Im Victorious, the youngest and least experienced runner in the $35,000 J. P. Stratton Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night, looks set to extend his winning sequence to six by proving too classy for his rivals in the group 3 feature event over 2130m.
Pinjarra trainer, ecstatic at the five-year-old’s brilliant victory over superstar Im Themightyquinn in the Members’ Sprint last Friday night, has high hopes that another emphatic victory this week will strengthen his prospects of being invited to contest the $750,000 Miracle Mile at Menangle on November 30.
Im Victorious has pulled up in splendid condition afterbrought the gelding home with a powerful burst from fourth at the bell to defeat Im Themightyquinn by 4m at a 1.53.4 rate over 1730m last week.
And to boost his confidence Brennan celebrated his 38th birthday on Tuesday night by driving 7/4 on favourite Anvils Big Punt to victory over Ohoka Courage in a 2500m stand at Harvey. Anvils Big Punt settled down in last position in the field of five and Brennan kept him at the rear for the first 1000m before he dashed the New Zealand-bred gelding forward to race outside the pacemaker Ohoka Courage.
Brennan, making a rare appearance in the sulky, urged Anvils Big Punt to the front 90m from the post and he won narrowly from Ohoka Courage, who was driven by, on his 55th birthday.
Brennan and Brown will lock horns again on Friday night when Brown will handle star pacer Ima Rocket Star, who looms large as the most serious opponent for Im Victorious, who will start from barrier three on the back line and is certain to settle down well behind Ima Rocket Star, ideally drawn at No. 2 on the front line.
Im Victorious has had only 25 starts for 18 wins and two placings and he is undefeated at five starts at Gloucester Park since resuming from a spell. He has raced twice at Menangle for an easy win over OK Courage last February when he covered the 1609m in 1.52.7 and then two weeks later he had no luck at all in finishing seventh behind New Zealand star Christen Me, who sped over 16099m in 1.50.5.
Eight-year-old Ima Rocket Star, a winner at 25 of his 55 starts, will be having his first start for five weeks --- when he set the pace and sped over the final 800m in 56.8sec. to win the 2130m Media Guild Cup from Talk It Up and Lombo Navigator. A week earlier he revealed sparkling speed to from barrier six to lead and win from Rocket Reign and Adda Paternal Suit over 2536m at a 1.56.4 rate.
Ima Rocket Star is trained by Greg and, who prepared Russley Rascal when was driven by Brown and led from the No. 1 barrier before winning the 2012 Stratton Cup from Mysta Magical Mach and Lombo Navigator. The Bonds also trained Pablito, who started at 55/1 and finished second to Alzona in the 2011 Cup.
Brown is hoping to win the time-honoured Stratton Cup for the third time. He was successful with the-trained Demoralizer in 2007. The Bonds have a second string in this year’s Cup in Our Major Mark, who fared badly in the random draw and will start from the outside of the front line with in the sulky. Our major Mark finished strongly when third behind El Machine and Bronze Seeker over 2130m last Friday night. That followed a fighting win over the same distance the previous week.
Adding considerable interest to Friday night’s Cup will be the appearance of talented pacer Crombie, whose prospects rose sharply when he drew the No. 1 barrier. The winner of 18 races from 54 starts, Crombie has not raced since finishing third behind Mysta Magical Mach and Im Themightyquinn in the 2536m Lord Mayor’s Cup at Gloucester Park last February. He was a fast-finishing second to Im Themightyquinn in the 2536m WA Pacing Cup at his previous start.
Crombie is working in dashing style and trainerpredicts a strong showing from the New Zealand-bred seven-year-old who raced without cover before finishing strongly to win a 2185m Pinjarra trial by a length from Dalvey Gold last Sunday week. again will be Crombie’s reinsman.
Leading trainer Gary Hall sen. and leading reinsman Gary Hall jun. will be attempting to win the Stratton Cup for the third time. They were successful with Bengeeman in 2002 and Alzona in 2011.
Hall sen. will be represented by Passion Stride, who will be driven by Clint Hall from barrier four on the front line and Hall jun. will drive the-trained Uppy Son from the inside of the back line.
Passion Stride made an auspicious West Australian debut last Friday night when he was eighth early and finished solidly from sixth at the bell to be third behind Im Victorious. Uppy Son has been freshened up since he unwound a powerful burst to win the 2536m August Cup from Has The Answers and Sneakyn Down Under on August 23.
Sneakyn Down Under, a close second to Im Victorious in the 2130m Brennan Memorial two starts ago, will start from barrier five on the front line. He won the 2009 Stratton Cup when he started from the outside of the front line and was restrained to the rear before dashing forward after 350m, racing without cover on the outside of the pacemaker Smooth Crusa and taking the lead 450m from home.
ASKMENOW HAS THE CLASS TO OVERCOME HER AWKWARD DRAW
Five last-start winners will clash in the 2130m McInerney Ford Mares Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night when four-year-old Askmenow should emerge triumphant, despite an awkward draw at barrier four on the back line.
She has returned after a spell in excellent form for leading trainer Gary Hall sen. and has not been extended in winning by margins of 10.7m, 7.7m and 12.3m at her three appearances this season.
Hall has bright prospects of landing the quinella with his other candidate Chloe Vargarita, who is capable of overcoming her wide draw at No. 6 on the front line.
