Ken Casellas | Photo: Gloucester Park Harness Racing
Eight-time WA premier trainer Ross Olivieri and champion reinsman Chris Lewis have been a formidable combination in the Race For Roses feature event at Gloucester Park, having joined forces for the wins of Arctic Fire in 2011, Selkie (2014) and Sheer Rocknroll (2017).
And now they are planning to add to that tally by winning the $30,000 Allwood Stud Farm Laurie Kennedy Race For Roses on Friday night with the youngest runner in the group 3 event, the WA-bred four-year-old Our Shooting Star, who will start from the inside barrier on the front line in the 2503m standing-start race.
Our Shooting Star, a winner at five of her past nine starts, was bred and is raced by Bob Fowler’s Allwood Stud Farm. Sheer Rocknroll was bred and owned by Fowler, who also bred and owned the Justin Prentice-trained Beaudiene Beach Babe, winner of the 2019 Race For Roses.
Olivieri has given Our Shooting Star a meticulous preparation for the mare’s first appearance at Gloucester Park for just over 13 months. During that time Our Shooting Star has served an apprenticeship in stands on country tracks, with her latest five starts all being in stands for a win at Bunbury, two wins at Northam and a third and fourth placing at Pinjarra.
She is not foolproof, but certainly has gained a great benefit from her standing-start experiences. At her most recent outing, starting from barrier one on the front line in a 2116m stand at Pinjarra three Mondays ago, she galloped for a couple of strides at the start and lost three lengths. She dashed forward and took the lead after 450m before wilting in the home straight to finish third behind Mufasa.
One of Our Shooting Star’s main dangers is Vivere Damore, the lone backmarker off 30 metres. The Peter Tilbrook-trained seven-year-old has contested eight standing-start events for four placings. However, she warrants plenty of respect because her recent form in considerably stronger fields has been most encouraging.
She also has performed impressively in strong company, including the group 1 Mares Classic in November 2020 when she set the pace and finished fourth behind Balcatherine. She has a losing sequence of 24, stretching back to December 2020 when she led and won the group 2 Christmas Gift, beating the brilliant Patronus Star.
Vivere Damore will be driven by Gary Hall Jnr, who has won the Races For Roses with Nowuseeme (2009), Beaudiene Beach Babe (2019) and Semiramide (2020).
Vivere Damore warmed up for this week’s race in splendid style last Friday night when she worked hard in the breeze and fought on grandly to finish fourth, just 2m from the winner Power And Grace over 2130m.
Hall is confident that Vivere Damore will be prominent, saying: “If she is clean away and gets up there (in a forward position) she should figure in the finish. She has been racing well without a lot of luck. She has had two seconds and two fourths from her past six starts, and, with luck, she could have won any of those races.”
Busselton trainer Barry Howlett, who was successful in last year’s Race For Roses with $7 chance Star Of Diamonds, is looking for a strong effort from My Prayer, who will be handled by in-form young reinsman Kyle Symington.
My Prayer, who finished third behind Bettor Get It On and Savvy Bromac in the Empress Stakes three starts ago, will share the 20m mark with the talented seven-year-old Purest Silk, who will be driven by her trainer Dylan Egerton-Green. Purest Silk notched her twelfth victory when she rated 1.55 in winning the Group 3 Golden Girls Mile over 1684m at Pinjarra two starts ago.
Purest Silk finished strongly to beat Miss Mucho, who will start off the 10m line and will be driven by Deni Roberts for leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond.
As a four-year-old in February 2020, Miss Mucho won a 2600m stand at Addington. She has been placed once from three runs in stands in WA, and with a safe beginning on Friday night she is sure to prove hard to beat.
Another mare who must be considered is the Nathan Turvey-trained Captured Delight, who will start off 10m with Emily Suvaljko in the sulky. Captured Delight is a proven standing-start performer with four wins and six seconds in stands.