Hokonui Ben gets his chance to turn the tables

08:48 AM 24 Dec 2013 NZDT
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Winning connections of Hokonui Ben
Winning connections of Hokonui Ben

Leading trainer Gary Hall sen. cracked the jackpot when his three brilliant speedsters drew the inside three barriers in the $60,000 Retravision Village Kid Sprint over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Hokonui Ben will start from the prized No. 1 barrier, rising star Toretto will start from barrier two and Livingontheinterest, the track record-holder over 1730m, will start from No. 3.

Champion reinsman Gary Hall jun. will resume driving after serving a term of suspension and will have the choice of driving the classy New Zealand-bred stablemates.

Hokonui Ben makes strong appeal. He is a talented frontrunner who has won on each of the two occasions he has drawn the No. 1 barrier in a mobile event in Western Australia, the latest being four starts ago when he scorched over the final 800m in 54.8sec. and rated 1.55.5 in defeating David Hercules over 2130m on November 22.

He has finished second at each of his three subsequent outings --- when he led from barrier two and was beaten by Livingontheinterest over 2536m, when he raced in the breeze and was unable to overhaul the pacemaker Sneakyn Down Under over 2130m and when he trailed the pacemaker Livingontheinterest before finishing strongly to be a half-length second to that gelding over 1730m last Friday night.

Livingontheinterest and Toretto cannot be underestimated. Kim Prentice drove Livingontheinterest when the six-year-old set the pace and rated a smart 1.54.9 when he beat Hokonui Ben last Friday night. He started from barrier three and made most of the running when he won by almost four lengths from Hokonui Ben when he set a record rate of 1.53.1 over 1730m on June 14 this year.

The injury-plagued Toretto is the least experienced of the stablemates, but has created an excellent reputation in winning at nine of his 14 starts. He maintained his superb form when he led from barrier one and coasted to victory over Our Major Mark, Red Salute and Hez The Bart Man in the 2130m Christmas Gift final last Friday night.

He gave a sample of his versatility the previous week when charged home from the rear to win easily from Hez The Bart Man.

The David Thompson-trained David Hercules is a magnificent sprinter, but his prospects faded when he drew out wide at barrier seven in a one-line field of nine. He led from barrier one and rated 1.54.2 when he beat Son of Fergie by six lengths three starts ago and he set a State record for 1700m when he rated 1.52.8 in beating Grinjaro by three lengths in July 2012.

Since his most recent victory David Hercules has finished second to Hokonui Ben and third to Sneakyn Down Under and Hokonui Ben and he warmed up for this week's assignment in great style when he raced without cover early and then set the pace before winning a 2150m Byford trial on Sunday morning by four lengths from Ima Rocket Star. He sped over the final two 400m sections in 28.1sec. and 27.5sec.

Morgan Woodley is likely to restrain David Hercules back towards the rear before asking the seven-year-old to unwind a sizzling late sprint.

Bettors Fire, a highly-promising New Zealand-bred five-year-old, also warrants considerable respect after winning at eight of his first ten starts in Western Australia for young trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper.

Bettors Fire will start from barrier four and Harper will be hoping to obtain a favourable passage in the one-wide line before issuing a last-lap challenge. Bettors Fire has won at his two appearances over 1730m, including his easy all-the-way victory over star pacer Im Victorious in the Mount Eden Sprint in the first week of November when he rated 1.53.8.

Dasher VC showed a welcome return to form last Friday night when he started from the back line, dashed forward three wide in the middle stages and then raced in the breeze before fighting on to finish third behind Livingontheinterest. Stating from the No. 6 barrier on Friday night will not help his cause.

FRONTRUNNING SOHO REDFORD GETS HIS CHANCE IN COULSON FINAL

West Australian-bred four-year-old Soho Redford is a noted frontrunner and his prospects of winning the $25,000 The West Australian Coulson final at Gloucester Park on Friday night soared when he drew the coveted No. 1 barrier in the 2130m feature event.

Vance Stampalia is certain to make his intentions perfectly clear that he will be all-out to set the pace with the freewheeling Mach Three horse, even though he is likely to be challenged for the early lead by smart frontrunners Bettors Ace (barrier two) and Im Terrific (three).

Bettors Ace, to be driven by his trainer Ryan Bell, resumed after a short let-up in fine style when he led from barrier one and cruised to victory over Clifford and Condrieu in a 2130m event last Friday week.

Then Im Terrific, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, made the most of the No. 1 barrier when he led and defeated Rocky Marciano and Heez On Fire over 2130m last Friday night.

Soho Redford, whose is prepared by Tonia Stampalia (sister of the reinsman), notched his third win from his past six starts when he led from barrier three and beat Miss Atomic by four lengths over 2190m at Northam on Thursday of last week. Four starts before that, he started from the No. 1 barrier and was not extended in setting the pace and winning by more than two lengths from Extreme Dreams over 2536m at Gloucester Park.

