Champion trainer Gary Hall sen. maintained his dominance of feature events at Gloucester Park when his younger son Gary produced a near-perfect drive to land up-and-coming star Northview Punter a decisive and impressive winner of the $35,000 Alltools Four And Five-Year-Old Championship at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
And to emphasise the 64-year-old's overwhelming superiority in West Australian harness racing he produced the trifecta, with Soho Valencia (Clint Hall) finishing second, a neck ahead of Benjamin Banneker (). The trifecta paid $514.70 for a $1 investment.
Hall sen. is now mapping out plans for the New Zealand-bred four-year-old Northview Punter to contest the rich feature events at next summer's Gloucester Park carnival.
"He has taken his time to hit his straps," Hall jun. said. "He's always had the ability, but it has taken a little while to get it out of him. He's a bull and he's starting to mature at the right time.
"I always thought that he was just below them (the State's top pacers), but the way he's going now, and if he keeps heading in that direction, he's going to be a player come Christmas."
In a keen betting race, Northview Punter was solidly supported to start third favourite at 7/2, with five-year-olds Soho Valencia and Red Salute sharing favouritism at 2/1. Benjamin Banneker was a 52/1 tote outsider.
Red Salute, as expected, jumped straight to the front from the No. 1 barrier and Hall jun. urged Northview Punter forward from the No. 4 barrier to race three wide for the first 200m before applying some pressure on Red Salute.
Northview Punter then gained the one-out, one-back trail after a lap when Soho Valencia (sent forward, three wide, after 600m) moved into the breeze.
After moderate first sections of the final mile in 30.8sec. and 30.4sec., the third 400m section whizzed by in a sizzling 27.7sec. when Soho Valencia challenged Red Salute for supremacy. Finally, Soho Valencia took the lead 250m from home, but he was unable to withstand the powerful late burst from Northview Punter, who burst to the front with 70m to travel and went on to win by just under a length at a 1.57.1 rate after a final quarter of 28.8sec.
Benjamin Banneker raced three back on the pegs before finishing strongly to be third, with Rocky Marciano sustaining a spirited three-wide burst to be a splendid fourth. Red Salute wilted to fifth.
Northview Punter, by, has now earned $256,915 from 18 wins and 12 placings from 38 starts.
Hall jun. admitted that he was "not really confident" after the third quarter in 27.7sec., saying: "He did sort of drop the bit at that stage. He does struggle a bit with point-to-point speed. But that quarter down the back definitely brought me into the race and on the bend he was charging, full of running."
HALL SUSPENDED FOR 30 DAYS AND WILL MISS WA DERBY
Champion reinsman Gary Hall jun. has been denied the opportunity of winning the $200,000 WA Derby on April 11 after being suspended for 30 days for causing interference in the Alltools Red Lithium Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The 31-year-old Hall, in the sulky behind 7/4 favourite Korobeit Angel, was suspended for severely checking the early pacemaker Lord Lexus rounding the first turn shortly after the start of the 1730m event.
Korobeit Angel, who started from barrier three and raced three wide early, contacted the off fore leg of Lord Lexus, causing the 5/1 third favourite to break into a gallop and drop back to the rear. Korobeit Angel then went on to set the pace. She pulled hard in the lead and wilted to finish third behind the fast-finishing last-start winner and 20/1 chance Hokuri Handrail and Little Boy Blue.
The 30-day suspension is the heaviest penalty in recent years imposed on a driver causing interference in a race in WA. The stewards intended to hand down a 34-day suspension before reducing the penalty to 30 days after Hall pleaded guilty to the charge of careless driving in that he allowed Korobeit Angel to shift in and check Lord Lexus.
Hall decided to start his suspension immediately and did not drive at the Bunbury meeting on Saturday night. He has driven 99 winners in WA this season and will be eligible to resume at the Pinjarra meeting on Monday April 21.
Korobeit Angel sprinted over the first 400m section of the final mile in 28.4sec. and sustained a smart pace with the next quarters in 29.3sec., 29.3sec. and 29.1sec.
Hokuri Handrail, an M3-class pacer, became eligible to contest Friday night's event restricted to M0 and M2-class performers when trainerengaged Luke Edwards to make use of his concession as a junior driver.
Hokuri Handrail started from the outside of the back line and was on the pegs in eighth position at the bell before Edwards brought the New Zealand-bred six-year-old home with a brilliant burst. Edwards eased the gelding off the pegs with 250m to travel and after going four wide on the home turn Hokuri Handrail charged home from fifth at the 100m mark to burst to the front 50m from the post.
