It’s all systems go for veteran harness racing superstar Im Themightyquinn, who should return to action after a seven-month absence with yet another victory when he contests the $21,000 Gannon’s Pacing Colours Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The champion nine-year-old has made a complete recovery from a hairline fracture in his off-hind cannon bone and he warmed up for his return to racing with a sparkling display in a 2150m trial at Byford on Sunday morning.
The New Zealand-bred gelding, trained by Gary Hall sen., was handled in the trial by Gary Hall jun. and after racing without cover early he set the pace and the final three 400m sections whizzed by in 29.1sec., 28.4sec. and 27.4sec. He rated 1.55 in beating classy stablemate Alta Christiano by just under two lengths.
Im Themightyquinn, who has amassed $4,377,016 in prizemoney from his 51 wins and 32 placings from 102 starts, will begin from the No. 5 barrier on the front line in a race in which Hokonui Ben is certain to lead from the favourable No. 2 barrier.
Punters are likely to obtain a reasonable price about Im Themightyquinn because Hokonui Ben, the all-the-way winner of the $400,000 WA Pacing Cup in January, is in top form. After a slow lead time of 38.4sec. and a dawdling first quarter of the final mile in 30.7sec. in a 2130m event last Friday week, Hokonui Ben sprinted over the final three sections in 28.9sec., 27.9sec. and 27.9sec. to win easily from Red Salute and Lord Lombo at a 1.56.2 rate.
Hall jun. is certain not to bustle Im Themightyquinn in the early stages on Friday night and will determine his tactics as the race unfolds. Im Themightyquinn still possesses a keen appetite for competition and his dazzling last-lap speed should enable him to overhaul Hokonui Ben.
Please Release Me will resume after a spell and is nicely drawn at barrier two on the back line. He sprinted the final 400m in 27.9sec. in winning a 2185m trial at Pinjarra last Sunday week. He will be driven for the first time by Matt White, who replaces Chris Brew, who has driven the eight-year-old 60 times, including at each of his past 39 starts. Brew has retired from harness racing and is working as a fly-in-fly-out worker in the north of the State.
ALTA CHRISTIANO POISED FOR 11th WIN FROM 16 STARTS
Noted frontrunner Alta Christiano has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier in the first heat of the The Stables Bar Pure Steel Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night and he should prove the bet of the night by leading all the way for star reinsman Gary Hall jun.
The New Zealand-bred four-year-old looks classes above his rivals and he is sure to prove hard to topple in the $25,000 final on May 30. He was untroubled to set the pace from barrier one and score an effortless win in the $25,000 final of the Johnson Pace at his latest appearance, last Friday week.
Alta Christiano looks destined for big-race Christmas carnival wins if he remains sound. The chunky stallion has raced only 15 times for ten wins and two placings.
The Colin Brown-trained Erskine Range will be favoured by quinella punters after his outstanding effort at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon when he raced three wide throughout before getting to the front in the final 25m and winning from Car Fifty Four and Ti Amo Franco over 1684m.
Others with place prospects include Finbar Abbey, who completed a winning hat-trick when he ran on strongly to win the $40,000 Easter Cup from Polak and Alta Christiano on April 17, and Shandon Village, who has sprinted home stylishly to win at his past two starts at Gloucester Park. Finbar Abbey will start from barrier three on the front line, with Shandon Village at No. 2.
Ima Grumpy Jasper, an all-the-way winner last Friday night, faces a stiff task from the outside of the front line. Lisharry, who extended his losing sequence to 15 when tenth behind Ima Grumpy Jasper, should gain a soft run behind the pacemaker Alta Christiano.
By Ken Casellas