Lightly-raced seven-year-old Hokonui Ben emerged as a leading candidate for the rich Cup events at Gloucester Park in January when he outclassed his eight rivals in the $60,000 group 2 Retravision Village Kid Sprint on Friday night.
Having only his 48th start, Hokonui Ben, hot favourite at 7/4 on from the coveted No. 1 barrier, survived early pressure applied by Sneakyn Down Under and a flying first quarter of the final mile in 27.2sec. to go on and defeat the fast-finishing 8/1 chance David Hercules by just over two lengths, rating 1.54.3 over the 1730m journey.
Hokonui Ben's effortless victory was the high spot on a wonderful night for champion trainer Gary Hall sen. and his son Gary.
Hall sen. equalled his best performance at Gloucester Park by preparing six winners on the ten-event program, while Hall jun. drove five winners.
Hall sen., who trained five winners the previous Friday night, was a notable absentee on Friday night. He is enjoying a brief holiday in New Zealand with his wife Karen and is also taking the opportunity to cast his eye over some yearlings.
Hall jun. praised Hokonui Ben and predicted that thegelding would be a major player in the $250,000 Yes Loans Fremantle Cup on January 10 and the $400,000 Nepean Conveyors WA Pacing Cup the following Friday night.
"He's gone huge tonight and if he gets a good draw in some of the big races coming up he's going to be very hard to beat," he declared. "On paper it looked that we would have an easy lead, without too much trouble, but I really had to gas him early.
"It was a lot harder than we wanted. It was a bit concerning, but we got away with a quiet half (with the second and third 400m sections of the final mile in 30.1sec. and 29.1sec.). But then he wanted to fight me, so full credit to the horse. He found plenty when he needed to.
"I knew that after the first quarter that David Hercules was right in the race. And I just had to wait until he pulled out before we got going. He got to us on the bend and got close to us, and when he went four wide I just had to go for home and hope that I was good enough to hold those horses on the fence at bay."
David Hercules, who started from the outside of the front line and raced in seventh position in the one-wide line before following the three-wide run of Livingontheinterest approaching the bell. David Hercules charged home, four wide, in the home straight to be an excellent second, with the final quarter taking 28.5sec.
Toretto, a stablemate of the winner and a 12/1 chance, enjoyed the run of the race behind the pacemaking Hokonui Ben before running home solidly to be a half-head behind David Hercules in third place. Lord Lombo (50/1) was eighth at the bell before running home strongly along the pegs to be fourth. Dasher VC (16/1) ruined his chances when he broke into a gallop and almost fell soon after the start.
Hokonui Ben had 24 starts in New Zealand for six wins and five placings and then his Queensland owner Jeroen Nieuwenburg sent him to Western Australia in April 2012 to be trained by Hall sen. But then a hairline fracture in his near hind leg kept Hokonui ben on the sidelines until he made his Australian debut when an unlucky second to Vital Equalizer at Gloucester Park in late October 2012.
Hokonui Ben then won at his next four starts, including the Navy Cup at Gloucester Park and the Bunbury Cup. He now has raced 24 times in WA for ten wins, eight seconds and a third to take his career record to 48 starts for 16 wins, 14 placings and $281,339 in prizemoney. He is the first foal out of Jane Halsey, who had 15 starts in New Zealand for one third placings and stakes of $413.
REFORMED SOHO REDFORD HAS COME A LONG WAY
Reformed pacer Soho Redford gave promise of better things to come when he gave a bold frontrunning display to win the $25,000 The West Australian Coulson final at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Produced in great shape by Wanneroo trainer Tonia Stampalia, thefour-year-old horse made the most of the prized No. 1 barrier and simply carried too many guns for his 11 rivals, scoring by a length from the fast-finishing 20/1 chance Heez Orl Black, with 1m to Bettors Ace (12/1), after that pacer had enjoyed the one-out, one-back trail.
