Day At The Track

Bond on target for fourth Derby triumph

03:56 PM 05 Apr 2018 NZST
Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print
Ocean Ridge, harness racing
Ocean Ridge, a colt by Mach Three, has won at five of his six starts this season
Gloucester Park Photo

Ocean Ridge, who failed to record a win from six starts as a two-year-old, has blossomed into an outstanding harness racing three-year-old who has excellent prospects of overcoming a back-line draw and winning the $200,000 Sky Racing WA Derby at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Victory in the 2536m classic would elevate Forrestdale horseman Greg Bond into the top bracket of successful trainers in the Derby which has been a highlight of every WA season since Freckles won the inaugural Group 1 event in 1917.

Bond has won the WA Derby with New Zealand-bred pacers Richard Henry (2005), In The Force (2009) and Seel N Print (2011).

The only trainers to have prepared four or more WA Derby winners are the late Fred Kersley Snr (five), the late Fred W Godecke (four) and Ross Olivieri (four).

Leading trainer Gary Hall Snr has high hopes of notching his 100th winner of the season by winning the Derby with either King of Swing or Speed Man. A victory would give Hall his fourth success in the classic.

Ocean Ridge, a colt by Mach Three, has won at five of his six starts this season and has revealed wonderful versatility. He led from barrier two and won easily in a modest C2-class event at Pinjarra at his WA debut two starts ago. And he was most impressive in scoring an effortless victory in a Derby prelude on Thursday of last week.

He enjoyed a perfect trail, one-out and one-back, before Ryan Warwick sent him forward, three wide, with 600m to travel. The gelding took the lead at the 450m mark and won by just over two lengths from the 10/1 favourite King of Swing, with Speed Man finishing strongly from eighth (and last) at the bell to be third.

Ocean Ridge rated 1.55.3 in the 2130m prelude and the 2536m journey on Friday night should prove to be no problem. He started his three-year-old campaign in dazzling style, setting the pace from barrier one and winning a 1950m event by five lengths at Addington on December 16. That was his first appearance for eight months.

He then started from the inside of the back line in another 1950m event at Addington on January 26 when he was seventh at the bell before starting a three-wide move and working into the breeze position before finishing a close-up fourth behind Fizzing.

Two starts ago Ocean Ridge was restrained to last from barrier seven in a field of nine over 1950m at Addington. He came from last, three wide, at the bell and then worked in the breeze before sprinting the final 400m section in 27.4sec. and hitting the front 130m from the post and winning, unextended.

At his final appearance in New Zealand, over 1950m at Addington on February 16 he was beaten out from the No. 1 barrier and raced three back on the pegs before charging home from fifth on the home turn to win easily at a 1.55.7 rate, with a final quarter in 27.5sec.

Ocean Ridge is the third foal out of Falcon Seelster mare There’s A Dancer, whose first two foals Bracken Ridge and McClinchie each won on WA debut for Bond.

A win on Friday night by Ocean Ridge would help erase the disappointment suffered by Bond and his wife Skye when their smart colt Rock Diamonds, a 14/1 chance, finished a head second to Handsandwheels in the Derby 12 months ago after finishing strongly to take the lead in the final 70m. Their other runner, Mitch Maguire (9/4), was a luckless seventh after taking a narrow lead, out three wide, 350m from home and then locking wheels with 2/1 favourite Runrunjimmydunn.   

Champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr has combined with his father to win the Derby with Alta Christiano (2013), Beaudiene Boaz (2015) and Chicago Bull (2016). Hall Jnr will handle King of Swing from barrier three on the front line and he gives the colt a strong winning chance.

King of Swing raced three wide for the first 750m before setting the pace in last week’s prelude before lowering his colours to Ocean Ridge. “He’s got the draw to turn the tables on Ocean Ridge,” said Hall jun. “He has definitely got the ability to win.”

Owner Albert Walmsley and Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed were naturally disappointed when their talented colts Bechers Brook (barrier seven) and Golden State (eight) fared poorly in the random draw. However, both pacers are strong sit-sprinters and are capable of winning. Reed prepared Tricky Vic (2002) and Ace of Spades (2003) for wins in the classic.

Skye Bond prepares Bright Diamond, who despite only one win from 16 starts, will have admirers after drawing the prized No. 1 barrier. Bright Diamond will be driven by star reinsman Chris Lewis, who has won the Derby five times with Trunkey Maseratti (1994), Saab (1998), Talladega (2000), Argent Treasure (2008) and In The Force (2009).

Ken Casellas

Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print

Read More News About...

Stallion Name

Next article: