Leading Victorian trainerwas ecstatic when his star four-year-old Chilli Palmer drew the coveted No. 1 barrier on the front line in the $175,000 Lancaster Park Golden Nugget Championship at Gloucester Park on Friday night and predicted that the gelding would lead and prove very hard to beat.
Braun's optimism will certainly take the wind out of the sails of several rival trainers and reinsmen who were planning for their horses to charge forward in determined bids to take an early lead against Chilli Palmer, a pacer they believed did not possess the speed to take advantage of the inside barrier.
The brilliant Chilli Palmer, to be handled by ace Victorian reinsman Chis Alford, has won at each of his past six starts and has a record of nine starts for seven wins, a second and a seventh. He has won most of his races by producing a sizzling finishing burst. He has never jumped straight to the lead in his brief but spectacular career.
"Everyone is entitled to his opinion," Braun said from Melbourne after the barrier draw. "But we will be aiming to make full use of the inside barrier. Chilli Palmer has got great natural high speed and I haven't had a horse with more natural gate speed. So far we have never really used his gate speed.
"I couldn't be happier with the way is working. He had a good blowout at Byford on Saturday whenworked him over a mile and a half and he sprinted over the final 400m in 27.3sec.
"Hopefully Chilli Palmer will be able to make amends for the defeats of my horses Mustang Mach and Chancellor Cullen in the past two Gold Nuggets. It should be a great race on Friday night and every horse in the field can win, with the right run, but I wouldn't swap my horse for any other runner."
Mustang Mach (11/1) started from barrier four and raced without cover for most of the way when a fighting second to The Gold Ace in 2011 and Chancellor Cullen (5/4) raced in the breeze for the final 1550m when fourth behind Im Victorious a year ago.
The No. 1 barrier has been a huge advantage in the recent Golden Nugget Championships, with the No. 1 horse leading and winning three of the past five Nuggets and the other two winners in this period coming from the No. 2 barrier.
Schinzig Buller won from barrier two in 2008 and then(13/8), Dasher VC (6/4 on) and The Gold Ace (10/1 on) won in the following three years before Im Victorious (11/4) started from barrier two and thundered home from ninth at the bell to win from Bettor Reason (20/1) and 6/1 chance Reuben Brogden, who started from barrier one and set the pace until the final stages.
Chilli Palmer could not have been more impressive than he was at his West Australian debut in the 2536m McInerney Ford Classic last Friday week when he charged home from last at the 600m to score a decisive victory over the pacemaker Condrieu, with My Hard Copy third and Rocky Marciano fourth.
Condrieu began with devastating speed from barrier five to burst to the front after 120m and, who trains the gelding with his wife Skye, plans to instruct reinsman to charge forward from out wide at barrier six.
"We'll go forward; there's no point in going backward," he said. "We decided to have a crack for the lead from barrier five in the McInerney Ford, and it worked for us. The element of surprise won't work for us again, but we'll still be going forward.
"We don't know whether Chilli Palmer has the necessary gate speed. He may well be better sat up; that's how he has been driven in most of his races. I don't think they will want to be caught in the early hustle bustle. Condrieu has done well since his second in the McInerney Ford and we're really happy with him."
Condrieu is at his best when he leads. He has set the pace at four of his seven wins in WA, two of them being over 2536m, the distance of the Golden Nugget.
Victorian trainer-reinsmanwas delighted to draw barrier two with the speedy Nowitzki, who led from the No. 1 barrier and won the $50,000 Four-Year-Old Championship three Fridays ago.
"The draw goes a long way (to winning) and I'll be trying to get across to the lead," he said. "His three runs in WA have been below par, but I expect him to go better this week. If he races as well as he can, he's certainly the horse to beat."
Leading WA trainer Gary Hall sen. was disappointed with the barriers drawn by his two runners, Northview Punter (No. 3 on the back line) and My Hard Copy (outside of the front line) and said that he would need plenty of luck to win.
"It's going to be a great race and I reckon Nowitzki will come out hard and lead --- and Condrieu will also come out hard," he said. "So hopefully it will be on from start to finish. My best chance from the draw is Northview Punter. We might drive him a bit quiet and let him come home."
DALGETY RETAINS FAITH IN BIT OF A LEGEND
Champion New Zealand trainerreturned to Perth last week for the first time for 17 years and he has not given up hope of winning the $175,000 Lancaster Park Golden Nugget Championship at Gloucester Park on Friday night with outstanding four-year-old Bit Of A Legend, even though the horse was unplaced in the Four-Year-Old Championship and McInerney Ford Classic at his past two starts.
The 45-year-old Dalgety has fond memories of his first trip to Western Australia when he prepared Desperate Comment for the 1996 interdominion championship.
Desperate Comment, who was driven by, qualified for the final as leading points scorer after a third, a second and a win in the heats. But he finished sixth in the final, won by Young Mister Charles.
