Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
With five consecutive placings from unfavourable barriers over the past two months Typhoon Banner is overdue for a change of fortune when he contests the $50,000 Catalano Truck And Equipment Christmas Gift over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The New Zealand-bred four-year-old has drawn ideally at the No. 1 barrier in the group 2 feature and trainer-reinsman Dylan Egerton-Green is quietly confident the Bettors Delight gelding will prove hard to beat.
Typhoon Banner warmed up for this week’s assignment in impressive fashion when he began from the outside barrier (No. 8), was last in the middle stages and then sustained a powerful burst, out wide, from ninth at the bell to finish a neck second to Leosabi.
“He’s been racing really well, and his work has indicated he is holding his form,” said Egerton-Green. “It’s a hot field, but he’s a good chance. We will run the gate and see where we lob. He likes to lead and also has plenty of strings to his bow.
“I’m happy with the draw; it’s a great starting position, and, hopefully, we can finish in the No. 1 spot as well.”
Typhoon Banner’s toughest rivals loom large as Jumpingjackmac, Leosabi and Finvarra.
Jumpingjackmac and Finvarra are the only three-year-olds in the race and are racing in fine form for trainer Gary Hall snr, while four-year-old Leosabi is in top form for trainer Nathan Turvey and driver Emily Suvaljko.
Hall has a high opinion of Jumpingjackmac, who is expected to start favourite at odds-on, which is quite logical for such a talented pacer who has raced 16 times for nine wins and six seconds.
After Jumpingjackmac’s effortless victory when he set the pace and defeated Finvarra and Machnificent last Friday night Hall said the gelding had the class to run in the Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups in the New Year.
Star reinsman Gary Hall jnr shares his father’s opinion of Jumpingjackmac, but he says that the pacer is still on a learning curve. “He is a very good horse but is still immature in his head and in his racing demeanour,” he said. “He is a very big horse who needs a good 12 months of hard racing to get the best out of himself.
“Typhoon Banner looks the likely leader, and Jumpingjackmac will probably be in the breeze.”
Leosabi is in tremendous form and has the ability to overcome the disadvantage of starting from the outside barrier (No. 3) on the back line. His past 15 starts have included seven wins, four seconds and a third.
Leosabi also started from the outside of the back line when he won from Typhoon Banner and Alice Kay over 2130m last Friday week. He was seventh, out three wide with cover, at the bell before getting to the front 50m from the post and winning by a neck from Typhoon Banner.
“He is a versatile horse, who is capable of creating his own luck,” said Suvaljko. “He beat Typhoon Banner at his latest start, and he is still a top five chance, even without luck.”
Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri, who has won the Christmas Gift with Savette in 1992 and Im A Peregrine in 2015, will be pinning his faith on Rupert Of Lincoln, who is awkwardly drawn at barrier No. 7.
Rupert Of Lincoln came from eighth in the middle stages and sustained a strong three-wide burst over the final 1100m to score a smart victory over Shadow Roll last Friday night.
Hall snr, who will be represented by Jumpingjackmac, Finvarra and The Ideal Touch, has been successful in the Christmas Gift with Nixons Creed (1993), Allioop (2004), McRaes Mate (2007), Livingontheinterest (2012), Toretto (2013) and Herrick Roosevelt (2017).