RACE 1 ALBANY HONDA MAIDEN 1:58 PM (1620M)
Summary — Race Pace: Slow Early | Overall Time: 01:39:87 | Last 600m Time: 37.7 (hand-timed)
Ascot trainer Stan Bates was making his first trip to Albany in three years and his day couldn’t have got off to a better start, with four-year-old mare SILVER SERENA getting her nose down on the line to edge out stablemates TOPPED UP GIRL and AND SO AM I in an exciting three-way finish. Ridden by Natasha Faithfull, SILVER SERENA overcame a sluggish start to rail through and settle worse than midfield, before enjoying an uninterrupted passage along the rail on the turn to be within striking distance swinging for home. Faithfull angled the daughter of Dane Shadow outside heels at the top of the straight and she was in full flight when pouncing on the leaders 100 metres from home, before peaking on her run late and scrambling home by a short half-head. The ever-consistent TOPPED UP GIRL enjoyed a lovely rails run in transit, but couldn’t quite get the galloping room she was looking for in the early part of the straight and that slight loss of momentum probably cost her the race. AND SO AM I appeared to be labouring on the turn and in the straight, but just kept coming and was only beaten a head on the line. JUNGLE JAGUAR (fourth) and THEY CALL ME JACK (fifth) received pass marks for their efforts, while the enigmatic pair of SLOANNES PONY (sixth) and ENCOSTA LAS VEGAS (eighth) look set for the spelling paddock after their disappointing performances.
It is great to see pocket dynamo Natasha Faithfull kicking on as a senior rider after coming out of her apprenticeship at the start of the year. The hard-working Faithfull has ridden 41 provincial winners in 2014/2015, with William Pike (45 wins) the only other rider in the state to have enjoyed more success on the provincial circuit this season.
TOPPED UP GIRL: Placing a 14-start maiden in your black book is not a good look, but if any horse is screaming out to win a race it is this mare.
RACE 2 SOUTHWAY DISTRIBUTORS MAIDEN 2:35 PM (1232M)
Summary — Race Pace: Average Early | Overall Time: 01:14:45 | Last 600m Time: 36.4 (hand-timed)
Three-year-old filly LADY OF SUBSTANCE showed some promise during her initial racing preparation late last year and displayed natural improvement here, breaking through for a convincing maiden win at her first start since Boxing Day. LADY OF SUBSTANCE settled behind the leader (TEN GRAND WALKING) in the early stages, but jockey Colin Haddon could not believe his luck when the leader began to hang out from 800-metre mark and a rails run appeared. Haddon didn’t waste too much time capitalising, allowing LADY OF SUBSTANCE to slide through, take the lead 500 metres from home and pinch a winning break swinging for home. The $3.10 favourite TEN GRAND WALKING (second) threw the race away when hanging off the fence on the turn and was left flat-footed when LADY OF SUBSTANCE made her winning move, but the Mark Nelson-trained three-year-old showed some good qualities in the straight to claw back the margin to a 3/4-length on the line. The third-placed TERIREM is only small and was dwarfed by TEN GRAND WALKING in the straight, but the Garry Delane-trained three-year-old lacks nothing in determination and was doing his best work on the line. The Steve Wolfe-trained BETTSIE was easily the run of the race, coming from out of screen at the 600 metres to storm home into fourth place, while ON ALL FOURS also made up ground after getting further back in running than expected. SECRET ENDEMIC (eighth) and GERONIMOS CADILLAC (13th) were kept safe in betting but both performed well below expectations.
The first-up win of LADY OF SUBSTANCE was a timely reminder of the abilities of astute local trainer John Askevold. While he only ever has a handful in work, Askevold has a history of extracting good results from his small team.
LADY OF SUBSTANCE: Liked the acceleration she displayed when popped the question 400 metres from home. Got a bit weary late so has improvement in her and should be competitive in whatever race she steps out in next in this region.
TEN GRAND WALKING: Has a few rough edges to smooth out but shouldn’t be a maiden for too much longer.
BETTSIE: One of the best performances of the day. Has always shown promise and this could be her time to deliver.
