Day At The Track

Gloucester Park preview for Friday

04:09 PM 17 Dec 2014 NZDT
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Gary Hall sen. is hoping that Dashing Christian can go one better than last Friday
Gary Hall sen. is hoping that Dashing Christian can go one better than last Friday

Six-year-old Tuxedo Tour went within a whisker of causing a major upset last Friday night when he ran home with great determination to finish a head second to 5/1 on favourite Heez On Fire and he gets a chance to turn the tables on his brilliant rival when he meets him on better terms in the $35,000 Kennards Hire Christmas Gift final at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Tuxedo Tour, trained at Herne Hill by Kevin Keys, started from barrier three on the back line and settled down in ninth position before he surged forward to move to the breeze on the outside of the pacemaking Heez On Fire with 1200m to travel in a heat of the Gift last week.

Heez On Fire, who was untroubled to lead from the prized No. 1 barrier, fought on grimly to stave off the late challenge from Tuxedo Tour, with the final two quarters being covered in 28.9sec. and 27.6sec.

This week Tuxedo Tour will start from the No. 3 barrier on the front line, with Heez On Fire out at barrier five.

Noted frontrunner Dashing Christian is likely to lead from the No. 1 barrier and there is a strong possibility that Tuxedo Tour will again have to work hard in the breeze. All Bettor (barrier two) and Ti Amo Franco (four) possess good natural gate speed and Chris Lewis will be anxious to slot Heez On Fire into a commanding position in the one-wide line.

Heez On Fire is extremely versatile and is capable of unwinding a dazzling finishing burst, like he revealed when he thundered home from the rear to win from Medley Moose two starts ago.

Despite his awkward draw, Heez On Fire is likely to start a short-priced favourite in his quest to extend his winning sequence to six and improve his record to 15 wins and four placings from only 27 starts. The WA-bred five-year-old was purchased as a four-month-old weanling by Cardup trainer Rod Oliver for $15,000 and has already amassed $178,005 in prizemoney for Oliver, his mother Doreen, brother Perry and friends Andrew Walker, Geoff Ramm, Darrell Dwyer and Kieren Eiffler.

Tuxedo Tour has earned $122,876 from 11 wins and 18 placings from 41 starts after being purchased for $18,000 at the 2010 Gloucester Standardbred yearling sale by Tom Marsden, who races the stallion in partnership with his son Rod and Martin, Colin and Stephen Campbell.

The Christmas Gift is one of the very few feature events in WA that has not been won by Lewis, who is in devastating form in the sulky.

Champion trainer Gary Hall sen. is hoping that Dashing Christian can go one better than he did in a qualifying heat last Friday night when he set the pace and was overhauled in the final stride and was beaten by a head by the fast-finishing Mosquito Buzzin.

Hall won the Christmas Gift for the fifth time when Kim Prentice drove the polemarker and 6/4 on favourite Toretto to a comfortable all-the-way victory over Our Major Mark and Red Salute 12 months ago. This followed wins with Nixons Creed (1993), Allioop (2004), McRaes Mate (2007) and Livingontheinterest (2012).

Ti Amo Franco, trained in Collie by Dale Jackson, will have admirers from barrier four on the front line. He began brilliantly from the No. 5 barrier in a heat last week, but was unable to cross Dashing Christian. He then obtained a good sit, one-out and one-back, and moved to second on the home turn before wilting to fourth behind Mosquito Buzzin. He won in good style at two of his three previous starts.

Matt White will resume as Mosquito Buzzin's driver this week after Aiden De Campo handled the six-year-old last week. De Campo will replace Chris Voak behind Mosquito Buzzin, with Voak on the sidelines serving a 19-day suspension after causing interference in a race last Friday night. Mosquito Buzzin has drawn ideally on the inside of the back line and should enjoy a perfect sit behind the likely pacemaker Dashing Christian.

Woodley to drive This Time Dylan

Outstanding young reinsman Morgan Woodley has been engaged to drive strong stayer This Time Dylan in the $22,500 Mount Eden-No Dill Christmas Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night and the nine-year-old looks capable of fighting out the finish of the 2503m stand at his fourth appearance after a spell.

Woodley, who will be driving This Time Dylan for the first time, replaces Justin Prentice, who was in the sulky last Friday night when the gelding was prominent throughout and sustained a solid three-wide run to finish third behind Lisharry and Some Kinda Tactics in a 1730m sprint, with the final 800m being covered in a sparkling 55.6sec.

Prentice was committed to driving Dardys Delight, a five-year-old he trains at Boyanup. Dardys Delight, who will share the front line with the Ross Olivieri-trained Chief Thundercloud, rises considerably in class, but is in sound form, with his past six starts (all in stands) producing two wins, two seconds and two thirds. Before that he had contested only one stand in 348 starts. He is closely related to Winter Strike, who earned $416,693 from 33 wins and 50 placings from 143 starts. He was a winner of eight stands, six at Gloucester Park and two at Pinjarra.