He rated 1.56 in scoring his 13th win from 39 starts in WA. He now has earned $129,752 from 18 wins and ten placings from 61 starts.
DALTON MAKES A GREAT START TO WA CAREER
Former Victorian trainer-reinsman Clive Dalton made a wonderful debut as a trainer at Gloucester Park on Friday night when Major Fury set the pace and held on to win the 2503m Alltools The Name Says It All Handicap.
The 55-year-old Dalton, who has driven about 500 winners and trained almost 700 winners in Victoria, prepares Major Fury for New South Wales breeder-owner Matthew Sandblom at Neven Botica's Herron property, 60km north of Bunbury.
Dalton took over the preparation of Major Fury fromafter the NSW-bred five-year-old had finished second to Hez Got The Nod at Gloucester Park a fortnight before Friday night's success.
In an unusual coincidence, Next Dawn, the winner of the final race on Friday night's program, was trained and driven by Dalton for 17 starts in 2011 for three wins at Shepparton and one win at Cobram.
Major Fury was a firm even-money favourite on Friday night and his supporters were on good terms with themselves whengot the gelding away to a flying start from the inside of the front line.
After an opening quarter of the final mile in 30.7sec., Suvaljko increased the tempo and Major Fury covered the next three sections in 29.7sec., 28.9sec. and 29.2sec.
Major Fury fought on tenaciously to beat 10/1 chance The Pacing Priest, who finished strongly from fifth at the bell to go down by only one metre. A neck away in third place was Black Cracker, who trailed the pacemaker throughout.
"As soon as he jumped away I was pretty confident," Suvaljko said. "He can roll 30sec. quarters and sprint home pretty well. That was the plan to roll along and make it difficult for the backmarkers. He should win more races."
Major Fury, a winner of four races in NSW as a two and three-year-old, has had 16 starts in WA for six wins and three seconds to boost his career earnings to $63,189 from ten wins and five seconds from only 27 starts.
His dam The Kindly One (by American stallion Praised Dignity) raced 42 times in NSW for eight wins, 11 placings and $95,562. She has produced six winners, including Art Princess, an earner of $179,364 from 14 wins and 21 placings from 62 starts. The Kindly One's dam, the Queensland-bred Kotare Fury, had 100 starts form 19 wins and 38 placings for stakes of 72,958.
EYRE CRUSHER STAKES HIS DERBY CLAIMS
Leading trainer Gary Hall sen. has a vice-like grip on the $200,000 WA Derby on April 11 with a team of brilliant three-year-olds, including Elegant Christian, Machtu, High Courage, Pelusiac and Classic American.
And Eyre Crusher emerged as another realistic prospect for the Hall camp in the group 1 classic when Clint hall drove him to a thrilling fast-finishing victory in the 2130m Milwaukee Nothing But Heavy Duty WA Derby Prelude at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
"Eyre Crusher will beat any of my three-year-olds, sitting on them, as long as he doesn't work early," Hall sen. said. "When Gary drives him at home he says he feels the closest to Im Themightyquinn. But he's not strong. He's got a lightning burst for about two furlongs, and once he's at the end of that he falls in a heap. He's an opportunist."
Pelusiac was all the rage in Friday night's race and was sent out favourite at 5/2 on, with Eyre Crusher second favourite at the gift odds of 15/2 and Bettor Offer, trained by Greg and, at 8/1.
Pelusiac lacked sparkle from the No. 2 barrier and raced without cover for the first 500m taking over as pacemaker from 33/1 chance Back On Board. Bettor Offer then was left in the breeze and Eyre Crusher gained the perfect one-out and one-back trail.
sent Bettor Offer to the front 140m from the post, but he was overhauled in the final stride by the flying Eyre Crusher, who gained the verdict in the photo by a nose. Both the final 400m sections were covered in 28.1sec. and Eyre Crusher rated 1.56.7.
Eyre Crusher won once from two starts as a two-year-old in New Zealand and his record now stands at nine starts for four wins and four seconds for earnings of $39,623. He is the first foal out ofmare Lucasta Midfrew, who won twice from 30 starts. Lucastra Midfrew's half-sister (by ) Libertybelle Midfrew won the $156,000 Yearling sales final for two-year-old fillies by five lengths at Alexandra Park in April 2013.
DELIGHTFUL JADE OVERCOMES A CHECK TO WIN
Delightful Jade, who is closely related to former star performer Whitbys Miss Penny, remained unbeaten after two starts when she unwound a spirited finishing burst to win the $21,000 Alltools Western Crown Classic for two-year-old fillies at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
She overcame a check approaching the home turn to get up and beat the pacemaker and 7/4 on favourite Mohito, who dead-heated for second with 20/1 chance Lady Willoughby.
