Day At The Track

Shockwave ready to break through

03:06 PM 28 Nov 2019 NZDT
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Shockwave,Harness racing

Breaking through a seemingly impenetrable barrier to notch a Group 1 success for West Australian-bred pacer Shockwave is haunting the connections of the talented horse, who gets an opportunity to post this elusive victory when he starts from the back line in the $125,000 Simmonds Steel Four-Year-Old Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Shockwave, prepared at Baskerville by Ryan Bell, has contested five group 1 feature events in his 28-start career of nine wins and ten placings for two seconds (in the Pearl and Westbred Classic as a two-year-old), fifths in the Golden Slipper and the three-year-old leg of the Westbred Classic, and a fourth behind Major Trojan in the WA Derby last April.

He will start from the No. 2 barrier on the back line in this week’s 2130m classic and reinsman Aiden de Campo will be keen to land in a prominent position in the one-wide line before calling on the Mach Three horse to unwind a typical storming finishing burst.

Shockwave gave an outstanding performance in the Group 2 $50,000 Four-Year-Old Championship over 2130m last Friday week when he was a 60/1 outsider from the outside barrier (No. 9) on the front line.

He settled down in 11th position and was tenth at the bell before he started a spirited finishing burst. After being forced five wide about 250m from the post, he charged home to be an eye-catching third, a half-length behind the winner Theo Aviator and the second placegetter Sangue Reale.

Shockwave, purchased for $46,000 at the 2017 APG yearling sale in Perth, is owned by Gloucester Park Harness Racing vice-president Kevin Jeavons, his son Kyle and Howard King.

Astute Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed holds a strong hand in Friday night’s race with three runners, Bletchley Park (barrier one), Gran Chico (two) and Valbonne (four).

Reed has made no secret that he considers Bletchley Park to be one of the best young pacers he has trained over the past 40 years and he plans to instruct Michael Grantham to take full advantage of the prized No. 1 barrier.

The Victorian-bred Bletchley Park has a 50 per cent winning record and the smart frontrunner has won two group 3 events and has finished a half-head second to Franco Edward in the 2018 Golden Slipper and raced three back on the pegs before finishing strongly on the inside to be second to Major Trojan in the 2019 WA Derby.

Stablemate Gran Chico is expected to be a solid favourite after several impressive performances in New Zealand and an easy win at his West Australian debut last Friday week when he was not extended in beating Dominate The Dojo and Iceenothink.

The big, strong gelding was the lone back-line runner, who settled in fifth place in the one-wide line before Shannon Suvaljko sent him forward with a three-wide burst to take up the running after 500m. He dashed over the final quarters in 28.3sec. and 27.7sec.

Suvaljko was delighted with Gran Chico’s run, saying: “It was a perfect run, first-up. Mike said he was underdone and he is sure to be improved. He felt really good and was sharp off the gate as the only runner off the back line. I just let him do what he wanted to do. I didn’t turn the whip or pull the ear plugs.

“If you watch all Gran Chico’s runs in New Zealand, he does the same; he wins by only a neck or a half-length. He never kills them (the opposition). He needs another horse (challenging him) and when that horse is besides him, he will just charge at him.

“I’ll drive Gran Chico consistent with the way he has been driven. He’ll be up there and we won’t die wondering. I’ve watched his replays and he has got speed off the gate.”

Trainer-reinsman Aldo Cortopassi said that Theo Aviator had done really well since his fast-finishing victory over Sangue Reale and Shockwave last Friday week. “That was only second-up, so he’s still going up the hill,” he said. “From barrier 12 I don’t know what I’m going to do.

“I’ll sit down and study things to determine whether I’ll punch through or drop in and try to get a fence run like we did last start. I’ll be looking for some short cuts early and hope that there is some genuine speed. Theo Aviator can sit and sprint with the best of them.”

Trainer Michael Brennan admitted that barrier five was not a perfect draw for Sangue Reale. “But we’re still a chance,” he said. “He has improved a heap since his last run and I’m absolutely rapt with him. If he had drawn one or ten I’d be really confident of him running in the first two or three.”

Chris Voak has been engaged to drive Sangue Reale, replacing the New South Wales-bred gelding’s regular reinsman Michael Grantham, who will be in the sulky behind Bletchley Park.

Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri is expecting a strong performance from Gee Jay Kay, a winner at ten of his 24 starts. Chris Lewis will drive him from barrier three on the front line. Gee Jay Kay had a tough run without cover before wilting late to finish seventh behind Theo Aviator last Friday week --- 11 days after an impressive victory over Ocean Ridge at Pinjarra.

“He has done very well since his latest run,” said Olivieri. “Any thoughts that the run in the breeze might have knocked him around are unfounded and he has taken no ill-effects from the run. He was beaten by only nine metres and he beat all the fancied horses. I wasn’t disappointed. I think Chris will give him time to find his feet before putting him into the race.”

Dylan Egerton-Green will drive the Colin Brown-trained Patrickthepiranha from the inside of the back line and the gelding is sure to be prominent. “I’m happy with the draw and with the horse, and I’m happy with his latest run when he had no luck.”

Champion trainer Gary Hall Snr fared poorly in the barrier draw with his three runners Wildwest, Robbie Easton and Eloquent Mach, with Wildwest, to be driven by Gary Hall Jnr, the stable’s best hope, despite drawing the outside (No. 9) on the front line.

Wildwest, unbeaten at his first eight starts, suffered his first defeat when eighth behind Theo Aviator last Friday week when he was forced to cover a lot of extra ground in the final circuit. Robbie Easton (barrier six) and Eloquent Mach (seven) look tested from unfavourable draws.


Ken Casellas

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