Day At The Track

Rising star Im Victorious conquers champ

01:40 PM 13 Oct 2013 NZDT
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All the connections of Im Victorious
All the connections of Im Victorious

Rising star Im Victorious remained firmly on track for an assault on rich feature events on the Australian circuit this season when he was driven in masterly fashion by Justin Prentice to score a magnificent upset victory over champion Im Themightyquinn in the $35,000 Brear And Doonan Members’ Sprint at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Produced in superb condition by Pinjarra trainer Michael Brennan, Im Victorious was second favourite at 3/1, with Im Themightyquinn, reappearing after an absence of ten weeks, red hot favourite at 3/1 on from the prized No. 1 barrier over the 1730m journey.

Im Victorious was the only runner off the back line in the field of eight and Prentice was content to keep the five-year-old on the pegs, following the pacemaking Im Themightyquinn. Im Victorious then dropped back to be three back on the pegs when Brad Stampalia manoeuvred Sneakyn Down Under to the pegs to follow the leader 700m after the start.

Prentice made a brilliant split-second decision to ease Im Victorious off the pegs with a lap to travel, as Adda Paternal Suit moved forward to the outside of the leader and an instant before Passion Stride was about to move into the one-out, one-back position to keep Im Victorious locked up.

Im Victorious then was one-out and one-back and Prentice waited until switching the gelding three wide 550m from home. Then, at the 400m mark, Prentice switched Im Victorious to the pegs, behind the flying Im Themightyquinn.

Then, with 230m to travel, Prentice eased Im Victorious off the pegs to issue a powerful challenge to Im Themightyquinn on the home turn. Im Victorious sprinted brilliantly and surged past the champion 110m from the post to record a notable triumph by 4m, with Passion Stride, a 90/1 outsider at his first appearance in Western Australia, 15m away in third place.

Im Victorious rated a smart 1.53.5 which was a race record, lowering the 1.54.5 recorded by Albert Jaccka when he charged home to score narrowly from Has The Answers in 2010.

This fast time was set up when Sneakyn Down Under, an 11/1 chance from the No. 2 barrier, challenged Im Themightyquinn strongly for about the first 600m. The first 400m section of the final mile was covered in a sizzling 27.4sec. before the pace slackened with a 30.6sec. second quarter. And then the final two quarters whizzed by in 28.3sec. and 27.7sec.

Gary Hall jun. got Im Themightyquinn away to a flying start from the No. 1 barrier and easily held out Sneakyn Down Under to the first turn. Stampalia continued to apply the pressure with Sneakyn Down Under, but the 11-year-old was unable to get past Im Themightyquinn. Chairman of stewards Bill Delaney reported that he had opened an inquiry into Stampalia’s driving tactics.

Sneakyn Down Under faded to finish seventh, more than ten lengths from the winner.

Brennan and Prentice were thrilled at the performance of Im Victorious, with the win boosting his record to 18 wins and two placings from 25 starts for stakes of $451,164.

Brennan said that Im Victorious would contest the $35,000 Navy Cup over 2536m next Friday week and would probably have a couple more starts in Perth before travelling to Melbourne to run in the Victoria Cup. “After that he will return to Perth to be prepared for the WA Pacing Cup and Fremantle Cup and then we’ll look at the Hunter Cup in Melbourne in February,” Brennan said.

Prentice said that Im Victorious appeared to be getting better with age and he was looking forward to further improvement. “He hit the line really strongly and then in the warm-down lap he was hard on the bit and I think he wanted to keep going,” he said.

“I thought that the way Sneakyn Down Under made Quinny burn out of the gate that if Quinny, first-up, was ever going to not finish off a race like he normally does, it was going to be tonight. So I decided to get on to his back (leaving the back straight the final time) to give Im Victorious a bit of a breather, because we had sprinted pretty hard down the back.

“And turning for home I was pretty confident that I had him. It feels pretty good just to drive a horse who can race in the same race as Quinny.”


