“He’s a good frontrunner, so we will be coming out as hard as we can,” said astute trainer Mike Reed when assessing the first-up prospects of Gran Chico, who is favourably drawn at barrier two in the 2130m The Game Footy Tipping Competition Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The New Zealand-bred five-year-old warmed up for his first race for 11 weeks with a narrow 2150m trial win in a three-horse field at Byford on Sunday morning when he trailed the pacemaker Bettor Reward before Mark Reed eased him off the pegs 550m from home.
The Bettors Delight gelding then fought on determinedly to get up and beat Bettor Reward by a nose, with Perfect Major a length back.
“It was a good trial,” said Reed Snr. “They didn’t go that quick (with comfortable quarters of 32.2sec., 30.9sec. and 29.4sec. before a final 400m section in 27.3sec.) and that doesn’t suit him. He’s more of a stayer.
“I haven’t discussed tactics with Mark yet, but I think we could come out blazing, and if he leads, then whatever beats him home will win the race.”
Gran Chico, a winner at nine of his 24 starts, should burst past the polemarker Walsh and take an early lead. Walsh started from the No. 1 barrier in a 2130m event last Friday night and was beaten for early speed. He settled down in fifth place, three back on the pegs, and was hampered for room in the home straight when fourth behind Rock Me Over.
Gary Hall Jnr has given punters a strong lead by choosing to drive Our Rhythm N Blues in preference to stablemate My Carbon Copy in the Flashpoint On Seven Pace. He said it was an easy decision, with the seven-year-old Our Rhythm N Blues drawing the prized No. 1 barrier, and My Carbon Copy facing a tougher task from the outside of the back line.
“The plan will be to lead and win,” said Hall.
My Carbon Copy will be driven by Stuart McDonald and has the ability to fight out the finish. Hall drove the five-year-old last Friday night when he raced in the one-out, one-back position and fought on when third behind Rakasinc and Lightning Jolt. That was his first start for five months and he is sure to be improved by the outing.
By Ken Casellas