Day At The Track

Brown looking for 100 wins at Gloucester Park

12:00 PM 22 Jul 2015 NZST
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Colin Brown - Looking to bring up 100 winners for the season at Gloucester Park on Friday night
Colin Brown - Looking to bring up 100 winners for the season at Gloucester Park on Friday night

Ace harness racing reinsman Colin Brown, on target to land his 100th winner of the season at Gloucester Park on Friday night, has bright prospects of driving Delightful Offer to victory in the $35,000 John Higgins Memorial.

Delightful Offer, a richly-talented New Zealand-bred three-year-old, has the ability to overcome the disadvantage of an awkward barrier at No. 6 on the front line in the group 3 2130m feature event.

He has won at seven of his nine starts in Western Australia after winning at three of his 13 starts in New Zealand.

He is in devastating form, having won easily at each of his past four starts --- by a combined margin of 42.4 metres. He is strong and versatile, having won when leading, racing in the breeze and coming from well back with a powerful sprint.

Delightful Offer, owned and trained by Greg and Skye Bond, warmed up for this week's event with a most convincing performance in a heat of the Higgins at Pinjarra on Monday of last week.

He began speedily from barrier four, burst to the front after 100m and gave his rivals no chance by sprinting over the final 800m in a brilliant 54.7sec.

He defeated stablemate Ima Connoisseur, who impressed in finishing boldly from eighth at the bell.

Ima Connoisseur then set the pace and fought on grandly when a close second to up-and-coming star Waylade over 2185m at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon.

Ima Connoisseur, who will be driven by Nathan Turvey, and Delightful Offer are the only three-year-olds in the final in which the Bond stable holds a powerful hand.

The Bonds will also be represented by Condrieu (barrier two) and Phoenix Warrior (outside of the back line).

Ryan Warwick will drive Condrieu and Lauren Jones has been engaged to handle Phoenix Warrior.

Condrieu, a New Zealand-bred five-year-old, has resumed recently after an absence of ten months in good form, with wins at Pinjarra and Narrogin and second placings at Narrogin and Gloucester Park.

His second to stablemate Jay Bees Grin over 2130m last Friday night was full of merit.

He started out wide from the No. 9 barrier and raced three wide for the first 400m before working in the breeze and fighting on grandly to finish a head behind the pacemaking Jay Bees Grin, who sped over the final quarters in 28.4sec. and 27.4sec.

Condrieu holds a special place in the 20-year history of the Higgins Memorial.

He will become the first pacer to contest the race three times. No other horse has run in this feature more than once.

Interestingly, Condrieu started a hot favourite in the past two Higgins Memorials.

As a three-year-old in 2013 Condrieu was a 6/4 on favourite when he led from barrier three and was overhauled in the final stride by the fast-finishing Pacific Warrior, who scored by a nose.

Then in 2014 Condrieu was favourite at 5/4 from the outside (barrier seven) on the front line.

He had a torrid run and finished ninth, just under five lengths behind the all-the-way winner In The Perfect Storm.

Condrieu raced three wide for the first 300m and was in third place when he was affected by a gear failure, broke and dropped back to the rear before Warwick dashed him forward, three wide for about 250m.

Warwick then eased the gelding back to last and Condrieu was forced to travel six wide when making a run 350m from home. He made no impression on the leaders after such a difficult trip.

Condrieu definitely deserves a change of luck in this event and he certainly cannot be underestimated. Ima Connoisseur also deserves serious consideration.

Eight wins and nine placings from 24 starts underline his consistency.

Four-year-old Phoenix Warrior is in dazzling form after resuming from a spell, with his six starts this preparation producing five wins and a second placing.

He raced three wide for much of the way before winning in good style from Ima Tragedy over 2130m at Gloucester Park last Saturday night.

Brown is enjoying yet another wonderful season and he should bring up his century of winners for the season on Friday night.

Apart from Delightful Offer, he has sound prospects with Holy Grail, Our Jimmy Johnstone and Bungalow Bill.

He has driven 98 winners this season and is in fifth place on the Statewide drivers' premiership table.

Brown has a good record in the Higgins Memorial, having been successful with Valiant Soldier (2003), Money Magnet (2004) and Richard Henry (2005).

Money Magnet and Richard Henry were prepared by Greg Bond.

The only reinsman to have won the race more than Brown is Chris Lewis, who has been successful with Hail The Judge (1997), Our Graedy (1998), Ianalbert (2006) and Sneakyn Down Under (2008).

Lewis has also driven a minor placegetter in the Higgins Memorial on six other occasions.

This year Lewis will drive Khun Ratha for Capel trainer Andrew de Campo.

Khun Ratha is a consistent performer, with eight wins and 16 placings from 34 starts.

Ken Casellas

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