This Time Dylan, trained at Pinjarra by Michael Brennan, will start off the 40m mark, but is capable of a bold showing. He has a losing sequence of 13, dating back to last May when he won a 2503m event off 30m at Gloucester Park. Four months earlier he finished a splendid third behind Hokonui Ben and Toretto in the 2936m WA Pacing Cup.

He won four times (all off 10m) over 2503m in September-October 2013 and he impressed when he started off 40m and finished second to Rocket Reign in the 3309m Marathon Handicap in August this year.

Some Kinda Tactics will share the 40m handicap with This Time Dylan on Friday night and should also prove hard to beat. He is racing consistently, with his 12 starts this season producing three wins, four seconds and three thirds.

Chief Thundercloud, a lightly-raced New Zealand-bred seven-year-old, will be one of the main fancies after having four starts in WA for a win in a 2503m stand and three second placings. He raced without cover for the final two laps when a sound second to the frontrunning Avalon Bromac in a 2536m mobile at Gloucester Park last Saturday night.

Olivieri will also be represented by veteran pacers Pembrook Henry and To Transcend and Wanneroo trainer Debbie Padberg will be looking for a stout-hearted effort from 11-year-old mare Salliwood, who will start off 20m and will be handled by Mark Reed,.

Salliwood has finished second in the past two Christmas Handicaps. She was driven by Shannon Suvaljko when she finished strongly into second place behind Uncle Kracker in 2012 and then was awarded the race after the winner was disqualified. In last year's race Salliwood set the pace and was defeated by a half-head by the fast-finishing J Walker.

It all points to Sensational Gabby

Brilliant mare Sensational Gabby looks set to complete her preparation for the $60,000 Village Kid Sprint on Friday week in fine style by proving too speedy for her 11 male rivals in the 2130m Merry Xmas Del Basso Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Her prospects soared when she was dealt the No. 3 marble in the random barrier draw and Chris Lewis is likely to make a bold bid to dash her straight to the front.

Drawn inside her are Soho Highroller and Go West U Terror, geldings with good gate speed, but susceptible to an early challenge from Sensational Gabby, who can begin with dazzling speed.

In the event of Soho Highroller holding up and leading, Lewis would be anxious to gain a good sit in the one-wide line before asking Sensational Gabby to unleash her renowned sizzling finishing burst. She was seventh (on the pegs) at the bell before finishing fast to be third behind David Hercules and Soho Highroller over 1730m last Friday night.

Soho Highroller certainly looks the pick of the four runners from the all-conquering Gary Hall sen. stable. He notched his third successive second placing last Friday night when he finished strongly from sixth at the bell to beat all but David Hercules.

The prospects of seven-year-old Lisharry completing a winning hat-trick diminished when he drew poorly at No. 5 on the front line. He set the pace for easy victories over 2503m and 1730m on the past two Friday nights.

Unbeaten youngsters to clash

The clash between highly-promising unbeaten three-year-olds Ima Connoisseur and Zennart in the 1730m Kennards Hire Pace should be a highlight of the ten-event program at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

In the blue corner will be Ima Connoisseur, a gelding trained by Greg and Skye Bond who has not tasted defeat in four starts, and in the blue and gold corner is Zennart, a colt trained by Gary Hall sen. who has been most impressive in winning at his only two starts in New Zealand.

Ima Connoisseur won by ten and a half lengths at his debut, over 2200m at Alexandra Park in June this year, and then was untroubled to win at Pinjarra at his first three Australian starts, scoring twice over 1684m and once over 2185m. He sprinted the final 400m in 27.3sec. in both his sprint wins and was timed at 27.5sec. when he won over 2185m.

Zennart led from barrier three and set the pace when he won easily on debut, scoring by four and a half lengths and rating 1.59.9 over 2200m at Alexandra park on July 25 this year. He sprinted the final 800m in 57.2sec., with the final 400m taking 27.8sec.

At his next start Zennart started from the outside in a field of six and was restrained to last (eight lengths from the leader) before moving to fourth at the bell and coming from third (three wide) on the home turn to hit the front 30m from the post to win by a half-length at a 1.59.9 rate. He dashed over the final 400m in 27.9sec.

Hall has not produced Zennart at public trials, but the Art Major colt is sure to be strongly supported, particularly when he drew inside of Ima Connoisseur. Zennart will start from barrier five on the front line, with Ima Connoisseur at No. 6.

Zennart is a half-brother to Zenas Art, who raced 51 times for 14 wins (four in New Zealand, two in Victoria and eight in New South Wales) for stakes of $100,298.

Zennart and Ima Connoisseur look set to fight out the finish and each should develop into a worthy contender for the WA Derby next year.

Colin Brown, who will drive Ima Connoisseur in the first event on the program, also has excellent prospects in the second event, the third heat of the Free Entry Boxing Day the Coulson Pace for mares, in which he will drive Harriet Elisabeth for Byford trainer David Thompson.

Harriet Elisabeth, a winner at nine of her 25 starts, is ideally drawn at barrier two on the front line in the 2130m event in which she will clash with in-form mares Rivers of Babylon and Washington Express.

by Ken Casellas

 

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