RACE 3 BREMER BAY RESORT HANDICAP 3:13 PM (1132M)
Summary — Race Pace: Average Early | Overall Time: 01:06:80 | Last 600m Time: 35.7 (hand-timed)
While the scratching of popular local mare WILD RUBY robbed this race of some quality (and a third dividend payout), we still witnessed an impressive WA debut from beautifully bred four-year-old GARCIA. Formerly trained by Paul Messara and Gerald Ryan in New South Wales, GARCIA looked the goods when winning a 1000-metre Albany 26/02 trial and he followed that up with a smart victory. Local apprentice Kate Fitzgerald had the $2.00 favourite coiled up behind the leader swinging for home and was gifted a rails run when TEKAPO TANGO left the fence at the top of the straight, with GARCIA diving through to join BLIZZARD EXPRESS in the lead before drawing clear late to score going away by 1-1/4 lengths. BLIZZARD EXPRESS was coming off a good Mt Barker 18/02 win and looked set for back-to-back victories with the favourite pocketed on the turn, but had to settle for second when unable to match the winner’s powerhouse finish. TEKAPO TANGO is a notoriously hard horse to ride, but he was well-rated in front by apprentice Kate Witten on this occasion and boxed on in the straight for third, although we would have liked to have seen Witten hold the rail in the straight rather than roll off. CITY BELS (fourth) was the best of the rest, while SEATTLE BEAU (fifth) is yet to hit his straps in the Great Southern but is quickly sliding down in the ratings.
GARCIA came to WA with a 50% winning record so he obviously possesses some ability but it was hard not to be impressed with this win, especially the last 100 metres when he hit top gear and put paid to BLIZZARD EXPRESS. He charged right through the line and was still steaming rounding the turn out of the straight. Garry Delane has a stable full of tried eastern staters and this fellow appears to be one of the better ones.
GARCIA: Should just win whatever race he contests next start.
RACE 4 SIMPLOT AUSTRALIA SEAFOOD TRADING HANDICAP 3:50 PM (1857M)
Summary — Race Pace: Average Early | Overall Time: 01:54:38 | Last 600m Time: 37.0 (hand-timed)
The quaddie was turned on its head with the Dixie Solly-trained 52 rater ELL SOUTHEE causing a boil over in the first leg, courtesy of a rails hugging ride from Lucas Camilleri. ELL SOUTHEE, who had finished a solid third behind SOLDIER’S SALUTE and INSURGENCY at Albany 26/02 last start, settled fifth in running but was able to improve uninterrupted along the rail from the 600 metres to be third, on the leader’s heels, swinging for home. Camilleri secured a rails run at the top of the straight when the leader rolled off, and ELL SOUTHEE belied his lowly rating to dash through and out-muscle KING POINT over the final 100 metres to grind out a half-length victory. The well supported KING POINT ($5.40 into $3.40 favourite) had some patchy lead-up form but bounced back with a fighting second, and probably would have won had he not been pushed into the three-wide line by IMPERIAL COMMAND passing the 600 metres. Not only did this incident make KING POINT cover additional ground, it also allowed ELL SOUTHEE to improve his position without going around a horse. CESTRINUS had been building towards something and posted a hard-fought minor placing after racing on-speed with only 52.5kg on his back. It was his best performance for some time, while JETSON EXPRESS also improved significantly, making up many lengths in the straight to finish fourth. SOLDIER’S SALUTE (fifth) was ridden a little more patiently in this in an attempt to get him to run out a strong 1857 metres, but be appeared a little one-paced in the straight, and INSURGENCY (eighth) was never really in the race after being last swinging for home.
A rails run to Garcia had cost Dixie Solly and Lucas Camilleri victory aboard Blizzard Express in the race prior, but it didn’t take long for the racing man upstairs to square up with ELL SOUTHEE the recipient of an inside run in the straight, which was obviously the difference between winning and losing.It mystifies us why some jockeys, who do all the work to face the breeze and lead, chose to give away their advantage by leaving the running rail in the straight and letting their opponents, who have been in their slipstream and have done no work in running, get up on their inside. While the introduction of the cutaway rail in WA (a separate talking point in itself) may have something to do with this, there were no excuses on Saturday with the rail in the true (inside) position.So note to jockeys everywhere, if you chose to lead the running rail is your best friend. If something is going to go past you at least make them go around you.
