Day At The Track

Im Themightyquinn marching towards record

05:53 PM 12 Jan 2013 NZDT
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Connections of Im Themightyquinn
Connections of Im Themightyquinn

Champion pacer Im Themightyquinn is marching inexorably towards becoming the world's richest standardbred. The remarkable and seemingly indestructible harness racing eight-year-old added another glittering jewel to his golden crown when he produced another dazzling trademark performance to crush his rivals in the $400,000 SEW-Eurodrive WA Pacing Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

The all-conquering father-son combination of trainer Gary Hall sen. and Gary Hall jun. continued their dominance of the group 1 WA Pacing Cup when Im Themightyquinn, favourite at 7/4 on, unleashed his characteristic sizzling burst of speed to storm to an effortless victory in the 2536m event, beating 100/1 outsider Crombie by 4m, with the pacemaker Dasher VC (13/4) holding on to be third.

"I can't wait to get to Sydney and show that he can beat the best, anywhere in Australia," said Hall jun. after chalking up his sixth driving success in Western Australia's premier pacing event.

The Halls are excited at the prospect of taking Im Themightyquinn to Sydney to contest the $750,000 interdominion championship over 3000m at Tabcorp Park in Menangle on Sunday March 3 in an all-out bid to win the championship for the third year in a row.

There are no signs whatsoever of Im Themightyquinn losing any of his brilliance or his wonderful zest for racing and Hall sen. considers the superstar fully capable of racing at his peak for another two years.

If that is the case Im Themightyquinn looks certain to become the richest pacer in the world, of all time. He now has amassed prizemoney of $3,674,366 from 45 wins and 28 placings from 92 starts. The world's richest pacer is former Queensland champion Black s A Fake, who retired in July 2011 with earnings of $4,575,438 from 72 wins and 24 placings from 105 starts.

Blacks A Fake won the interdominion championship four times --- in Hobart in 2006, at Globe Derby Park (2007), at Moonee Valley (2008) and at Harold Park (2010). There certainly is a possibility that Im Themightyquinn (winner of the interdominion championship in the past two years) could equal Blacks A Fake's record of four victories.

Hall sen. (who has trained a record seven WA Pacing Cup winners over the past 12 years) considers Im Themightyquinn of being capable of winning the next two WA Pacing Cups to outdo former champions Pure Steel and Village Kid, each of whom won the Cup four times.

Im Themightyquinn will not rest on his laurels. He will be in action at Gloucester Park next Friday night when he will be attempting to win the $250,000 Yes Loans Fremantle Cup for the fourth successive year.

Im Themightyquinn started from barrier four on the back line on Friday night and Hall jun. was able to ease him back from a three-wide position early to settle in tenth position in the one-wide line.

Dasher VC was untroubled to get straight to the front from barrier two on the front line and Chris Lewis had the luxury of setting a moderate early pace, with Kyle Harper in the breeze with Mysta Magical Mach opting not to apply any pressure as he held the veteran back more than a length off the pacemaker. Rocket Reign (50/1) settled behind the leader and Colin Brown slotted Can Return Fire (33/1) into the one-out, one-back position.

Livingontheinterest (7/1) settled nicely in sixth place, one-out and two-back and the first move in the race came when Kim Prentice sent Livingontheinterest forward with 1200m to travel. Hall immediately followed that three-wide run with Im Themightyquinn.

Hall finally set Im Themightyquinn alight passing the 500m mark and the champion exploded forward, four wide, with Mysta Magical Mach getting his nose in front of Dasher VC 120m later. But Mysta Magical Mach began to wilt and Im Themightyquinn bounded forward to surge to the lead 300m from home.

Crombie, who had raced in eighth place in the one-wide line, loomed out of the pack and, under heavy punishment from Kim Young, the six-year-old fought on grandly to deprive Dasher VC of second place. The stewards fined Young $200 for an incorrect whip action. It was Young's second second placing in the Cup. He was runner-up with Elite Shadow to Sunshine Band in 1996.

