Amongst Royalty, who died earlier this week, was one of the smartest fillies to have raced in Western Australia in recent years and her first foal Lady Willoughby has inherited much of her sparkling speed and brilliance.
Amongst Royalty retired from the track with a record of 23 wins in 86 starts and stakes of more than $570,000 and was voted Australian 2yo Filly Pacer of the Year in 2006.
Lady Willoughby, bred and owned by Bob Fowler, will make her Gloucester Park debut when she contests the $21,000 Alltools Western Crown for two-year-old fillies tonight.
“She’s going to be a sensation,” said trainer Ross Olivieri. “But she will be meeting stiff opposition from Mohito and Straittothehilton. I’m very impressed with those fillies and it wouldn’t surprise me if she can’t match them at this stage.
“Lady Willoughby went out and won at her first start, going no time (2.7.2 over 1823m) at Narrogin and then she disappointed us when we thought she would win, but finished only third at Northam.”
In the Northam race on Thursday of last week Lady Willoughby competed against colts and geldings and after racing one-out and two-back in a field of five she lacked sparkle and finished third, almost four lengths behind the winner Artillery Major.
However, Olivieri’s hopes were boosted on Tuesday morning when Chris Voak drove Lady Willoughby in trackwork. “He said that she was a different horse to the one who went around at Northam,” he said. “Hopefully, her Northam effort was just an aberration and, hopefully, she will go just as well on Friday night as we know she can. Her Mum was good and so is she.”
Lady Willoughby will start from the No. 2 barrier in a field of six, flanked by unbeaten fillies, Delightful Jade and Mohito.
Olivieri hopes that Lady Willoughby will go one better than Amongst Royalty, who finished second in the Western Crown in February 2006 when she finished a nose behind Sheza Clout.
Delightful Jade, trained at Capel by Andrew de Campo, finished strongly from three back on the pegs to win by just over two lengths from Torrevean Mio over 1730m at Gloucester Park at her only appearance, on Tuesday of last week. She is closely related to former champion filly Whitbys Miss Penny.
Mohito, trained at Bakers Hill by Mike Williams, has won at her only two starts, at Northam and Pinjarra, when she set the pace for Ryan Warwick, who will be anxious on Friday night to get her to an early lead from barrier three.
Straittothehilton, trained at Byford by Katja Warwick, will start from the outside barrier and is the most experienced filly in the race, with her four starts producing a debut victory at Pinjarra followed by three second placings. She has been beaten at her past two outings (at Bunbury and Pinjarra) by the Jesse Moore-trained Tricky Styx.
Tricky Styx will start from barrier five on Friday night and must come under serious consideration in what should prove to be a highly competitive event. She is a half-sister to Go West U Terror, who won the 2010 Western Crown for colts and geldings.
ARTILLERY MAJOR SET TO GUN DOWN THE OPPOSITION
Astute Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri firmly believes that Artillery Major has the firepower to remain unbeaten by proving too strong for the enemy in the $21,000 Alltools Western Crown for two-year-old colts and geldings at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
“I think that Artillery Major is a huge chance,” Olivieri said. “He’s fast and he’s strong.”
Artillery Major, handily drawn at barrier three on the front line, will be at a far shorter quote than he was when he made his debut at Northam on Thursday of last week when he was a 25/1 chance who led early and then raced without cover before beating Nitro Lad, rating 2.0.7 over 1780m.
Chris Voak will drive Artillery Major and Chris Lewis, back after an ocean cruise, will handle Olivieri’s second-string runner Coeur de Whitby, who will start out wide at barrier six.
“I put him in a race at Pinjarra on Monday in preference to running in a trial and he ran second in 1.58 and did it really well,” Olivieri said. “He will improve his own weight on that run and if he improves as much as I think he will he’ll be competitive on Friday night.”
By Ken Casellas