Prentice aims for gold with Major Reality

09:52 AM 16 Jul 2014 NZST
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Justin Prentice
Justin Prentice - is confident that Major Reality can take gold in Saturday $125,000 Group One.

Young Boyanup harness racing trainer-driver  Justin Prentice is a keen student of breeding and he has high hopes that his judgment in purchasing Major Reality at the 2013 New Zealand yearling sales will be vindicated by driving the filly to victory in the $125,000 Premier Suzuki Golden Slipper at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Major Reality ran a superb trial for the group 1 Golden Slipper for two-year-olds when she set the pace and sped over the final 400m in 27.4sec. to score an effortless win in the $35,000 Gold Bracelet last Friday night.

Her prospects of winning the Slipper soared when she drew the prized No. 1 barrier and the 26-year-old Prentice will be aiming for another all-the-way success this week.

Prentice studied the 2013 yearling catalogue and was determined to buy the Art Major filly, originally named Just Like Mum.

"She is by a strong stallion and her dam Reality Check was a smart performer as a two-year-old," Prentice said. "So I just picked her out on breeding. Dad (trainer-reinsman Kim Prentice) was over at the sales and he checked out the filly and gave her the okay.

"I told Dad that I was prepared to go to $50,000 for her and was stoked when I was able to get her for $31,000."

Justin Prentice bought the filly on behalf of stable client John Wulff, who had been a co-owner of Carim Courage and Im Hey Jude. Wulff then sold shares in Major Reality to a few mates and the filly has already proved her worth, earning $37,200 from three wins from her first four starts

Major Reality is following the footsteps of Reality Check, who won three races as a two-year-old and one as a three-year-old before being retired after 24 starts with earnings of $139,495. She was successful at Alexandra Park at her second start, in March 2006, and then won a $40,000 feature event for fillies at Cambridge the following month before winning a 1700m $125,000 classic at Alexandra Park at her sixth start. She then finished third in a group 1 classic.

Major Reality won with such ease last week that she is likely to be a warm favourite for the Slipper. But favourites have a terrible record in recent runnings of the classic. Only one favourite has been successful in the past 14 years. That was Western Cullen, who started at evens and charged home from sixth in the middle stages to easily beat Major Catastrophe and Gracias Para Nada in 2011.

And fillies have won only eight times in the 46-year history of the Slipper. They have been Sordice (1968), Omista (1971), Via Vista (1980), Mazzini Magic (1988), Whitbys Miss Penny (1990), Whitbys Merit (1993), Spirit of Navajo (2005) and Arma Xpress (2012).

Kim Prentice purchased The Odd Lover for prominent owner Rob Watson at the 2013 New Zealand yearling sales and the Art Major colt looms as one of the chief rivals for Major Reality after he drew favourably at barrier two on the front line in the 2130m event.

Prentice, who trains the colt at Hopeland, has a high opinion of him and would dearly love him to make amends for his bad luck when 2/1 on favourite in the group 1 $100,000 Pearl Classic last month when a tyre of his sulky was punctured early in the event and then the tube became entangled in the wheel, causing him to drop back from the breeze position to finish at the rear.

At his next appearance, over 2130m at Gloucester Park last Friday night, The Odd Lover started from the back line and raced three wide early before moving to the breeze and finishing second to the pacemaker Isaiah Artois.

From barrier two this week, The Odd Lover meets Isaiah on better terms. The David Thompson-trained Isaiah Artois will start from the No. 4 barrier and although he possesses sparkling gate speed he is most unlikely to be able to wrest the early lead from Major Reality.

The query runner is Beaudiene Boaz, who will be making his first appearance in Australia for leading trainer Gary Hall sen. after winning at three of his seven starts in New Zealand. He stormed home to gain a last-stride victory in the group 1 $150,000, Emerald at Cambridge on May 31 before being sold to a group of Hall's clients, headed by Beth Richardson.

Beaudiene Boaz was a smart trial winner at Byford on Sunday morning and he will have a legion of followers. Isaiah Artois has won at five of his eight starts and cannot be underestimated. Consistent filly Sea Me Smile has drawn perfectly on the inside of the back line and Chris Lewis should have her on the back of the pacemaking Major Reality all the way.

Mister Ardee, to be driven by Kim Young for owner-trainer Gary Elson, is capable of a bold showing from barrier two on the back line, while Straittothehilton, one of five fillies in the race, has place prospects from the No. 3 barrier.

Beaudiene Boaz is the best, says Hall

"Without sounding too arrogant I've got no doubt that he's the best horse in the race, but he will have his work cut out from barrier six," said champion reinsman Gary Hall jun. when assessing the prospects of New Zealand newcomer Beaudiene Boaz in the $125,000 Premier Suzuki Golden Slipper at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

"His trial at Byford on Sunday was super, but a two-year-old having his first look at the track will need to do everything that we think he's capable of to be able to beat Justin Prentice's filly Major Reality."

Hall said that the barrier draw had tilted the odds in favour of Major Reality, who is sure to make the most of the coveted No. 1 position by setting the pace in the 2130m group 1 classic.

"The draw really evens things up," Hall said. "I think Beaudiene Boaz is capable of beating Major Reality, but he will have to prove every bit as good as we think he is. He's got a bit of everything. He's definitely very quick and he seems to be quite strong.

"However, there appears to be no chink in Major Reality's armour. She is such a good gaited horse who seems to do everything right. She has got good gate speed and it's not likely that she will have to be rushed out to hold the lead. She'll hold it easy; nothing can really trouble her early and she'll get a soft lead, and that will make her hard to beat.