Mohito was two lengths clear of her nearest rival with 100m to travel before she wilted and was defeated by Delightful Jade, who trailed her throughout. Tricky Styx, a 6/1 chance driven by, raced in last place in the field of six before starting a three-wide move at the 550m mark. She sprinted strongly to get three-quarters of a length in front of Mohito 250m from home. She had not crossed to a clear lead when she broke into a gallop approaching the home turn.
"When I got checked when Aiden's horse galloped I didn't think I was going to pick up the leader," said Delightful Jade's driver Matt White. "To her credit she knuckled down and did the job. She has got a great attitude and will only improve. This is the first time I have driven her and I was pretty impressed."
Delightful Jade, second favourite at 9/4 and trained at Capel byfor breeder-owner Melissa Howie, is by out of Booth Hanover mare Whitbys Solitaire, who raced only nine times for two wins, four placings and $5443. Delightful Jade has earned $18,620 for her two wins from two starts.
Whitbys Solitaire is out of Fiscal Miss, a mare who won 15 races and earned $53,854. The first foal out of Fiscal Miss was Whitbys Miss Penny, who was retired after having had 50 starts for 32 wins and six placings for $568,289 in prizemoney.
Whitbys Miss Penny won the $80,000 Edgar Tatlow Stakes at Moonee Valley in March 1990 at her third start and her victories in 1991 included the Western Gateway Pace, the Battle of Bunbury, the WA Oaks, the WA Derby, the Caduceus Club Classic, the Sires for three-year-old fillies, the Pink Diamond and the Four-Year-Old Coca Cola Pace.
In 1992 she finished second to Impressionist in the Golden Nugget Championship and won the Fremantle Cup, the Mount Eden Sprint, the Bunbury Cup and a prelude of the WA Pacing Cup.
RED HOT MAJOR CALLS THE TUNE
Red Hot Major, the 11/4 second favourite, made the most of an abominable start by 2/1 favourite Artillery Major by leading all the way in the $21,000 Alltools Western Crown Classic for two-year-old colts and geldings at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Artillery Major galloped badly and lost about 200m and this enabledto drive Red Hot Major hard from the No. 4 barrier to cross to the front soon after the start. Red Hot Major was joined in the lead in the first lap by 13/4 third favourite Out Of The Shadow and he looked set for an easy victory when that gelding began to wilt in the final circuit.
But debutant Military Master, a 7/1 chance who had trailed Red Hot Major all the way, loomed as a serious threat when he got into the clear approaching the home turn and ran home determinedly. However, Red Hot Major revealed splendid fighting qualities to resist the challenge and go on and win by 1m at a 1.59.6 rate over 1730m.
"The other horse (Military Master) went really well and surprised me a bit," said Young. "I was probably driving to beat two of the others (Artillery Major and Out Of The Shadow) and when Military Master came at me I thought we were going to get beaten. Military Master was not the worst horse, but one we didn't know anything about. However, my horse showed good endeavour."
Red Hot Major, owned and trained by, has won at his first two starts and has earned $18,035. His dam Red Hot Rita earned $32,564 from 11 wins and 13 placings from 46 starts. Red Hot Rita also produced smart performers Just Live Life (43 starts for ten wins, 16 placings and $60,440) and Im Smouldering, who had 31 starts for 14 wins, 14 placings and $262,475 in prizemoney.
Im Smouldering won the group 2 Tatlow Stakes for two-year-old fillies at Melton in May 2012, defeating the brilliant Frith, and the group 1 $100,000 Vicbred Super Series final for three-year-old fillies at Melton last July.
NEXT DAWN SHINING FOR CUMMINGS
Former Victorian pacer Next Dawn maintained his sound form for his new trainer Graham Cummings when he finished in dashing style to score an easy victory in the 1730m Make Smoking History Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
A winner at Northam four starts earlier, Next Dawn was a 14/1 chance from barrier two on the back line, with polemarker I Am Legend (boasting a losing sequence of 17 and unplaced at his previous 12 starts) a well-supported favourite at 5/2, with Absolute Cool, placed once at his previous eight starts, a strong second fancy at 13/4 from barrier four on the front line.
Next Dawn, driven for the first time by Robbie Williams, raced in seventh position, three back on the pegs while I Am Legend set the pace with Absolute Cool working hard in the breeze.
