Tricky Styx provides Moore with a windfall

10:08 AM 05 May 2014 NZST
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The connections of Tricky Styx.png
The winning connections of Tricky Styx

Veteran Northam harness racing trainer Jesse Moore hit the jackpot when he outlaid a mere $NZ5000 for a filly at the New Zealand premier yearling sales in Christchurch early last year.

The filly, named Tricky Styx, repaid Moore handsomely for his cheap gamble when she stormed to a brilliant victory in the $50,000 Slater Gartrell Sports Midland Champagne Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

"I just happened to fluke buying this filly in New Zealand," the 69-year-old Moore said after Aiden De Campo had driven Tricky Styx, a 27/1 tote outsider to a runaway win in the 2130m group 2 classic.

"I never buy horses for myself and we just happened to fluke this one and I bought her for my wife Maree." The $5000 New Zealand converts to $4670 in Australian currency and the filly is already a tremendous bargain. She has had five starts for three wins and stakes of $44,285.

For many years Moore has had the reputation as one of the State's best trainers of juvenile pacers and Tricky Styx gave him his fourth success in the Champagne Classic, after wins with Nixon Adios (1975), Wirrpunda (2001) and All Four Firing (2002).

Tricky Styx became the ninth filly in the 45-year history of the classic to win the event, following the successes of Jidaley (1971), Deep Decor (1974), Chryso Mou (1976), Whitby Tolez (1991), Whitbys Merit (1993), Nowuseemenowudont (2000), Sheza Clout (2006) and Arma Xpress (2012).

And the 22-year-old de Campo was following a wonderful family tradition in the Champagne Classic. His late grandfather Ray de Campo trained Perene Maverick (1988) and Patmos (1990) for their wins in the race. Those youngsters were driven by Aiden De Campo's father Andrew, who also won the event as a trainer-driver with Pawnee Gold in 1995 and Nowuseemenowudont five years later.

Tricky Styx, the only filly in the field, has been a problem horse for Moore, beginning badly once and breaking in running twice in her four runs before Friday night's event. Moore made a point of thanking fellow Northam trainer Mike Williams, saying: "He is a special person I'd like to thank. He has done all the work on her and drives her in her trackwork. She was a bit of a handful when we first brought her over."

Not only did Tricky Styx have to overcome the not insignificant task of beating the colts and geldings in the race, but she had to overcome the disadvantage of starting from the outside barrier (No. 7) on the front line.

Tricky Styx was slow in the score-up and de Campo wisely restrained her back to last while the Persistent Threat, unbeaten at five starts and hot favourite at 2/1 on, set the pace with first Coeur de Whitby and then The Odd Lover in the breeze.

When Matt White urged Three Bears forward 900m from home de Campo followed the three-wide run. Tricky Styx was still in ninth position passing the 550m mark when she unwound a sparkling burst. The Odd Lover gained a narrow lead 220m from home before Tricky Styx exploded on the scene and charged to the front 120m from the post.

Tricky Styx won effortlessly by three lengths from The Odd Lover, with almost four lengths to Persistent Threat in third place. The final 800m was covered in 59.3sec. and Tricky Styx rated 1.58.2 over the 2130m journey. That was the fastest recorded by any winner of the classic over 2130m or 2100m. The only faster rate recorded by a winner of the Champagne Classic was the 1.58.1 by Sportsmans Dream in 1992. Pawnee Gold rated 1.58.2 when he won in 1995. Both those races were decided over 1700m.

Aiden De Campo was full of praise for Tricky Styx, a big, well-grown filly by American stallion Jeremes Jet out of Pocket Rain, a New Zealand-bred mare who produced Go West U Terror, a star two-year-old in WA four years ago when he won the Western Crown Classic and a heat and final of the Pearl Classic before finishing second to Ohokas Bondy in the Golden Slipper Stakes. Go West U Terror has had 42 starts for 15 wins, 11 placings and stakes of $196,971.

"Her manners haven't been the best, but her turn of foot is something that I've not experienced before with a two-year-old," he said. "When I pulled her out she went past them a lot quicker than I expected. Then about the 300m I thought she might be coming to the end of her run. But I asked her to go again and she picked up the bit and got the job done."

REUBEN BROGDEN BACK ON TRACK

New Zealand-bred five-year-old Reuben Brogden looks set for a successful campaign after scoring an effortless win over 6/4 favourite Dominus Vobiscum and Dee Devito in the 2130m Slater Gartrell Seel N Print Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

At his third start after a spell and third favourite at 4/1 from the outside of the back line, Reuben Brogden simply was too classy for his rivals.

Owner-trainer Gary Elson has worked hard to get the gelding back into top shape and reinsman Kim Young predicts bigger and better things for the pacer who was a shining light in November-December 2012 when he won a prelude of the Golden Nugget and finished third behind Im Victorious in the final.

"The good early speed tonight was to his advantage and he was strong enough to get around and do his business," Young said. "He had plenty of petrol and he's a strong horse. Everything worked out fine. Hopefully, he'll go on with the job. He hasn't come back to the form he showed through the Nugget time, but hopefully he's on the right track now."

