Day At The Track

Injured Callan Suvaljko returns as a winner

02:04 AM 05 Aug 2012 NZST
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Callan Suvaljko
Callan Suvaljko

Byford horseman Callan Suvaljko, who received shocking facial injuries when kicked by a horse on June 30, returned to harness racing action in a blaze of glory when he drove Knight Crusader to a most impressive victory in the 1700m Veolia Environmental Services Pathway Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Making his first appearance in the sulky after a five-week absence, the 37-year-old Suvaljko had to wait until the fourth of his five drives at the meeting to get back into the winning list. And he had to overcome a serious setback before he scored a dashing victory with Knight Crusader, the heavily-supported 2/1 second favourite.

Knight Crusader broke into fierce gallop when the mobile sent the field on its way and quickly dropped back to tenth place 33/1 outsider Tartary Troy bursting to the front after 300m.

However, Suvaljko did not panic and he sent Knight Crusader forward, three wide, 1050m from home. Knight Crusader moved to sixth at the bell and sustained his three-wide run before dropping into the one-out, one-back position at the 700m mark.

Whos Mistake, making his WA debut for leading city trainer Gary Hall sen. and starting favourite at 10/9, got to the lead by a neck with 425m to travel before Tartary Troy fought back to regain the lead at the 220m mark.

Knight Crusader, who had been taken three wide 520m from home, finished resolutely to take the lead 80m from the post and Suvaljko, in a rare display of emotion, waved his whip in triumph as he crossed the line.

"I've been going mad a little bit and was getting itchy feet," he said. "I resumed working horses only two days earlier. Knight Crusader galloped at the start simply because he was trying to go just too fast. He just charged when the mobile got the field under way."

Tartary Troy fought on grimly to finish second, with 55/1 outsider Nextdoor To Alice running on from ninth at the bell to be third. Whos Mistake faded to second last.

The Victorian-bred Knight Crusader is trained by Suvaljko's wife Amanda, who races the Our Sir Vancelot six-year-old in partnership with Bill Harris, Pamela Lea and her daughter Vicki Lea.

Knight Crusader has had 14 WA starts for four wins and three placings and now has earned $61,031 from 11 wins and 17 placings from 67 starts. He is still a metropolitan maiden and looks set for further successes.

Suvaljko was injured at his Byford stables when he was standing front of a horse. "I had two horses tied up behind him and I reckon one horse had kicked the one in front of me," Suvaljko said. "He just lunged forward and his front foot struck me in the face and nine out of the 14 bones in my forehead were broken, my nose was shattered and there broken bones under the eye."

Suvaljko went to hospital before being allowed home that night and then he returned to hospital a week later for surgery. "One side of the nose had collapsed and the surgeon said that he had never seen so many broken bones that didn't require intensive surgery," he said. "The surgeon said my face was like a Violet Crumble honeycomb bar, but he said it was quite remarkable that so many of the broken bones had remained in place."

CHRIS VOAK BRINGS UP HIS CENTURY WITH VETERAN FLAMIN TACT

Flamin Tact, the oldest pacer racing at Gloucester Park on Friday night, relished the unfamiliar role of pacemaker and fought on tenaciously to win the 1700m Lancaster Park Pace to bring up a memorable milestone for 23-year-old reinsman Chris Voak.

Flamin Tact's victory by a half-head over Crave gave Voak his 100th winner of the season and vindicated his decision to attempt an all-the-way win with a gelding who has been a noted sit-sprinter throughout his eight-year career.

The win completed a double for Voak and Pinjarra trainer Chris King, who had combined to win the previous event with promising filly Leda McNally.

"I wanted Chris to sit with Flamin Tact, but he virtually insisted he should attempt to lead all the way from the No. 1 barrier," King said. "I'm glad I agreed with him. And I am a bit surprised that Flamin Tact was able to win over a sprint trip as I have always reckoned he was better suited over 2500m and driven as a sit-sprinter. I had never considered him as a miler.

"But the old horse always seems to be able to open a new bag of tricks."

Flamin Tact, a sprightly New Zealand-bred gelding and nine days older than Tee Pee Village, the other ten-year-old in action on Friday night's ten-event program, held up from the inside barrier and set the pace from Life Boat (in the breeze) and Crave (on the pegs). Flamin Tact was second favourite at 7/2 and Crave was a heavily-backed 2/1 favourite.

