Day At The Track

Oliver & Lewis eye second Binshaw Classic

11:12 AM 05 Feb 2014 NZDT
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Chris Lewis.jpg
Chris Lewis - driver of Shnappy

Former Victorian pacer Shnappy is poised to end a 21-month drought by setting the pace and winning the $50,000 Channel Nine News Binshaw Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

The seven-year-old Shnappy's prospects soared when he drew the coveted No. 1 barrier on the front line of the 2130m feature event.

The Binshaw Classic has been run only twice and both winners started from the No. 1 barrier and as odds-on favourites. Please Release Me, trained by David Hunter and driven by Chris Brew, led and rated 1.56.8 in defeating Grehawk and Dundee Three in 2012 and last year Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri and champion reinsman Chris Lewis combined to score easily with Red Salute, who set the pace and won at a 1.57 rate from Western Cullen and Gate Bender.

Olivieri and Lewis will join forces again in this year's race and Olivieri was delighted when Shnappy drew the inside barrier for his fifth appearance in Western Australia. Shnappy caught the eye in a qualifying heat of the Binshaw Classic last Friday night when he raced in fifth place, three back on the pegs, before finishing fast to be third behind Northern Assassin and Lunar Tide.

"He is certainly capable of holding up and leading," Olivieri said. "He's got good gate speed and if we want to lead, he'll lead. Whether we lead or hand up the lead, he's going to get a nice run and I think that he is one of the main chances in a pretty wide-open race."

Shnappy led and won at five of his ten wins in Victoria, at Cobram (twice) and at Geelong, Shepparton and Cranbourne. His latest success was when he began speedily from barrier seven on the front line and raced without cover before beating Lovable Larrikin over 2240m at Melton in May 2012. He has managed only three third placings at his subsequent 13 starts.

Noted frontrunner Our Amazing Art has drawn favourably at barrier two on Friday night and Shannon Suvaljko is likely to make a bold bid to outpace Shnappy at the start and attempt an all-the-way win with the Debbie Padberg-trained six-year-old. Our Amazing Art began fast from the No. 2 barrier and was untroubled to set the pace and win a qualifying heat last week when he beat the fast-finishing Atlastalone by two lengths.

Atlastalone, trained and driven by Garry Butler, is in sparkling form and cannot be underestimated, even from the No. 5 barrier. He is quite versatile and his past five starts have produced two wins and three seconds.

Northern Assassin and Copagrin, stylish heat winners last week when they set the pace, will be unable to use their excellent gate speed to advantage after drawing the back line. Northern Assassin will start from No. 3 on the back line, with Copagrin on his immediate outside.

Soho Redford, a fighting second to Copagrin last week when he worked hard in the breeze, will start from the inside of the back line and is worthy of consideration.


Byford trainer David Thompson is setting his sights on qualifying star pacer David Hercules for the $750,000 interdominion championship final at Menangle on March 2 and the seven-year-old is spot on to win the $21,000 Nine News Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

This will be the gelding's final appearance before contesting the $48,000 interdominion championship qualifying heat over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Saturday week.

David Hercules has drawn favourably at barrier three in Friday night's seven-horse event and he should prove too good for his rivals. His reinsman Morgan Woodley and Thompson should keep their winning streak going after they had combined to win with Hugh Victor and Guilty Grin at Gloucester Park on Tuesday.

Three-year-old Hugh Victor is a full-brother to David Hercules, who has raced 82 times for 27 wins, 29 placings and $767,444.

"I would have rather drawn a terrible barrier in Friday's race and get a good draw in the interdominion heat," Thompson said. "We really want to go to Sydney and the barrier draw will play a big part in the interdominion heat.

"I am sure David Hercules can hold his own anywhere and over any distance, provided he gets the right run. He is not far off a hundred per cent right now. After his most recent run (when a strong-finishing fourth behind Hokonui Ben in the WA Pacing Cup three Fridays ago) he has had a quiet week or ten days at his owners' place in Serpentine when they rode him in the sand and kept him around the mark.

"He then ran a very pleasing trial at Byford on Sunday morning when he led and rolled around before sprinting home nicely over the final half-mile. We're fortunate enough to have such a good horse and we want to give him every chance in the big races."

David Hercules should prove too speedy on Friday night for veteran pacers Mysta Magical Mach and Ima Rocket Star. Woodley, who won with Mysta Magical Mach two starts ago and was again in the sulky when the nine-year-old finished solidly to be third behind Livingontheinterest and Hokonui Ben in the Lord Mayor's Cup last Friday night, will be replaced by Chris Lewis.