After a sedate first 400m section of the final mile in 31.2sec., the tempo lifted considerably and the final three sections went by in 28.5sec., 28sec. and 28sec.

Im Themightyquinn rated 1.56.6 in the 100th anniversary of the big race, the third fastest rate recorded in Cup, behind his 1.55.9 in 2012 and the 1.56.3 recorded by Washakie when he beat Im Themightyquinn into second place in the 2010 WA Pacing Cup.

Russley Rascal ran on from 11th at the bell to finish a most encouraging fourth, with Mysta Magical Mac wilting to fifth and Lombo Navigator fighting on from tenth at the bell to be sixth.

For Hall jun. this was his 19th victory in a grand circuit event, equalling the record held by legendary New South Wales horseman Brian Hancock.

HOKONUI BEN POISED FOR BIGGER AND BETTER THINGS

Lightly-raced New Zealand-bred six-year-old Hokonui Ben could be a surprise runner in the Yes Loans Fremantle Cup next Friday after giving a superb performance to win the $50,000 SEW-Eurodrive Nights of Thunder at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

"He was pretty impressive and this was his most dominant win," said Gary Hall jun. after driving Hokonui Ben to a commanding victory by just under three lengths over Heisbackinblack, rating 1.55.6 over the 1730m sprint.

"I thought he had a class edge, but I didn't think he was going to have that big an edge. I was quite surprised how easily he put them away. If this race wasn't on tonight, he probably would've had a crack at the WA Pacing Cup, in which he definitely would have been competitive.

"When he first came over he did a lot of things wrong at home and wasn't a very nice horse to drive. We turned him out and he's come back extremely well. He just switched on. There was obviously something bugging him earlier, and whatever it was he has sorted it out. It could have been the same thing that was bugging me earlier tonight, and lucky for him, I got my brains working again."

Hokonui Ben, backed from 6/4 on to 2/1 on, started from barrier three and was beaten for early speed by 5/1 chance Midnight Dylan, who burst straight to the front from the No. 2 barrier. Polemarker Wrongly Accused had the perfect sit behind the pacemaker, while Hall was quite happy to race in the breeze. After modest sectionals of 29.9sec. and 30.4sec. for the first two quarters of the final mile, the pace increased and the final two 400m sections were covered in 28.4sec. and 28sec.

Hokonui Ben charged to the front on the home turn and raced away to record a stylish victory. Heisbackuinblack, the fastest qualifier, trailed the winner for most of the way and finished boldly to be second, with Wrongly Accused a half-length away in third place. Midnight Dylan, an all-the-way qualifying heat winner, faded to finish well back in eighth place.

The win gave trainer Gary Hall sen. and Hall jun. their second success in the Nights of Thunder. They combined to win the inaugural Nights of Thunder with Tealsby Karita in 2007.

Hokonui Ben, a winner at six of his 24 New Zealand starts, has been most impressive since entering Hall's stables last year and he should improve considerably on his WA record of nine starts for six wins, two seconds and one fourth placing. He has earned $166,009 from 12 wins and seven placings from 33 starts.

EARLY SPEED BATTLE HELPS SON OF FERGIE IN CUP CONSOLATION

A hectic early pace played into the hands of Son of Fergie, who trailed the harassed pacemaker and 6/4 on favourite Bakerandthefatman in the 2536m SEW-Eurodrive WA Pacing Cup Consolation at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Polemarker Bakerandthefatman had to survive a spirited challenge for the lead from Aussie Made Lombo, who challenged hard for the lead for the first half-lap. The lead time was a scorching 65.5sec., which was 2.7sec. faster than Dasher VC's lead time in the WA Pacing Cup.

Most pundits expected the nine-year-old Bakerandthefatman, driven by Chris Lewis in his 170th start, to fade after being placed under so much early pressure from Aussie Made Lombo, who had been supported from 5/1 to 11/4. But Bakerandthefatman fought on in grand style and was overtaken by Son of Fergie only in the final 15m.

