Day At The Track

$50,000 Caduceus Classic at Gloucester Park

07:56 PM 16 Feb 2017 NZDT
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Ryan Warwick has given punters a valuable lead by opting to drive Rock Diamonds.
Ryan Warwick has given punters a valuable lead by opting to drive Rock Diamonds.
Jodie Hallows (Paceway Photos)

Harness racing's leading reinsman Ryan Warwick has given punters a valuable lead by opting to drive Rock Diamonds ahead of stablemate Messi in the $50,000 Caduceus Club Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

And part-owner Greg Bond, who prepares Rock Diamonds in partnership with his wife Skye, has high hopes that the Rocknroll Hanover colt will emulate the performance of Ohokas Bondy, a pacer he part-owned and trained for his dashing all-the-way victory in the 2011 Caduceus Club Classic.

Dancing Diamonds, the dam of Rock Diamonds, is a full-sister to Ohokas Bondy, who recorded his twelfth win in a row when Colin Brown steered him to victory over Lovers Delight in the 2011 classic.

Warwick has driven Rock Diamonds seven times for six wins and he has handled Messi in six races for four wins and a second. Nathan Turvey will drive Messi for the first time in Friday night’s event, while Ryan Bell, who has driven Messi twice for two wins, will be in the sulky behind his own nomination Bob Wheel, a last-start winner in much weaker company at Gloucester Park.

Rock Diamonds has won at seven of his nine starts and is a versatile colt, having won when leading, after working in the breeze and when saved for a strong finishing effort. He has been freshened up since his latest outing, at Gloucester Park on January 13 when he raced wide early and then in the breeze before wilting to last behind Im Rockaria in a field of eight.

It was determined that Rock Diamonds had simply not backed up after scoring an easy victory at Pinjarra four days earlier. The Michael Brennan-trained Im Rockaria comes into Friday night’s event with excellent credentials --- nine wins and two seconds from 14 starts. He will be driven by Gary Hall jun. from the No. 7 barrier.

Im Rockaria raced below par at his latest outing, in a C2/C3-class event at Albury last Friday week. Driven by Daniel Jack, he started from the No. 2 barrier on the back line and after racing three wide early he worked hard in the breeze and he was fully extended in beating Magicnracing by a half-head at a 1.59.7 rate over 2170m.

A week earlier, Im Rockaria raced three back on the pegs and battled on gamely when a well-beaten fifth behind Be Jacks Legend in a heat of the Victoria Derby. That followed a hat-trick of easy wins --- at Albany, Gloucester Park and Bunbury.

Davinci Diamond, trained in Pinjarra by Rob MacDonald, will have admirers from barrier four after winning at his past three starts, two at Bunbury and one at Pinjarra. He will be driven by Aiden de Campo.

Wesley, a winner at six of his 13 starts and trained by Sarah Wall in Bunbury, will start from barrier six with Kaiden Hayter in the sulky. The Sportswriter colt is blessed with wonderful gate speed and there is a possibility he could forge to an early lead.   

Maczaffair, brilliant winner of the Daintys Daughter Classic last Friday night, is one of two fillies in the race, the other being Soho Angel, and Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed has high hopes that Maczaffair will become only the third filly in 29 runnings of the Caduceus Club Classic to be successful. Mazzini Magic won the inaugural running of the classic in 1989, and the other filly to win the race was Whitbys Miss Penny in 1991.

“As a rule, I don’t like racing fillies against the colts and geldings,” Reed said. “The only reason she’s running this week is that she pulled up so well after her latest win. She has trained on really well. This will be her final run before she has a break and then gets ready for the Oaks.

“Last week’s win was the best run of her career. It’s hard to be last at the 700m, then go three deep and hit the line so strongly. This week she is starting from the inside of the back line, so she’ll be on the fence and be driven for luck.”

Ace reinsman Colin Brown will handle Maczaffair for the first time. He replaces Shannon Suvaljko, who is serving a term of suspension. Suvaljko has driven the filly in all her five starts as a three-year-old for three wins, a second and a fourth.

Ken Casellas

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