Day At The Track

Preview for Gloucester Park Friday

01:13 PM 27 Nov 2013 NZDT
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Chris Voak
Chris Voak

Young reinsman Chris Voak stands by his claim that Leda McNally has the quickest turn of foot of any mare in Australia and is bubbling with confidence that the five-year-old will prove too speedy for her rivals in the $100,000 Make Smoking History Mares Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

A win in the group 1 feature event over 2130m would help Voak and Pinjarra trainer Chris King to overcome the trauma they experienced 12 months ago when Leda McNally met with interference in the home straight and finished fourth in the inaugural Mares Classic.

Voak had Leda McNally poised to strike in the one-out, one-back position for most of the way and she was unwinding a spirited burst when Kamwood Laughter ran out under pressure and her off-side sulky wheel became locked with the near-side wheel of Leda McNally’s sulky. This caused Leda McNally to lose her momentum and she finished fourth behind the pacemaker and 6/4 on favourite Baby Bling.

Voak lodged a protest and the stewards upheld the objection and elevated Leda McNally to third place. Leda McNally was a 50/1 outsider with bookmakers and a 65/1 chance on the tote. But this week she will be one of the favourites with Bettor Cover Lover, Famous Alchemist, Loving You, Sensational Gabby and Askmenow.

Leda McNally is in superb form and has scored impressive victories at her past two starts, both over 1730m and rating a sizzling 1.54.3 in each event. Voak said that the extra journey of 2130m this Friday night would not trouble the brilliant Victorian-bred mare.

Two starts ago Leda McNally revealed her normal sparkling gate speed when she set the pace and won convincingly from deluxe Edition and famous Alchemist. She started from the No. 4 barrier in the Norms Daughter Classic last Friday night when she raced in sixth position in the one-wide line before sprinting home brilliantly to get up and defeat Famous Alchemist by a head, with Bettor Cover Lover a gallant third after working hard outside the pacemaker Askmenow.

Leda McNally will start from the No. 5 barrier on the front line this week and Voak is expected to get her away speedily in a bid to take up an advantageous position in the one-wide line. He could even be tempted to make a bid for the early lead. But this could prove to be an unwise strategy, considering that speedy beginner and noted frontrunner Loving You has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier.

This is a major advantage for Loving You, a smart four-year-old to be driven by Shannon Suvaljko for trainer Peter Tilbrook. Loving You was a 72/1 tote outsider in the Norms Daughter Classic last Friday night when she started from the outside of the back line. She fought on from seventh at the bell to finish sixth.

Loving You will be at much shorter odds this week and is a realistic chance, even though she is only on an M1 mark, while Leda McNally has a M8 classification and Bettor Cover Lover is on an M6 mark. Famous Alchemist, Sensational Gabby, Lucie Boshier and Miss Azooma have all reached an M3 mark.

Loving You has set the pace before winning five times. Her other two wins in a 31-start career have come after she had sat behind the pacemaker and after racing without cover.

Bettor Cover Lover boasts the best record of the 12 runners, with 19 wins and 12 placings from 35 starts for earnings of $999,756. She will start from the No. 2 barrier on the back line and should settle in a favourable position for her New Zealand trainer-reinsman Brent Mangos. She looks set to fight out the finish.

Leading trainer Gary Hall sen. has three runners, Famous Alchemist (Clint Hall), Askmenow (Gary Hall jun.) and Chloe Vargarita (Daniel Jack) and he would dearly love to go one better than he did when Aussie Made Lombo (Hall jun.) thundered home from tenth at the 400m and eighth on the home turn to finish a 5m second to Baby Bling 12 months ago.

Famous Alchemist looks his best prospect, even though she has drawn poorly on the outside of the back line. In last week’s race Famous Alchemist trailed the pacemaker Askmenow before bursting to the front about 120m from home and being overtaken in the final stride by Leda McNally.

Askmenow’s prospects on Friday night faded when she drew barrier four on the back line. Chloe Vargarita will start from the No. 3 barrier on the front line.

Former star juvenile Sensational Gabby will start out wide at barrier six on the front line, but she has the natural speed to quickly get into a favourable position. She should be improved considerably by her first-up effort when eighth behind Leda McNally last Friday night.

Sensational Gabby probably would have finished closer to the winner had she not become unbalanced and broke into a gallop just after leaving the back straight in the final circuit.


Pinjarra trainer Kade Howson will complete a 12-day suspension at midnight on Thursday night and will be eligible to resume driving at Gloucester Park on Friday night when he has high hopes of landing the winner of the $25,000 Kersley final with up-and-coming star El Machine.

When suspending Howson for causing interference in a race at Bunbury last Saturday week the stewards took into account his excellent driving record and his plea to be able to resume this Friday night in order to be in the sulky behind El Machine, a WA-bred five-year-old he trains and owns in partnership with Michael George.

El Machine is one of the most improved pacers in the State and has won easily at each of his past four starts, all at Gloucester Park and all over 2130m, the distance of this week’s final.

In three of those wins El Machine has produced a strong, sustained finishing burst before racing away from his rivals. He will start from barrier two on the back line on Friday night and Howson appears certain to bide his time before asking the gelding for a supreme effort in the final circuit.

