Day At The Track

Valbonne back on track

07:31 PM 07 Jan 2021 NZDT
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Michael Grantham, harness racing
Michael Grantham
Gloucester Park Photo

New Zealand-bred five-year-old Valbonne, unplaced at his previous seven starts, bounced back to form at Northam on Tuesday night when he sustained a spirited burst from last at the bell to snatch a harness racing victory from the pacemaker Im Spiderman.

After being restrained to the rear from the outside barrier (No. 7) in the front line, Valbonne, driven by Michael Grantham, moved forward 750m from home and trailed the three-wide burst of I Am Labros before easing four wide passing the 400m mark and getting up to score in the final couple of strides.

It should be a different scenario in the 2130m Allwood Stud Farm Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night when the Mike Reed-trained Valbonne starts from then prized No. 1 barrier.

Grantham is likely to use Valbonne‘s excellent gate speed in a bid to set the pace. Valbonne has led at four of his eleven wins in a 54-start career.

The most recent time Valbonne has started from barrier one was 30 starts ago, over 2130m at Gloucester Park on October 11, 2019 when he led all the way and won by one and a half lengths from Hit It Rich.

Dominate The Dojo, who has a losing sequence of 34, is a speedy beginner and will have some admirers from the No. 4 barrier. However, Machs Gold (barrier five), Shadow Roll (six) and The Kraken (eight) appear to be Valbonne’s most serious rivals.

The race after Valbonne’s event is the ninth and final event, the 2536m APG Perth Yearling Sales Pace in which Grantham will drive the strongly fancied Michael Brennan-trained Sangue Reale, who will start from barrier three and appears the chief rival for the polemarker Rock Me Over, who has a losing sequence of ten and gets an ideal opportunity to return to winning form for trainer Matt Scott and last season’s leading driver Chris Voak.

Ken Casellas

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