Day At The Track

Will he be rewarded for decision to Go West?

03:00 PM 12 Sep 2020 NZST
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Willie Go West,Harness racing
Wille Go West
Bruce Stewart photo

Willie’s move west will be put to its first test at Terang tonight but owner Luke Stokie’s optimistic that the three-year-old’s talent will translate across the Tasman.

The Amanda Grieve-trained Auckland Reactor gelding, Wille Go West, makes his Australian debut in the Jilliby Kung Fu @ Goodtime Lodge 3YO Pace, which streams on Trots Vision at 9.02pm and caps what looms as a terrific race card.

Much of the night’s interest will surround Ride High’s assault on Terang track records, coupled with new reinswoman Kate Gath, in the Christians Bus Gammalite Pace at 6.02pm, and the talent laden Volstead @ Haras Des Trotteurs Trot at 7.35pm, featuring Majestuoso against Sammy Showdown and co.

But there will also be plenty of eyes on the last, when proven three-year-old top liners Youaremy Sunshine and Yianni clash with Willie Go West.

The latter lands with a big reputation, built in large part to his impressive last start win at Addington in a $40,000 listed feature.

“The horse got mentioned to me, I watched the replay and liked what I saw. He looked like a progressive horse,” Stokie said.

“I got in contact with Dean Braun to make an inquiry. He found out the horse was for sale and I went ahead and bought him.

“I initially bought him for myself, a couple of mates were interested in getting involved in a horse and I thought this one was promising.”

Willie Go West ran second on debut and then won his next two starts on February 2 and 14, the latter franked by the good form of those he beat.

“He seemed like he really progressed from the time he first trialled as a two-year-old when he was beaten by 100 metres and wasn’t a good pacer to where he is now,” Stokie said.

“His pacing is still not fantastic, but he has improved a lot. Now he is showing gate speed, that he can sit behind a leader and give a good sprint up the straight.

“He looks like a typical Auckland Reactor and reminded me a little of Reactor Now, being a big, maturing horse.”

Most encouraging is that the horse he beat at his last start, Spirit Of St Louis, won his following three starts and then finished sixth on August 28, just four metres in arrears of Auckland Cup winner Self Assured.

“Spirit Of St Louis really looks like he has taken the next step,” Stokie said. “We expect a really forward showing (from Willie Go West).”

But he appreciates he meets a very competitive field first up.

“Youaremy Sunshine you have to really respect, second in the Breeders Crown and fourth in the Derby and one of the real benchmark two-year-olds,” he said.

“I will leave it up to (reinsman) Chris Alford, but our horse has a lot options and good gait speed.

“It will be a really good measuring stick this week. If he’s competitive we will probably look towards a race like the (Breeders) Crown. He’s probably still got a lot of maturing and growing to do.”

Of other horses Stokie has part ownership of, he said Sirletic would return within the month to pursue a Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup start, while Buster Brady, whose been trialing after almost 12 months on the sidelines, would likely be treated with kid gloves.

“I was really happy with his first trial, when he finished fourth or fifth beaten about five metres and really cruising. I was disappointed with his (second) trial, he just wasn’t 100 per cent right.”

Buster Brady has since trialled a third time on Thursday night, but it will be a slow road back. This year’s October 10 Victoria Cup isn’t in the frame, with Buster Brady instead likely to be directed towards country cups and longer distance races.

“He has all the ability in the world but a lot of issues.”


HRV - Michael Howard

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