El Machine meets stiff opposition, including last-start winners Old McDonald, Our Major Mark and Menelaus of Sparta, who will start from the front line along with the talented Toretto, who has won in fine style at four of his past six starts.

Old McDonald, trained and driven by Colin Brown, was the fastest of the three qualifying heat winners, will start out wide at the No. 6 barrier. But he has the ability to overcome this disadvantage. He started from barrier five in his heat last Friday week when he raced in fifth position in the one-wide line before storming home to beat Code Red by a neck at a 1.55.7 rate.

El Machine came from eighth in the middle stages to win his heat from Pembrook Henry and Menelaus of Sparta at a 1.57.4 rate three Friday nights ago. He rated 1.58, 1.57.1 and 2.0.1 at his three previous outings and he warmed up for this week’s event by making most of the running and winning a four-horse Pinjarra trial at a 2.0.8 rate over 2185m after sprinting the final 800m in 57.3sec.

Our Major Mark, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, was most impressive in his heat last Friday night when he raced without cover, took the lead 480m from home and sped over the final 400m in 27.8sec. to beat Toretto by a length at a 1.57.3 rate. He will start from the No. 5 barrier.

Menelaus of Sparta, trained and driven by Brett Smith, improved his prospects when he drew the No. 2 barrier. He followed wins at Pinjarra and Northam with another victory at Northam on Tuesday night when he settled in ninth place and charged home from fifth at the bell to win from Im Elmer Fudd at a 1.59.5 rate over 2190m.

The prospects of the Ross Olivieri-trained five-year-old Red Salute improved when he drew the prized No. 1 barrier. Red Salute, who has finished sound thirds at his past two outings, is a smart frontrunner who will have many admirers.


Smart New Zealand-bred stallion My Hard Copy has bright prospects of clinching a place in the field to contest the $175,000 Lancaster Park Golden Nugget championship by winning the $21,000 Nugget prelude over 2130m at Gloucester park on Friday night.

My Hard Copy, trained by Gary Hall sen., will start from the No. 4 barrier on the front line and Shane Butcher should have him in a prominent position throughout. The winner of the race will automatically qualify for a start in the final of the Nugget the following Friday night.

My Hard Copy led briefly from the No. 1 barrier in the 2536m McInerney Ford Classic last Friday night and then trailed the pacemaker Condrieu before fighting on strongly to finish third behind the brilliant Chilli Palmer and Condrieu.

Looming as the hardest for My Hard Copy to beat is his stablemate Northview Punter, who has won at 14 of his 27 appearances and has the ability to overcome the wide draw at No. 6 on the front line. He will again be driven by Gary Hall jun., who was in the sulky when he raced without cover in the second lap and then was shuffled back to eighth at the bell before finishing eighth behind Chilli Palmer last week.

Northern Assassin, trained by Peter Bell, has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier on the front line, but is likely to be challenged hard for the early lead by Erskine Range (barrier two) and Adda Notherzero (No. 3).

Northern Assassin won for the fifth time from 15 starts when he raced wide early and then worked hard in the breeze before winning easily from Im Riddick over 2100m at Bunbury last Saturday night.

Adda Notherzero is a noted frontrunner who has set the pace in each of his four wins from 13 starts. Erskine Range also possesses good gate speed and he led from the No. 1 barrier and won from Jay Bees Grin and Loving You over 2185m at Pinjarra two starts ago before started at long odds from the outside of the back line and fought on from tenth at the bell to be seventh behind Nowitzki over 2130m last Friday week.


Harness racing buffs who watched Heez Orl Black storm home from tenth on the home turn to get up and win from Johnny Be over 2692m at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon have marked him down as a star bet in the opening event, the 1730m Make Smoking History Pace, at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

And they will not be concerned that the New Zealand-bred five-year-old will be dropping back to a sprint trip because they will point out that the gelding has raced four times over 1730m at Gloucester Park for two wins (rating 1.55 and 1.57.5) and two second placings. He also won over 1684m in 1.53.4 at Pinjarra in August, and in New Zealand he was a winner over 1609m and three times over 1950m.

Heez Orl Black, trained at Serpentine by Gary Hall sen., was making his first appearance for six and a half weeks when he won so brilliantly on Monday afternoon. He started from barrier three on the back line and was eighth at the bell before being shuffled back to tenth on the home turn. He then stormed home, five wide, to score most impressively.

This took Heez Orl Black’s record to 12 wins and 11 placings from 47 starts for earnings of $149,510, certainly wonderful credentials for a pacer contesting a Metropolitan maiden event.

Drawn inside him on Friday night are good frontrunners Imtheguy (barrier one) and At Princeton (two), but they will be hard pressed to withstand his powerful finishing burst. Soho Redford and Soho Highroller will have many admirers after each having won in good style at his past two starts.

But Soho Redford faces a stern test from the outside of the front line and Soho Highroller, a stablemate of Heez Orl Black, will have to overcome the disadvantage of starting from barrier four on the back line.

by Ken Casellas


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