Champion pacer Im Themightyquinn is lame and plans for him to contest the $650,000 New Zealand Cup at Addington next month have been scrapped.

It was feared that his magnificent career had come to a dramatic end on Friday night when he was a sad and sorrowful sight in his stall at Gloucester Park after his fighting second to Im Victorious in the Brear And Doonan Members’ Sprint.

The nine-year-old superstar, winner of the past three interdominion championships and $4,377,016 in prizemoney, was standing on three legs as he was in pain and lifting his off hind leg off the ground.

Champion trainer Gary Hall sen. was distraught and feared that Im Themightyquinn was suffering from a fracture in his hind leg or had torn a muscle.

However, a veterinary examination early on Saturday morning revealed that Im Themightyquinn was not suffering any serious structural or muscular damage.

“He has got very, very badly damaged feet,” Hall said. “He’s got soft soles from the wet paddocks and the vet has nerve-blocked all his feet. But the good news is that he is sound.

“However, the trip to New Zealand is definitely off. He can probably resume working in a week’s time, but it might be three or four weeks before he can fast work again.”

Hall had planned to start Im Themightyquinn in the $35,000 Stratton Cup at Gloucester Park next Friday night before travelling with him by air to Melbourne on the following Wednesday and continuing with a flight to Auckland the next day. The plans were to fly to Christchurch where Im Themightyquinn was going to contest the $50,000 Kaikoura Cup on Monday, November 4 before running in the rich New Zealand Cup eight days later.

Then Im Themightyquinn was to have travelled to Sydney to run in the Miracle Mile before returning to Perth for the WA Pacing Cup and Fremantle Cup.

“I had a sleepless night on Friday, but I’m very relieved now and am pretty happy,” Hall said. “Quinny hasn’t got anything permanent, and that’s the good news. Maybe he will be able to go to Sydney for the Miracle Mile and hopefully he will be able to run in the Fremantle Cup and WA Pacing Cup. The interdominions in Sydney in March could still be a chance.

“All his four feet are affected, but the worst is his off hind. If a horse’s hooves get soft they bruise easily, and that’s what has happened. He really pounds his feet down when he’s racing.

“He is quite happy today and I don’t think it will be a long-term problem. My gut feeling is that he will get over it and be able to return to racing pretty soon. It could have been something like a hairline fracture or ligament, suspensory or sesamoid damage. But it is nothing serious like that.”

Hall said that he was jogging Im Themightyquinn at his Serpentine property on Thursday morning when the gelding stumbled and knuckled down. “I got the vet to look at him and he was okay.”


“She’s moving in the right direction, that’s for sure,” said Gary Hall jun. after driving Askmenow to an effortless victory over older and more experienced rivals in the Harriet Horsfall Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Askmenow, a New Zealand-bred four-year-old trained by Gary Hall sen., won with such authority that she looks certain to develop into a leading candidate for the $40,000 Norm’s Daughter Classic over 1730m next Friday week and the $100,000 Nepean Conveyors Mares Classic over 21230m the following week.

Askmenow, favourite at 10/1 on after easy wins at her first two starts after resuming from a spell, surged to the front (from barrier three) after 250m and coasted through the first two 400m sections of the final mile in 30.7sec. and 30.5sec. before sprinting over the final quarters in 29.2sec. and 27.7sec.

She won by four lengths from 12/1 chance Hoylakes First Lady, who trailed her throughout. Terra Into The West (16/1) ran on from three back on the pegs to be third. Askmenow rated 1.58.3 and took her record to 28 starts for nine wins and nine placings for earnings of $87,905. It was her seventh win from only nine starts in WA for the Hall camp after she was placed twice from seven starts as a two-year-old in New Zealand and had four starts in New South Wales for one win and eight starts in Victoria for one win and seven placings.

“She looked the winner on paper and it worked out that way,” Hall jun. said. “It was a soft win and there’s plenty in store. She’s a pretty nice mare and is not far behind in ability the best mares I have driven. She probably lacks a bit in manners at this stage and is a bit of a work in progress.