Soho Redford's main rivals could well be the other four-year-olds in the race, Heez On Fire, Rocky Marciano and Condrieu.

Heez On Fire, trained by Rod Oliver, is nicely drawn at No. 2 on the back line and Chris Lewis is sure to get the Courage Under Fire gelding into a prominent position soon after the start. Heez On Fire was most unlucky when third behind Im Terrific and Rocky Marciano last Friday night when he was trapped four wide early and had to be restrained to the rear before unleashing a spirited finishing burst.

He was most impressive two weeks earlier when he charged home from last to finish third behind Nowitzki and Smokey the Bandit in the 2536m Golden Nugget Championship. The Peter Anderson-trained Rocky Marciano is awkwardly drawn at No. 5 on the front line, but he is capable of producing a spirited finish if he is able to slot into an advantageous position soon after the start. He finished strongly when second to Im Terrific last week after enjoying an ideal passage, one-out and one-back.

Condrieu, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, has excellent potential and has won at nine and been placed at 11 of his 28 starts. He raced wide for the first 600m and then set the pace before finishing third to Ohoka Courage and Lisharry over 2692m at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon. He showed his class when he began brilliantly, set a fast pace and finished second to Chilli palmer in the 2536m McInerney Ford Classic at Gloucester Park three starts before that. He will start from barrier four on the back line on Friday night.

Condrieu's stablemate Cool Johnny, a stylish first-up winner two starts ago, has each-way prospects after drawing perfectly on the inside of the back line. He should gain a wonderful trail behind the likely pacemaker Soho Redford.

LEDA McNALLY POISED TO MAKE IT FOUR WINS IN A ROW

Star mare Leda McNally fared poorly in the random barrier draw and will start from the outside of the back line in The West Australian Mares Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. But this should prove no disadvantage for the brilliant five-year-old who looks classes above her ten rivals.

Leda McNally has won in fine style at her past three appearances to take her record to 18 wins and eight placings from 44 starts for stakes of $257,308.

Trainer Chris King tuned Leda McNally up for this week's assignment by sending her around in a 2185m trial at Pinjarra on Sunday morning. She was handled by her race driver Chris Voak and after racing in the breeze early, Leda McNally set the pace and won easily from stablemate Lord Lombo after sprinting the final 800m in 55.6sec.

It was an excellent effort by Leda McNally, who completed a hat-trick of wins four Fridays ago when she charged to an early lead and romped to an effortless victory over Famous Alchemist in the 2130m $100,000 Mares Classic.

Famous Alchemist, who also finished second to Leda McNally in the $40,000 Norm's Daughter Classic last month, should again fill the runner-up position. The mare, trained by Gary Hall sen., is perfectly drawn at the No. 1 barrier on the front line and should set the pace. But she appears to have little hope of holding out Leda McNally, who can unwind a devastating finishing burst.

Maggies Mystery and Sensational Gabby appear the most likely runners to fight out the third placing. Maggies Mystery, a fast-finishing winner two starts ago, will start from the inside of the back line and should get a perfect trail behind the likely pacemaker Famous Alchemist.

Sensational Gabby was also an impressive winner two starts ago when she pulled hard behind the pacemaker Ragpickers Dream before finishing strongly to snatch victory from that pacer over 2130m. Sensational Gabby will start from the No. 2 barrier on the back line and should gain an ideal passage in the one-wide line.

NORTHVIEW PUNTER LOOKS A STAR BET IN NIGHTS OF THUNDER HEAT

New Zealand-bred four-year-old Northview Punter has the class to overcome the disadvantage of a wide barrier in the first qualifying heat of The West Australian Nights of Thunder at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Three heats will be decided over 1730m, with the nine runners in each heat starting from just one line across the track. The fastest nine horses will qualify for the $50,000 final the following Friday night.

Northview Punter will start from the No. 8 barrier and Gary Hall jun., resuming after a term of suspension, is sure to set sail after the leaders in the first circuit. Northview Punter returned to peak form last Friday night when he started from the outside of the back line, dashed forward in the first lap and raced without cover before surging to the front 350m from home and winning very easily from the fast-finishing Bronze Seeker, rating 1.58.4 over 2536m.

His main opposition is likely to come from stablemate My Hard Copy, who has drawn ideally at No. 1. The four-year-old My Hard Copy has won at nine of his 33 starts and he has the necessary gate speed to be able to set6 the pace.

Northview Punter and My hard Copy are prepared by leading trainer Gary Hall sen., who has sound prospects in the other heats of the Nights of Thunder with The Ragpicketrs Dream (heat two) and Rowchester (heat three).

by Ken Casellas

 

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