Leading harness racing trainer Gary Hall sen. will again set talented seven-year-old Alzona for rich feature events at the coming summer carnival after the South Australian-bred gelding scored an upset victory in the $35,000 Cowden Limited Brennan Memorial at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Alzona ended a losing sequence of nine when he started at 14/1 and enjoyed a perfect trail, one-out and one-back, before sprinting home smartly to burst past the 6/4 on favourite Lombo Navigator 35m from the post and win by a nose from the fast-finishing Eastwood Fire (16/1).
Wilting into sixth place was evergreen champion Has The Answers, who started from the back line, sprinted brilliantly early to charge to the front after 400m and then set a moderate pace.
Has The Answers (5/2) simply had too much speed for the early pacemaker Therecomesatime and Lombo Navigator. He then was able to go through the first two 400m sections of the final mile in comfortable fashion in 31.2sec. and 30.5sec. But his early blistering burst took its toll and he faded over the final stages of the 2506m event in which the final 800m was covered in 57.4sec.
Lombo Navigator worked hard in the breeze before getting past Has The Answers 120m from the post. Gary Hall jun. drove a wonderfully patient race and did not vacate the one-out, one-back position until 250m from the post when Eastwood Fire was charging forward, three wide.
Alzona, who is owned by South Australians Ben, Adam and Terry Cormack, rated 1.58.3 and took his earnings to $400,609 from his 24 wins and 30 placings from 83 starts.
Last summer he finished seventh in the Fremantle Cup and sixth in the WA Pacing Cup, which were won by his stablemate Im Themightyquinn. The previous summer, he was second to Im Themightyquinn in the Fremantle Cup and fourth behind Washakie, Im Themightyquinn and Our Malabar in the WA Pacing Cup.
Hall sen. said after Friday night’s victory that Alzona had taken a bit of time to strike his best form after resuming from a spell in mid-July. “He’s a great little horse and we love him at the stable,” he said. “And you have to admire the courage he shows.”
TROUBLESOME THE BEST CHANCE RESUMES IN STYLE
Lightly-raced five-year-old The Best Chance, a problem pacer for Hazelmere trainer Gary Hall sen., reappeared after an absence of 13 months at Gloucester Park on Friday night and gave a sample of his class with a stylish victory in the 2506m Louis Campos Pathway Pace.
A winner of five races from eight starts in New Zealand, The Best Chance was a 5/2 on favourite at his WA debut in August 2010 when he raced three wide for most of the 1730m journey before fading to finish tenth. That was his only WA appearance before contesting Friday night’s event.
Variously described as unruly, temperamental, nervous and a mental case, The Best Chance had a habit of unseating his drivers in trackwork. But Hall and stable foreman Michael Brennan have worked patiently to get thegelding to be more tractable.
His win by a length over 11/4 second favourite Itsallabout Nicole completed a training treble for Hall sen., who was successful earlier in the program with Monarco Miss and Alzona.
The Best Chance was a heavily-supported 2/1 on favourite from the outside of the back line on Friday night gave him plenty of time to settle down at the rear of the field. Specks Pertum took an early lead and when Chris Brew started a three-wide forward move from well back with Caesars Cloud Gary Hall jun. followed that run with The Best Chance.
The Best Chance moved to the breeze 1550m from home and Hall then simply nursed him in that position until sending the gelding to the front on the home turn. The Best Chance then carried too many guns for Itsallabout Nicole, who finished doggedly from sixth at the bell.
The Best Chance, who has earned $47,093 from five wins from ten starts, looks set to work his way through the classes and develop into a top-flight performer.
PRENTICE PREDICTS BRIGHT FUTURE FOR MACH DYNASTY
Boyanup trainer Kim Prentice predicts a rosy future for comeback pacer Mach Dynasty, who outclassed his rivals in the 2503m Frank Fuller Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
“Providing he stands up, I think he’s got a really bright future,” Prentice said after his son Justin had driven the New Zealand-bred seven-year-old to victory by two and a half lengths over the 20m backmarker Tartary Gladiator, who impressed in thundering home from last at the bell.
Mach Dynasty, favourite at 11/8, dashed to the front after 550m and he gave his rivals no chance when he sprinted the final 400m in 28.6sec. Last-start winner Dance Band surged forward to move into the breeze with 1500m to travel before relinquishing that position to Onedin Crusader at the 1150m mark.
Dance Band fought on gamely to be fourth, just behind the early pacemaker Royal Opera, who trailed Mach Dynasty for most of the event. Onedin Crusader faded after his hard run to finish sixth.
Mach Dynasty, who is owned by Reg and Gwendoline Mullins, was having only his third start after an absence of 22 months. Those three runs have produced two splendid victories and an excellent third to Onedin Crusader. He did not race in New Zealand and his 27 starts in WA have produced nine wins and ten placings for stakes of $54,719.