“She’s got a bit of a funny mouth and can get overracing at certain stages. But this time in she’s been a lot better.”

Askmenow, by Washington VC, is the seventh foal out of Holmes Hanover mare Coming Up Roses (who failed to win a race from 14 starts). Regal Dash, the first foal out of Coming Up Roses, won at his first eight starts as a two and three-year-old in Victoria and South Australia and he had 45 starts for 21 wins, 14 placings and $152,824. His biggest win was in the group 3 Bendigo Cup in 2006.

Askmenow is closely related to former champion mare Foreal, a Washington VC mare whose dam Krystie is a half-sister to Coming Up Roses. Foreal amassed $664,800 from 18 wins and 19 placings from 57 starts.

Foreal’s wins included two group 2 events for fillies and the group 1 Great Northern Oaks in Auckland before travelling to Australia where she won the group 1 New South Wales Oaks at Harold Park in February 2005, the group 1 Ladyship Mile at Harold Park in November 2005 and a heat of the 2006 interdominion championship in Hobart.


Matt White freely admitted that he was overjoyed when Western Cullen drew the prized No. 1 barrier for the 2130m Leading Trotter Tuhimata Glass Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night and his joy was not ill-founded when he drove the New Zealand-bred five-year-old to a stylish win.

“He had put the writing on the wall over the past couple of weeks and I had a smile on my face on Tuesday night (when he drew barrier one) and it worked out good for us,” he said.

“I just let him roll through the first half (of the final mile) in a tick under a minute, and he was doing it well within himself.” Western Cullen, favourite at 10/9 on, then dashed over the final two quarters in 28.2sec. and 28.6sec. and won by just over a length from The Ragpickers Dream (7/2), with a head to the fast-finishing Some Kinda Tactics (54/1).

Western Cullen rated 1.57.2 and ended a losing sequence of nine. A winner at two of his five starts as a two-year-old in New Zealand for owners Paul and Tony Poli, the Christian Cullen gelding won the $125,000 group 1 Golden Slipper from Major Catastrophe and Gracias Para Nada at his WA debut in July 2011. He now has a wonderful record of 47 starts for 17 wins, 16 placings and $434,057.

The Ragpickers Dream fought on grandly after racing three wide early and then without cover. He will pay to follow. So, too, will Mighty Flying Thomas, who trailed the pacemaker and was hopelessly blocked for a clear run throughout the final circuit and finished full of running, close-up in fourth place.

Western Cullen is following in the footsteps of his dam Western Dream, who earned $336,361 from 14 wins and two placings from 27 starts. She won at her first five starts as a two-year-old and later won two group 2 events and three group 1 races, including the New Zealand Oaks at Addington.


Northview Punter maintained his splendid form and strengthened his prospects in the rich feature events for four-year-olds in the coming months when he gave an impressive performance to win the second heat of the 2130m Nicole Pettigrew Preux Chevalier Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Second fancy at 7/4 from the outside of the back line, the New Zealand-bred gelding trained by Gary Hall sen. sustained a strong three-wide burst in the first lap to race in the breeze before overhauling the pacemaker and 6/4 favourite Kiss Chasey 250m from home. Northview Punter drew away to score by just over a length from the fast-finishing Mein Guy (11/2), with a head to Kiss Chasey.

Northview Punter, a winner at one of his two New Zealand starts, now has earned $166,605 from 14 wins and six placings from 23 starts and he should perform strongly in the $50,000 Retravision Four-Year-Old Championship on November 15, the $125,000 McInerney Ford Classic the following week and the $175,000 Golden Nugget Championship on December 6.

Kiss Chasey set a solid pace throughout and Northview Punter revealed excellent strength to outmuscle him in the final stages. He rated 1.57.7.