Son of Fergie, a WA-bred seven-year-old prepared at Bunbury by Stephen de Campo, was driven patiently by the trainer's 20-year-old nephew Aiden de Campo, who coolly waited for Aussie Made Lombo to wilt. Finally, de Campo was able to ease Son of Fergie off the pegs 250m from home.

Bakerandthefatman led by one and a half lengths on the home turn, but was unable to hold out the strong-finishing Son of Fergie, who broke a losing sequence of eight and took his record to 20 wins, 28 placings and earnings of $268,910. Strike Up The Band (20/1) ran on from seventh on the pegs at the bell to be third, while Aussie Made Lombo faded to finish last in the field of eight.

Son of Fergie is an older half-brother to speedy mare Elite Angel, who has earned $127,592 from 12 wins and 14 placings from 54 starts.

ALKIRA JETSTAR ON TARGET FOR FEATURE EVENTS FOR MARES

Star five-year-old Alkira Jetstar is looming as a major hope for feature events for mares this season after giving a sparkling performance to score a narrow but highly-impressive victory in the 2503m SEW Driving Australia Since 1982 Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Owner-trainer Vanessa Brockman produced the daughter of Jet Laag in splendid condition and she was driven with great precision by Morgan Woodley.

Alkira Jetstar is sure to be one of the favourites for the group 2 Empress Stakes at Gloucester Park on March 1 and the group 3 Race For Roses on May 10. She won the Race For Roses last May when she defeated Arch On Fire and Kamwood Laughter.

Alkira Jetstar, supported from 2/1 to favouritism at 5/4, got away smoothly from the inside of the 10m line and Woodley quickly eased her into the one-wide line while Salliwood set the early pace before 20/1 chance Turismo took over as pacemaker after 550m, with 20m backmarker Saucy Legend (backed from 5/1 to 7/2) dashing forward to move outside the leader 650m after the start.

Alkira Jetstar is essentially a sit-and-sprint performer and Woodley remained cool as he kept the mare in the one-wide line as Uncle Kracker started a three-wide move 1050m from home. Uncle Kracker was followed by Falcons Medley and Alkira Jetstar looked in serious trouble when she was badly blocked for a clear passage in the one-wide line at the 400m post.

She was still hampered for room with 300m to travel before Woodley was able to get her into the clear. She then went four wide and sprinted home powerfully to get up and score by a half-head from Turismo, with Salliwood 11m farther back in third place.

Alkira Jetstar, who covered the final 800m in 58sec. and rated 2min., has been lightly raced. She has raced only 22 times for 14 wins and two placings for stakes of $129,267.

"She has to be driven that one way," Woodley explained. "The race looked awkward on paper because she was drawn to settle midfield, and with the new push-out rule, not being able to move until the back straight, it does make it difficult at times.

"All credit to Vanessa; she has done a fantastic job with this horse and I am sure there are many more wins in store. There have been a lot of changes along the way, with gearing and workloads and even her racing style. It's taken a bit of time, but we are starting to get rewards."

SLICK CHAPEL TURNS THE TABLES ON HIS STABLEMATE

Slick Chapel, narrowly beaten by Northview Punter two weeks earlier, turned the tables on his stablemate when he set the pace and beat the 3/1 on favourite in the 2130m SEW Industrial Automation Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Both three-year-olds, trained by Gary Hall sen., give every indication of developing into leading candidates for the rich WA Derby on April 19.

Two weeks ago Slick Chapel was strongly supported from 4/1 to 5/2 in a 1700m event at Gloucester Park. Driven by Kim Prentice, he worked hard outside the pacemaker Red West before getting to the front 420m from home. Northview Punter (5/2 on to evens) ran on solidly from fourth at the bell to take a narrow lead on the home turn. Then the pair fought out a tense struggle, stride for stride, down the straight, with Northview Punter gaining the verdict by a head.

On Friday night, Prentice again was in the sulky behind Slick Chapel, who had plenty of admirers, with his price firming from 5/2 to 7/4 before easing to 9/4. Gary Hall jun. again was the driver of Northview Punter (5/2 on to 3/1 on).

