Champion reinsman Chris Lewis aims to set the pace with powerful colt Lavra Joe and win the $40,000 Caduceus Club Classic at Gloucester Park on Saturday night.
Lewis, who has won the classic for three-year-olds a record seven times, will go into the 2130m event with the firm intention of taking full advantage of the prized No. 1 barrier.
Lavra Joe, owned and trained by Ray Jones, has started from barrier one three times in his brilliant 25-start career for three all-the-way victories, the latest being two starts ago when the was untroubled to lead and win a 2130m event at Gloucester Park, rating 1.55.6 and beating Talks Up A Storm by more than three lengths.
Then in the Group 2 Sales Classic for colts and geldings on Friday of last week Lavra Joe started out wide at barrier seven and raced in the breeze before fighting on with great determination to finish a head second to the frontrunning Mighty Ronaldo, who rated a sparkling 1.54.
This week Mighty Ronaldo will start from the inside of the back line, immediately behind Lavra Joe, and it is difficult to visualise him beating his adversary again.
Champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr will again handle the Justin Prentice-trained Mighty Ronaldo and he faces task of maneuvering him into the clear in reasonable time to issue a strong challenge to Lavra Joe.
Hall has enjoyed considerable success in the Caduceus Club Classic, winning the race six times with Latte (2003), Ulrich (2004), Alberts Fantasy (2006), Gracias Para Nada (2012), Northview Punter (2013) and Beaudiene Boaz (2015).
Lewis has been successful with Almagest (1990), Flashing Star (1993), Classy Claude (1996), Saab (1998), Johnny Disco (2016), Golden State (2018) and Double Expresso (2020).
Jones is hoping that Lavra Joe will make amends for the defeat of his previous Caduceus Club Classic runner, Disco Force, who finished second to star pacer The Falcon Strike (driven by Gary Hall Snr) in the classic in March 2001.
Give Us A Wave, trained by Greg and Skye Bond and driven by Ryan Warwick, ran a good trial for this week’s feature event when he enjoyed the one-out, one-back trail and finished strongly to be a close third behind Mighty Ronaldo and Lavra Joe last week. Give Us A Wave will start from barrier four.
The Bond stable has won the Caduceus Club Classic with Ohokas Bondy in 2011 and Rock Diamonds in 2017 and has prepared three second place getters in Mister Odds On (2008), In The Force (2009) and Denny Crane (2015) as well as Condrieu, who finished third in 2013.
Adding interest to this week’s event will be the first appearance at Gloucester Park of the Ray Williams-trained gelding Stamford, a full-brother to the outstanding four-year-old Magnificent Storm, who won at his first twelve starts in Western Australia before finishing a neck second to Minstrel in the Group 1 Golden Nugget Championship.
Stamford, to be driven by Aldo Cortopassi, has won in good style in moderate company on country tracks at his past three starts. He is awkwardly drawn at barrier No. 6.
Byford trainer David Thompson, who prepared David Hercules for his Caduceus Club Classic victory in 2010, has the Sweet Lou colt Otis at his peak for this week’s classic after impressive wins at Gloucester Park at his past two outings. But the prospects of an Otis win slumped when he drew the outside barrier (No. 9).
Ace reinsman Colin Brown, who drove David Hercules to victory in 2010, trains and drives the promising gelding Arma Einstein, who faces a stern test from the No. 8 barrier. Brown has also won the classic behind The Hard Ball Get (2002) and Ohokas Bondy (2011). He also trained Patrickthepiranha, who started from the No. 1 barrier and was driven by Dylan Egerton-Green when he led and won easily from Eloquent Mach in 2019.
By Ken Casellas