Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
Classy Victorian-bred five-year-old Hurricane Harley bounced back to his best form with a dashing all-the-way victory in the $30,000 Better Your Bet With TABtouch Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The ease in which he beat Minstrel and Wildwest showed that his fading last in a field of ten a fortnight earlier was just an aberration, and that he is firmly on track to play a significant role in the $300,000 Fremantle Cup on December 21 and the $450,000 WA Pacing Cup on February 4.
Driven fine style by Maddison Brown, Hurricane Harley, the second favourite at $4.10, began from barrier No. 3 and dashed to the front soon after the start, and after opening quarters of 30.3sec. and 29.6sec. he sprinted over the final 400m sections in 28.1sec. and 27.7sec. score by a length from $6.50 chance Minstrel, who fought on grandly after working hard in the breeze. He rated 1.57.3 over the 2536m.
Wildwest, the $3.20 favourite, was hopelessly blocked for a run after trailing the pacemaker throughout.
Trainer Just Prentice admitted that he was pleasantly surprised that Hurricane Harley mustered sufficient gate speed to dash to the front from the outset. “I wasn’t confident that he would,” he said. “But once he did, he was going to be hard to beat. I was really happy with his gate speed, like he showed in Melbourne.”
Prentice said that he was initially disappointed at the way Hurricane Harley wilted to finish last at his previous outing, a fortnight earlier. “But then when you find that he had done that before in Melbourne (fading after racing without cover) I was not so disappointed, even though I would have preferred that he had performed better.”
Brown, who was driving Hurricane Harley for the first time, said that the horse felt really good. “I was surprised he was able to get to the front so easily,” she said. “He is not that quick off the arm, but he just musters really well.
“I knew that Wildwest was on our back, so I didn’t attempt to dash away. However, Harley had other ideas. He got more keen as the race went on, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t let Wildwest out.
“Hurricane Harley knocked off a bit approaching the line, so just turned my stick and made sure he still had a bit left.”
Hurricane Harley, who has earned $545,660 from 24 wins and six placings from 45 starts, will contest the $50,000 City of Perth Cup next Friday night, provided he pulls up in good shape after his win on Friday night.
Prentice’s other runner in Friday night’s event, Major Martini finished eighth. He raced without cover in the first lap before enjoying the one-out, one-back trail. He began a three-wide burst approaching the home turn, and just battled on gamely.
“On face value you would probably say he was a bit disappointing,” said Prentice. “It was such a big step up in class, and that’s hard for any horse, let alone a horse who has had 18 months away from the racetrack. We’re probably a bit too harsh on him.
“The big Cups are in the back of your mind. But what is more important is to have a horse for he future without busting his guts trying to get in those big races.”