Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
Talented gelding Swingband has regained his composure and is poised to make amends for his last-start misdemeanour by winning the $50,000 APG Gold Bullion final for three-year-old colts and geldings at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
That’s the learned opinion of trainer Ryan Bell, whose optimism has been boosted by two exemplary performances at trials last weekend.
Swingband stunned his admirers in a heat of this group 2 feature event on Tuesday of last week when he was a hot favourite at $1.12 and broke into a fierce gallop soon after the start and was retired. Rock On Top began speedily from barrier seven and impressed with his all-the-way victory over Arma Xfactor.
“I was extremely happy with him leading into that race, but when he galloped, I was back to the drawing board,” said Bell.
“So, I took him to trials at Northam last Saturday, and he didn’t put a foot wrong. He ran good time and wasn’t extended in winning the trial after he settled well before taking off to set the pace. We went to Byford the following day when he felt even better. He had a satisfactory jump-out.
“What he did at his latest start is something that he’s done before. He galloped in an early educational trial and also galloped (from the No. 1 barrier) and trailed the field in the Golden Slipper last July.
“These are the three times he has galloped, and each time he has been a bit of a rogue. He’s a big, head-strong horse.”
Swingband, to be driven by Michael Grantham, is awkwardly drawn at barrier five on Friday night when the Alta Christiano gelding will be set alight at the start.
“It’s only over a mile (1730m), so we will have to come out all guns blazing, particularly as Rock On Top (barrier seven) is pretty slick out of the machine.” said Bell. “I’m pretty confident that if he’s on his best behaviour he can hold Rock On Top, who is a fast horse.
“If Rock On Top happens to cross Swingband, then we will have to try to be tactical, and probably make it a staying test.”
Before his last-start failure Swingband impressed at his two previous outings, winning the group 2 Sales Classic and the group 3 Caduceus Club Classic. He has won at six of his 12 starts and his main rivals loom large as Rock On Top and Arma Xfactor.
Rock On Top, to be driven by Gary Hall Jnr for trainer Aiden de Campo, has won at five of his 17 starts. Arma Xfactor, trained and driven by Colin Brown, should be prominent from barrier two. He showed excellent fighting qualities in last week’s heat when he raced in the breeze and fought on gamely to finish second to Rock On Top. He also raced without cover when he won by two lengths from Sunpatra and Stereophonic at Pinjarra at his previous start.
Brown also has two other runners in Friday night’s event — Mister Piccolo (Maddison Brown) and Loucid Dreams (Dylan Egerton-Green). Mister Piccolo, who has won once from 20 starts, will begin from the No. 3 barrier, while Loucid Dreams (barrier No. 6) shows considerable promise and his five starts have produced two wins and two placings.