Shannon Suvaljko was able to ease Crave off the pegs approaching the home turn and the six-year-old fought of doggedly, but just failed to overhaul Flamin Tact, who scored by a half-head after dashing over the final 800m in 57.5sec. and rating 1.57.9

Flaming Tact, an M2-class pacer was able to contest the event which was restricted to M1-class pacers because Voak was able to make a claim as a junior reinsman. Under previous handicapping systems Flamin Tact would have been classified as an M6-class pacer, but he had been the beneficiary of the drop-down regulations (adopted a couple of years ago) after four times building up a losing sequence of ten.

"Without the drop-down rule he would have been retired long ago,"" King said. King races the old gelding with his partner Barbra Gray. They race him on lease from Victorian Greg Stubbs and the gelding has had 87 starts in WA for King for eight wins and 15 placings to take his record to 157 starts for 20 wins, 31 placings and prizemoney of $210,635.

"He's been a wonderful horse and has earned about $115,000 in WA," King said. "He will keep racing while he retains his form and he'll go around until he shows us that he's had enough."

Voak, WA's Rising Stars champion last season, won the New South Wales Rising Stars title in June of last year when he finished on top after the seven heats of the championship.

This season he has had 884 drives for 100 winners, 108 seconds and 85 thirds to be in sixth place in the Statewide premiership. He kept up the good work when he drove 16/1 chance French Fashion to an all-the-way win in a 2100m events for fillies and mares at Gloucester Park on Saturday night.

KING CELEBRATES 40th BIRTHDAY WITH HIS FIRST CITY DOUBLE

Chris King turned 40 on Friday and celebrated in wonderful style by training a double with Leda McNally and Flamin Tact at Gloucester Park, his only runners at the meeting that night.

It was the first city double for the Pinjarra trainer who has held a licence for 15 years.

King, who has a team of eight in work at his Pinjarra stables, is also a full-time AWU union convenor at the Alcoa aluminium refinery in Waroona.

After Chris Voak had driven Leda McNally to a stylish victory over Blissfull Cullen in the 1700m DBC Tender Ridge Pace for three-year-old fillies King said that the Victorian-bred pacer was still learning and should go on for bigger and better things.

"She has so much depth and Chris said that she is getting better with every run," King said.

Leda McNally, bred in Victoria by her owner Greg Stubbs, had 11 starts in Victoria for one win and three placings and four unplaced runs in New South Wales before Stubbs sent her to King, who now has given the Modern Art filly four starts for three wins and a second placings for earnings of $26,335.

King said that Leda McNally would have her next start in an event for fillies at Gloucester Park next Friday week before determining whether she should be sent for a spell.

Leda McNally, favourite at 7/4 on, started out wide at the No. 6 barrier on the front line, but she was beaten out by Blissfull Cullen, who began like a flash from barrier seven and burst straight to the front. Voak gave Leda McNally a few moments to get balanced and then dashed her into the lead 500m after the start.

The first 400m section of the final mile whizzed by in 28.8sec. before Voak slackened the tempo and Leda McNally coasted through the next quarter in 31.4sec. before sprinting over the final 800m in 58.4sec. to beat Blissfull Cullen by just over a length.

BRILLIANT DAVID HERCULES BRINGS UP A TREBLE FOR WOODLEY

It was simply a stroll in the park for the brilliant David Hercules when he crushed his rivals in the 2100m Find Thirty Every Day Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Byford trainer David Thompson is contemplating another Eastern States campaign for the five-year-old, but no decision will be made until after he contests the August Cup at Gloucester Park next Friday week.

The win of 3/1 on favourite David Hercules by just over two lengths from Elite Angel at a 1.56.5 rate gave leading reinsman Morgan Woodley the third leg of a treble after he had been successful earlier in the program with Chocolatto and Legislate.

Woodley kept up the good work by winning the opening event at the eight-event program at Gloucester Park on Saturday night with 6/1 chance Vital Equalizer for Forrestdale trainers Greg and Skye Bond.

Vital Equalizer provided the 23-year-old Woodley with his 186th winner of the season and he leads the WA reinsmen's premiership from Colin Brown (165), Gary Hall jun. (153), Chris Lewis (137) and Shannon Suvaljko (108).