Askmenow notched her seventh win from her past nine starts when she started from barrier three on the front line, dashed to the front after 250m and sprinted over the final 400m in a sizzling 27.7sec. to beat Hoylakes First Lady by more than four lengths at a 1.58.3 rate last Friday night.
Chloe Vargarita is capable of bouncing back after her last-start defeat at 3/1 on when she set a brisk pace from the No. 1 barrier and wilted over the final 100m to finish third behind Lucie Boshier and Kotare Ash over 2130m three Fridays ago when the winner rated 1.57.7. She was prominent throughout and finished solidly when a winner from Big And Smooth over 2130m the previous week. Nine wins from 30 starts underline her potential.
gave punters a lead when he opted to drive Diamonds A Blaze in preference to Terra Into The West. Diamonds A Blaze, trained by , finished strongly from sixth at the bell to win over 2185m at Pinjarra on Monday of last week. She should be prominent on Friday night from the No. 2 barrier.
The-trained Terra Into The West will start from barrier two on the back line. She will be driven by , who has handled the mare at her past for a good second to Loving You and a fast-finishing third behind Askmenow last Friday night.
The connections of the 12 mares in Friday night’s event will be anxious for a good result in the hope of qualifying for a start in the upcoming rich events for mares, the $40,000 Norm’s Daughter Classic on November 22 and the $100,000 Nepean Conveyors Mares Classic the following week.
One trainer with his sights set on those races is, who has bright prospects in the 1730m West Australian Pace on Friday night. He will drive Kotare Ash from barrier three on the back line.
Kotare Ash started from the back line in a 2130m race three Friday nights ago when she made a fast move from the rear in the first circuit and challenged Chloe Vargarita unsuccessfully for the lead. She finished strongly and took the lead 90m from the post before finishing a nose second to Lucie Boshier.
One of her toughest opponents is expected to be Menelaus of Sparta, who impressed at Northam on Sunday afternoon when he unwound a powerful finishing burst to win from Absolute Cool over 2190m.
RAGPICKERS DREAM IS THE PICK OF FIVE HALL RUNNERS IN SECOND LEG OF QUADRELLA
Leading trainer Gary Hall sen. holds a stranglehold over the TABtouch Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He prepares five of the 12 runners and The Ragpickers Dream, drawn the prized No. 1 barrier on the front line, should prove one of the best bets on the ten-event program.
Hall’s other runners are Some Kinda Tactics (No. 3), Arnoux No. 4), Sanjaya (No. 2 on the back line) and Black N Bettor (No. 4 on the back line). All have sound place prospects.
Punters are certain to rally in their support for former Victorian performer The Ragpickers Dream, who will be a popular fancy in the second leg of the quadrella. The New Zealand-bred six-year-old put up a tremendous performance last Friday night when he started from the back line, raced wide early and then in the breeze for almost two laps before fighting on determinedly to be second to the frontrunning Western Cullen, who sped over the final 800m in 56.8sec.
The Ragpickers Dream gave a sample of his ability at his first two starts in WA last month when he surged home powerfully to be a first-up winner (beating The Pacing Priest) and then working hard without cover to finish a nose second to Your Good Fortune.
Hall, who has accepted with 13 runners on Friday night, has bright prospects with Toretto in the third heat of the Preux Chevalier Pace. Toretto, who will start from barrier three on the back line, impressed with his stylish victory last Friday night at his second appearance after an 11-month absence.
He settled at the rear and sustained a spirited three and four-wide burst to charge to the front 380m from home and then race away to score by more than two lengths from Turnpike Cruiser. He worked hard in the breeze when a fighting first-up third to Senor jet the previous week.
COPAGRIN GETS HIS CHANCE TO BREAK THROUGH
Promising WA-bred five-year-old Copagrin is knocking on the door and he gets an ideal opportunity to break through for an overdue win when he starts from barrier three on the front line in the TABtouch Western Bonanza Handicap, a stand over 2503m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The gelding, trained at West Swan by John Guagliardo, has a losing sequence of nine, but his recent efforts indicate that another win is not far away.
Driven by Darren Kerr, Copagrin gave a splendid performance in a 2503m stand last Friday night when he was seventh at the bell and ran home determinedly to be second, a half-head behind seasoned campaigner Shardons Rocket. He fought on doggedly when third behind Our Major Mark and Kiss Chasey the previous Friday night.
Copagrin is regaining the form which enabled him to win six races in a row earlier this year. He has earned $88,013 from 12 wins and nine placings from 42 starts and is a half-brother to former smart mare Copper Beach Girl, who was retired after racing 84 times for 14 wins and 24 placings for stakes of $156,851. Her biggest win was in the group 3 WASBA Breeders Stakes in May 2011.
A good even field will contest Friday night’s race in which This Time Dylan, Gday Mate, Smirking, Bronze Seeker, Thumpem and Ideas Man will have admirers.
This Time Dylan looks set to fight out the finish. He had little luck last Friday night when he enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back for much of the way, but was hampered for room until late, when he ran home solidly to be fourth behind Shardons Rocket. He was also held up for a clear passage when an unlucky third behind Springsteen in the 2902m BOTRA Cup the previous week.
by Ken Casellas