New Zealand-bred filly Balcatherine will begin her WA Oaks campaign when she starts in a prelude of the classic, the Intersport Slater Gartrell Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night and she has the raw ability to overcome the disadvantage of starting from the inside of the back line in the 2130m event.
She is unbeaten at her only two starts in New Zealand when she was not fully extended in moderate company in winning at a 2.1.1 rate over 2200m at Gore on December 27 and at a modest 2.6.6 rate over 2200m at Invercargill on January 21.
Now prepared by Hall of Fame trainer, Balcatherine will be driven by Gary Hall Jnr. “She’s got high speed and is going great at home,” said Hall Snr. “She’s probably a little bit underdone with a rushed preparation. This is a bit of a test for her, but she’s up to the task.”
Balcatherine was not bustled at the start at her two runs in New Zealand and she revealed excellent sprinting ability to finish powerfully. At her debut at Gore she ran on from seventh (one-out and one-back) at the bell to move to the breeze 500m from home and then take the lead with 150m to travel. She beat the pacemaker Star Ruler by just over a length, with final quarters of 29.3sec. and 27.9sec.
Then at Invercargill she started from barrier five in a field of seven and raced in fifth position, four back on the pegs, before going four wide on the home turn and bursting to the front 80m from the post to win, unextended, by two and a half lengths from Myrcella.
Balcatherine’s rivals include several fillies aimed at the $150,000 Gannon’s WA Oaks on May 3. The Hall stable will also be represented by Fake News, a winner at six of her 15 starts. She will be driven by Stuart McDonald from barrier five and can improve on her seventh behind the brilliant Dracarys last Friday night when she had a tough run in the breeze.
Justin Prentice, trainer of Dracarys, has two runners in Friday night’s event Majorpride (Michael Grantham) from barrier one and Fulfil The Dream (Nathan Turvey) from barrier three.
Fulfil The Dream has blossomed this season, winning at three of her five starts. She gave a solid frontrunning display to win from The Royal Lady over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week. That followed a sound third behind Dracarys and Majorpride at her previous outing.
Busselton trainer Barry Howlett’s promising filly My Prayer will have admirers from the No. 4 barrier after her strong finishing wins at Pinjarra at her past two starts. And Annie Belton’s La Roue De Lamour is showing steady improvement with a good win from the breeze at Bunbury, followed by her good frontrunning display when a fight last-start second to Dracarys.