12 October 2017 | Ken Casellas
Early last year El Machine was classified as an M6 performer after winning the $50,000 RWWA Cup. A year earlier he won the Village Kid Sprint from Uppy Son, rating 1.55.8 over 1780m at Northam, and four starts before that he won the Manea Classic from Leda McNally at Bunbury, rating 1.56.5.
He has lost form and at nine years of age is in the twilight of his 103-start career of 21 wins and 17 placings for stakes of $243,598. He also was the winner of a WA Derby prelude in April 2012.
He has dropped back to an M2 classification in a moderate field of mostly veteran pacers and will start from barrier two on the back line with Luke Edwards in the sulky. It should be a wide-open betting race in which punters should consider El Machine’s superior record.
The eleven runners have chalked up a combined total of 1043 starts for 145 wins. Six of the runners are nine-year-olds and there are one ten-year-old, one eight-year-old, one seven-year-old and two six-year-olds.
The Clint Hall-trained and driven Yackandandah (barrier four) is the likely favourite, after working hard and winning at Gloucester Park four starts ago. Another major hope is six-year-old mare Sea Cider, who will be driven by Dylan Egerton-Green from barrier five.
Sea Cider has managed just one placing from her past 15 starts, but she is sure to take a power of beating. She revealed wonderful fighting qualities at Gloucester Park on Tuesday evening when she raced wide early and then without cover for almost two laps when an extremely close fourth behind Guns With Cows in a four-way photo.
Sea Cider is prepared by Sarah Suvaljko, who will also be represented by ten-year-old Atlastalone. A fast-finishing winner at Gloucester Park three starts ago.
Michael Grantham had the choice of driving Sea Cider and Atlastalone, who raced at the rear and then three wide in the final circuit before finishing eighth, ten lengths behind the winner The Trilogy in a 2503m stand on Tuesday evening. Grantham opted for the Michael Brennan-trained Ona Happy Note, who has a losing sequence of 21 (including just two third placings). Ona Happy Note was eighth at the bell and just plugged on along the pegs when a last-start fifth behind Im Rockaria at Narrogin.
The drive behind Atlastalone has gone to outstanding South Australian 17-year-old reinsman Jayden Brewin, who drove 62 winners last season, 55 in South Australia and seven in Victoria.
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