Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
Shannon Suvaljko, who has landed 47 winners in the first three months of the season and heads the drivers’ premiership table from Chris Lewis (39 wins) and Gary Hall Jnr (37), has eight drives at Gloucester Park on Friday night and he declares that Pocketful Of Opals is his brightest winning hope.
Pocketful Of Opals will start from barrier four in a field of five in the final event, the Bridge Bar Open Before Every AFL home game, and Suvaljko is planning to use the two-year-old filly’s dazzling gate speed in a bid for an all-the-way victory.
Pocketful Of Opals, who is trained in Collie by Bianca Ashcroft, gave harness racing fans a taste of her ability when she burst straight to the front from barrier five and went on to score an easy win by two and a half lengths over Candy Apple at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week.
She settled beautifully after her fast start to amble through the opening quarters of the final mile in 32.6sec., 33.1sec. and 30.4sec. before dashing over the final 400m in 27.9sec.
“She has blistering gate speed and I was really happy with the way she began in that race,” said Suvaljko. “I don’t know for sure whether she will cross to the front this week, but she will give them some curry. She should be hard to beat.”
The major stumbling block for Pocketful Of Opals is certain to be debutant Indomitable Symbol, who is trained by Greg and Skye Bond and will be driven by Ryan Warwick from barrier three.
Indomitable Symbol, a filly by Follow The Stars, scored a runaway victory in a 1750m trial at Byford last Sunday week when she settled down in fourth and last position in an Indian file affair. Warwick eased her off the pegs about 800m from home and she dashed to the front 200m later and raced right away from her rivals to win by nine lengths from Miss Willoughby.
After the opening quarters of the trial were covered in very slow times of 33.8sec. and 31.3sec. the third 400m section took 30.6sec. before Indomitable Symbol sped over the final quarter in 28.8sec.
The polemarker in Friday night’s event is the Paula Petricevich-trained Candy Apple, who will be driven by Gary Hall Jnr. Candy Apple trailed Pocketful Of Opals when a well-beaten second to that filly at her latest start. “She should hang on to Pocketful Of Opals’ coat tails and run into the money,” said Hall.
Hall nominated the Justin Prentice-trained gelding Know When To Run as his best winning prospect, saying: “It looks a good race for him, and he should lead and win.”
Know When To Run, who will start from the No. 2 barrier in the 2536m Vintage Cider Pace, had a tough run in the breeze when a fighting last-start second to Lawrence last Friday week. A fortnight earlier he set the pace and scored an easy victory over Harley Zest in the group 3 The Clarke final.
Considerable interest will surround Hall’s drive Armed Reactor in the 2130m Classic Legendary Broking Pace in which the Michael Young-trained gelding will start from the outside barrier at No. 9.
Armed Reactor is an enigmatic and erratic New Zealand-bred seven-year-old who has raced only 13 times for two wins and two placings. “It’s a winnable race if he is on his game,” was Hall’s cryptic comment.
Armed Reactor was a $1.50 favourite at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week when he broke into a gallop moments after the start and lost about 60 metres. He went forward, three wide, 650m from home and moved to third at the 400m mark before galloping on the home turn and dropping back to finish last behind Make It Happen.
A week earlier, at his first start for four months Armed Reactor raced wide early and then in the breeze before bursting to the front 500m from home and winning by six lengths from All Black Rain, covering the final 800m in 57.3sec. and rating 1.56.9 over 2130m.
However, he was subsequently disqualified when it was discovered that he was ineligible for that event.