Slick Chapel was first out from the No. 2 barrier, while Hall restrained Northview Punter, who started from barrier five in the field of five. The first two quarters of the final mile were covered in 30.3sec. and 30.2sec. before the tempo increased, with Slick Chapel dashing over the final two 400m sections in 28.9sec. and 28sec.

Hall eased Northview Punter three wide 520m from home and the colt drew level with Slick Chapel on the home turn and was hailed the winner. But Slick Chapel fought on with grim determination to regain the upper hand and he went on to beat Northview Punter by a half-length, with Northern Assassin 13 lengths away in third place.

Slick Chapel rated a smart 1.57.1 and looks set for a bright career. He was placed three times from seven starts in New Zealand, including a head second to Five Card Draw in a $30,000 feature event for two-year-olds at Alexandra Park last March. Two wins and a second from three WA starts have boosted Slick Chapel's record to ten starts for two wins and four placings for stakes of $36,892.

SHARDONS ROCKET OVERCOMES A BAD START TO SCORE IN CONVINCING STYLE

Shardons Rocket overcame a bad start to work hard in the breeze and prove too strong for his rivals in the 2096m SEW Industrial Gear Units Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

The New Zealand-bred eight-year-old trained by Tony Svilicich and driven by Chris Lewis, began smoothly from the inside of the 10m line at the first attempt to get the field under way. But the 20m barrier strand failed to release, leaving Dalvey Gold at the start.

A false start was declared and on the second occasion Shardons Rocket (7/4, 9/4) galloped and settled at the rear, while the polemarker Our Calvados (5/2 to 7/4) held the early lead, despite a spirited attempt from Best Legacy to get to the front.

Shardons Rocket settled in ninth position before Lewis dashed the gelding forward, three wide, after 500m to get to the breeze with 1250m to travel. Shardons Rocket surged past the tiring Our Calvados 270m from home and went on to win by almost two lengths from 25/1 chance gathering Gears, with Coringa Cory (14/1) flying home along the pegs to take third place.

The winner sprinted the final 800m in 57.7sec. and advanced to an M2 classification. He has had 83 starts for 16 wins, 30 placings and $154,917 in prizemoney. He won once from seven New Zealand starts and ten times in Victoria and twice in Tasmania before arriving in WA where he has had 30 starts for three wins and ten placings.

His maternal granddam Shardon Lass produced Shardons Aflyin, who amassed $500,651 from 21 wins and 16 placings from 61 starts. Among his 20 wins in WA were the group 1 Australian Pacing Championship and Fremantle Cup in March 2007 for trainer Grant Williams.

HALL SUSPENDED, BUT WILL DRIVE IM THEMIGHTYQUINN IN FREMANTLE CUP

Leading reinsman Gary Hall jun. was suspended for ten days at Gloucester Park on Friday night, but has been granted a stay of proceedings from the stewards to enable him to drive champion Im Themightyquinn in the $250,000 Yes Loans Fremantle Cup next Friday night.

Hall was suspended for causing interference in the first race on the program, the SEW We're Torqueing Pathway Pace, in which he drove the Michael Brennan-trained The Burnside Flyer, second favourite at 4/1.

Ohoka Squire, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, was backed from evens to 6/4 on and gave his backers little cause for concern, jumping straight to the front from barrier two for reinsman Colin Brown, setting a brisk pace and winning by 5m from Veitchy at a 1.56.8 rate over 2130m.

The main story from the race was the suspension of Hall, the State's leading reinsman.

The Burnside Flyer started from the outside of the front line and Hall restrained him to the rear before he sent him forward with a fast move about 550m after the start. The Burnside Flyer moved to the breeze 1050m from home. He was hanging and Hall continued to urge him forward approaching the home turn, racing for the bell.

It was then that Hokuri Handrail (Aiden de Campo) met with a check and broke for a couple of strides. A wheel of The Burnside Flyer's sulky was punctured and the gelding dropped out to finish a distant last.

