Day At The Track

Brown praises Amelias Courage

03:11 PM 05 Apr 2018 NZST
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Colin Brown, harness racing
Colin Brown declares that he is preparing the fastest pacer of career filly Amelias Courage
Gloucester Park Photo

Colin Brown has been training and driving pacers for more than 40 years and he now declares that he is preparing the fastest pacer of his harness racing distinguished career a small, insignificant-looking filly by the name of Amelias Courage.

The Victorian-bred Amelias Courage emerged as a major WA Oaks contender with a superb victory in a modest C1-class event at Gloucester Park on Tuesday night, a performance which was a strong indication that she would prove hard to beat in the on Twitter WA Oaks prelude at Gloucester Park on Friday night.   

Amelias Courage will start from barrier two on the front line in the $20,000 prelude over 2130m and Brown is confident that she will seriously challenge boom filly, the high-priced New Zealand import Our Angel of Harlem.

Amelias Courage raced without cover outside the pacemaker The Freedom Fighter before getting to the front 600m from home and then easily withstanding a challenge from Pavarotti to beat the promising New Zealand-bred five-year-old by more than a length, rating a slick 1.55.2 over 2130m. It was an exceptional performance after a fast lead time of 35.6sec. followed by quarters of 29.5sec., 29.3sec., 28.8sec. and 29.2sec.

Brown was lavish in his praise of the filly, saying: “She has run 3sec. quicker on the track than any horse I’ve trained. If I told you the times she’s run at Jandakot you wouldn’t believe me. I don’t doubt her ability. She has just run 1.55.2 in the breeze and Our Angel of Harlem will have to be good to beat me. Amelias Courage could have gone better if something had really come at her.

“We really had to make a statement before the Oaks and I always like to show the handicapper something.”

Brown said that Amelias Courage had the potential to be classed alongside two outstanding mares he has trained in Sand Pebbles and Franco Eden.

The WA-bred Sand Pebbles raced 81 times for 26 wins, ten placings and $313,102 in prizemoney. She won the $100,000 Ladyship Mile at Harold Park in November 2004 and a week later finished second to Sokyola in the $550,000 Miracle Mile.

Eden Franco, a New Zealand-bred five-year-old, arrived in WA last September and in nine starts for Brown in October, November and December, she was successful seven times.

Brown lauded Amelias Courage’s toughness, saying: “The problem has been that we haven’t drawn barriers from which we could use her stamina. She’s only a small horse and she has run a 26sec. quarter on the track but she doesn’t seem to do that in her races.”

Amelias Courage was purchased at the Victorian yearling sales by Graham Searle and Geoff Waters and was prepared in Victoria by Peter Manning.

“What happened was the Victorian handicapping system changed and this disadvantaged a horse like her who had won a bit of prizemoney, and she wasn’t eligible in three-year-old company and she drew badly against good horses in open races,” Brown said.

“The owners made the decision to send her over here to me and Liam O’Connor and Jim Currie bought shares in her. It has taken us a bit of time to get the best out of her. Over in Victoria she pulled very hard and was just an aggressive, attack, attack filly.

“Her main aim is the WA Oaks and you cannot have a horse who is going to attack over 2536m. We have put gear on her and taken gear off and it has taken a fair bit of time to get her sorted. She goes best when driven tough and I don’t mind if she leads or has to sit in the breeze on Friday night.”

The polemarker in Friday night’s race is noted frontrunner Miss Sangrial, who led for much of the way when a half-length second to Pick My Pocket over 2100m at Bunbury last Saturday week. Amelias Courage, who has earned $85,164 from nine wins, ten seconds and two thirds, is also a smart frontrunner, who led at five of her eight Victorian wins.

Our Angel of Harlem, to be driven by Shannon Suvaljko for Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed, is awkwardly drawn out wide at barrier No. 7, but is expected to be a warm favourite.

Our Angel of Harlem began from the inside of the back line at her latest start, at Gloucester Park last Friday week, and was trailed the pacemaker when she choked down, galloped and disrupted the field 1100m from home. The race was abandoned.

At her previous outing, at her Australian debut at Pinjarra, Our Angel of Harlem raced three wide in the first lap and then in the breeze before finishing third behind Bettor A Believer. That followed a superb runaway victory in a Byford trial.  

Suvaljko is confident of success on Friday night, saying: “I think she is close to her top and we can work forward from the wide barrier. She is definitely the one to beat.”

Star reinsman Gary Hall Jnr, who needs two wins to bring up his century for the season, said that he expected a strong effort from Liberty Rose, who will start from the inside of the back line, immediately behind the freewheeling Miss Sangrial.

Liberty Rose was travelling easily in the breeze at her most recent outing when a horse choked down, fell and caused interference to other runners. This forced the stewards to stop the race.

“She felt as though she had them all covered,” Hall said. “She’s got toughness and a good turn of foot and I give her a really good chance.”

Ken Casellas

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