KIRKE BOUNCES BACK WITH MAYWYNS STORM
West Swan trainer Adam Kirke, who has been battling a foot problem for the past year, landed his first city-class winner for just over 18 months when Chris Butt drove Maywyns Storm to a smart all-the-way victory in the 2100m Retravision Young Drivers Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
“I was out of action for four months, recovering from an infection in a vein in my foot and I haven’t had a starter anywhere since last January until this month,” he said.
Kirke’s leg is still encased in a protective casing, but he is enjoying getting back into the business of training pacers.
His previous city-class winner was Flying Nemo, who set the pace and beat Our Toto by a neck over 2536m on March 5, 2010.
Maywyns Storm, a Victorian-bred five-year-old, entered Kirke’s stables only five weeks ago and the gelding has had five starts for his new trainer for two wins. His previous success was at Kellerberrin on September 4 when he raced in the breeze before finishing gamely to beat the pacemaker Rapid Red River.
Maywyns Storm had 30 starts in Queensland for 11 wins and seven placings before being purchased by a WA syndicate headed by Riwai Williams.
“Nicole Zaccaria trained him when he first arrived in WA and then she suggested that he would be a good horse up in Kalgoorlie,” Kirke said. “The owners gave him to me for a month to just potter around with. I said I’d give him a few starts before sending him to Kalgoorlie. So it has worked out well, five starts for two wins.”
Kirke’s father Ken is planning to take some horses to race in Kalgoorlie in the next couple of weeks and Adam Kirke is considering giving him Maywyns Storm to campaign in the Goldfields. “He should win a couple up there,” Adam Kirke said.
Maywyns Storm, who drew the prized No. 1 barrier on Friday night, was all the rage and his price on the tote tumbled from 4/1 to hot favouritism at 5/2 on. He gave his supporters little cause for concern after jumping straight to the lead.
Ezy Fella (11/1) raced in the breeze and battled on doggedly to finish a 2m second, with Strike A Life a further 2m back in third place after enjoying the run of the race behind the leader.
GALLANT IN A FASHION SORE AFTER LAST-STRIDE VICTORY
WA-bred six-year-old In A Fashion revealed wonderful fighting qualities to get up and snatch a last-stride victory over the pacemaker Scruncher in the 2100m Clipsal Young Drivers Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
And his victory was even more meritorious when the gelding pulled up seriously lame, suffering from a suspected bow tendon in the off foreleg.
Noted frontrunner Scruncher was sent out favourite at 5/4 from his perfect No. 1 barrier, with In A Fashion at 5/2 from No. 4 on the back line.
Scruncher, with New Zealand teenager Shane Butcher in the sulky, set a fast pace and Morgan Woodley was content to allow In A Fashion to relax in seventh position for the first circuit.
Woodley sent In A Fashion forward, three wide, with 1050m to travel and thegelding moved into the breeze at the 700m mark. In A Fashion appeared to be struggling approaching the home turn, but Woodley nursed the gelding down the home straight and he got up in the final stride to score by a head at a 1.57.3 rate. Bruce Almighty (4/1) trailed the leader throughout before fighting on gamely to be third.
In A Fashion has earned $77,858 from 12 wins and 24 placings from 76 starts. Woodley had driven him five times for three wins, a second and a third placing. His dam Flash Statement had 22 starts for three wins, one in Kalgoorlie in November 2000 and two in Geraldton in June 2001.
WOODWORTH AND TURVEY SCORE WITH DISCO SULINKA
Honest mare Disco Sulinka, related to former star pacer Trunkey Sting, gave a stout-hearted performance to sustain a spirited three-wide burst from fifth at the bell to score a head victory over the pacemaker Im Jasper The Ghost in the 2100m Chris Carr Pace for mares at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Disco Sulinka, raced on lease and trained at Baldivis by 29-year-old Luke Woodworth, was driven by Nathan Turvey and started at 8/1, with Never Waver Lombo favourite at 9/4, Remember Me Bel at 5/2 and Im Jasper The Ghost at 9/2.
Chris Voak jumped Im Jasper The Ghost out smartly from the prized No. 1 barrier and she was able to hold out Remember Me Bel, who was forced to work hard in the breeze before fading to last.
Turvey sent Disco Sulinka forward approaching the bell and her three-wide run was followed by Never Waver Lombo (Chris Lewis). Never Waver Lombo went four wide at the 300m mark, but she failed to flatter and just battled home in fifth place. Outsider Dontgetmeruffled, sixth on the pegs at the bell, rattled home late to be an eye-catching third.
Disco Sulinka, the first foal out of Disco Maker (a winner of ten races), has now had 45 starts for five wins, 12 placings and stakes of $42,636. Disco Maker’s dam Highway Blitz was out of Lady Meadows, who produced Trunkey Sting, winner of 25 races and $258,466. Trunkey Sting’s wins included the 1987 A. G. Hunter Cup at Moonee Valley and the 1990 Fremantle Cup at Richmond Raceway.
