Superstar pacers Im Themightyquinn and Alta Christiano will start from the outside barrier in their events at Gloucester Park on Friday night and this disadvantage will not stop either from winning with something in reserve.
Under the preferential barrier draw system each had to draw the No. 7 barrier on the front line. But Im Themightyquinn has a massive class advantage over his eight rivals in the 2536m Abbott And Company Printers Pace and Alta Christiano is vastly superior to his opposition in the 1730m Sully's Painting Pace.
The star pacers from the Serpentine stables of leading trainer Gary Hall sen. will be driven by Gary Hall jun., fresh from four winners at Gloucester Park last Friday night and a treble at outer country track Narrogin on Tuesday night.
Asked how he would rate Alta Christiano on a scale out of one hundred, Hall jun. didn't hesitate in replying with a 90. Unsurprisingly, he gave Quinny a rating of 100.
The all-conquering father and son combination then agreed that the lightly-raced four-year-old Alta Christiano is a better pacer than Im Themightyquinn was at the same age.
And that's high praise indeed, considering that as a four-year-old Im Themightyquinn won the group 1 McInerney Ford Classic, was third behind Power of Tara and Divisive in the group 1 Fremantle Cup, won the group 3 Winter Cup from Mysta Magical Mach and finished a head second to Maffioso in the group 1 $200,000 Chariots of Fire at Harold Park.
"Alta Christiano hasn't quite got the high speed that Quinny's got," said Hall sen. "But he's got a high cruising speed," declared Junior.
Hall jun. was delighted with Im Themightyquinn's superb first-up victory last Friday night when the nine-year-old made light of the heavy, rain-soaked track to rate 1.56.4 in easily defeating Rocket Reign and Hokonui Ben over 2130m.
That was his first appearance after a seven-month absence as he recovered from a hairline fracture in his off hind cannon bone. "He felt just as good as he always has," he said.
Hall surprised almost everyone last week when he drove Im Themightyquinn assertively from barrier five to send the gelding to the lead after about 170m before setting the pace over the 2130m journey. Over the longer journey of this week's event Hall is unlikely to set Im Themightyquinn alight from the No. 7 barrier and will bide his time before urging the champion forward.
Please Release Me (barrier two) and Polak (three) are speedy beginners and noted frontrunners. Both Matt White (Please Release Me) and(Polak) are sure to be anxious to win the early speed battle. However, there is a possibility they might have to contend with a contest against the polemarker Whos Mistake, a speedy beginner and an all-the-way winner at Gloucester Park five starts ago.
But whatever the outcome of the early speed battle there appears no possible chance that the pacemaker (or any other runner) will be able to withstand the blistering speed of Im Themightyquinn at the business end of the race.
Hall almost certainly will adopt aggressive tactics with Alta Christiano by urging him forward from the wide barrier in the sprint event. There is no brilliance whatsoever among the six runners drawn inside of Alta Christiano. The polemarker Life Boat is an eight-year-old and the five are seven-year-olds.
Life Boat has a losing sequence of 21 (without a placing), Courage On Fire has a losing sequence of six (one placing), The Burnside Flyer has a losing sequence of 23 (no placings), Terrifying has a losing sequence of 22 (no placings), Dominus Vobiscum has a losing sequence of 22 (two placings) and Ticket To Nowhere has a losing sequence of 23 (one placing).
Even a casual student of form would reach a quick conclusion that Alta Christiano will be bursting to the front in the early stages of the race and that Arousing, an in-form mare drawn the inside of the back line, will enjoy a soft passage three back on the pegs before finishing into the placings.
OLIVIERI SET TO STRIKE AGAIN
Astute Oakford trainerwill be out to enhance his reputation as a first-up specialist when Victorian pacer Shelby Cruzin makes his WA debut in the 2130m Alltools Pathway Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Followers of the Olivieri stable have cashed in recently when he scored victories with Finbar Abbey and Selkie when they were having their first start for him. Finbar Abbey won at Northam at his first appearance for almost three months and then won at his next two starts at Gloucester Park, including the Easter Cup.