Williams got Next Dawn off the pegs and into the clear approaching the home turn and the Victorian-bred six-year-old finished strongly to take the lead 90m from the post. He won by one and a half lengths from I Am legend, with two lengths to Im Terrific in third place after that pacer had trailed the pacemaker all the way.
Next Dawn, who rated 1.56.3, has won 11 times from 42 starts in Western Australia to take his record to 75 starts for 16 wins, 14 placings and $97,947. By American stallion Dawn Of A New Day, he is the fifth and final foal, and only winner, out of unracedmare Next Interest.
PACIFIC WARRIOR A MAJOR CHANC E IN CLARKE FINAL
New Zealand-bred six-year-old Pacific Warrior emerged as the horse to beat in the $25,000 final of the Clarke Pace next Friday night when he gave another powerhouse performance to score a narrow but impressive victory in the third qualifying heat at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Pacific Warrior was a 6/1 chance from barrier five on the front line, with most punters pinning their faith in the polemarker Lovers Delight, who started favourite at 6/4 on.
Our Arlington (barrier three) and Menelaus of Sparta (four) were smartest into stride, but neither was able to get to an early lead, withdriving hard to keep Lovers Delight in front with a slick lead time of 36.6sec.
did not bustle Pacific Warrior early before he sent the gelding forward to move into the breeze after about 600m. After the first two sections of the final mile in 30.5sec. and 30sec. Howson applied more pressure on the leader and the next two quarters whizzed by in 28.4sec. and 28.1sec.
Pacific Warrior got his head in front 400m from home and he and Lovers Delight matched strides down the home straight, with Pacific Warrior prevailing by a half-head, with 5m to Pride of Colorado, who trailed the leader all the way.
"Lovers Delight ran the lead time (a brisk 36.6sec.) and we stayed out of that," Howson said. "And from there we just had to keep at him. Lovers Delight had burnt early and was a bit vulnerable. Pacific Warrior just keeps coming. He's a tough, big horse and hopefully he will develop into a Cups prospect."
Pacific Warrior, trained at Mt Helena by, has had 30 starts in WA for 16 wins, six seconds and two thirds to take his career record to 57 starts for 20 wins, 15 placings and $176,293 in stakes.
SHIRLZ SENSATION LOOKS SET FOR A BRIGHT CAREER
Lightly-raced four-year-old Shirlz Sensation has taken his time to develop and is now giving promise of becoming a good winner for Jandabup trainer Mike Beech.
Shirlz Sensation started from the outside of the front line at the gift price of 15/2 in the third qualifying heat of the 2130m Community Newspaper Group Westbred Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night and gave a most impressive display to score an effortless victory.
Atlastalone, favourite at 11/8 from barrier three on the front line, hung out in the score-up and locked sulky wheels with Kissed Flush when the mobile sent the field on its way. Outsider Mako Shadow was smartest into stride, but was unable to wrest the lead from polemarker Atomic Chip (4/1) in a fast lead time of 36.1sec.
then sent Firebomb to the front after 520m and soon after that dashed Shirlz Sensation forward to work hard in the breeze. Shirlz Sensation led by a half-length at the bell and remained in that position for the next 500m before forging to a clear lead 300m from home.
Shirlz Sensation then careered away from his rivals to cover the final 400m in 28.4sec. and win at a 1.56.7 rate by a margin of 31 metres from Soho Monza, with a head to Firebomb. Shirlz Sensation has had 21 starts for six wins, three placings and stakes of $48,971.
COMPACT ROCKET DELAYS THE START AND THEN BEHAVES PERFECTLY
West Australian-bred five-year-old Compact Rocket, who has been unreliable at the start in several recent stands, again was fractious behind the tapes and delayed the start of the 2503m Alltools.com.au Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
then got Compact Rocket away to a perfect flying start and the gelding burst straight to the front before bowling along in the lead and scoring an easy victory, beating Pacific Playboy by one and a half lengths, with Veitchy flashing home along the pegs to be third.
Compact Rocket, a 7/1 chance trained by, kept his rivals, particularly 2/1 favourite Trojan Bromac, well at bay in the middle stages when he dashed through the second and third quarters of the final mile in 29.9sec. and 28.2sec. Trojan Bromac, who moved into the breeze with two laps to travel, wilted to finish fifth.
Compact Rocket is by American sire Dr Drew and is the only winner out of New Zealand-bred mare Pipe Dreamer, who raced eight times in New Zealand and eight times in Victoria for just one win, at Cranbourne in August 2001. Compact Rocket, bred and owned by Bob Fowler, has been a handy performer who has earned $64,396 from nine wins and nine placings from 55 starts.
by Ken Casellas