Young trainer-reinsmanis bubbling with confidence at the prospects of up-and-coming stayer Springsteen in the $21,000 Garrard’s Horse And Hound BOTRA Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The 23-year-old Harper has no hesitation in declaring that Springsteen is now fitter and stronger than he was when he set the pace and scored an effortless victory over Senator Whitby and Bronze Seeker in the 2518m Kalgoorlie Cup on two Thursdays ago.
“The step up in distance to 2902m won’t worry him,” he said. “He went across the line in the Kalgoorlie Cup bolting and with the plugs in. He felt like he could’ve run another lap.
“After that race I was planning to give him a bit of time off because I thought that the run and the travelling to and back from Kalgoorlie would have knocked him about a bit. But he pulled up fantastically well. I had him cherry ripe for the Kalgoorlie Cup, but I’m even happier now with him.
“It was a super run in the Kalgoorlie Cup and if he repeats that performance he will take a lot of beating this week, providing he steps away well from the stand. But even if he’s not in front, he will be hard to beat. He can breeze and is even better when sat up.”
Springsteen, a New Zealand-bred five-year-old, is the youngest runner in the BOTRA Cup in which he will start off the front and will be opposed to several far more experienced rivals with superior records. Springsteen is lightly raced and has won ten races and been placed nine times from only 33 starts. He has been successful at five of his past nine starts.
Harper is seeking to win the BOTRA Cup for the second time. He caused an upset 12 months ago when he drove 25/1 outsider Outstandin to victory over 7/4 favourite Mysta Magical Mach. Outstandin trailed the pacemaker Puhinui Rainbow before he got off the pegs 100m from home, gained a needle-eye split and charged to the front with 50m to travel.
Harper’s father Lindsay has won the BOTRA Cup twice. He drove Ariege to victory in 1998 and scored with Shattering Class two years later.
Veteran traineris hoping for a change of luck kin the Cup after finishing third with Real Life in 2010, second with Real Life in 2011 and second with Mysta Magical Mach last year. He will be represented by tough stayer Shardons Rocket, the lone backmarker off 30m.
Shardons Rocket has been racing with great spirit and cannot be underestimated. He will be handled by, who has finished second in the past two BOTRA Cups and won the race with Hilton Adonis in 2006.
Leading trainer Gary Hall sen. is seeking his third win in the BOTRA Cup, after scoring with Spirit of Shard in 2008 and Albert Jaccka in 2010. He will be represented by This Time Dylan, who has struck top form in recent weeks with fast-finishing efforts to dead-heat for first with Demon Possessed and a narrow victory over Turnpike Cruiser on the past two Friday nights.
“He is definitely an each-way chance in the race is run truly,” Hall declared.
Trainers Greg and, Michel Brennan and each have two Cup runners, with the Bonds being represented with frontmarkers False Promise and Next Dawn, Brennan with Jambo Emali and grand stayer Anvils Big Punt and Prentice with Gday Mate and Braemoor.
Prentice looks to have solid each-way prospects with both his runners. Gday Mate, to be driven by Kaiden Hayter, warmed up for the Cup in impressive style at Northam on Tuesday of last week when he galloped at the start and dropped back to last before sustaining a powerful burst to win a 2560m stand easily from Hez Got The Nod. That followed a win and two seconds at Gloucester Park at his three previous outings.
Prentice will drive Braemoor, who has won at four of his past nine starts. Braemoor and Gday Mate will start off the 10m line and they will have many admirers.
MIDNIGHT DYLAN GIVES BROWN A CHANCE OF THIRD CRANLEY MEMORIAL
Ace reinsmandescribes Midnight Dylan as a little horse with exceptional gate speed and after the New Zealand-bred five-year-old drew favourably at No. 2 on the front line, he declared that he would be extremely hard to beat in the 1730m $21,000 Pat Cranley Memorial at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Brown, who has won the event with Can Return Fire in 2008 (when the Alan Bell-trained gelding started at 11/2, set the pace and defeated Major Money Maker and Im Themightyquinn) and the-trained Motu Treasure in 2010, said he was confident Midnight Dylan would lead and prove very difficult to overhaul over the sprint journey.