KING POINT: The Nelson stable is doing a lot right at the moment and this fellow has his hoof firmly on the till.
JETSON EXPRESS: Good run on a day that did not suit back-markers at all. His best effort for some time.
RACE 5 ALBANY CITY MOTORS HANDICAP 4:25 PM (1232M)
Summary — Race Pace: Average Early | Overall Time: 01:13:02 | Last 600m Time: 35.8 (hand-timed)
Reigning Fitzpatrick Plate winner CORPORATE LARRIKIN continued his love affair with the Albany circuit with another all-the-way triumph, his sixth win from 16 starts at the track. Trainer Angela Smith had to iron out some issues with the talented five-year-old earlier this campaign, but he has come roaring back into form with back-to-back wins for apprentice Mandy Richmond, who is building an impressive record (4: 2-1-1) aboard the son of Trade Fair. CORPORATE LARRIKIN possessed too much gate speed for his rivals and had crossed the field to lead by the 900-metre mark, and from there it was pretty much race over, although RUN FOR RUM certainly made things interesting in the straight. CORPORATE LARRIKIN shot several lengths clear at the top of the straight and was still over a length in front at the 100 metres, but the Shane Quilty-trained visitor RUN FOR RUM charged home late and was only beaten a nose on the line. It was a big effort after settling at the tail of the seven-horse field in running. Honest mare CATZILLA continued her good recent form to finish third after making her run alongside RUN FOR RUM, and SONNY BISCAY competed well (as always) and finished fourth. Last start Albany 26/02 winner TALK OF ANGELS (fifth) featured in the Stewards’ Report and had genuine excuses for her performance, while the highly rated BALAVAN (sixth) wasn’t too bad after covering additional ground in running and was doing his best work over the final 100 metres.
CORPORATE LARRIKIN has now won nine of his 26 starts and is on track for another tilt at the Fitzpatrick Plate, with this year’s $75,000 feature sprint to be run on Albany Cup Day, Sunday April 5.
RUN FOR RUM: One of the best performances of the meeting, clocking the fastest last 600-metre split for the day. Not sure what Shane Quilty has in mind for this fellow but this run suggests he is ready to win.
RACE 6 LINLEY VALLEY PORK HANDICAP 5:05 PM (1232M)
Summary — Race Pace: Average Early | Overall Time: 01:13:89 | Last 600m Time: 36.3 (hand-timed)
Leading trainer Paul Hunter appears to have found himself a really nice horse in the form of Danehill Express four-year-old THE EXPRESS, who jumped straight to the front and was never headed when completing a hat-trick of wins. Ridden by Paul Hunter’s apprentice daughter Casey, THE EXPRESS added another string to his bow by being able to lead and win, and also showed plenty of courage to fend off BIG BOTH WAYS initially and hold out the strong finishing bursts of both PICCOLO JOE and SHILLING to score by a neck. PICCOLO JOE was having his first start for the Peter Western stable and quickly recaptured some of his best form, making up good ground when stretching out nicely in the straight to finish second. The $4.30 favourite SHILLING was racing first-up from a spell and refused to lay down in the straight, finishing a close-up third. RUBY’S IMAGE was perhaps a shade unlucky, finishing fourth after not really getting a good crack at them in the straight, and in-form mare BIG BOTH WAYS finished a gutsy fifth after doing a heap of work early to cross and race outside the leader. FORCE ELEMENT was the eye-catcher of the race, storming home to finish seventh (beaten 2-1/4 lengths) after not even being in the screen at the 400-metre mark.
THE EXPRESS is a horse in a hurry. The four-year-old was all over the place (green) in his races earlier this campaign and was discovering ways to get himself beat, but the penny has well and truly dropped now. Has raced seven times this preparation but appears to be getting better and better each time he goes around, and he appears to be a horse capable of successfully transitioning from Great Southern to metropolitan racing.