Bit Of A Legend, who has amassed $640,178 in prizemoney from 17 wins and 11 seconds from 36 starts, was trained and driven for his four starts at Gloucester Park in this campaign by New Zealander. His best effort was an easy victory in a prelude of the Golden Nugget three starts ago when he defeated Galactic Galleon and Northview Punter.
"Brent has done a fine job with him, but the horse faces a hard task in Friday night's race," Dalgety said. "Bit Of A Legend is only small and he's not stylish or elegant, but his assets are his great will to win and determination.
"He has drawn barrier four and I'm pretty excited that just to be inside barrier five on the front row. Nowitzki and Condrieu are very fast beginners and I think that when we settle Bit Of A Legend will definitely be in the better half of the midfield --- and that will be a good start. In most of his wins he's come from behind. He just wants to be the winner."
Bit Of A Legend, who will be driven by New Zealand's champion reinsman, and has the stable name of Carter, after Dalgety's ten-year-old son Carter, who insisted that his father buy the pacer at the New Zealand yearling sale.
"Bit Of A Legend was very little, but Carter picked him out and said 'we've got to have this one,' Dalgety said. "So I bought him for $NZ50,000, probably from the heart than the head. I had had his half-brother London Legend, who was a good horse.
"I bought Bit Of A Legend for myself, a good stable client in Darryl Brown, from Perth, Ross Stanbury, from Christchurch, and Pat Cabarlla, from Invercargill, and we have no regrets." London Legend, byand the first foal out of Soky's Legend, raced 101 times for Dalgety between 2008 and 2011 for 25 wins, 27 placings and stakes of $456,124.
OUT TO EQUAL HIS FATHER AT GLOUCESTER PARK
, New Zealand harness racing's golden boy and a superstar at the age of 24, will make his first appearance in Western Australia when he drives Bit Of A Legend in the $175,000 Lancaster Park Golden Nugget Championship at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
And he would dearly love to emulate the performance of his father Robert, who landed a winner at his only trip to WA, in 1996 when he was successful with Master Musician in a second-round heat of the interdominion championship.then was in the sulky when Master Musician, the 5/2 favourite, finished third behind Young Mister Charles and Sunshine Band in the final.
Dunn, who will arrive in Perth on Thursday, will get the opportunity to experience driving on the 805m circuit when he handles three pacers trained by Matt Scott in early events on the program.
Scott has nominated Dunn to drive Miss Tee Dawn in the 1730m V. and K. Congerton Memorial Mares Pace, Marooned in the 2130m Happy Birthday Ryan Berti Pace and Zurbaran in the first heat of the Livio (The Champ) Tolomeo The Coulson Pace.
Miss Tee Dawn has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier and has sound prospects of giving Dunn a winner at his first drive at Gloucester Park. This would equal his feat of landing a winner at his first drive in America --- when he was successful behind McClelland (1.50.1) over 1609m at the Meadowlands in New Jersey on June 25, 2011.
Miss Tee Dawn started from the outside of the back ,line and did a good job to finish strongly from the rear to be fourth behind Arts Gangsta over 2190m at Northam on Tuesday of last week. She also unwound a powerful burst from the rear to win from Mount Richon over 2150m at Harvey the previous week.
Marooned, who was claimed for $10,000 last week, has a losing sequence of 20 and faces a stern test from barrier four on the back line. He trailed the pacemaker Sanjaya when a sound third to that pacer last week, with the winner rating 1.55 over 1730m.
Punters are likely to be keen to support the polemarker and smart frontrunner Taiaha against Marooned and the other ten runners in this week's event. Taiaha, who is prepared by Hazelmere trainer, caught the eye when racing first-up at Northam on Tuesday of last week when he raced three back on the pegs and was hampered for room before finishing solidly to be second to Celtic Crusader.
Zurbaran, a winner six starts ago and placed second at two of his past four starts, will be at handsome odds from the outside of the front line in a race in which polemarker Cool Johnny (resuming after a let-up), What God Knows and Soho Highroller will be fancied.
THE BEAU BRUMMELL RETURNS AFTER A SPELL IN FINE STYLE
New Zealand-bred five-year-old The Beau Brummell looks one of the best bets on the program at Gloucester Park on Friday night after scoring an effortless first-up victory at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon.
Waroona trainer Bob Mellsop produced The Beau Brummell in fine fettle for his first appearance for three months when he trotted faultlessly three back on the pegs in a race run in Indian file before he surged to the front 100m from home and scored by more than three lengths from All Over Red Rover at a 2.1.9 rate over 2185m.
The Beau Brummell will start from barrier three on the front line in the 2130m mobile Kyle And Dozer Trot on Friday night in which he will clash with then highly-regarded Prince Eddie, smart frontrunner Heez Speedy Gonzalez, last-start winnerHarbour and Hot Holiday, who has won in good style at two of his past four starts.
by Ken Casellas