Soho Redford, a noted frontrunner who had won by four lengths at Northam at his previous outing, was heavily supported and started at 5/4 on. Im Terrific quickly moved into the breeze and Strampalia paved the way for victory when was able to settle Soho Redford and get him to stroll over the lead time in 37.8sec. and the first 400m section of the final mile in 30.6sec.
Stampalia increased the tempo and Soho Redford dashed over the next three sections in 29.4sec., 28.8sec. and 29.7sec. He rated 1.58.1 over the 2130m and took his record to 35 starts for eight wins and eight placings for earnings of $59,687 for breeder Rob Watson, who races the horse in partnership with two syndicates.
Soho Redford's dam The Dream Bet did not race, but her dam Better Bet earned $96,018 from eight wins and 18 placings from 39 starts.
"He has come a long way in 12 months,"said. "When we first got him he was a bit of a head case. But now you can do anything with him and he's actually a treat to drive. We used to fight a lot, but now we're good mates. Tonia keeps him fresh in the mind with a lot of swimming in the pool."
CLASSIC AMERICAN IS DEVELOPING INTO A WA DERBY PROSPECT
Leading trainer Gary Hall sen. has no regrets that he convinced several stable clients to outlay $70,000 to purchase Classic American after the colt had scored a runaway victory at his New Zealand debut six months ago.
Classic American is living up to Hall's expectations and is showing all the signs of developing into a good prospect for the rich WA Derby next year.
Driven confidently by Gary Hall jun., Classic American overcame the significant disadvantage of starting from the outside barrier on the front line to record an impressive victory in the 1730m Electrolux Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The 5/4 on favourite was restrained to the rear before he sustained a powerful three and four-wide burst over the final 900m to beat the fast-finishing Mister Jadore by a length at a 1.57.8 rate after sprinting over the final 800m in 57.6sec.
This improved Classic American's record in WA to three wins and a second from four starts. Polemarker Zacharia (13/2) set the pace from Macon Georgia (breeze), Crimson Floyd (behind the leader) and Major Rush (one-out and one-back). Classic American was in fifth position when Hall jun. switched him four wide 300m from home. The colt raced greenly and veered inwards rounding the home turn before bursting to the front 90m from the post.
Hall jun. was driving Classic American for the first time and was suitably impressed, saying: "He's a classy animal. When he arrived we thought he had great speed. But it's always a question when they get to the races, and now he's shown that as well. Initially, we thought he was going to be just below the top ones, but the way he is going and with natural improvement with racing, he's going to be right up there."
had driven Classic American at his first three WA starts for a first-up second to Calais and two easy wins. The colt had raced in the breeze in those three outings.
Hall jun. said that he considered racing without cover was far from ideal for Classic American and therefore he restrained the colt to the rear on Friday night and saved him for a last-lap effort.
"I knew he is a pretty good horse because, at home, his speed is exceptional, and he got to show that tonight," he said. "He was a bit of a handful on the last bend when he wanted to get in really badly. So we will have to do something to sort that out."
Classic American was favourite at 5/2 on for his only appearance in New Zealand, in a 2200m mobile event at Cambridge on June 27 this year when he charged to the front after 500m in a field of six, set a slow pace and sprinted the final 400m in 28.5sec. to win by seven and a half lengths at a 2.2.5 rate. He arrived in WA early in August. His dam Classic Vicolo was retired in 2007 after failing to be placed in ten starts.
FAMOUS ALCHEMIST SETS THE PATTERN FROM THE INSIDE BARRIER
New Zealand-bred five-year-old Famous Alchemist took full advantage of the prized No. 1 barrier at Gloucester Park when she set the pace and scored a convincing win over Maggies Mystery and Elsu Sheila in the 2130m The West Australian Pace on Friday night.
She was the first of five winners to start from the inside barrier and lead throughout in the nine mobile events on the program. The four other pacers who started from the No. 1 barrier recorded three seconds and a third placing.
Famous Alchemist, who went into the race with a losing sequence of seven, was a firm 6/4 on favourite, with star mare Leda McNally second fancy at 11/4 from the outside of the back line in the 2130m event.
