Capel-based talent Handsandwheels faded late during Friday night’s absorbing $300,000 Retravision Fremantle Pacing Cup (2536m) at Gloucester Park.
Despite driver Aiden De Campo doing all he could to ensure the six-year-old figured in the finish, the gelding was unable to extend the excellent tempo he had shown earlier in the race.
With non-WA raiders My Field Marshal and Alta Orlando both late scratchings due to their flight from Melbourne being postponed, one of the State’s most prestigious group one races looked to be tight across the board.
Upon the release of the mobile barrier, Kiwi force Vampiro, driven by Colin Brown, leapt to the front and set a cracking pace, leading Caviar Star (Stuart McDonald) by a solid 5m.
Despite the genuine pace on show, De Campo did not panic and gradually sent Handsandwheels three wide as the field went down the back straight for the first time.
Although he had worked exceptionally hard up until this point, the six-year-old appeared to relish the occasion, despite De Campo forced to take an outside position.
Remaining in third as the field got the bell, eyes darted to the Swan River side of the track to see if the Bunbury Pacing Cup champion could replicate his feats from a month earlier.
However a move by silky four-year-old Shockwave halfway down the back straight appeared to put a major dent in the six-year-old’s confidence, and he eventually finished ninth.
Caviar Star and Vampiro proceeded to go stride for stride in the final 100m, before Brown managed to get the Kiwi pacer to kick home past his compatriot when it mattered most.
Later in the night, promising filly Double Espresso, who began her career with a win at Donaldson Park in February last year, recorded her seventh win from 10 placed starts, but she was forced to dig deep late.
Red hot favourite to claim the Retravision.com.au 3YO Fillies MS Pace (2130m), driver Chris Lewis charged down the middle of the home straight in scintillating fashion, as the three-year-old saw off challanges from Suing You and Tiffany Rose.