Alta Christiano is a standout in Final

12:03 PM 28 May 2014 NZST
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Alta Christiano
Alta Christiano - Is the one to beat in the $25,000 Australian Marine Complex Pure Steel final at Gloucester Park on Friday night

Champion harness racing trainer Gary Hall sen. has a stranglehold on the $25,000 Australian Marine Complex Pure Steel final at Gloucester Park on Friday night with five runners in the field of 12 and he issued a chilling warning to rival trainers when he declared that sensational four-year-old Alta Christiano was at the peak of his powers.

"He has gone super since his latest run and he'll go as good as he's been going," he declared.

Alta Christiano, to be driven by champion reinsman Gary Hall jun., fared the worst in the random draw, but he has the speed and class to overcome the considerable disadvantage of starting from the outside barrier (No. 7) on the front line.

A winner at 13 of his 18 starts, the New Zealand-bred son of Christian Cullen is in devastating form and he notched his fourth successive victory when he started from the back line and burst to the front 1100m from home before careering away to win by more than six lengths from Pride of Colorado at a 1.56.7 rate over 2536m last Friday night. He was not extended in winning over 2130m twice and 1730m at his three previous outings.

Most punters will bank on Hall providing the quinella, trifecta and first four on Friday night, with his other runners My Hard Copy, Slick Chapel, Vapour and Heez Orl Black expected to be fighting out the minor positions behind the all-conquering Alta Christiano.

Four-year-old My Hard Copy will be driven by Kim Prentice, and from the coveted No. 1 barrier, he is capable of a bold effort. The four-year-old should set the early pace and is capable of running a fast time over the 2130m journey. He impressed at his first appearance for just over four months when he gave a bold frontrunning display to win easily from the fast-finishing Heez Orl Black, rating 1.56.9 in a qualifying heat over 2130m last Friday night.

Vapour, another talented four-year-old, is racing with tremendous enthusiasm and has won at 12 of his past 27 starts. He is ideally drawn on the inside of the back line and Lauren Jones looks set to enjoy a perfect passage behind the freewheeling My Hard Copy.

Slick Chapel will be driven by Clint Hall from the No. 3 barrier on the front line and Justin Prentice will drive Heez Orl Black from barrier four. Slick Chapel is in sparkling form and he warmed up for Friday night's event with an effortless win over 2150m at Harvey last Saturday night when he overcame a check in running and raced three wide and then in the breeze before winning by four lengths from Captain Proud at a 1.57.3 rate over 2150m.

The best of the runners outside the Hall camp appear to be Robbery (Robbie Williams), Firebomb (Ryan Warwick) and the Ross Olivieri-trained Finbar Abbey. These three horses are in sound form, but face a monumental task of breaking Hall's grip on the race.

ADDA RISING STAR HAS THE RUNS ON THE BOARD

Punters face a particularly tough challenge in trying to find the winner of the $30,000 RSM Bird Cameron Pace for Westbred mares at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Perhaps the best advice is to boil down their choice to four-year-olds Adda Rising Star, Lucky Joy and Mon Lamour, each of whom has drawn awkwardly in the 2130m feature event. But they appear to have a slight advantage in class on their rivals.

Adda Rising Star, trained at Bunbury by Frank Bonnett, has the best winning percentage (27) of the 12 runners and Lucky Joy has the second best percentage (22). And they have the ability to overcome unfavourable barriers, with Adda Rising Star starting from No. 4 on the back line and Lucky Joy from the outside (No. 7) on the front line.

Mon Lamour, in the Hazelmere stables of Mike Reed, is an improving type who boosted her winning percentage to 17 when she notched her fourth win from 24 starts by racing three back on the pegs before finishing fast along the sprint lane to defeat Hoylakes Firstlady over 2185m at Pinjarra last Monday week.

Adda Rising Star, to be driven by Callan Suvaljko, has the most impressive record of the 12 runners, with earnings of $143,234 from 14 wins and 17 placings from 51 starts. She fought on from sixth in the middle stages to be fourth behind Mon Lamour and she caught the eye two starts before that when she covered a lot of extra ground before finishing strongly to win from Kanata Queen and Lucky Diva over 2150m at Harvey.

Lucky Joy is a little filly with a big heart who has been a model of consistency for trainer-reinsman Robbie Williams. She overcame a wide barrier at Northam on Thursday of last week when she surged home, out wide from the rear, to win from Cheeryrose and Sweet Charlee over 2190m.

MR NICKEL IS READY TO FIRE

A five-year-old who has been unplaced at his first two outings since resuming after an injury-enforced absence of 17 months looks one of the star bets on the ten-event program at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

He is the New South Wales-bred Mr Nickel, who will start from the coveted No. 1 barrier in the 1730m Sadliers Nexus Pace for Forrestdale trainers Greg and Skye Bond.

"He suffered a serious fetlock injury and had a fair bit of time off," said ace reinsman Colin Brown. "He has recovered and has had two runs in stands off back marks (30m) at Pinjarra and he was unable to get into either race.

"First-up last Monday week he just couldn't get into the 2631m race when they ran home in very quick time (29.1sec. and 26.7sec. for the final two 400m sections) and it was the same story on Monday this week when they got home pretty snappy (when Mr Nickel finished seventh behind Barrow Street over 2116m when the final 800m was covered ion 56.7sec.).

