An impressive performance in a 2150m Byford trial on Sunday morning was a strong indication that the Victorian-bred mare Alice Kay would make a bold bid for victory at her West Australian debut when she contests the Intersport Slater Gartrell Pace for mares at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The Art Major four-year-old, a recent addition to the Byford stables of Katja Warwick, showed excellent gate speed and dashed to the front after 100m before Gary Hall Jnr took the sit behind Stefsbet 120m later.
Hall eased Alice Kay off the pegs with 350m to travel and the mare ran home solidly to finish a nose second to the highly-rated Stefsbet, who rated 1.56.5 after solid quarters of 30.4sec., 29sec., 29sec. and 28sec.
Hall is enthusiastic about Alice Kay’s prospects on Friday night, saying: “She gave me a terrific feel in the trial. She came out of the gate good, and so we will probably press forward (from barrier four). She has a really good record, and the trial was super.”
Alice Kay has raced 34 times for eight wins, 11 placings and stakes of $113,100. At her most recent appearance, Alice Kay started from barrier seven in a $20,000 1720m event at Melton on February 13 when she raced three wide in the first lap before working hard in the breeze and wilting to finish sixth, two lengths behind Delightful Jazz, who sped over the final 800m in 55.8sec. and rated 1.53.9.
She led early and then trailed the pacemaker before fading to fourth behind Typhoon Stride over 2240m the previous week, and a week before that she set the pace from the No. 2 barrier and held on when a half-head winner from Puntarno Stride, rating 1.56.5 over 2240m with final quarters of 28.1sec. and 28.2sec.
In an open field on Friday night, Alice Kay is likely to receive the strongest opposition from the polemarker Just Makemine Diamonds, Miss Limelight, Suing You and Major Jade.
Just Makemine Diamonds, who has a losing sequence of 21, will be having her first start for veteran Byford trainer Ian Gossage. The six-year-old, who has won at nine of her 50 starts, impressed two starts ago when she finished strongly from sixth at the bell to be a half-length second to the pacemaker Aly Shar. Just Makemine Diamonds will be driven for the first time by Lindsay Harper.
The Michael Brennan-trained Miss Limelight has a 50 per cent winning record and is favourably drawn at barrier three. She finished gamely when second to Intheskyrocket over 2130m at Gloucester Park three Tuesdays ago.
The versatile Major Jade, trained and driven by Aiden de Campo, has won at three of her past four starts and cannot be disregarded despite drawing out wide at barrier seven. Suing You (barrier eight) was an excellent all-the-way winner from barrier two last Friday night and cannot be left out of calculations.
By Ken Casellas