Day At The Track

Iron horse in top form for start 250!

07:00 PM 09 Mar 2016 NZDT
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Shardons Rocket
Shardons Rocket

Harness racing veteran Byford trainer Tony Svilicich is renowned for his great success with pacers with an iron constitution and the ability to race for lengthy periods and in several events in a short space of time.

He now declares that hardy 11-year-old Shardons Rocket is “super fit” and is cherry ripe to contest his third race in the space of eight days when he runs in the $23,000 Ray Duffy Memorial over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night - his 250th carreer start.

“Three races in a week is good for him because he’s super fit,” Svilicich said. “In between these runs I do less than nothing with him.

“He has drawn out wide at barrier seven and I will instruct Colin Brown to go forward and attempt to lead. The horse just wants to go, go, go. I’ll tell Colin to try to get to the front because he can run the distance faster than the others.

“If he gets to the front he will win. But if he stays in the breeze and pulls hard, he won’t. That’s his downfall, pulling hard when in the breeze.”

Svilicich was extremely happy with the way Shardons Rocket mustered great early speed from the No. 7 barrier at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon when Brown dashed him to the front after 250m and then, with a wing on every foot, led his rivals on a merry dance and scored a decisive victory over Walter James and Machs A Pearler, rating 1.55.9 over 2692m. After quarters in 29.6sec. and 28.5sec., he dashed over the final sections in 27.9sec. and 29.1sec.

Asked the reasons why Shardons Rocket had recently turned the corner with two wins and a fast-finishing second to Fernleigh Rebel from his past four starts, the wily Svilicich said: “You have to use your head. The secret is to watch what went wrong and then work to correct the problem.”

Before his recent wins Shardons Rocket had a losing sequence of 12 (including just one second and two thirds).

Svilicich shed no light on his recipe for success with old pacers who continued to relish racing and win many races in gruelling campaigns of many successive months of two and three starts a week.

The evergreen Shardons Rocket has raced 249 times for 37 wins and 75 placings for earnings of $514,820 to follow in the footsteps of previous Svilicich iron horses, including Of Auld Aberdeen (279 starts for 40 wins, 63 placings and $235,201), Digger of Fortune (183 starts for 41 wins, 32 placings and $265,063), Demoralizer (186 starts for 26 wins, 49 placings and $358,199), Has The Answers (240 starts for 76 wins, 65 placings and $1,326,582) and Mysta Magical Mach (160 starts for 34 wins, 54 placings and $1,261,371).

A disciple of vitamin supplements and a regimen of driving an old vehicle to chase his pacers around a paddock to keep them fit, Svilicich declares he has no secret or mysterious methods to maintain his remarkable record with veteran pacers who thrive on racing two and three times a week for lengthy periods.

There is little doubt that Shardons Rocket will make a determined bid to set the pace on Friday night, but out-of-form eight-year-old Local Rogue could prove a difficult obstacle from the coveted No. 1 barrier if Chris Voak uses the pacer’s excellent gate speed. The speedy Glenlochar (barrier six) could also challenge for the early lead.

Lisharry, This Time Dylan and El Machine will have admirers. They should appreciate a drop in class after their unplaced efforts in Monday’s Pinjarra Cup.

Ken Casellas

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