Day At The Track

El Barcelona on trial for Golden Slipper

04:38 PM 07 Jul 2016 NZST
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El Barcelona
El Barcelona

Inexperienced two-year-old El Barcelona is a big, gangling pacer with a few issues, but he should complete his preparation for harness racings $125,000 Golden Slipper next Friday week by overpowering his rivals in the $18,000 Hanna Hutchison Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.He fared poorly in the random draw and must overcome the considerable disadvantage of starting from the outside barrier (No. 9) off the front line in the field of ten in the 2130m event.

He has won at three of his five starts, but has shown disturbing signs of untractable habits.

Champion trainer Gary Hall sen. admitted that El Barcelona was still a bit green and was not the ideal two-year-old.

“The barrier draw is against him this week,” he said. “He gets on one rein when he’s out wide and at his latest start he hung down badly in the back straight when he should have won easily (instead of beating the pacemaker Its Major Bubbles by a narrow margin).”

At his most recent appearance, over 1609m at Bunbury three Saturdays ago, El Barcelona raced in the one-out, one-back position before starting a three-wide move 500m from home. The third quarter was covered in a fast 27.3sec. and the final 400m took 27.9sec., with El Barcelona getting to the front about 80m from the post.

“I have backed off a bit with El Barcelona and he will need the run this week, leading into the Golden Slipper,” Hall said. “Whatever he does this week, he will improve on.”

There is abundant exposed form in Friday night’s race and the speedy Courtney Burch-trained Sergeant Oats will have many admirers from the prized No. 1 barrier, with Morgan Woodley certain to make full use of the Rich And Spoilt gelding’s excellent gate speed.

Sergeant Oats started out wide at barrier seven in the Westbred Classic last Friday night and he was far from disgraced in finishing sixth behind The Real Ideal after racing three wide for much of the first lap and then in the breeze.

That followed wins at Narrogin, Bunbury and Gloucester Park at his three previous starts, in which he began speedily and led in the races at Narrogin and Gloucester Park.

Major Pocket, Baylan Jett, Our Zak Whitby and Bravo Tex are all racing in good form and cannot be discounted.

Major Pocket trailed the pacemaker The Real Ideal and finished solidly when second in the Westbred Classic in which Baylan Jett sustained a strong burst from tenth in the middle stages to finish third. Our Zak Whitby, trained by Ed Dewar, is a consistent performer and winner of three races who can unwind a powerful finishing burst.

Ken Casellas

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