This was Reuben Brogden's first success since winning the Bridgetown Cup 12 months ago and he now has earned $103,026 from 13 wins and ten placings from only 32 starts.

Reuben Brogden settled in eighth position in the one-wide line before Young made his winning move, dashing the gelding forward 1350m from home and then gaining cover behind the three-wide run of Uncle Kracker. Reuben Brogden forged to the front 420m from home and coasted to victory by four lengths.

OHOKA SQUIRE-WOODLEY COMBINATION STRIKES AGAIN

Star reinsman Morgan Woodley and New Zealand-bred five-year-old Ohoka Squire have formed a wonderful winning association.

Woodley took his record behind Ohoka Squire to four wins and a second placing from eight drives behind the Christian Cullen gelding when he drove him to a smart victory in the 2130m Slater Gartrell Jake And Lola Pathway Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

At a gift price of 14/1 after sound placings at his two previous starts, Ohoka Squire, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, enjoyed the run of the race in the one-out, one-back position before charging home, five wide, to snatch a neck victory over Vertical Four in a four-way photo finish.

Jasper Freeway, the 4/1 second fancy, was first out from barrier five and got to a one-length lead early, but was unable to cross the polemarker and 10/1 chance Time Passenger. Ohoka Kentucky, the 10/9 on favourite, settled in the one-out, one-back position and Robbie Williams sent him forward, three wide, approaching the bell.

Jasper Freeway got to a narrow lead 260m from home and he fought on grandly to be a very close fourth. Vertical Four, who trailed the pacemaker, finished strongly to be a neck second, with a nose to Ohoka Kentucky.

Ohoka Squire ended a losing sequence of 12 and looks set for further successes. A winner at his only start in New Zealand, at Wyndham in February 2012, the gelding now has had 34 starts for eight wins and 13 placings for earnings of $50,404.

He is bred to be a good winner. His dam All My Art (by Falcon Seelster) won only twice rom 23 starts, but has produced outstanding performers Ohoka Nevada (98 starts for 40 wins, 29 placings and $505,757) and Ohoka du Nord (82 starts for 19 wins, 25 placings and $185,567).

Ohoka Nevada won group 2 events, the 2009 Kilmore Cup, the 2009 Cranbourne Cup and 2011 Mildura Cup and the group 3 Winter Cup at Menangle in July 2012. He also was placed behind Smoken Up in the group 1 South Australian Cup in 2011 and 2012.

KOROBEIT ANGEL SURVIVES EARLY SPEED BATTLE

Champion reinsman Gary Hall jun. freely admits that Korobeit Angel is not renowned for her strength, but the four-year-old New Zealand-bred mare revealed an excellent competitive edge when she survived a hectic early battle for the lead in the 1730m Slater Gartrell Ash And Gemma Breeders Stakes prelude at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Favourite at 2/1 from barrier No. 2, Korobeit Angel had to be driven hard to get to the front after 350m following a speed battle with polemarker Courage On Fire and Am Opulent.

The opening quarter of the final mile whizzed by in 27.7sec., virtually setting up the race for the swoopers back in the field. But Hall was able to get Korobeit Angel to relax and go through the second quarter in 30.3sec.before covering the final sections in 29sec. and 29.4sec. to win by just under a length from Jungle Genie, with one metre to Am Opulent in third place.

Korobeit Angel rated a slick 1.55.8 as she improved her record to 32 starts for 12 wins, nine placings and $90,075 in stakes. A winner of five races in Victoria, she has raced 19 times in Western Australia for premier trainer Gary Hall sen. for seven wins and five placings.

"There were concerns after the early burn," Hall jun. conceded. "She's not blessed with a great deal of toughness, but she surprised me tonight. I thought she toughed it out really well after that early burn. I think that the key to that was the way she was able to settle once getting to the lead.

"When Jungle genie loomed up on the home turn I definitely thought that she had our measure. She got to us very comfortably and I had to go to my filly (mare) first and to her credit she responded really well and dug deep when she needed to."

IMA GRUMPY JASPER RELISHES No. 1 BARRIER

The immense benefit of the prized No. 1 barrier at Gloucester Park was yet again illustrated when Ima Grumpy Jasper, who had managed one placing from his past 14 starts, was a solidly-supported 7/4 favourite for the 2130m Slater Gartrell Alex And Amy Pace on Friday night.

Backers of the favourite were on good terms with themselves as Chris Voak drove the Victorian-bred five-year-old to an easy all-the-way win, beating Arousing by just over a length. Arousing, who trailed the leader all the way, was a neck in front of Bronze Seeker, who raced four back on the pegs and rattled home along the inside before being hampered for room in the closing stages.

After a slow lead time of 38.3sec. Ima Grumpy Jasper reeled off sections of 30.1sec., 30.4sec., 28.6sec. and 29sec. to record a mile rate of 1.58.2.