“In front is where Midnight Dylan goes best and he can run time in front,” Brown said. While Brown has won the event twice, he is also anxious to win with Midnight Dylan to make amends for defeats behind hot favourites Borat (5/2 on) and Next Dawn (5/4) in the past two years.
Borat led from barrier one before wilting over the final 280m to finish sixth behind 120/1 outsider Sirtwo years ago and last year Next Dawn fought on, three wide, from sixth at the bell to be third behind El Padrino and Dhoni.
Midnight Dylan, trained by Greg and, is a noted frontrunner who has had 53 starts for 11 wins and 18 placings. He resumed after an absence of two months when he set the pace and finished second to top-flight stablemate Our Major Mark in the Mount Eden Sprint over 1750m in Kalgoorlie on September 17.
Three nights later on the same track Midnight Dylan set the pace and strolled to an easy two-length victory over Unsinkable Boxer over 2550m.
“Midnight Dylan has run some very good races when he has led and has been hammered in front, and has still recorded some very fast times,” Brown said. “The Ragpickers Dream looks the main danger to Midnight Dylan. He was very tough last Friday night when a very close second to Your Good Fortune. But drawing No. 2 over the mile is definitely in Midnight Dylan’s favour.”
Gary Hall sen., trainer of The Ragpickers Dream, said that drawing poorly at No. 3 on the back line over the sprint trip was a worry. “But he should go close,” he said. “His run last week was very good and he’s very versatile.”
The Ragpickers Dream will be handled by Gary Hall jun. in an event in which the stable will also be represented by Arnoux, Black N Bettor and Real Hammer.
IN-FORM VOAK IS THE MAN TO FOLLOW
is harness racing’s man of the moment and he is sailing in unchartered waters, being in front in the Statewide reinsmen’s premiership for the first time in his career.
The 25-year-old is in dashing form and has landed six winners on the first three days of the week, scoring with Bekindtous Adda (6/4 on), What The Blazes (7/4 on), Karloo (evens) and Bettor Whitby (5/2) at Kellerberrin on Sunday before bringing 45/1 outsider Looks Promising home with a well-timed burst to beat Hearts Desire at Pinjarra on Monday and then succeeding with To Transcend (2/1) at Gloucester Park on Tuesday night.
After the first month of the 2013-14 season Voak leads the reinsmen’s premiership with 16 winners and 18 placings from 84 drives and shows the way from(15 wins and 17 placings from 64 drives) and (15 wins and six placings from 39 drives).
He has several drives at the meeting at Gloucester Park on Friday night and is sure to be popular with punters, particularly in the opening two events in which he will handle Bettor Whitby in the Regency Foods Pace and Smirking in the Red Pepper Catering Pace.
“They look to be my best chances,” he said. Bettor Whitby, trained at Northam by Lang Inwood, is ideally drawn at the No. 1 barrier over the 1730m journey, while Smirking, trained at Oakford by, looks well placed from barrier two in his 2536m event.
The consistent Bettor Whitby is showing improvement and she warmed up for Friday night’s engagement with a smart win over Nediak over 1730m at Kellerberrin on Sunday. That improved her record to four wins and 24 placings from 53 starts.
“She came out of the gate well (from barrier four) and I thought she would land in the breeze,” Voak said. “They went a bit hard early, so I restrained her back to second last before she got the three-wide cart into the race. Then she made her run from the 250m and won by about three-quarters of a length.
“I think she will have the speed to hold up on Friday night and I expect her to run a strong race in front. She can lead or sit; it doesn’t matter. But I’ll be trying to lead, especially over the mile.” One of her best runs was at Northam a couple of months ago when she led and got a lot of pressure early and did a very good job to finish a close third to Beautiful Night and Big and Smooth.”
Looming as the main danger to Bettor Whitby is the-trained four-year-old Loving You, who has won easily at her past three starts and is nicely drawn on the inside of the back line.
Loving You has set the pace for her three recent victories, two at Gloucester Park and one at Pinjarra.is likely to attempt to gain the run of the race behind Bettor Whitby before setting the mare the task of outsprinting Bettor Whitby in the final stages.
