By Duane Ranger
Redcliffe trainer, Bianca Hooper, and her first time-driver and New South Welshman, Ben Battle, are on the same page.
Handle bars down at the start of race five at Albion Park on Saturday night, and hunt the lead.
In a perfect world that’s the ideal scenario for the former New Zealand and New South Wales pacer, Pass The Speights.
The Bettor's Delight gelding has finished first and second in two Queensland starts for Hooper, and she’s rapt with where the 6-year-old has drawn for his first Albion Park assignment.
“This is the first time Ben will have driven the horse. I like his driving. I put a claimer on him thinking he would perhaps cop a second row draw. I was pleasantly surprised when he drew three.
“He has good gate speed so I’ll be asking Ben to use it. From three he can get to the front, and if he does, he should be quite hard to catch,” Hooper said.
Pass The Speights was born on October 16, 2012 and won four of his 39 starts and placed in 14 others for his Southland trainer, Brendon McLellan.
He was exported to from New Zealand on August 1 last year and then had eight starts in New South Wales for two wins and a second. All-up the bay has now had 49 starts for seven wins and 16 placings. His bank balances sits at $53,495.
"I’ve only had him for two months. I got him of Kevin Pizzuto. He’s a R70 pacer taking on R60s and R50s. I think that is good, even though I’m still a bit in the dark as to how the new ranking system works.
“In saying that this will be his toughest race to date, but she did beat Sheza Galvinator from gate seven last start (June 26), and she's a very nice pacer. Yes, my horse can win again, but this is his first look at Albion Park and anything can happen in racing," said Hooper, who works a team of three.
“He is potentially one of the best horses I have trained,” she added.
Both Hooper and Battle were impressed with Pass The Speights 35-metre trial win at Redcliffe Paceway last Thursday (July 18).
“He showed nice gate speed coming out in 11 seconds (lead-time) and then came home in a tick over 29. Adam Richardson drove him that day and said he could have gone faster,” Hooper said.
Pass The Speights drew five (of six) in that 1,780m mobile trial and stopped the clock in 2:11.7 (mile rate 1:59.1. His sectionals were: 30.2, 32.2, 29.2, and 29.1.
Battle, who moved full-time from Goulburn to Caboolture with his fiancee, Tamara Baker, on January 2, said he also liked the way Pass The Speights won Thursday’s trial.
"I drove the second horse in that trial, which I train - Destiny Jane. He looked real sharp that day and I'm grateful to Bianca for the drive. I'll be looking for the lead all right," Battle said.
Battle, who will marry Baker next year, said he loved living and working out of Queensland. He said it gave him the opportunity to train full-time and get more drives.
The 24-year-old is working a team of nine, including, 6-year-old Kenneth J gelding, Whiskey Blaze, who lines up in the third race on Saturday.
Here’s what Battle had to say about his three drives at ‘The Creek’ tomorrow night (with trainers, draw, and opening odds):
The Ben Battle trained and driven WHISKEY BLAZE (9) $12 – "He been in good form of late placing behind some handy opposition. He was a fraction unlucky last start and when he got out late he flashed home with some nice sectionals. He’s up against Tom Me Gun again, and he will be hard to beat. This fella had a better draw last week and it won’t be easy from the second row, but I still think he’s some sort of chance with a handy run. If he gets that he will hit the line strong. I think he’s an each-way chance with any luck in the running.”
Race 5: PASS THE SPEIGHTS (3) Ben Battle $3.50 - "He is an R70 pacer taking on lesser graded horses. I haven’t seen a lot of him, but he was a very impressive trial winner last Thursday at Redcliffe. On that run he should be favourite. If we can find the front, and believe me I’ll be having a serious look, then he will take some catching. It’s hard to get a gauge on him until his form stands up in the city, but for me I’d say he’s a win bet and quaddie anchor.”
Race 7: The Tayla Gillespie trained HOT ROD HEAVEN (8) $21 – "This draw is ideal for him because he follows out a really nice pacer from gate one – One Hell Of A Ride ($1.70). That horse will take a power of catching. I’ll be looking to burst through at the start and follow the favourite’s helmet everywhere he goes. Then in the lane hopefully I can get one shot at him, but the Alchin (Jarrod) runner is above average. In saying that who knows what can happen if we get a real soft run and one late crack at him. Place bet or possibly, each-way.”