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Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators

High-priced New Zealand import Ragazzo Mach won the 2536m Bowden Pace by just a half-length at Gloucester Park on Friday night, but Mike Reed, one of the State’s most astute trainers over the past 33 years, declared that the four-year-old ranked as the best pacer he has prepared.

“I think he is the best horse I have ever had,” declared the 67-year-old Reed. “I rate him ahead of Manageable, Rich And Spoilt, Justpackapunch and Another Party. I really don’t like saying which one is the best, but Ragazzo Mach is up there with them, for sure.”

This is certainly high praise from Reed, who also has prepared other star pacers in Tricky Vic, Bonavista Bay, Sheer Royalty, Libertybelle Midfrew and Maczaffair.

Ragazzo Mach, the $1.90 favourite in Friday night’s event, started from barrier five and was left in the breeze after Gary Hall jnr had sent $4.20 chance Orlando Blue to the front.

While Orlando Blue ambled through the opening quarters of the final mile in 32.5sec. and 29.7sec. Shannon Suvaljko was content to leave Ragazzo Mach in the breeze, in fourth position about three to four lengths behind the frontrunner.

Ragazzo Mach moved on terms with Orlando Blue in the back straight in the final circuit when the third 400m section of the final mile was covered in a fast 26.8sec. Ragazzo Mach sprinted the final quarter in 28.2sec. when he took the lead 50m from home and won by a half-length from $3.10 chance Star Of Willoughby, who finished with great dash after being badly blocked for a clear passage until the final 150m.

“Tonight, when Ragazzo Mach was caught outside the leader, it was the last place I wanted him to be,” said Reed. “On the corner I thought he was gone, but when I watched the replay, I saw Shannon (Suvaljko) grab hold of Ragazzo Mach in a bid to keep Star Of Willoughby locked in.”

Reed said that he had freshened Ragazzo Mach after he had endured a hard run in very hot conditions, and the four-year-old was having his first run for three weeks on Friday night. “He has had the hopples on only twice since he last raced,” said Reed.

“He will have a few more starts before going for a spell, and then his main mission will be the Golden Nugget in December. We will also be looking at running in the WA Pacing Cup.”

Ragazzo Mach has raced 19 times for ten wins and five seconds for earnings of $107,697. He is by Mach Three and is the fourth foal out of the Falcon Seelster mare Ragazzo Bromac, who has produced RR Sand Dollar (36 starts for seven wins, ten placings and $77,169) and I Cast No Shadow (69 starts for 13 wins, 17 placings and $187,684).