Then Selkie, at her first outing for Olivieri, gave a bold frontrunning display to win the Race For Roses last Friday night.
Shelby Cruzin has been unplaced at his past five starts (all at Melton and against considerably more formidable opposition than he will meet at his WA debut). A half-brother to seven winners, he was successful six starts ago when he unwound a powerful finishing burst and sprinted over the final 800m in 57.4sec. and the last 400m in 28.4sec. when as an 80/1 outsider he beat Ginger Bliss at a 1.57.4 rate over 2190m at Maryborough on January 20.
Shelby Cruzin has had 46 starts for nine wins on Victorian country tracks and ten placings and is the tightest assessed runner in Friday night's field, with a C7 classification. He fared poorly in the random draw and will start from the outside of the front line.
One of his toughest rivals is sure to be Sign In, who broke a losing sequence of 17 when he begun speedily from barrier five, set the pace and beat Kristoff over 1780m at Northam on Thursday of last week. He is trained at Wanneroo byand reinsman is likely to make full use of his sparkling early speed from barrier three in a bid for the lead.
LEDA McNALLY IS SET TO ATONE
Outstanding mare Leda McNally should make amends for her defeat in the Race For Roses last Friday night by outsprinting her rivals in the 2130m TABtouch Breeders Stakes Prelude at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
She is the class runner of the field and she has the ability to overcome her back-line draw to defeat another quality mare in Famous Alchemist, who fared badly in the random draw and will start from the outside of the front line.
A victory on Friday night will exclude the winner from the ballot for the $40,000 final of the Breeders Stakes over 1730m the following Friday night.
Leda McNally, trained at Pinjarra by, is an M10-class mare who has won 19 races and earned $284,458. Famous Alchemist, trained at Serpentine by Gary Hall sen., has an M6 classification and has amassed $262,349 from her 13 wins. Apart from Alkira Jetstar, an M3-class performer, all the other mares in the race are classified M0, M1 or M2.
Leda McNally, driven by, was outstanding in defeat last week when she started off the back mark of 50 metres in the 2536m Race For Roses. A rain-soaked track made her task virtually impossible, but she put up a grand effort, running home determinedly from tenth at the bell to be third behind the pacemaker Selkie and Salliwood.
Famous Alchemist finished last behind Pacific Warrior in a field of twelve in a 1730m event last Friday week. But punters should completely overlook that performance. Famous Alchemist started out wide at barrier six and raced three wide for most of the event in which she faded from third at the bell to last.
She was superb at her previous appearance when she worked hard without cover before winning the $20,000 Golden Girls Mile from Maggies Mystery at Pinjarra, rating 1.54.4 over 1684m.
Maggies Mystery, unplaced at her past two starts, is handily drawn at No. 2 on the back line and she is capable of a bold showing.
THAT IS CORRECT GETS HIS CHANCE
Eight-year-old That Is Correct has returned to racing after a spell in excellent form and he appeals as a good value bet in the 2503m Ross North Homes Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Trained at Serpentine by Matt Scott, That Is Correct will start from the No. 1 barrier on the front mark andwill be keen to get the experienced standing-start performer away smoothly.
That Is Correct impressed at his second appearance after a spell when he started rom 10m and raced four back on the pegs in seventh position before moving to fifth at the 400m mark and running home with a resolute burst to finish second to veteran performer Shardons Rocket over 2503m last Friday week.
That followed his good first-up performance a week earlier when he finished strongly to be fifth behind Dundee Three over 2503m. That Is Correct was a fast-finishing winner over 2503m last September when he defeated smart performer Gday Mate.
Shardons Rocket, from the back mark of 40m, and last-start winner Hez Got The Nod, off 20m, are likely to vie for favouritism and they look set to be prominent.
Hez Got The Nod began fast off the 20m mark last Friday night and he came from eighth in the middle stages to move to fifth, three wide, at the bell before sustaining his strong effort to take the lead 300m from home and then hold on and win from Will Of iron and Sonic Classic. He is in peak form and cannot be underestimated.
by Ken Casellas