Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
On the surface Sahara Storm, the only three-year-old filly in the SEFS The Asset Finance Specialists Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night, appears to face a stern test against seven older and experienced mares.
But that’s not the case, according to outstanding young driver Emily Suvaljko, who is bubbling with confidence that Sahara Storm has the speed to lead her rivals on a merry dance.
“She will lead (from the No. 2 barrier) and will take some running down,” she said. “Sheez Our Hope has a quick turn of foot, and Queen Shenandoah are the ones to beat.
“Sahara Storm was a good winner at Bunbury last Saturday night. It was her first time over 2500m, and she sprinted home in 27.8sec.”
The Victorian-bred Sahara Storm, trained by Nathan Turvey, has blossomed in WA, with her first three starts in the State producing two wins and a second placing.
The 21-year-old Suvaljko is enjoying a magnificent season during which she has driven 170 winners, including a quartet at Bunbury last Saturday night.
She was successful behind Stirup Iron Jack ($6.50), Kitty Go Round ($6.50), Sahara Storm ($1.45) and Fatal Attack ($6). This was the second time she has landed four winners on a program, and she created a record by becoming the first female driver in West Australian harness racing history to win four races at a meeting on two occasions.
Suvaljko should start Friday night’s meeting on a winning note be driving the Turvey-trained four-year-old Hesashark to victory in the 2130m Catalano Truck And Equipment Sales Pace.
The former South Australian pacer has had three runs in WA for a fighting first-up fourth behind Machnificent, followed by thirds behind Master Leighton and Heez Our Perseus.
“Hesashark has had a few runs under his belt here and should be good to go,” said Suvaljko. “He didn’t have any luck when third behind Heez Our Perseus last week when the one-legged spreader broke and he didn’t get a clear run until the final 50 metres.”
Suvaljko is also looking forward to driving the Gary Elson-trained Battlescard in the SEFS You Name It, We Fund It Pace. Battlescard, who will start from the No. 4 barrier, has resumed after a spell in good form, with a first-up win over Griffin Lodge and a third last Friday week behind Youre So Fine and Paul Edward after setting the pace.
“I’d say we will be pushing the buzzer off the arm, and it will be up to Gary to see whether to take a sit or not,” said Suvaljko.
Gary Hall jnr will handle the last-start winner and favourite Youre So Fine, who will start from the outside barrier in the field of eight two-year-olds.
“This is a pretty good race and will be another good test for Youre So Fine,” he said. “He is so versatile, and that’s the good part about him.”
Youre So Fine is sure to meet plenty of opposition from last-start winners Linebacker, Floewriter and Maungatahi, as well as from Battlescard and Paul Edward.