Ima Grumpy Jasper, whose previous win was in an $8000 claimer at Melton 12 months earlier, is trained by Annie Belton and now has raced 50 times for nine wins, five placings and stakes of $51,037.

Voak said that he was confident of success after the gelding drew the inside barrier. "When he last led (two starts ago) the winner (Shirlz Sensation) went 1.56.6 (over 2130m) and he finished fifth and rated a touch over 1.57," he said. "And from the pole tonight in a field which was a lot weaker than he raced against when he last led, this was, in my opinion, his race. Barring a very fast lead time, he looked the winner from the draw.

"But a bit of pressure in the first quarter left a question mark hanging over him. But the lead time really set it up for him and he only had to run a mile. Every time I touched him with the whip he responded and gave something."

DAVIES KEEPS HER PERFECT RECORD

Kiara Davies maintained her 100 per cent record behind speedy New Zealand-bred gelding Little Boy Blue when she drove him to an effortless victory in the 2130m Slater Gartrell Sports Thornlie Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

This was her third drive behind the Bob Mellsop-trained five-year-old for three very easy wins.

"He's a lovely horse to drive," Davies said as she thanked Mellsop and his wife Val (who owns the gelding) for giving her the opportunity to drive the pacer. "I'm now getting some of the best opportunities I've ever had, driving some extremely nice horses."

Little Boy Blue, a heavily-supported 7/4 on favourite, began smartly from the No. 4 barrier and he raced three wide early before Davies sent him past the polemarker Celtic Crusader and into the lead after 420m. Little Boy Blue then dictated terms and he sped over the final 400m in 28.7sec. to give his rivals very little chance of overhauling him.

Little Boy Blue was not extended in winning by three lengths from 9/1 chance Our Arlington, who sustained a powerful finishing burst. Celtic Crusader (20/1) held on to finish third ahead of Benjamin Banneker.

Little Boy Blue rated 1.56.6 and advanced to an M4 classification. He has earned $142,986 from 15 wins and 21 placings from 61 starts.

SHARDONS ROCKET OVERCOMES 30m HANDICAP

Evergreen pacer Shardons Rocket made light of the back mark of 30 metres and maintained his grand form when he won the 2503m Slater Gartrell In The Force Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Colin Brown seized the initiative and made a winning move when he sent the nine-year-old forward, three wide, after 600m to move into the breeze, with 3/1 favourite Bartowski setting the pace.

Shardons Rocket, third fancy at 4/1, kept the pressure on Bartowski and the first two quarters of the final mile went by in 29.3sec. and 29.5sec. before he surged to the front with 650m to travel. Shardons Rocket covered the next section in 29.3sec. and held on grimly to defeat 22/1 chance That Is Correct by one metre after a final quarter in 30.1sec. He rated a commendable 1.58.6.

Bartowski succumbed to the constant pressure and wilted to finish tenth.

Shardons Rocket continues to be a wonderful campaigner and he now has a splendid record of 151 starts for 28 wins and 50 placings for earnings of $323,217.

He is trained at Byford by 67-year-old Tony Svilicich, who claimed him at Pinjarra on March 31 this year. The New Zealand-bred gelding had been trained for the previous few years by Svilicich for owners Ashley and Gavin McPhail. Shardons Rocket was claimed at Pinjarra on February 17 this year by Eric Chabros and was forced to leave his stables. And then Svilicich jumped at the opportunity to claim the gelding at Pinjarra on March 31.

Since then Shardons Rocket has won twice and finished second once from five starts.

"It was just enormous again; his last three runs have been fantastic," said Brown, who had to drive the old gelding vigorously in the final lap.

"I know which one of us pulled up short of a run, and that's not him. I've got to know him out of a stand and it is just a matter of getting used to him. The thing is that Tony likes them flying out of a stand and making up the ground as quickly as they can.

"Tony told me when I first started driving him that you've got to be up there eyeballing. If you give this horse half a chance to knock off, then you won't finish in the placings. It might not look too tidy, but that's the way the horse goes best."

LEWIS HAPPY TO FILL IN FOR CORTOPASSI

Champion reinsman Chris Lewis has happy to substitute in the sulky behind Shandon Village in the 2536m Slater Gartrell Allira And Jett Pace on Friday night while the veteran gelding's trainer Aldo Cortopassi was on the sidelines, serving a 120-day term of suspension.

Cortopassi was suspended for causing interference in a race at Pinjarra last Monday week and he was granted a stay of proceedings to enable him to drive Shandon Village last Friday week. Shandon Village produced a powerful finishing burst to win at 12/1.

Despite that impressive victory, Shandon Village was neglected by most punters on Friday night and was a 7/1 chance. He raced in ninth position before Lewis sent him forward approaching the bell to follow the three-wide run of Soho Monza.

Conniving Major Dave, who went forward to move to the breeze after a lap, dashed past the pacemaker What God Knows 400m from home. But Shandon Village carried too many guns and forged to the front in the final stages to beat Conniving Major Dave by a neck, with 3/1 favourite Ohoka Courage running on from seventh at the bell to be third.

by Ken Casellas

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