Day At The Track

Ima Connoisseur in a purple patch

12:36 PM 17 Jun 2015 NZST
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Ima Connoisseur is in a purple patch of form
Ima Connoisseur is in a purple patch of form

Forrestdale harness racing trainers trainers Greg and Skye Bond, frustrated earlier in the season when Ima Connoisseur chalked up a losing sequence of 12, now have high hopes that the New Zealand-bred three-year-old will extend his winning sequence to five by overcoming the difficult barrier of No. 4 on the back line in the 2100m Quayside Transport Pace at Bunbury on Friday night.

Ima Connoisseur is improving in leaps and bounds and he gave a wonderful performance at Pinjarra on Monday this week when he started from barrier three on the back line and raced in tenth and last position until Colin Brown sent him forward with a spirited burst with about a lap to travel.

Ima Connoisseur sprinted strongly and burst to the front 500m from home before winning decisively from his fast-finishing stablemate Assassinator.

Ima Connoisseur rated a sparkling 1.54.3 over the 1684m, with the quarters in 27.4sec., 29.5sec., 28.3sec. and 28.7sec.

At his previous start, over 2692m at Bunbury ten nights earlier, Ima Connoisseur settled in sixth and last position before charging to the front after 800m and then sprinting the final 800m in 56sec. on his way to winning by a length from Assassinator, rating 1.59.9.

The Bonds hold a powerful hand in Friday night's event in which Ima Connoisseur will race against smart stablemates Delightful Offer, Assassinator, Denny Crane and Holy Grail.

Ima Connoisseur has raced 20 times for eight wins and six placings and his toughest rival appears to be Delightful Offer, who has revealed great promise in winning at six of his 18 starts.

Brown will drive Ima Connoisseur, Ryan Warwick will handle Delightful Offer (outside of the back line), Chris Lewis will drive Denny Crane, Dylan Egerton-Green will be in the sulky behind Holy Grail and Lauren Jones has been engaged for Assassinator (awkwardly drawn at No. 6 on the front line).

Between them, those five drivers have won 392 races this season.

Leading trainer Gary Hall sen. has only one runner in Friday night's event, a newcomer from New Zealand in Run Oneover, who will be making his Australian debut.

Run Oneover, who has raced 16 times in New Zealand for three wins and seven placings, worked in good style when he scored a runaway victory in a 2150m trial at Byford on Sunday morning.

Against moderate opposition, Run Oneover won by 45 metres from True Story (unplaced at his six starts as a two and three-year-old), rating 1.59.6, with final quarters in 29.6sec. and 29.2sec.

Run Oneover has not appeared since finishing a close third behind Brilliant Strike in a $40,000 listed event for three-year-olds at Addington on January 30.

He started out wide at barrier eight on the front line and was restrained to last in the field of 13.

He was 12th at the 800m before running home strongly, out wide, when the final 800m was covered in 57.8sec.

He will start from barrier four on the front line on Friday night and Gary Hall jun. might be tempted to make a bold bid for the early lead.

The gelding revealed blistering gate speed when he burst straight to the front from the No. 5 barrier in a 1609m event at Wairio last October.

He then was restrained after 600m and raced behind the pacemaker before finishing strongly along the sprint lane to hit the front 100m from the post and win by a neck in 1.56.6, with the final 800m in 56.7sec. and the last 400m in 27.4sec.

In a remarkable contrast in a 2600m mobile event on the grass track, and racing in a clockwise fashion at Westport last December, Run Oneover raced behind the pacemaker in an event run at a farcical pace.

He made use of the sprint lane and won easily, rating an extremely slow 2.20.4. The final four quarters were covered in 37.4sec., 38.6sec., 31.8sec. and 29.7sec.

His performance at his first Australian run will be watched with considerable interest.

He is one of 15 runners from the Hall stable engaged at the meeting.

The Bond stable has 14 runners.

Hall sen. is leading the Statewide trainers' premiership with 170 winners, with the Bonds in second place with 152 winners.

Back in third place is Ross Olivieri, with 71 winners.

Hoping to halt the Bond and Hall juggernaut in the Friday night's race for three-year-old is Blythewood trainer Gary Elson and reinsman Nathan Turvey.

Turvey will drive the promising Red Hot Major for Elson and the colt, who has had 16 starts for six wins and seven placings, is on target for a hat-trick after smart wins over 1684m (1.55.6) and 2692m (1.59.2) at Pinjarra.

Red Hot Major is favourably drawn at barrier two on the front line.

Ken Casellas

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