Millionaire harness racing pacer Washakie has not had an ounce of luck at his first two starts back in Western Australia last month and, despite drawing the outside barrier in the field of seven, he has the class to return to the winning list in the $40,000 Governor's Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The durable eight-year-old, trained and driven by champion Queensland horseman John McCarthy, looks set for a tough run in the 2100m group 2 event in which he will clash with other equine millionaires Has The Answers and Lombo Pocket Watch and the speedy Lively Highlander.
Nine-year-old Has The Answers is poised to begin with his usual brilliance from barrier five and Kyle Harper will be extremely anxious to get the wonderful old gelding straight to the front and then dictate terms.
Lively Highlander will begin from the No. 4 barrier and Kim Prentice is expected to make use of the eight-year-old’s sparkling early speed. The most likely scenario is that Has The Answers will outpace Lively Highlander and set a brisk pace with Lively Highlander on his back.
McCarthy and Colin Brown (Lombo Pocket Watch) then are likely to send their horses forward to apply pressure to the pacemaker. There is a strong possibility that Washakie will get to the breeze and he possesses such fighting qualities that he has sound prospects of getting the upper hand in the closing stages.
Washakie, winner of the 2010 WA Pacing Cup, is due for a change of fortune after his luckless unplaced runs in the WA pacing Cup and Fremantle Cup last month.
He was trapped out wide in the early stages, worked in the breeze for a while and then the nearside tyre of his sulky was punctured 1200m from home before he limped home in eighth position behind Im Themightyquinn in the 2506m WA Pacing Cup three Fridays ago.
Then in the 2906m Fremantle Cup a week later Washakie settled at the rear before McCarthy sent him forward after 900m in a bid to move alongside the pacemaker Has The Answers. But Dashed VC retained the breeze position, leaving Washakie out on a limb, three wide in third place. He revealed tremendous spirit to fight on and finish in fourth place behind Im Themightyquinn, Raglan and Lombo Navigator when the final 400m was covered in a sizzling 27.6sec.
Lombo Pocket Watch and Lively Highlander raced keenly when finishing third and fourth, respectively, behind Another One For Me and Aussie Reactor in the 2506m Lord Mayor’s Cup last Friday night.
Lombo Pocket Watch started from the back line and he charged forward from last to move outside the pacemaker Aussie Reactor after 900m. He fought on gamely into third place. Lively Highlander enjoyed an ideal passage behind the leader, but was hampered for room in the home straight before finishing strongly along the pegs to be fourth.
Veteran trainer Tony Svilicich is an eternal optimist and he has high hopes of winning the Governor’s Cup for the second time with Has The Answers, who was the 4/1 on favourite when Chris Lewis drove him to victory over Kinneys Gold and Tealsby Karita in the 2010 Governor’s Cup.
Has The Answers began with dazzling speed from barrier six, burst to the front after 70m and sprinted the final 800m in 56.7sec. to score by more than two lengths. He ran on from 11th at the bell to finish sixth behind Hy Royale in the 2009 Governor’s Cup, and in this race last year he sat behind the pacemaker Lombo Navigator before finishing third to that pacer.