Woodley set for his century

09:20 AM 30 Jul 2014 NZST
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Morgan Woodley
Morgan Woodley - doing what he does best.
Morgan Woodley is poised to notch a record third victory in the $35,000 Next Payment ATM Howard Porter Memorial at Gloucester Park on Friday night and chalk up his century of winners in the 2013-14 season.

The brilliant young reinsman has formed a tremendous liaison with David Hercules and the seven-year-old is sure to prove extremely hard to beat in the 2536m feature event in which he has drawn barrier four on the front line.

Woodley, one of four drivers to have won the Porter Memorial twice, looks set to make a bold bid to take up the role of pacemaker in the early stages. Brilliant mare Leda McNally has drawn the coveted pole position, but Chris Voak is unlikely to attempt an all-the-way win if Woodley, as expected, applies considerable early pressure.

Leda McNally is a smart frontrunner, but she is even better suited when held up for a late charge. She produced a powerful finishing burst to win a 2503m stand at Gloucester Park two starts ago and then she surged home from eighth in the middle stages to finish second to El Machine in the 2100m Manea Classic at Bunbury last Saturday night.

Ten-year-old Rocket Reign will start from barrier two. The veteran possesses good gate speed, but it would come as a surprise if Mark Reed attempts to set the pace with a pacer who has a losing sequence of 20.

David Hercules is in sparkling form and is unbeaten at three outings in his current campaign, setting the pace to beat Im Themightyquinn over 2130m and then working hard in the breeze to beat Please Release Me in the 2536m Winter Cup and again when he defeated the pacemaker Northview Punter over 2130m last Friday night.

"I was pleasantly surprised when he was able to get up and beat Northview Punter," Woodley admitted. And Byford trainer David Thompson is delighted at the way David Hercules is racing. "He went super last week and has thrived since then," he said.

Northview Punter is a strong stayer, but his prospects of winning the Porter Memorial diminished when he drew out wide at No. 6 on the front line. The New Zealand-bred four-year-old, the youngest runner in the race, is trained by Gary Hall sen., who has won the Porter Memorial as a trainer-driver with Makes The Rules in 1999 and Its Written In The Stars the following year.

Woodley has won the event with All In Teck (2008) and Has The Answers (2011) and the other reinsmen to have won the race twice were Phil Coulson (Pure Steel in 1978 and Gammalite four years later) and Fred Kersley jun. (Gap Road, 1983, and Quecee, 1990).

Pinjarra trainer Chris King, who has brought Leda McNally back to top form in the past fortnight, is seeking his second success in the Porter Memorial, a race he won with 41/1 tote outsider Flamin Tact in 2010 when the gelding was handled by Robbie Williams. King also has a handy second string in Lord Lombo, who is not well drawn at barrier five.

An interesting runner is former Victorian open-class performer Our Blackbird, a New Zealand-bred six-year-old by Bettors Delight who will be making his first appearance in Western Australia.

Our Blackbird, now trained by Ross Olivieri, has won at 15 of his 64 starts. He faces a stern test from the outside of the front line, even though he has been performing soundly against quality opposition in Victoria. Four starts ago, in the 1720m Sokyola Sprint at Melton, he finished fourth behind Five Star Anvil, Smoken Up and Chilli Palmer and three starts before that he was third behind Chilli Palmer and Smoken Up in the group 3 Geelong Cup.

Our Blackbird will be driven by Chris Lewis, whose only success in the Porter Memorial was with Hilarion Star in 1992.

Lewis seeking a birthday gift

Champion reinsman Chris Lewis will celebrate his 59th birthday on Friday and he hopes to celebrate the occasion with a winner or two at Gloucester Park in the evening.

One of his best prospects appears to be veteran pacer Tee Pee Village, who is ideally drawn at the No. 2 barrier on the front line in the Moondyne Joes Fremantle Claiming Pace.

Trainer Clive Dalton has brought the 12-year-old back to racing after a spell in fine fettle and the gelding followed his first-up second to Pride of Colorado with a strong effort to win a 1730m claimer from The Oyster Bar at Gloucester Park last Saturday week after he had worked hard in the breeze for most of the way.

Tee Pee Village is a good frontrunner, but Lewis may have to be content to race without cover, with The Oyster Bar the likely pacemaker from the prized No. 1 barrier. Looming as the hardest for Tee Pee Village to beat are Pride of Colorado (barrier six) and Our Arlington (seven).

Trainer Aldo Cortopassi has engaged Mark Reed to drive Pride of Colorado, who will have many admirers after dropping in class. After sitting in the breeze and beating Tee Pee Village three starts ago, Pride of Colorado finished boldly from sixth at the bell to be second to Heez Orl Black over 1730m and then was a fighting fifth behind David Hercules over 2130m last Friday night.

Reed looks certain to go forward with Pride of Colorado from the wide barrier and seek a forward position, most probably on the outside of the pacemaker.

Our Arlington, trained by Gary Hall sen. and to be driven by his son Gary, has the ability to overcome the wide barrier. The six-year-old finished strongly to win the Past Presidents Cup from Dundee Three and Please Release Me two starts ago before setting the pace and finishing fifth behind David Hercules in the 2536m Winter Cup four Fridays ago.

By Ken Casellas

 

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