Gary Hall jun. was able to get Famous Alchemist to coast through the lead time in 38.4sec. and the first quarter of the final mile in 30.1sec. before reeling off the next three 400m sections in 29.5sec., 28sec. and 28.5sec. She recorded a slick rate of 1.56.7.
Maggies Mystery, from the inside of the back line, ran home solidly into second place, with 118/1 outsider Elsu Sheila running on gamely from three back on the pegs to be third, just ahead of Sensational Gabby, who fought on from sixth at the bell.
"She has been ever so consistent and is a quality mare," said Hall. "It looked on paper that we were going to get the perfect run. She fought me a bit for the first half of the final mile and I was a little bit concerned that she wouldn't be able to punch out quick closing sectionals because she had pulled a little bit.
"But she did it quite comfortably and I probably eased up on her too early, half way up the straight, and she took advantage of me (by switching off)."
Famous Alchemist, owned by Karen Hall, wife of leading trainer Gary Hall sen., won at five of her 17 New Zealand starts and now has raced 17 times in WA for six wins and six placings. She has amassed $215,109 from her 11 wins and 11 placings from just 34 starts.
She showed early promise and as a two-year-old at Alexandra Park in April and May 2011she finished second to Dancing Diamonds ibn a $195,000 classic for fillies and was third in a three-way photo finish behind O Baby and Cowgirls And Indians in a group 1 $156,400Two-Year-Old Fillies Championship.
BUTCHER FORMS A STRONG ALLIANCE WITH MY HARD COPY
Young New Zealand reinsman Shane Butcher continued his successful association with My Hard Copy when he drove the New Zealand-bred four-year-old to an impressive all-the-way victory in the first heat of The West Australian Nights of Thunder at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
My Hard Copy was not extended in leading from the No. 1 barrier and then setting a brisk pace to win by one and a half lengths from The Feather Foot, with a neck to Glenferrie Hood. He rated 1.54.6, the fastest of the heat winners. Polak and Courage Tells won the other heats, with each pacer rating 1.54.9 over the 1730m sprint.
My Hard Copy, who had run home solidly to be fifth behind Nowitzki in the Golden Nugget Classic at his previous outing, was favourite at 10/9 on, with his stablemate Northview Punter second fancy at 5/2 from the wide barrier, No. 8, with nine runners across one line.
Butcher gave his rivals little chance by setting a fast pace, with the last mile sectionals in 29sec., 29.2sec., 28.3sec. and 28.5sec. My Hard Copy dashed away from the opposition in the closing stages to win by one and a half lengths from The Feather Foot (who ran on from three back on the pegs). Glenferrie Hood finished third after trailing the pacemaker and Copagrin was fourth after enjoying the one-out, one-back trail.
Northview Punter raced at the rear before Gary hall jun. sent him forward, three wide, with 870m to travel. But the four-year-old failed to make any impression on his rivals and finished last.
"My Hard Copy has been racing against the best and has been running good races from bad draws," Butt said. "In The Golden Nugget he drew seven and I was lucky enough to get a good run and finish close to them. He definitely loves the mile and is a good frontrunner. From No. 1 tonight I thought he was a good chance. There's not much of the little horse, but he gives it his all every time he goes out.
"Every time you ask him, he keeps giving as much as he can. He is such a genuine horse and races so well. He never takes it out of himself. He doesn't overrace or anything like that. He's a gentleman to drive."
My Hard Copy had 16 starts in New Zealand for three wins and eight placings before starting six times in Victoria for two wins and two placings. His 12 WA starts for trainer Gary Hall sen. have produced five wins and two placings and he now has earned $101,993 from ten wins and 12 placings from 34 starts.
BROWN SETS ERSKINE RANGE FOR SAN SIMEON CHAMPIONSHIP
Banjup traineris setting Erskine Range for the $50,000 San Simeon Championship on January 24 after driving the promising four-year-old to a narrow victory in the 2130m Retravision As Local As You Pathway Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
And after Erskine Range contests that feature event Brown plans to send the gelding for a spell, with high hopes that he will resume an even better performer during his next campaign.
