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Lavra Joe earns elite level racing starts with Gloucester Park win

Headshot of Ernie Manning
Ernie ManningBunbury Herald
Lavra Joe, driven by Chris Lewis.
Camera IconLavra Joe, driven by Chris Lewis. Credit: Hamilton Content Creators

Class pacer Lavra Joe earned starts in a rich feature event series when fighting off challenges to win the $50,000 4YO Championship (2130m) at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Driven by top reinsman Chris Lewis, the $1.30 favourite rated 1:55 to score by almost 4m from Jumpingjackmac ($11.60) while Mighty Ronaldo ($18.80) finished a close third.

Veteran owner-trainer Ray Jones said Lavra Joe would tackle the $125,000 4YO Classic on December 2 and the $200,000 Golden Nugget a fortnight later.

He will be aimed at the $300,000 Fremantle Pacing Cup and the $450,000 WA Pacing Cup early next year.

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“Lavra Joe proved tonight he is up to elite level racing,” Jones said. “He will contest the Classic and Nugget, have a short break and then come back for the cups.”

Lewis was expected to take Lavra Joe to an early lead from gate one in the 4YO Championship, but Stamford shot clear at the start.

It was 400m before Lavra Joe sped to the front and then he looked vulnerable when rivals flooded forward to test him at the 300m.

“I had concerns in the race, particularly when sections were fast and pressure came over final stages,” Jones said. “But he found plenty when it counted.”

Lavra Joe, bought for $26,000 by Jones as a yearling, has won at 28 of 49 starts and earned prizemoney totalling $472,000.

The gelding’s return to peak form has been a triumph for Jones, who was forced to give him a 12-month break from racing after a leg injury last season. He returned to racing four months ago.

Jones trains only Lavra Joe and Been Scootin, who won the $30,000 Country Derby at Pinjarra last Monday.

Lewis landed his first leg of a feature event double on Friday night when winning with $2.30 favourite Hampton Banner in an exciting finish to the $30,000 Pat Cranley Memorial Pace (1730m).

Hampton Banner, who led and rated 1:54.9, held on to score by a half-head from Wildwest ($4) and third horse Mighty Conqueror ($20.60) finished only a neck away.

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