All honours were with Ohoka Squire, who was overdue for a win after being placed at four of his six previous starts. A winner at his only start in New Zealand (at Wyndham last February), the four-year-old Ohoka Squire has earned $38,301 from seven wins and six placings.

"It's a reward for his consistency," said Brown, who added that the well-bred gelding had a bright future. Ohoka Squire is a half-brother to Ohoka du Nord, a winner of 14 races in WA, including the 2011 Pinjarra Cup. Ohoka du Nord, who is now racing in Sydney, has earned $163,352 from 18 wins and 15 placings from only 50 starts.

Another half-brother Ohoka Nevada won $485,777 in prizemoney from 38 wins and 27 placings from 90 starts. A winner of ten Cup races, Ohoka Nevada won the group 3 Winter Cup at Menangle and the group 2 Mildura Cup (during a winning sequence of ten in 2011).

COOL ADDA AND de CAMPO A GREAT COMBINATION

Twenty-year-old Capel reinsman Aiden de Campo has developed a wonderful partnership with five-year-old mare Cool Adda, who gave him the first leg of a double at Gloucester Park on Friday night when she led all the way in the 2130m SEW Heavy Industrial Solutions Pace for mares. He completed the double when Son of Fergie won the WA Pacing Cup Consolation.

Her runaway victory by five and a half lengths over Siena Franco landed several handsome wagers. Cool Adda, who started from the No. 1 barrier, was backed from 4/1 to 9/4 before starting second favourite at 5/2 behind Courage On Fire (5/2, 2/1).

De Campo, engaged by Byford trainer Shannon Suvaljko in order to make use of de Campo's junior concession, has now driven Cool Adda 12 times for five wins. The concession enabled Cool Adda, an M1-class mare, to start from the inside of the front line in a race restricted to M0 to M2-class pacers.

Courage On Fire was the smartest into stride from the No. 3 barrier, but was unable to muster sufficient speed to cross Cool Adda and take the lead. De Campo then rated Cool Adda perfectly and the mare careered away from her rivals in the closing stages.

Cool Adda, bred and owned by Albany businessman Harry Capararo, has earned $133,359 from 13 wins and ten placings. By American stallion Chill Factor, Cool Adda is out of Coco Chanel, whose dam Orthez produced nine winners.

Capararo completed a double when Death Adda, a seven-year-old he bred and races in partnership with four others, worked hard before winning the 2130m SEW 24-Hour Service Claiming Pace from Village In Vesa and Real Life.

Death Adda, the 10/9 favourite, was driven by his trainer Callan Suvaljko, who was content to race outside the pacemaker and 7/4 second fancy Heeza Hudson. Death Adda got to the front on the home turn and won in good style at a 1.58.8 rate.

Death Adda had raced without cover when a one-length second behind the pacemaker Heeza Hudson in a claiming race over 2185m at Pinjarra the previous Monday.

"It was a boiling hot day at Pinjarra and I left the leader alone," Suvaljko said. "Tonight I planned to apply greater pressure to Heeza Hudson and was extremely confident of beating him. "

CLANCY MAGUIRE RELISHES FRONTRUNNING ROLE

Noted frontrunner Clancy Maguire maintained his consistent form when Matt White drove the Andrew de Campo-trained gelding to a smart all-the-way victory in the second heat of the 2130m SEW Driving The World Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

White took full advantage of the No. 1 barrier and Clancy Maguire was untroubled to bounce straight into the lead and dictate the terms of the race.

"The key was the draw and we were able to hold up early," White said. "He went terrific. When you come here, you've got to draw."

Clancy Maguire, a New Zealand-bred seven-year-old, has been a splendid moneyspinner. He has raced 83 times for 19 wins and 27 placings for stakes of $165,975. His 43 WA starts have produced 13 wins and 16 placings.

Clancy Maguire started a firm favourite at 6/4 on and he simply carried too many guns for Some Kinda Tactics (7/2) and Banana Dana (3/1).

Some Kinda Tactics raced wide early before getting to the breeze after 500m. He fought on gamely. Banana Dana trailed the pacemaker and finished determinedly.

by Ken CASELLAS

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