Day At The Track

Acid Test for Double Expresso

08:02 PM 25 Apr 2019 NZST
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Double Expresso,Harness racing
Double Expresso
Scott Hamilton Photo

Unbeaten filly Double Expresso faces a moment of truth when she clashes with a trio of talented colts in Secret Operation, Poisedtopounce and Jaspervellabeach in the $50,000 Champagne Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

However, trainer Ross Olivieri and champion reinsman Chris Lewis have a high opinion of Double Expresso and are confident she is capable of maintaining her impeccable record.

Lewis, who has won the Champagne Classic a record seven times with Pardon Me Boys (1987), Talladega (1999), Wirrpunda (2001), All Four Firing (2000), Slick Operator (2001), David Hercules (2009) and Mister Jadore (2013) said: “If she can beat the colts, it will be an exceptional feat.

“It is always hard for a filly to come up against the colts, but she’s pretty relaxed and I’m able to use a few options with her. She hasn’t raced beyond 1730m, but I’m sure the 2130m won’t be a problem.”

Double Expresso is a free-rolling filly who has not been fully extended in recording convincing victories in all of her five starts in which her average winning margin is 7.6 metres. She is favourably drawn at the No. 2 barrier in the field of five in the group 2 event.

Coolup trainer Kristy Elson holds a strong hand in the race with three runners, Secret Operation (Michael Grantham), Jaspervellabeach (Nathan Turvey) and Telk Tayte.

Jaspervellabeach is unbeaten at his two appearances, both over 1730m. He will start from barrier four. He possesses excellent gate speed and he began fast from the No. 5 barrier when he set the pace and won by two and a half lengths from Secret Operation at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week.

Secret Operation was slow to begin, and he caught the eye with a powerful finishing burst when he charged home from last in a field of seven to make up several lengths on Jasperbellabeach in the home straight.

“He flew home,” said Grantham. “If the pace is on, he’ll be flashing home and they’ll definitely know he’s there. Double Expresso’s form is faultless and Poisedtopounce was impressive when he won at Pinjarra on Monday.”

Poisedtopounce, to be driven by Ryan Warwick for leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, will start from the prized No. 1 barrier. He has good gate speed, but not exceptional early pace. He warmed up for Friday night’s classic with a convincing victory at Pinjarra on Monday.

He began smartly from barrier five but was forced to race four wide for the first 250m before he took up the running 200m later. The four quarters of the race whizzed by in 28.7sec., 28.9sec., 27.7sec. and 28.7sec., with Poisedtopounce rating a fast 1.54.1.

Fillies have a reasonable record in the Champagne Stakes, which was first run in 1970. In the past 25 years five fillies have been successful - Nowuseemenowudont (2000), Sheza Clout (2006), Arma Xpress (2012), Tricky Styx (2014) and Cott Beach (2017).

Cott Beach, a 6/1 chance driven by Turvey, finished powerfully from ninth at the bell to win from another filly, Miss Sangrial (33/1). Cott Beach was trained by Gary Elson, whose daughter Kristy is keen to emulate him by scoring this week with one of her three runners.

Lewis has driven 99 winners this season (98 in WA) and Double Expresso is the best of his eight drives on the night. It would be fitting if he brought up the century in a Group 2 feature event.


Ken Casellas

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