"He felt good on Monday and punters should be aware that he is a class horse who has won a fair bit of stakemoney. After two runs off a long spell they shouldn't forget him. This is an ideal draw and he is a very quick horse."

Mt Nickel, who has won at four of his nine starts in Western Australia, has amassed $284,124 in stakes from 16 wins and nine placings from 42 starts. He is the winner of two group 1 events --- the Australian Pacing Gold for two-year-old colts and geldings at Melton (when he beat Magic Bliss and Soho Valencia) and the Tasmania Derby at Elwick in March 2012.

Mr Nickel's main rival is likely to be five-year-old Soho Highroller, who will be having his first start for leading trainer Gary Hall sen. for almost four months. He will be driven by Gary Hall jun. from barrier three on the front line. Soho Highroller has a losing sequence of nine and was unplaced at his past eight starts. But he warmed up for his return to racing in fine style when he set the pace and rated 1.57.3, beating his top-flight stablemate Toretto by two metres after sprinting over the final 400m in 28.2sec.

JUNGLE JEWEL WORKS IN SENSATIONAL STYLE

Smart New Zealand-bred filly Jungle Jewel worked in dashing style at Greg and Skye Bond's Forrestdale track on Tuesday morning to boost her prospects in the $17,000 Bell-Vista Fruit And Veg Company Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

"I drove her and she felt sensational," said Colin Brown. "It was the best she has ever felt and she can overcome the back-line draw in Friday night's race.

"She was suffering from the effects of a virus in the WA Oaks prelude (on May 2 when she led before fading to the rear) and then she showed that she is back in form with her win at Harvey last Saturday night. And she stepped up a notch this morning on the track when she felt sensational.

"Greg added a Murphy blind for her run at Harvey and this made a dramatic difference. She was always inclined to get on one rein and the Murphy blind has had the desired effect. Shed raced a lot straighter, even though she wanted to get up the track a bit, instead of getting down the track."

At Harvey on Saturday night Jungle Jewel, driven by Ryan Warwick, raced without cover early before getting to the front and sprinting over the final 800m in 56.8sec. when she beat Dontdoubtme and The Parade.

Trainer Gary Hall sen. Is confident that Dontdoubtme will improve on her Harvey performance when she faced the breeze for most of the way. "She is each-way for ever," he declared. "Her Harvey run was very good; she's not a breeze horse and she probably needed the run."

Reinsman Aiden De Campo, son of Capel trainer Andrew De Campo, said that he expected a strong showing from his father's filly Typhoon Tan, who is nicely drawn at barrier two on the front line. Typhoon Tan will be driven by Dylan Egerton-Green, who replaces Aiden De Campo, who will be driving at Melton in Victoria on Friday night.

"She went very well at Harvey on Saturday night when she trailed the leader Three Blind Mice and finished second to that pacer," he said. "She has good gate speed and if she leads she'll be a pretty good chance. Sitting is not really her go and if she rolls along in front she'll give plenty of cheek."

Typhoon Tan led and won twice in fast time at Bunbury at two of her past four starts.

Boyanup trainer-reinsman Justin Prentice also gives his smart filly The Parade a good winning chance, despite drawing the outside of the front line. "The Parade started from a wide barrier (six) at Harvey on Saturday night and after racing three wide for most of the way did very well to finish third behind Jungle Jewel.

"I was stoked with her run," he said. "I thought that it was one of her best runs. They have come home in 56.8sec. They went 28 flat down the back and I've made up about three lengths."

DE CAMPO TO REPRESENT WA IN VICTORIA

Outstanding reinsman Aiden De Campo will leave Perth on Thursday morning to represent Western Australia in a Young Drivers' Challenge series.

He will drive Turnoffate in the first heat and Philotes in the second heat at Shepparton on Thursday night, Field Major at Melton on Friday night and Oils Jay Bee and Sign of Oro in the final two heats at Ballarat on Saturday night.

In his absence, Dylan Egerton-Green will drive Typhoon Tan in race one at Gloucester Park on Friday night; Chris Lewis will replace him behind the consistent Conniving Major Dave in the fourth event, the 2130m R. H. Trotter Pace, and Kaiden Hayter will replace him behind Vertical Four in the Mortgage Choice in South Perth Pathway Pace.

"Number four is a good barrier for Conniving Major Dave," de Campo said. "I don't know whether he'll find the top or not. If he does, he'll give a lot of cheek. His latest run was probably his best run this time in. He sat in the breeze against some pretty good horses and he finished second to Oneheart Twofists."

STANLEY LANDS A WINNER AT FIRST WA VISIT

Victorian reinsman Michael Stanley celebrated his first appearance at Gloucester Park on Tuesday night when he brought Enjoy A Malabu with a spirited burst to win the International Animal Health Products Trot by a head from the 6/4 favourite Hot Holiday and The Beau Brummell.

Enjoy A Malabu, a 16/1 chance, ran home strongly from sixth at the bell. The gelding is trained by Stanley's uncle Bruce Stanley and is owned by his aunty Pauline.

"This was my first drive for Uncle Bruce and it was a thrill to win the race," Michael Stanley said.

by Ken Casellas

 

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