Day At The Track

Speed Man is one of Hall's Derby hopes

07:23 PM 01 Mar 2018 NZDT
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Speed Man,harness racing
Speed Man
Photo by Scott Hamilton

Inexperienced colt Speed Man is working along steadily in his bid to gain a start in the rich WA Derby on April 6 and he looks set to notch his fourth win from eight starts by setting the pace and winning the final event, the Push By Schneider Electric Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Champion trainer Gary Hall Snr said “He’s strong and is set for the Derby. At this stage I’ve got four good Derby prospects in King of Swing, Benhope Rulz and Beachbabebeauty.”

The New Zealand-bred Speed Man, who is favourably drawn at the No. 2 barrier in a field of seven in a race over 2130m, has enjoyed little luck when placed at Gloucester Park at each of his past three starts.

He started from the outside of the back line in the Caduceus Club Classic last Friday week when he settled down in eighth position before dashing forward in the middle stages to race in the breeze. He fought on grandly to be second, a half-length behind the pacemaker Golden State.

Ace reinsman Gary Hall Jnr said that Speed Man had the ability to turn the tables on Golden State, particularly because of a more favourable draw (two) to Golden State’s No. 4 barrier.

“Speed Man should be able to lead and hold the opposition at bay,” he said. “His latest run was phenomenal, I thought. He did plenty of work and still had the courage to fight on and nearly win the race. He’s definitely warming up to be a nice Derby horse.”

Shannon Suvaljko, who will drive Golden State for Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed, admitted that Speed Man had a distinct barrier draw advantage but he stressed that Golden State could not be discounted, saying: “He is a nice horse and has trained on well since his latest win.”

Hall Snr said that, at this stage, King of Swing was his brightest Derby prospect. “He is due to arrive by air from New Zealand on Saturday and has an impressive record.”

King of Swing, a colt by Rocknroll Hanover, has raced 13 times for seven wins and four second to earnings of $236,244. Three starts ago, at Addington on November 14 last year, King of Swing finished second to champion three-year-old gelding Chase Auckland (unbeaten at his seven starts) in the Group 1 Sires Stakes, with the winner rating 1.55.2 over 1950m. 

King of Swing has raced twice in Australia for wins in a semi-final at Bendigo and the Group 1 final of the Breeders Crown at Melton last August.

Benhope Rulz is a gelding by Courage Under Fire who has raced five times in New Zealand for three wins and one placing. Beachbabebeauty has also raced five times in New Zealand for three wins.

The powerful Bond stable is believed to have purchased the highly-promising Ocean Ridge from New Zealand. The Mach Three gelding has had ten starts for three wins and three placings for stakes of $35,695. He has been successful at his latest two runs, at Addington in February. He is a half-brother to McClinchie, who has raced 43 times for 11 wins, 16 placings and $89,377 in prizemoney.


Ken Casellas

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