Suvaljko gave punters a good lead when he opted to drive Loving You in preference to the-trained Terra Into The West and Ace of Cards. Suvaljko has been successful with both mares in recent months. will drive Terra Into The West on Friday night and has been engaged for Ace of Cards.
An interesting driving change is that of Gary Hall jun. for Cruzee Princess, a smart mare who possesses excellent gate speed and is likely to make a bid for the early lead from the No. 4 barrier. Hall has yet to drive the-trained Cruzee Princess, who worked hard in the breeze and fought on gamely when third to Miss Atomic over 2190m at Northam on Tuesday of last week.
Voak said he expected Smirking to prove hard to beat from barrier two on Friday night. “He should have enough gate speed to hold out the horses on his outside and should cross the polemarker Racy Lacy, who is a sit-and-kick horse.
“Smirking’s fourth behind This Time Dylan over 2503m last Friday night was really good. If he had got a run inside the final 400m I think he would have gone close to winning.”
HALL FANCIES “SLOW LEARNER” BENJAMIN BANNEKER
Champion trainer Gary Hall sen. would dearly love to win the race named in his honour, the Gate Leading Trainer, Gary Hall Senior Pace, at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He has three of the nine runners and believes that the talented, lightly-raced Benjamin Banneker can bring home the bacon.
“Benjamin Banneker is a big chance,” Hall declared. “He’s the best of my runners and he’s my choice. He is a slow learner who is getting better with every run. He doesn’t like to be used out of the gate and he’s better off doing nothing and then coming home.”
Benjamin Banneker, a New Zealand-bred five-year-old, has revealed considerable promise in his 23 starts which have produced ten wins and five placings. He maintained his good form when he finished solidly from fifth at the bell to be second to the pacemaker Banana Dana in fast time over 1730m last Friday night. Two starts before that he overcame the disadvantage of having a punctured tyre of his sulky when he finshed strongly to win from Ohoka Samson and Mighty Flying Thomas.
Benjamin Banneker, an M4-class pacer, will start from barrier six on the front line and Gary Hall jun. looks certain to bide his time before issuing a strong late challenge. Oakford trainerhas two M1-class runners in Arousing (barrier one) and Rojen Cruz (four). Both are capable frontrunners with winning prospects. Hall’s other runners are Algeepee and Some Kinda Tactics.
Another fancied runner will be Lucie Boshier, who bounced back to top form with a fast-finishing victory over Kotare Ash at a 1.57.7 rate over 2130m last Friday night.
Lucie Boshier was produced in fine fettle by Boyanup trainer Dennis Roche. But the mare has been prepared bysince that success and will be handled for the first time by claiming junior Kaiden Hayter. Lucie Boshier will start from the inside of the back line.
Brew explained that Lucie Boshier had returned to his stables in Serpentine only to facilitate efforts to get her in foal. “She has pulled up very well after her win and is happy and well,” he said. “She should run a good race.”
OUR MAJOR MARK HAS TURNED THE CORNER
Highly-rated pacer Our Major Mark arrived in Western Australia seven months ago with a big reputation and though he won at his first four starts in the State (in moderate company), he did not impress reinsman.
But that has all changed and Brown now ranks him highly. He is confident that he will drive him to victory in the 2130m Central Fruit Sales Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
“He’s drawn No. 1 and that’s his barrier,” Brown said. “He’s handling Gloucester Park very well and he went around the Kalgoorlie track well last month.
“He’s pacing a lot better and driving a lot better. And his attitude is a lot better. At his early starts here he tried only when he wanted to. He had won half a million dollars and didn’t have a good horse’s attitude.
“And then his work on the track over the two to three weeks before he went to Kalgoorlie said that he had turned around. He’s now a genuine horse. He wasn’t before.
“He has very good gate speed and has won most of his races in front. In his win over Midnight Dylan in Kalgoorlie he came from three back on the rail. But he’s a lot better horse in front.”
Our Major Mark looks one of the star bets on Friday night’s ten-event program. He should lead and defeat Kiss Chasey, who has won in good style at two of his past three starts.
by Ken Casellas