Classy colt Mighty Ronaldo has won at only three of his 11 starts, but champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr is optimistic about the colt’s winning prospects against outstanding colt Lavra Joe in the 2130m $50,000 Group 2 Sales Classic for three-year-old colts and geldings at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Mighty Ronaldo, trained at Boyanup by Justin Prentice, has drawn perfectly at barrier one, with Lavra Joe out wide at No. 8.
Last Friday night Lavra Joe started from the No. 1 barrier in a 2130m event and was untroubled to romp to an effortless three-length victory over Talks Up A Storm, with Mighty Ronaldo a length away in third place. Mighty Ronaldo started from barrier five and after racing in fifth spot in the Indian file affair, he worked hard in the breeze over the final 1000m.
“I expect Mighty Ronaldo to lead and prove pretty hard to beat,” said Hall. “I’ll definitely give Lavra Joe and the others something to chase and he is certainly capable of beating Lavra Joe, who I expect to be outside of me at some stage and putting it to me.”
Lavra Joe, trained by Ray Jones, is a high-quality pacer who has won at 13 of his 24 starts. Champion reinsman Chris Lewis concedes that this race will test Lavra Joe, but he certainly refuses to concede defeat, saying: “The draw hasn’t worked in our favour but I’m confident he will fight out the finish. He has options and I will just have to sort things out when I decide to go forward.”
The Murray Lindau-trained Talks Up A Storm (Dylan Egerton-Green) is racing keenly, with his past three starts producing two wins and a last-start second to Lavra Joe. This week he is favourably drawn on the inside of the back line and should enjoy an ideal trip behind the likely pacemaker Mighty Ronaldo.
Also adding interest to the race will be the Greg and Skye Bond-trained pair of Give Us A Wave (barrier two) and Squinta (three). Give Us A Wave, who won the $80,000 Westbred Classic from Mighty Ronaldo and Machnificent last June and then finished second to Mighty Ronaldo in the Golden Slipper a week later, made a splendid return to racing after a four-month absence when he finished solidly to be second to Otis over 2130m on Tuesday of last week.
Squinta also gave an impressive first-up performance when he charged home from the rear to finish fourth behind Otis last week.
There is very little exposed form in the $50,000 APG Sales Classic for three-year-old fillies, a 2130m event in which the least experienced runner Bettors Destroya is expected to be a short-priced favourite.
Bettors Destroya, trained by Justin Prentice and to be driven by Gary Hall Jnr, has had only three starts for a win, a second and a third placing. She will start from barrier No. 4.
She resumed after an absence of nine weeks when she raced without cover before wilting slightly and finishing third behind more experienced three-year-old geldings Our Shelley Beach and Robbie Rocket over 2100m at Bunbury last Saturday week.
“I tried to come out of the gate (from barrier two), but she put in a few funny ones and didn’t get out at all,” said Hall. “This week I’ll just let her flop out off the gate and then probably keep driving her forward because she can be driven quite tough.”
Her main rivals appear likely to be Just For Love, Absolute Delight and Lady Jadore, with the Barry Howlett-trained Just For Love sure to prove hard to beat after starting from the No. 3 barrier with Jocelyn Young in the sulky.
Just For Love, an easy second-up Albany winner two starts ago, warmed up for this week’s assignment in fine style when she trailed the pacemaker Rumour Has It and finished boldly to be a close second to that filly in the Daintys Daughter Classic last Friday night.
The Linda Hamilton-trained Absolute Delight has won only once from 20 starts but will have admirers from the No. 1 barrier. She set the pace when second to Unconditional over 2242m at Narrogin last Saturday night, five days after finishing a well-beaten third behind Major Jade and Shakira Blue over 2185m at Pinjarra.
The best-performed runner in Friday night’s race is the Annie Belton-trained Lady Jadore, who will be having her first start for just over ten months when fifth behind Always An Angel at Gloucester Park. That followed three Gloucester Park wins in February from her first three starts. She is capable of a bold showing, despite starting from the outside barrier (No. 9).
By Ken Casellas