Lewis drove The Oyster Bar (a stablemate of Mysta Magical Mach) to an all-the-way win last Friday night to end a losing sequence of 25 and trainer Tony Svilicich has engaged Aldo Cortopassi to drive the seven-year-old from barrier two in Friday night's event. This is a massive rise in class and The Oyster Bar will be at long odds.


New Zealand-bred mare Famous Alchemist is unbeatable when she leads, according to her trainer Gary Hall sen., and when she drew the prized No. 1 barrier in the 1730m Alan Vawser Memorial Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night he declared: "She'll lead and win."

Famous Alchemist will clash with promising four-year-old Rocky Marciano, who has chalked up three wins in a row in the past three weeks, and former juvenile pacing star Sensational Gabby.

"Famous Alchemist is much quicker out of the gate than Sensational Gabby," Hall said. "She is in terrific form and even went well in the WA Pacing Cup. I wouldn't want her to sit on Sensational Gabby and I consider Rocky Marciano is the danger."

Rocky Marciano, trained by Peter Anderson, was a Metropolitan maiden five weeks ago and has had a rapid rise to an M4 classification. He has won with great authority at each of his past three starts and was most impressive when he raced outside the pacemaker Your Good Fortune before racing away to win easily from Argent Treasure over 2536m last Friday night.

He meets stiffer opposition this week, but is capable of a bold showing from the No. 2 barrier against Famous Alchemist, Sensational Gabby, last-start winner Truckers Ruffnut and Lord Lombo, who caught the eye with his fast-finishing fifth behind Livingontheinterest in the 2130m Lord Mayor's Cup last Friday night.

Famous Alchemist has led at five of her 19 outings in Western Australia --- and she has won at all those five starts.

The appearance of Sensational Gabby certainly adds spice to Friday night's race. The five-year-old possesses sparkling gate speed and she has set the pace and won 18 times during her 42-start career which has produced 25 wins, three placings and $469,485 in prizemoney.

"I think she should lead," said trainer Ross Olivieri. And in reference to the mare's habit of pulling hard and overracing, Olivieri added: "She will be going forward; that will be Gabby's plans."


Smart five-year-old Hoylakes Firstlady has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier for only the fourth time in her career, boosting the confidence of trainer Greg Schofield that she will prove hard to beat in the 1730m The Voice On Nine Mares Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

And Schofield believes it is time for Hoylakes Firstlady to take full advantage of the inside barrier. She has finished second at her three starts from the No. 1 barrier --- at Narrogin in March 2012 and at Gloucester Park last September and October. She has been an honest performer for Schofield, earning $93,917 from nine wins and 19 placings from 64 starts.

Schofield said that Hoylakes Firstlady (who will be handled by her regular reinsman Nathan Turvey) would attempt to lead all the way over the sprint journey.

"She goes well in front and I think she will hold up from one," he said. "It would wise to overlook her seventh behind Aristocratic Glow last Friday night when she got tangled up and locked wheels with Talk About Mach in the front straight racing for the bell."

Hoylakes Firtslady performed strongly the previous week when she raced three wide and then without cover before finishing fourth behind Courage On Fire.

Looming as one of the main threats to Hoylakes Firstlady is the New Zealand-bred four-year-old Am Opulent, who has won eight times from 26 starts. At her third appearance after a spell, at Pinjarra last Monday week, Am Opulent surged home from the rear to finish second to Eminence Grise.

"It was a really good run at Pinjarra and I expect her to be up there and in the firing line for a long way," said part-owner Greg Bond, who trains the mare in partnership with his wife Skye. "Stablemate Showstopper will start from the inside of the back line and is also capable of a strong showing."


Pride of Colorado struggled in Free-For-All company at the end of his most recent campaign, prompting trainer Aldo Cortopassi to start the seven-year-old in claiming company at the start of his current campaign.

Pride of Colorado, an M5-class performer, will start from the outside barrier in the field of seven in the 2130m A Current Affair Claiming Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night, his first appearance since early last September.

"He had three months off and has had a couple of trials and went pretty well," Cortopassi said. "I sat last and just let him run home when fourth behind David Hercules at Byford on Sunday morning. He ran home well and I'm really happy with him.

"He struggled against the Free-For-All horses, mainly because he lacks gate speed and is more tough than he is fast. He had a few cracks at Free-For-Alls and was found wanting. So now it's the claimers; there are no other options."

Pride of Colorado won six races in 2013 and is capable of a strong first-up showing on Friday night in a race in which he will meet in-form runners On All Fours, Shardons Rocket, Rojen Cruz and Whos Mistake.

by Ken Casellas


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