Heats of the San Simeon Championship, restricted to M0-class pacers, will be run on January 17.
Erskine Range was favourite at 5/4 on for Friday night's event in which he was smartest to begin from the No. 3 barrier, but had to work hard to get to the front after 270m. Brown then got the gelding to relax and he went through the lead time in a comfortable 38.5sec. before strolling over the first 400m section of the final mile in a dawdling 31.9sec.
Rank outsider Tuxedo raced in the breeze and polemarker Veitchy enjoyed a perfect passage behind the pacemaker. Erskine Range sped over the third quarter in 28.3sec. before a final section in 29.3sec. He just held on to beat 18/1 chance Veitchy by a head, rating 1.58.7. Sparkling Seelster, seventh on the pegs at the bell, rattled home to be a close third, with Borntobeanartist finishing strongly from last in the middle stages to be fourth.
Tuxedo was checked on the home turn and broke into a gallop before finishing last. The stewards suspended Michael Robinson for 19 days for allowing Veitchy to shift out and check Tuxedo.
Brown said that he would set Erskine Range for the san Simeon, even though he was slightly disappointed at the chestnut's performance. "I actually thought that he might have let down better than that, considering the early sectionals," he said.
"But a win is a win. However, I would have liked him to have let down a bit better. He came to my stable a little bit speedy and a little bit mad and when we settled him down he has gone the other way a little bit too much."
The Victorian-bred Erskine Range is owned by Jim Currie and is by Canadian stallion. He is the second foal out of South Australian-bred mare Living Hei, who was retired after only one start, when seventh at Bendigo in March 2007. Living Hei's first foal is five-year-old mare Im Living The Dream, who has had 53 starts for nine wins, 16 placings and $95,972.
Erskine Range, who is related to WA winners Our mac Attack (16 wins), Chanoine (nine), Princess Tenille (two) and Tara Village (13), has earned $40,797 from eight wins and two placings from 22 starts.
FLYING START PAVES THE WAY FOR POLAK'S UPSET VICTORY
A plan devised by trainerand reinsman to surprise the opposition by setting Polak alight from the No. 6 barrier at the start of the second heat of The West Australian Nights of Thunder at Gloucester Park on Friday night paid handsome dividends when the five-year-old carried too many guns for his seven rivals.
Most pundits agreed that polemarker and 2/1 on favourite Silent Prowl would set the pace and prove hard to beat. But Suvaljko got Polak, a 13/1 chance, away with dazzling speed to burst straight past Silent Prowl.
Polak then set a fast pace, reeling off quarters in 28.5sec., 29.9sec., 28.3sec. and 28.6sec. to beat Silent Prowl by just over a length at a 1.54.9 rate over the 1730m. Silent Prowl got off the pegs behind Polak in the home straight and finished fast. Xupan Three, who raced three back on the pegs, was 2m away in third place.
"All the speed underneath wasn't that quick, except for the one (Silent Prowl)," Suvaljko explained after the race. "So our plan was just to time the gate and get him out as fast as he can. And he really came out of the gate at a hundred miles an hour, and once he got to the front he was always going to be the one to beat. He can run really good times in front and we'll be hoping for a favourable barrier in the final."
Polak, who ended a losing sequence of seven, has amassed $160,555 from 15 wins and 15 placings from 51 starts. He is a full-brother to Schinzig Buller, who has raced 52 times for 11 wins, 12 placings and $289,452 in prizemoney. Schinzig Buller's most notable victory was when he defeated Mysta Magical Mach and Im Themightyquinn in the Golden Nugget in November 2008.
