “It would be nice to find the front, and if he did, he would take some beating.”