“Northview Punter has been somewhat suspect from back in the field and from bad draws,” said reinsman Gary Hall jun. “He has turned the corner a bit this time in and has matured a bit. He was always a smart three-year-old and he looks like he’s going to improve and develop into a class four-year-old. He put the writing on the wall at his previous start when he held of Bettors Fire.”


For the past decade veteran Byford trainer Tony Svilicich has had the uncanny knack of racing his pacers week in and week out for month after month after month.

Veteran Shardons Rocket is no exception and the hardy nine-year-old continued to prove to be a wonderful moneyspinner for owners Ashley and Gavin McPhail when he made light of the back mark of 30 metres to win the 2503m Electrical Distributors Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Good value at 9/2, Shardons Rocket did all the work in the race, racing outside the pacemaker To Transcend for more than two laps before getting to the front and fighting on grimly to defeat 13/2 chance Copagrin by a half-head.

This boosted the earnings of the New Zealand-bred gelding to $266,937 from 23 wins and 40 placings from 119 starts.

Shardons Rocket settled at the rear before Morgan Woodley started a three-wide move after only 450m. Gary Hall jun. then vacated the one-wide line with 3/1 favourite This Time Dylan and sent him forward, giving Shardons Rocket a trail until Shardons Rocket moved to the breeze after 700m had been covered.

This Time Dylan then gained the ideal one-out, one-back trail. But he was hampered for room in the final circuit before running on late to be fourth. Shardons Rocket had got to the front 220m from home and had to fight grimly to stave off Copagrin, who finished solidly from seventh at the bell.

“He thoroughly deserved that win,” said Woodley. “He does all the work in his races. And I can see no reason why he cannot continue on his winning ways.”


Raymon John, a newcomer to the Darling Downs stables of Aldo Cortopassi, scored his second effortless all-the-way win in the space of five days when he proved far too good for his rivals in the 2130m TABtouch Western Bonanza Westbred Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

After he defeated Conniving Major Dave by three lengths at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon, Raymon John appeared a certainty from the prized No. 1 barrier on Friday night.

The five-year-old resisted an early challenge from Equivocate and then was able to stroll through the first two 400m sections of the final mile in 30.8sec. and 31.4sec. before Cortopassi gave him more rein and he sped over the final 800m in 58.8sec. to win by 4m from Big And Smooth, who fought on gamely after working hard without cover. Nitro Norrie followed the pacemaker and was blocked for a clear run in finishing third.

Raymon John has been lightly raced and has earned $58,003 from ten wins and five placings from 33 starts. By Northern Luck, he is the first foal out of Chilli Waters, who won once (at Bunbury in June 2004) from seven starts. Chilli Waters is out of Cool Waters, the dam of three winners, including Village Hero, who earned $182,133 from 16 wins and 20 placings from 136 starts.

Village Hero finished fourth behind Mr Yankee in the 2006 Golden Nugget Championship before winning the Pinjarra Cup and August Cup at Gloucester Park the following year.


The career of promising New Zealand-bred gelding Toretto has always been clouded with considerable doubt. A tendon injury has kept him out of action for long periods and at Gloucester Park on Friday night the five-year-old was having just his sixth start in a race and his second after an 11-month absence.

From barrier two on the back line in the 1730m Leading Junior Driver Shane Butcher Pathway Pace he was a 6/1 chance in a race in which his stablemate Rowchester dominated betting and started at 10/9 on.

But Rowchester had a horror run and was trapped out three wide until wilting and finishing ninth.

Toretto, trained by Gary Hall sen. and driven by his elder son Clint, settled in ninth position in the field of ten before he moved forward approaching the bell to get the three-wide trail behind Rowchester.

Polemarker Franco Nasser (7/1) set the pace, with 54/1 chance Caesars Cloud in the breeze. Gary Hall jun. sent Rowchester (who started from the outside of the front line) forward from the outset, but the four-year-old was trapped three wide and was unable to get to the breeze, with the first two 400m sections of the final mile being covered in 28.4sec. and 28.9sec.

