“He’s now better than he has ever been, even better than when he won the WA Pacing Cup last December,” declared breeder-owner-trainer Phil Costello when assessing his wonderful nine-year-old’s prospects in the 2130m $25,000 TABtouch Free-For-All at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Vultan Tin, to be driven by Emily Suvaljko from the outside barrier in the field of seven, gets a good chance to turn the tables on another outstanding evergreen performer in Galactic Star, who will be handled by Ryan Warwick from the No. 6 barrier.
Galactic Star, prepared by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, set the pace from barrier one and fought on grimly to defeat Vultan Tin by a half-head over 2536m last Friday night. Vultan Tin started out wide at barrier eight and worked in the breeze for most of the way.
“Vultan Tin is jumping out of his skin and is loving racing,” said Costello. “I have changed his work this week to suit the race distances. He is dropping back from 2536m to 2130m, and his work has been lighter and he should have more sprint in his legs.
“The shorter distance this week shouldn’t affect his chances of turning the tables on Galactic Star when much will depend on what tactics are used on that horse who has the advantage of drawing on the inside of Vultan Tin.
“Vultan Tin is strong and doesn’t mind doing some work, but we don’t want to gas him out and bust his guts in the first 200m. The plan will be to just keep working forward. If you don’t bustle him too early, he usually finishes off really well.
“His run last week was super, and his win in the Pinjarra Cup (2692m) about seven weeks ago when he led and beat Miracle Moose and Mighty Conqueror by a few lengths, going 1.57.2 in the mud, was outstanding. There probably hasn’t been a Pinjarra Cup win like that for ten years.”
Costello said that Vultan Tin, a veteran of 178 starts for 29 wins and 46 placings for stakes of $936,678, would be aimed for the Fremantle Cup and WA Pacing Cup in the coming summer.
“He will keep racing in Free-For-Alls until he shows me that he wants a break,” Costello said. “Then he will have a rest, and after a spell he will be prepared for the big Cups.”
Vultan Tin certainly will need to be at his peak to defeat the eight-year-old Galactic Star, who took his earnings to $683,127 from 31 wins and 29 placings from 93 starts when he beat Vultan Tin last Friday night.
Adding interest to this week’s race will be the first appearance in Free-For-All ranks for New Zealand-bred five-year-old Valbonne, who will be driven by Michael Grantham from the No. 1 barrier.
Valbonne had his first start for Blythewood trainer Michael Brennan when he finished strongly from sixth at the bell to win from Rock Me Over and Quick Stride over 2185m at Pinjarra on Monday of last week.
“Valbonne is a really nice horse,” said Brennan. “We decided to step up a grade to enable him to get a good draw. They tell me that he goes really good in front. But I haven’t yet spoken to Albert (owner Albert Walmsley) or Michael (Grantham) about what we will do.
“He won’t disgrace himself. His win at Pinjarra was very good and he has come on in leaps and bounds since then.”
by Ken Casellas