THE EXPRESS: Black booking a horse who has won three in a row is a bit rich, but this fellow is on the march and with continued improvement is capable of winning in town.
PICCOLO JOE: Looks to have a spring back in his step and his current 57 rating is a luxury.
SHILLING: This run was a great platform to springboard from and we expect him to win when he steps out second-up.
FORCE ELEMENT: Has a poor record (17: 1-0-0) but Dixie Solly has his team racing well and this horse’s run was too good to ignore.
RACE 7 GREAT SOUTHERN WEEKENDER-GOLDEN BRACELET 5:45 PM (1620M)
Summary — Race Pace: Fast Early | Overall Time: 01:38:82 | Last 600m Time: 37.1 (hand-timed)
We placed ELITE FLIGHT in our black book following her eye-catching last start third at Albany 26/02 but considered barrier 13 to be a bridge too far in the feature Golden Bracelet. However, teenage apprentice Shaun O’Donnell (Jnr) had other ideas. The son of accomplished Perth hoop Shaun (Snr), O’Donnell elected to chance his arm and work forward, rather than drift back in the field, and the decision paid off big time with ELITE FLIGHT eventually able to cross to the rail in front passing the 900 metres and from there was never headed. The $31 outsider was able to pinch a winning lead with only 51kg on her back swinging for home, and kept finding for O’Donnell (Jnr) to hold off the challengers and score by a half-length. DO YOU DO enjoyed a lovely camp just off the pace in running and had the last shot at ELITE FLIGHT, but was unable to peg back the margin. CANNA LILY was one of the race’s hard-luck stories, finishing third after getting jammed up on the fence when looking for clear galloping room in the straight. She was brave to close within 1-1/4 lengths of the winner under 58kg, and MUSARK (fourth) also encountered some difficulties in the straight. Maiden filly EMMA NOVEMBER ran out of her skin to finish fifth after being second last passing the 600-metre marker, and TEE PEE CAT (seventh) was doing her best work late after encountering a chequered passage in running and in the straight. THE DANEHILL ROSE ($6.60 second favourite) had her second gut-busting run in nine days and was a spent force at the top of the straight, fading out of contention to finish 12th.
The story behind ELITE FLIGHT ending up in the Great Southern is one of those great racing stories, with local 23-year-old racing enthusiast Liam O’Loughlin simply being in the right place at the right time. A chance meeting with ELITE FLIGHT’s part-owner Steve Cooper at a funeral resulted in O’Loughlin, an apprentice boiler maker, leasing the under-achieving four-year-old, who was then in the Lark Hill stables of Daniel Pearce.O’Loughlin, the son of Albany Racing Club vice-president Shane, asked long-time mentor and former employer Steve Wolfe to train the daughter of Flying Spur in January and quickly began plotting a seemingly fanciful path towards the Golden Bracelet.ELITE FLIGHT put the writing on the wall with a slashing third at Albany 26/02, but it appeared as though she may not even gain a start in the Golden Bracelet when the lowly-rated mare was balloted to second emergency. But the racing gods smiled upon O’Loughlin and his plan became a reality, with more than a little help from apprentice Shaun O’Donnell (Jnr) daredevil tactics.
ELITE FLIGHT: Looks to have plenty of upside and her new rating of 61 gives her plenty of racing options going forward.
EMMA NOVEMBER: Simply has to win a maiden next start based on this run.
TEE PEE CAT: Enjoyed no luck in running and should have finished much closer.
A tip of the hat goes to Paul Hunter, who has transformed wayward four-year-old THE EXPRESS into a real force with three straight wins. Angela Smith also deserves a mention after patching up CORPORATE LARRIKIN when it seemed as though this preparation was going down the gurgler. He has now posted back-to-back wins and is on track for another tilt at the Fitzpatrick Plate on Albany Cup Day.
Riding honours were evenly shared throughout the day, but teenager Shaun O’Donnell (Jnr) has to come out on top after claiming the feature race of the day. His efforts to back his judgement and push forward with ELITE FLIGHT in the Golden Bracelet was the difference between winning and losing.
|Mitchell Pateman (a)||12|
|Casey Hunter (a)||11|