Day At The Track

Cant Refuse poised to turn the tables

09:50 PM 31 Mar 2016 NZDT
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Cant Refuse
Cant Refuse "parked" at Gloucetser Park.
Jodie Hallows (Paceway Photos)

Victorian gelding Cant Refuse has managed just one win from 15 starts, but he looks certain to start harness racing favourite after drawing favourably in the $50,000 Slater Gartrell Sports Western Gateway Pace over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

He will start from barrier three on the front line in the group 3 feature for three-year-olds and has bright prospects of turning the tables on the brilliant Chicago Bull, a stylish winner at each of his past four starts (all at Gloucester Park).

Chicago Bull, prepared by champion West Australian trainer Gary Hall sen., will start from the No. 5 barrier with star reinsman Gary Hall jun. in the sulky.

Chicago Bull and Cant Refuse, geldings by super sire Bettor’s Delight, clashed for the first time when they met in a 2130m WA Derby Prelude on Thursday of last week when Chicago Bull started from barrier three, took the lead after 500m and went on to win by one metre from Cant Refuse, who revealed abundant gate speed from barrier four and was smartest into stride.

However, Cant Refuse was unable to muster sufficient speed to cross the polemarker El Hombre and was left in the breeze when Hall dashed Chicago Bull to the front.

Chicago Bull sped over the final quarters in 27.8sec. and 27.6sec. and held on to score narrowly at a 1.54.8 rate. Cant Refuse looked well and truly beaten at the 400m mark, but he impressed when he fought on with great determination.

This was Cant Refuse’s first start since he raced without cover and fought on with wonderful tenacity to finish a 2m second to the unbeaten champion Our Waikiki Beach in the 2400m New South Wales Derby at Menangle mon February 28.

Hall jun. has not conceded defeat and still considers Chicago Bull, a winner at seven of his 14 starts, a strong winning chance.

“Over the 2536m I’ll go back with Chicago Bull and sit him up,” he said. “He goes best driven that way. Last week he kicked clear comfortably on the home bend, but he took his foot off the gas a little bit and I had to wake him up late.”

Chicago Bull showed his class as a sit-sprinter the previous week when he raced in last position in a field of six before bursting to the front 600m from home and racing away to win by four lengths from Just Bet On Black.

There is certainly no guarantee that Cant Refuse will be able to take full advantage of his gate speed and charge to an early lead. Smart beginners and proven frontrunners Sprinter and The Art Form are drawn on his inside and this could result in a hectic battle for early ascendancy.

The Mike Reed-trained The Art Form will start from the No. 2 barrier and the high-priced New Zealand colt began speedily and gave a bold frontrunning display to score an easy three-length win over the talented El Jacko in a 2185m Byford trial last Sunday week. But The Art Form, at his Australian debut, at Gloucester Park on Thursday of last week, drew out wide at barrier six and was restrained to the rear. He was sixth, one-out and two-back at the bell and did not threaten danger in finishing a well-beaten fifth behind Chicago Bull.

The polemarker is Sprinter, a richly-talented and versatile Mach Three gelding who has won ten times from only 16 starts for Pinjarra trainer Gary Elson. Sprinter, to be handled by his regular reinsman Nathan Turvey, has led in three of his victories and also has impressed with his powerful finishing bursts.

Sprinter has taken no harm from a solid campaign in the Eastern States when he won a heat of the Victoria Derby at Ballarat and finished fourth in a heat of the NSW Derby. He started from barrier six in the Victoria Derby final at Melton and had no luck, covering plenty of extra ground and finishing eighth behind the brilliant Lazarus.          

He drew wide at No. 8 in the final of the NSW Derby at Menangle and was a $94 outsider who settled six back on the pegs and was eighth in the one-wide line at the bell before finishing with a late flourish to be a splendid fifth behind Our Waikiki Beach.

Wide draws will provide very tough challenges for in-form geldings Vanquished, Johnny Disco, Questionable Gesture and King Lebron.

King Lebron, a newcomer to the powerful Hall stable, faces a stern test from the No. 9 barrier at his first outing in Australia. He began out wide at barrier seven at his most recent appearance, in a $40,000 listed event over 1950m at Addington on February 12 and impressed with his close third behind Nek Time. He settled in seventh spot and was sixth on the home turn before finishing with a powerful burst.

The final 800m was covered on 54.5sec. and the last 400m whizzed by in 27.6sec. At his previous start he led from barrier one and sprinted over the final quarter in 27.5sec. to win, unextended.

Touch of Success is another New Zealand-bred colt who will be having his first start in Australia when he behind form the No. 4 barrier with Stuart McDonald in the sulky for Busselton trainer Matt White. He has won three times and has finished three seconds from his ten starts in New Zealand.

Ken Casellas

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