The WA-bred David Hercules, owned by David Botha and Jeneen Johnson, has now amassed $581,604 from 20 wins and 19 placings from 58 starts.

Polemarker Elite Angel led for the first 450m before Woodley sent David Hercules to the front. Cromac Johnny (Nathan Turvey) quickly moved into the breeze, but the favourite had all his rivals under pressure when he sprinted the third 400m section of the final mile in 27.8sec. before covering the final section in 28.3sec.

Elite Angel fought on gamely after enjoying the run of the race behind the leader and ten-year-old Tee Pee Village, a winner in claiming company at his previous outing, ran on from sixth at the bell to be third. Cromac Johnny wilted to fifth.

GEAR MALFUNCTION FAILS TO SLOW SPEEDY SOLOMON MAGUIRE

Solomon Maguire took full advantage of the prized No. 1 barrier, but had to overcome a gear malfunction before winning the 1700m TAB Touch Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

The hopple shortening pins failed to release, but this did not prevent the New Zealand-bred six-year-old from setting a fast pace and winning by 2m from Moonlight Rockhole, rating 1.56.6 after dashing over the final 800m in 57.1sec.

The victory ended a losing sequence of 17 for Solomon Maguire, who was a heavily-supported 5/4 favourite. His previous victory was at Gloucester Park in August 2010 when he raced without cover and beat the fast-finishing Alby Albert by a head in a Pathway Pace.

Colin Brown drove Solomon Maguire hard in the early stages to hold out Three Quarter Drive, Flash Desire and Golden Bromac, all of whom began speedily.

Golden Bromac moved into the breeze, a position Shane Butterworth refused to relinquish when Gary Hall jun. dashed 5/1 chance Tyler Diamond forward approaching the bell. Tyler Diamond eventually got into second place 450m from home and he fought on grimly to be third, losing second place to Moonlight Rockhole, who finished solidly on the pegs after enjoying the perfect sit behind the leader all the way.

Solomon Maguire, owned by Greg Bond and trained by him and his wife Skye, has been lightly raced and now has earned $54,844 from eight wins and ten placings from 34 starts.

WOODLEY'S MASTERY GETS CHOCOLATTO HOME BY A HEAD

A masterly drive by Morgan Woodley paved the way for Chocolatto's narrow victory in the 1700m Cowden Ltd Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Chocolatto, a 14/1 chance, began speedily from the No. 4 barrier and just managed to avoid Taiaha, who galloped badly from barrier two. Chocolatto got almost a length in front of 2/1 second favourite Extreme Bromac, but Woodley did not persist with the forward move against Extreme Bromac, who had the distinct advantage of the prized No. 1 barrier.

Woodley then made a split-second decision to angle Chocolatto to the pegs to take the trail behind the pacemaking Extreme Bromac, who then was joined in the breeze by outsider Boofshalfbrother.

Extreme Bromac (Kim Prentice) had his rivals under pressure after he had sped through the third 400m section of the final mile in 28.3sec. Boofshalfbrother began to fade, but Woodley declined to ease Chocolatto off the pegs leaving the back straight because the six-year-old was having difficulty in keeping up.

"He was labouring a bit, but when I pulled the plugs and gave him a few cuts with the whip he responded well," Woodley said. Chocolatto knuckled down in the home straight and got the better of the pacemaker in the final couple of strides to win by a head. Johnny be raced three back on the pegs before running on to be third. Dashing Christian, the 7/4 favourite from the outside of the back line, raced at the rear and was forced wide in the final circuit before finishing fifth.

Chocolatto, who gave Bickley trainer Peter Anderson his 53rd winner for the season, dashed over the final 400m in 28.7sec. and rated 1.56.4. The New Zealand-bred son of American stallion Cammibest has earned $67,661 from eight wins and 17 placings from 59 starts. He raced 30 times in New Zealand for three wins and 11 placings and his 29 WA starts for Anderson have produced five wins, five seconds and one third for stakes of $40,080.

Later in the night Woodley stole a march on his rivals when he got Legislate away to a flying start from the outside barrier (No. 6) on the front line in a 2503m stand, the Nepean Conveyors Handicap.