"We know that she can run a quarter in 27 and a bit, so we will have to try to take it (the sting) out of her early. However, doing that will probably set it up for something back in the field. I haven't determined my tactics, but obviously getting to the breeze is the way to go. You can't win by going back (early)."

Beaudiene Boaz is trained by Gary Hall sen., who is in Brisbane campaigning with superstar Im Themightyquinn. Hall will be attempting to emulate the performance of Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri, who won the 2011 Golden Slipper with Western Cullen at his Australian debut.

Hall jun. drove Beaudiene Boaz in a 2150m trial on Sunday morning when the Badlands Hanover colt sat behind the pacemaker, three-year-old stablemate Crusader Banner before sprinting home strongly to beat that pacer by a length at a 1.58.6 rate after sprinting over the final two 400m sections in 28.3sec. and 28.1sec.

Beaudiene Boaz has won at three of his seven starts in New Zealand for trainer Ray Green. He was sold to clients of the Hall stable after he had given a superb performance to win the $150,000 Emerald for two-year=-old colts and geldings at Cambridge on May 31.

An outsider at 38/1 and driven by Zac Butcher, Beaudiene Boaz was seventh on the pegs at the bell and still in sixth place 400m from home before he charged home, out four wide, to snatch a last-stride victory by a head over Bettor Spirits, covering the metric mile (1609m) in 1.54, track record for two-year-olds.

The 400m sections whizzed by in 27.4sec., 29sec., 28.6sec. and 28.9sec.

Two starts earlier Beaudiene Boaz dashed over the final quarter in 28.2sec. and rated 2.1.8 in winning over 2200m at Alexandra Park.

Hall sen. has won the Slipper only once, when he trained and drove Love of Glory to victory over Possibly and Almagest in 1989. Hall jun. has yet to taste victory in a Golden Slipper. Four years ago he set the pace with 6/4 on favourite Go West U Terror, who finished second to Ohokas Bondy. Then he drove Gracias Para Nada (22/1) into third place behind Western Cullen in 2011,Northview Punter (10/9 on) when he finished a half-head second to Arma Xpress in 2012 and the 6/4 on favourite Crusader Banner when he set the pace before fading to ninth behind Class of Tara last year.

Leda McNally set for unusual hat-trick

Classy mare Leda McNally has won races on the Golden Slipper program on the past two years and she has excellent prospects of completing an unusual hat-trick at by outpacing her rivals in the Premier Suzuki Genuine Parts Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Trained at Pinjarra by Chris King, Leda McNally has been unplaced at her past five starts and has a losing sequence of seven. But she looks ideally suited, and well handicapped, off 20m in the 2503m event for M4 and better class pacers.

The five-year-old Leda McNally has won at 19 of her 57 starts and has an M10 assessment. This will be only her second appearance in a standing-start event. She gave an outstanding performance at her only run in a stand, when she began off 50m, was tenth at the bell and stormed home, five wide, on a heavy, rain-soaked track to finish third behind Selkie and Salliwood in the Race For Roses over 2503m at Gloucester Park on May 9 this year.

She was a 5/1 chance when Chris Voak took her to an early lead and she went on to win by two lengths from Blissfull Cullen in a 2100m mobile on Golden Slipper night in July 2012. Voak again was in the sulky when Leda McNally, favourite at 11/4, sustained a powerful burst to win easily from Slick Bird over 2130m 12 months later.

Voak handled Leda McNally when she was untroubled to win a four-horse trial at Pinjarra on Sunday morning. After a moderate early pace Leda McNally sprinted over the final 800m in 56sec. and defeated Countess Krista by a length at a 1.59.5 rate.

A small field of seven should help Leda McNally's cause on Friday night when she is likely to meet stiff opposition from the four runners trained by Gary Hall sen. They are Bettor Reason, My Hard Copy, Our Arlington and Some Kinda Tactics. The Tony Svilicich-trained Shardons Rocket is a tough, consistent campaigner who should again fight out the finish.

Hall marching to 200 winners

Champion trainer Gary Hall sen. has 13 runners at Friday night's meeting at Gloucester Park and he looks set to take a giant step towards his ambition of becoming the first West Australian to train 200 winners in a season in WA.

He and his younger son Gary, the State's premier reinsman, should give punters a flying start to the meeting by winning the opening event, the Suzuki Way Of Life Pathway Pace with the brilliant three-year-old Soho Lennon.

Soho Lennon, a winner at six of his 20 starts, gave a tremendous performance last Friday night when he produced a powerful finishing burst to be a nose second to classy stablemate VC Manoeuvre over 1730m at a 1.55.3 rate.

Soho Lennon, who beat VC Manoeuvre at his previous outing, was driven at his latest two starts by the trainer's elder son Clint.

"I'm looking forward to getting back behind him," said Hall jun., who drove the gelding to easy wins at Pinjarra and Gloucester Park in June. "Starting from No. 12 (the outside of the back line) is not easy for a three-year-old taking on older horses," he said. "But he races like an older horse and I really like him.

"I know that VC Manoeuvre beat him last week, but I reckon Soho Lennon is not far behind Elegant Christian and Machtu.

"Senior is not far from 200 winners for the season --- and that's his aim. He gave us a rev up the other week when he reckoned we were running out of time. So it was nice to have five winners last Friday night and to keep him off our back for a week."

Hall sen. is the State's leading trainer with 190 winners and 189 placegetters from 717 starters.

by Ken Casellas

 

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