HARDING HAS A WELCOME CHANGE OF FORTUNE
Henley Brook trainer Chelsey Harding had a welcome change of luck when Mark Reed brought 16/1 chance The Smooth Operator home with a well-timed burst to win the 2100m Premier Suzuki Pathway Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The impressive victory upset a strong betting move on Criminal Minds, who was a 10/9 on favourite who set the pace before wilting over the final stages to finish third behind The Smooth Operator and 19/1 chance Danny Roger.
The Smooth Operator had put the writing on the wall two starts earlier when he set the pace and finished an excellent second to speedy pacer Borat at Gloucester Park.
Reed was content to keep The Smooth Operator in sixth position in the one-wide line while Criminal Minds led, with 5/2 second favourite Chief Inanga on his outside. The Smooth Operator was sixth, out four wide on the home turn, before finishing powerfully to win by 1m from Danny Roger, who had enjoyed the perfect sit, one-out and one-back.
The Smooth Operator, who is owned by Harding’s brother Trent Cooper, her husband Greg and Ben, Ashley and Brad Dyer, won twice from 36 starts in New Zealand and now has had 21 starts in WA for four wins and five placings.
BLISSFUL SNAG ENDS LOSING SEQUENCE OF 25
Eight-year-old Blissful Snag, driven for the first time by Morgan Woodley, ended a losing sequence of 25 when he set the pace and fought on doggedly to beat Mister Gallenti and Salliwood in the 2503m Trevor Itzstein Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The WA-bred gelding, owned by Alex Anderson and trained at Mundijong by Terry Atkins, had not been successful since winning the $30,000 group 3 Kalgoorlie Cup from Outstandin in September 2009.
But he had shown sound form in two starts after resuming from a spell, finishing fourth behind Young Richard at Bunbury and a close third to Courageous Ned and Victreos at Gloucester Park.
Blissful Snag was a 4/1 chance from the inside of the front line and when Mister Gallenti had galloped for a couple of strides from the No. 2 barrier, Woodley was able to take Blissful Snag straight to the front without any undue pressure. Victreos was in the breeze early before Shannon Suvaljko assumed that position with My Island Home after 450m.
Blissful Snag won with a bit in hand. In-form runners Courageous Ned and General Eisenhower were unable to overcome their 10m handicap and battled on to finish fourth and fifth, respectively.
Blissful Snag is related to former outstanding pacers Remit, Whitby Timer, Whitby Heritage and Medusa Run.
HEEZA HUDSON SCORES AT LONG ODDS
Ten-year-old veteran Heeza Hudson had won and finished second at two of his past three starts and was ideally drawn at barrier two in the 2100m Colin Cowden Claiming Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. But he was unwanted by punters and was a 35/1 tote outsider.
But the New South Wales-bred gelding owned by Tony Barca and trained by Amanda Suvaljko, maintained his sound form when Kyle Harper drove him to an all-the-way victory.
Harper was able to send Heeza Hudson straight to the front when polemarker Melbournian (2/1) lacked early sparkle. And his task also was made easier when 5/4 favourite Real Life broke into a bad gallop when dashing forward 200m after the start.
Real Life then trailed his rivals and took no real part in the race. Melbournian moved forward into the breeze 1350m from home before wilting badly to finish ninth.
Elite Under Fire finished strongly to be second, with Touch me Toes in third place after trailing the leader throughout. Omegarama, in tenth place 650m from home, finished powerfully to be fourth.
Heeza Hudson was unsuccessful at his first 26 starts over a 25-month period, but he has proved to be a splendid performer, earning $167,914 from 24 wins and 34 placings from 129 starts. He has won four times in Victoria, five times in South Australia and 15 times in WA.
He is byand his dam Picket Line produced ten winners, including Black Line (78 starts for 18 wins and 13 placings for stakes of $255,232).
FRONTRUNNING MONARCO MISS BOWS OUT A WINNER
Victorian-bred mare Monarco Miss will be retired to the breeding barn after scoring an easy all-the-way victory in the 1700m Find Thirty Every Day Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The eight-year-old trained by Gary Hall sen. and driven with supreme confidence by Kyle Harper, made the most of the prized No. 1 barrier and gave her rivals virtually no hope by rating a sparkling 1.56.5 rate.
Favourite at 6/4, she strolled to victory by just over a length from Elena S, who trailed her all the way and was hampered for room in the home straight. Billystime (30/1) ran on from eighth at the bell to be third.
Monarco Miss had finished seventh, sixth and eighth at odds of 9/1, 53/1 and 24/1 at her three previous starts after leading from barrier one and winning from Elena S over 1700m four starts ago. This further emphasises the huge advantage horses have when starting from the inside barrier from the new 1700m and 2100m starting points at Gloucester Park.
Monarco Miss is owned by Victorians Tim and Felicity Bolitho, who have enjoyed considerable success in WA with the Hall-trained Albert Jaccka. Monarco Miss retires from racing with a record of 13 wins, 11 placings and stakes of $81,985 from 68 starts.
by Ken CASELLAS