Six-year-old Atmospherical, generally regarded as a standing-start specialist, surprised eight-time WA premier trainer Ross Olivieri with his brilliant victory in a mobile sprint event last Friday night and Olivieri is looking for the gelding to repeat the dose when he starts from barrier five in the 1730m Better Your Bet With TABtouch Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Atmospherical, with Chris Voak in the sulky, resumed after a four-month absence with three runs in stands at Gloucester Park last month (for a second to Eloquent Mach followed by modest sixth and seventh placings) before Olivieri decided to give him a taste of mobile sprint racing last week when he started from the No. 5 barrier over 1730m. He raced in sixth position before a sparkling three-wide burst at the 650m mark took him to the front 200m later on the way to an effortless three-length win over Bee Seventeen at a 1.56.1 rate.
"I was surprised by the way he won so well last week," Olivieri admitted. "I knew he was good, but I didn't realize that he would go that good. He came back this preparation off a bit of an injury. Another horse kicked him in the back leg. And that's why he had the time off and he's taken a couple of runs to get things right.
"He's a good 2500m stand horse and he gets away that well off the front that he generally gets to the lead and leading is not his go. And 1700m races are not his preferred distance. I don't think that he has the gate speed to lead from barrier five. But they are going to run a bit which gives him the chance to sit and then run home."
Olivieri has nine runners on Friday night and he could well be the trainer to follow, with all his team having sound each-way prospects.
Apart from Atmospherical, Olivieri strongly fancies The Dali Express, who will be driven by Chris Lewis from the prized No. 1 barrier in the final event, the Book Your Christmas Party at Gloucester Park Pace over 2130m.
"The Dali Express is flying, and he won't hand up the lead unless Ocean Ridge is too fast for him," Olivieri said. "His run in a stand two starts ago when he galloped at the start (and finished tenth behind Twilight Sage) was enormous."
Lewis agreed with Olivieri that the New Zealand-bred six-year-old would be very hard to beat, saying: "It will be quite an advantage starting from barrier one and he'll give Ocean Ridge plenty of competition. I'll be looking to hold the lead and if he does, he will be hard to beat."
Ocean Ridge, to be driven by Ryan Warwick for leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, will start from the No. 2 barrier and the five-year-old who has won seven times from 16 starts will have many admirers despite a costly last-start failure when a 2/1 on favourite and a disappointing ninth behind One Off Delight five Fridays ago.
Ocean Ridge had settled in the one-out, one-back position before he galloped badly 550m after the start. He was shifting in and broke into a gallop when being corrected by Warwick. He dropped back to the rear before he dashed forward to be fourth at the 400m mark and then was hampered for room in the home straight.
That followed a brilliant first-up victory over 2692m at Pinjarra when he finished powerfully from sixth at the bell to beat Starlight Brigade by eight and a half lengths at a 1.57.78 rate, with final quarters of 27.7sec. and 28.4sec.
Olivieri agreed that Ardens Concord (race one), El Hombre (two), Crystal Sparkles (four), Motu Premier (five), Atmospherical (six), Space Junk (seven), Joe With The Flow (eight) and The Dali Express (nine) had sound each-way claims.