Legislate (13/4) charged straight to the front when polemarker Kentucky Jasper dawdled away and was unable to muster any great speed and Vito Vito galloped badly from barrier two.

Woodley then rated Legislate to perfection and after the New Zealand-bred seven-year-old went through the first two 400m sections of the final mile in 32.1sec. and 30.6sec., he increased the tempo and the gelding zipped over the final two quarters in 29.4sec. and 28sec. to coast to victory by just under two lengths from Im Percy The Punter (5/1), who fought on doggedly after racing in the breeze for the final 1800m.

Legislate, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, has been lightly raced and now has earned $92,804 from 14 wins and eight placings from 38 starts.

THE FEATHER FOOT GIVES A SAMPLE OF HIS CLASS

Five-year-old gelding The Feather Foot, a son of former champion pacer The Falcon Strike, gave promise of better things to come when he charged home from eighth in the middle stages to score an easy victory in the 2506m Ross North Homes Westbred Pathway Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

The well-supported 4/1 chance, trained and driven by Chris Brew, showed that he has the ability to graduate through the classes. Brew dashed him forward, three wide, approaching the bell and he sustained his effort to charge to the front 220m from home before scoring by 5m from smart three-year-old and 7/4 favourite Danieljohn. The pacemaker Big And Smooth faded to finish fifth.

The Feather Foot sprinted over the final 800m in 57.9sec. and rated 2.0.8. Bred and owned by Colleen Lindsay, The Feather Foot is a group 1 winner and now has earned $107,957 from ten wins and 11 placings from 42 starts.

He showed early promise and won the group 1 State Sires Series final for three-year-old colts and geldings (beating Erris Lad by a head) in July 2010.

The Feather Foot is out of unraced Armbro Operative mare Goody Four Shoes, whose dam Maybe Rich was a successful performer before producing Fac Et Spiro, who amassed $386,695 from 23 wins and 30 placings from 85 starts.

SUVALJKO'S AGGRESSION PAYS OFF FOR ERRIS LAD

West Australian-bred five-year-old Erris Lad maintained his consistent form when Shannon Suvaljko was rewarded for his aggressive tactics by winning the 2096m SEW-Eurodrive Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Trained at Hazelmere by Mike Reed, Erris Lad was favourite at 5/2 and Suvaljko seized the initiative by dashing the Northern Luck gelding forward soon after the start and taking the lead from Coringa Corey after 650m.

Erris Lad set a brisk pace and dashed over the final 800m in 58.6sec. before beating Topnotch Dan by just under a length, with Uncle Kracker a good third.

Topnotch Dan surged home from last at the bell and Uncle Kracker came from eighth with a lap to travel and was forced to cover plenty of extra ground.

Erris Lad has raced 40 times for nine wins and 17 placings for $91,762 in stakes. He is out of Crouch mare Pride of Clare (23 starts for eight wins, eight placings and $39,301). Pride of Clare's dam Meggie Hanover won 13 races from 42 starts and produced the brilliant mare Meggie Dear, who earned $186,171 from 24 wins and 11 placings from 56 starts.

FLYING BAKERANDTHEFATMAN ENDS LOSING SEQUENCE OF 16

Veteran pacer Bakerandthefatman, a plain and somewhat ungainly horse, ended a losing sequence of 16 and gave veteran Byford trainer Tony Svilicich a welcome change of luck when he began brilliantly from barrier five, set the pace and won the 1700m Global Insurance Broking Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Chris Lewis stole a march on his rivals when he got the eight-year-old away to a flying start. Bakerandthefatman was an 18/1 chance on the tote for a sprint event in which many punters considered would see polemaker Belhelvie set the pace and prove hard to catch.

But Belhelvie, favourite at 6/4 on, failed to muster sufficient speed to keep Bakerandthefatman at bay after he (Belhelvie) had led for the first 100m.

Bakerandthefatman revelled in his pacemaking role and beat Clancy Maguire by a half-length after that pacer had worked hard without cover all the way. Bakerandthefatman sprinted over the final 800m in 56.5sec. and rated 1.55.3. Belhelvie was two lengths back in third place.

The Victorian-bred Bakerandthefatman has been an iron horse and now has raced 148 times for 23 wins and 29 placings for earnings of $165,734.

by Ken CASELLAS

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