Latest News

Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators

It will be smiles all round if big, gangling gelding Sorridere maintains his unbeaten record and defeats his six rivals in the group 2 $50,000 DTS Farm Fence Made In WA Champagne Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Sorridere, the Italian word for smile, is following in the footsteps of his half-brother To Fast To Serious, who won at his four and only starts as a two-year-old, including the group 1 Westbred Classic, in May and June 2018.

To Fast To Serious, who has earned $195,180 from 16 wins and six placings from 33 starts, and Sorridere are out of the New Zealand-bred McArdle mare Smile With Me, who was successful at her first three appearances in Western Australia.

Sorridere, who is by the American sire Sunshine Beach, has been most impressive in winning at his two appearances, both over 1684m at Pinjarra, and he is ideally drawn at the No. 2 barrier in Friday night’s 2130m classic.

He is trained and driven by Capel horseman Aiden de Campo, a member of the renowned harness racing family which has a wonderful record in the Champagne Classic.

His late grandfather Ray de Campo (trainer) and his (Aiden’s) father Andrew (reinsman) won the prestigious event for two-year-olds with Perene Maverick in 1988 and Patmos in 1990.

Andrew de Campo went on to train and drive Pawnee Gold (1995) and Nowuseemenowudont (2000) to victory in the Champagne Classic before Aiden guided the Jesse Moore-trained Tricky Styx to her win over The Odd Lover, driven by Gary Hall jnr, in the 2014 classic.

Hall, who has yet to win a Champagne Classic, will drive Valedictorian, who, like Sorridere, has had two starts for two wins.

Valedictorian, trained by Justin Prentice, will start from the No. 3 barrier and is poised for a bold showing. The Art Major gelding was untroubled to win a heat and the final of the Sales Classic for colts and geldings last month, and then he scored a runaway win in a trial at Pinjarra on Wednesday of last week.

Valedictorian rated 1.58.9 when he won the 2185m trial by 17 lengths from Krafty House. He raced three back on the pegs before gaining the one-out, one-back trail at the bell and being sent forward, three wide, at the 650m to take the lead 150m later.

“He felt really good in the trial,” said Hall. “He had the trial just for a hit-out, but he certainly didn’t need it for his manners, which are great for a horse with his level of experience.”

Valedictorian was restrained at the start from the outside barrier (No. 9) in a heat of the 1730m Sales Classic and settled down in sixth position before dashing forward, three wide, in the first lap to race without cover and then he surged to the front 500m from home and won by 4m at a 1.56.7 rate from Crowd Control.

He began from the No. 1 barrier in the final four Fridays ago and was not fully extended in setting the pace, sprinting over the final two 400m sections in 28.3sec. and 27.2sec. on his way to his 5m victory over Rocket City.

“It’s a good field in Friday night’s race, and the draw has made it really interesting,” said Hall. “Valedictorian is certainly not a good thing. I have got huge respect for Sorridere, who has been ultra-impressive at both of his starts, and Valedictorian’s stablemate Rolling Fire is sure to have improved from his debut win at Pinjarra.

Rolling Fire, to be driven by Cody Wallrodt, has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier and is a capable frontrunner, like he showed when he led and beat Lord Titanium by a length and a half over 1684m at Pinjarra.

Other winners in Friday night’s race are Major Overs (Chris Lewis) and Lethal Edition (Micheal Ferguson). Major Overs, who will start from the outside barrier in the field of seven, set the pace when he won by eight lengths at a 1.55.3 rate over 1684m at Pinjarra two starts ago. Then he led and won easily from Zephyra and Travelban at a 1.59.5 rate over 1780m at Northam three Saturdays ago.

Lewis has won the Champagne Classic a record eight times. He has been successful with Pardon Me Boys (1987), Talladega (1999), Wirrpunda (2001), All Four Firing (2002), Slick Operator (2003), David Hercules (2009), Mister Jadore (2013) and Lavra Joe (2020).