Chairman of stewards Bill Delaney reported that the stewards had opened an inquiry into the tactics adopted by Chris Brew with Caesars Cloud.

Toretto moved to sixth at the bell and he went four wide at the 500m mark before sweeping to the front 380m from home. He won in good style by just over two lengths from 4/1 chance Turnpike Cruiser, who finished determinedly from ninth at the bell.

The winner rated a slick 1.55.9 and looks set for many more wins. He has raced only six times for four wins and one placing and stakes of $19,855.

“He’s not the nicest horse to drive, so I went for home a little earlier than I normally would,” said Clint Hall. “He probably would go to fast class if we could straighten him out. He’s a little bit stubborn, but we’ll keep trying.”


Up-and-coming WA-bred five-year-old El Machine maintained his sparkling form and completed a hat-trick when he proved too strong for the opposition in the 2130m Paul Andrews Memorial Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

This was El Machine’s fifth win from his past eight starts and part-owner and trainer-reinsman Kade Howson said that the gelding would keep on racing while he was showing such enthusiasm.

El Machine, purchased as a yearling for $5000 by Howson and Michael George, has now earned $118,164 from 15 wins and 12 placings from 39 starts.

El Machine started from barrier two on the back line and he enjoyed a good trip in sixth place in the one-wide line before Howson sent him forward, three wide, 1100m from home after an extremely slow lead time of 39.3sec. and slow first sectionals of 32.6sec. and 30.4sec.

Polemarker Sir Swanky set the dawdling pace, with Wrongly Accused in the breeze, Talk It Up behind the leader and Bronze Seeker in the one-out, one-back position. El Machine swept to the front with 370m to travel and he won by 4m from the fast-finishing Bronze Seeker.

El Machine rated rated a slow 2.0.1, even after the final two quarters went by in 28.78sec. and 28sec.

“He’s going great guns,” said Howson. “He’s a lovely little horse who tries his heart out every time he comes out to race.”


New Zealand-bred seven-year-old Arnoux gave further proof that the No. 1 barrier at Gloucester Park is a massive advantage when he bowled along in front and held on to win the 2130m Leading Pacer Mysta Magical Mach Pace on Friday night.

Arnoux, unplaced at his five previous starts from less favourable barriers, was a heavily-supported 7/4 on favourite. After a brisk lead time of 36.9sec., Shane Butcher was able to get Arnoux to relax and cover the first two 400m sections of the final mile in 31sec. and 30.9sec. before he lifted the tempo with final quarters of 29.8sec. and 29.8sec.

Heisbackinblack (12/1) finished strongly from the one-out, one-back position to be second, a half-length from the winner, with 70/1 outsider Belhelvie fighting on to be a good third after doing all the work in the breeze.

“We had to burn early to hold the front and then we were lucky enough to get away with a soft half,” said Butcher.

The win gave leading trainer Gary Hall sen. four winners and a second placing in the first five events on the ten-race program. Arnoux, who had 42 starts in New Zealand for seven wins and seven placings, has raced 28 times in WA for six wins and two placings. He has earned $115,336.


Honest square gaiter Hot Holiday was rewarded for his consistency with an overdue victory in the 2130m Corey Mills Memorial Trot at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Favourite at 5/4, the Natalie Duffy-trained New Zealand-bred seven-year-old ended a losing sequence of 12 when Aaron Skalecki drove him to an all-the-way win over Xenon (12/1) and Don Guerrero (10/1).

The race was marred as a spectacle when Idle Maple, a stablemate of the winner, galloped in the score-up and was left 50m and Sandakan Lombo also broke in the score-up. Don Guerrero was slow to begin and the well-fancied Backas Cobber broke into a bad gallop soon after the start.

“He doesn’t have the speed of the top ones, but he’s a real tough horse who keeps grinding away,” Skalecki said. Hot Holiday has earned $115,234 from 13 wins and 16 placings from 56 starts. He has had 29 starts in WA for ten wins and seven placings.

by Ken Casellas


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