Ken Casellas | Photo: Gloucester Park Harness Racing
Powerful gelding Swingband enhanced his reputation as the State’s best three-year-old pacer when he annihilated the opposition in the $50,000 Team Bond Pearl Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
His runaway victory gave talented reinsman Michael Grantham his eleventh group 2 success — and the 26-year-old should achieve his long-held ambition of notching his elusive first victory in a group 1 feature event later this year.
Grantham will be in the sulky when Swingband contests the group 1 $100,000 Westbred Classic on September 9 and the group 1 $200,000 WA Derby on November 4. Both of those events appear to be at the mercy of Swingband, who has raced 15 times for nine wins, three placings and $165,002 in prizemoney.
Grantham has contested 46 group 1 events for ten placings, and he thoroughly deserves to break through for his first victory at the highest level.
Trainer Ryan Bell was delighted with Swingband’s performance on Friday night when he showed far too much pace for the speedy polemarker Dardy Boy to burst to the front after about 120m, and after a smart lead time of 36.8sec. and modest opening quarters of the final mile in 30.7sec. and 30.4sec. he dashed over the final 400m sections in 28.8sec. and 28.4sec.
Swingband, the $1.30 favourite from barrier two, careered away from his rivals to beat the $9 second fancy Paul Edward by six lengths, rating 1.57.2 over the 2130m. Five lengths farther back was the $126 outsider Peter Romeo, who finished strongly from eighth at the bell.
“He is a class act and is right in the zone,” said the 35-year-old Bell. “It was very good for his confidence. Michael didn’t pull the plugs, and I think that, mentally, Swingband is as good as he could possibly be, going into the paddock for a spell before I bring him back to get ready for the Westbred Classic and WA Derby.”