Day At The Track

Magnificent Storm is ready

07:00 PM 14 Jan 2021 NZDT
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Magnificent Storm winning at Gloucester Park, Harness racing

Star pacer Magnificent Storm has recovered from the debilitating effects of racing in blistering heat at 3 o’clock three Thursdays ago and is fighting fit and poised to extend his winning sequence to eleven when he contests the $50,000 Four-Year-Old Championship at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

The New Zealand-bred gelding has drawn awkwardly at barrier six in the 2130m Group 2 feature event which has attracted a quality field and has left astute Mt Helena trainer Ray Williams considering that Magnificent Storm is facing the biggest test in his short but dazzling career.

“lt will be a test for him, but I think he will come through all right,” Williams said. “I’m excited and am looking forward to Friday night. It is a good field, and this will tell us where we’re at with the horse.

“No doubt, this will be his biggest test and he will tell us whether he’s up to it (to be set for the Group 1 Four-Year-Old Classic in a fortnight and the Group 1 Golden Nugget two weeks later).

“We decided not to contest the Pinjarra Four-Year-Old Classic last Monday week because it was pretty hot when he won at Gloucester Park eleven days earlier. He has come through that pretty well and he has worked well.

“The draw hasn’t done us any favours, but I’m not too concerned about that. He doesn’t have to lead; he’s a nice horse who is easy to drive. So, we’ll grab a spot and see what happens.

“He doesn’t do any track work and the only time he sees the track and is hoppled is when he’s in a race. He gallops in the cart and enjoys galloping up the hill at home.”

Aldo Cortopassi will determine his tactics with Magnificent Storm as the race unfolds. The major danger looms large as the Greg and Skye Bond-trained Patronus Star, a winner at ten of his 17 starts.

Patronus Star, to be driven by Ryan Warwick from the No. 3 barrier on the front line, is in top form. He started out wide at barrier seven in the Pinjarra Classic and raced three wide in the middle stages and then in the breeze when a fighting second to talented stablemate Howard Hughes, who notched is twelfth win from just 15 starts when he raced three back on the pegs and finished strongly along the sprint lane.

Howard Hughes is handily drawn on the inside of the back line on Friday night when he will be handled by Deni Roberts.

Stuart McDonald will drive Copy N Pace for trainer Gary Hall Snr, and will have admirers from barrier two on the back line. Copy N Pace impressed two starts ago with his fast-finishing third behind Magnificent Storm and Jaspervellabeach.

Michael Grantham has chosen to drive the Mike Reed-trained Power And Grace from the No. 1 barrier in preference to trainer Michael Brennan’s Withoutthetuh (barrier No. 8). Gary Hall Jnr has been engaged to handle Withoutthetuh, who faces a difficult assignment from his wide draw.

Chris Voak is looking forward to driving Henrik Larsson, who won for the fifth time from eight starts when he covered extra ground early before taking the lead and winning easily from The Stars Above at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon. However, barrier No. 7 is likely to make life tough for Henrik Larsson.

Henrik Larsson’s trainer Luke Edwards said that the horse was on track to contest the coming feature events for four-year-olds. “I was very happy with his run at Pinjarra,” he said. “He did a lot of work early and finished the race in good fashion, with the ear plugs in. We will be going back at the start and hopefully he hits the line strongly.

“He is still on the way up and I aim to have him peaking for the big events over the next four weeks.”

Voak was impressed with Henrik Larsson at Pinjarra, saying: “He still had gears left. But the draw on Friday certainly won’t help his cause.”

Capel trainer-reinsman Aiden de Campo said that Alta Engen, a winner at eight of his 12 starts, was capable of a solid showing. “But the draw (No. 9) hurts,” he said. “He has improved a lot since his last-start sixth behind Howard Hughes and Patronus Star at Pinjarra, and his work since then has been good.”

 

Ken Casellas

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