COURAGE TELLS HOLDS ON AFTER SETTING THE PACE
Well-travelled New Zealand-bred six-year-old Courage Tells maintained his splendid form for Hopeland trainerwhen he set the pace and held on to win the third heat of The West Australian Nights of Thunder at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Favourite at 10/9 on from the prized No. 1 barrier, Courage Tells bowled along in front forand beat the 7/2 second fancy Smokey The Bandit by a head at a 1.54.9 rate over the 1730m. Rowchester, third favourite at 4/1, fought on to be third after enjoying the one-out, one-back trail.
Smokey The Bandit trailed Courage Tells all the way and got clear in the closing stages. He flashed home, but just failed to overhaul the leader.
Woodley said that Courage Tells was better suited as a sit-sprinter, but he did not want to sacrifice the advantage of the No. 1 barrier over the sprint trip.
"He's a nice type of horse and I think you see the best of him in a sit and sprint capacity," he said. "That's his best asset, his let-down speed. However, this is such a leader-biased track that you've got to stay there (in front). He has certainly got a lot more wins ahead of him."
Courage Tells won twice from three starts as a two-year-old in New Zealand and then had 58 starts in Victoria and New South Wales for another 15 victories. He has had 11 starts in WA for three wins and four placings and now has earned $126,830 from 20 wins and 24 placings from 72 starts.
NEW TACTICS SUIT PRINCE EDDIE --- AND NOW FOR THE TROTTERS CUP
New Zealand-bred five-year-old Prince Eddie earned a crack at the $30,000 Trotters Cup at Gloucester Park next Friday night when he was on his best behaviour and produced a brilliant late burst of speed to get up and score a narrow victory in the 2503m Fisher and Paykel Handicap on Friday night.
Trained by Gary Hall sen. and driven by Gary Hall jun., Prince Eddie, second fancy at 3/1, trailed the pacemaker and 11/4 favourite The Beau Brummell and did not look likely to succeed when he was in fourth position just 60m from the post.
But Hall called on thegelding for a special effort and he responded grandly, sprinting fast to get up and snatch victory by a neck from Hot Holiday, the third favourite at 4/1 who started from 30m and raced without cover over the final 1500m. A nose away in third place was the Beau Brummell.
After a slow early pace, the final 800m was covered in 59.2sec. and the winner rated 2.9.2.
Hall jun. said it was pleasing that Prince Eddie was showing form leading into the Trotters Cup. "Originally we thought he would be a good frontrunner, but we are now driving him in the field and keeping him for a late burst," Hall said.
"Everything has been turned upside down after he had led in a couple of races and then folded up. Now we know that when we drive him this way (with a sit) that he can beat the good ones."
This was Prince Eddie's second win from six WA starts after he had won once from eight New Zealand starts and four times from seven outings in New South Wales. He has earned $43,491.
Prince Eddie is out of Hands And Heels, who finished tenth at her only start, at Addington in May 2002. He is a full-brother to King Charlie (67 starts for 15 wins, 14 placings and $238,291) and Shezoneoftheboyz (13 starts for eight wins, one placings and $91,849).
BRENNAN TO TRAIN THIS TIME DYLAN FOR RIDLEY
Serpentine horseman Michel Brennan will train This Time Dylan after the gelding was claimed for $20,000 by Brian Ridley at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
This Time Dylan, a New Zealand-bred eight-year-old, has been in outstanding form for leading trainer Gary Hall sen. and he kept up the good work when he stormed home from the rear to score an effortless win in the 2536m Retravision.com.au Claiming Pace.
This Time Dylan, a chunky little son of, is the leader in the Pacer of the Year award with seven wins, three seconds and a third in the first four months of the season.
He has competed in claiming races at each of his past six starts for three wins and three seconds to take his career record to 37 starts for 13 wins, nine placings and $112,125. He is now on an M6 mark.
Shardons Rocket (3/1) dashed to the front after 500m in Friday night's event and Gary Hall jun. was content to keep This Time Dylan in sixth place in the field of seven before starting a three-wide move 600m from home. This Time Dylan burst to the front at the 4o00m mark and raced away to beat Talk It Up by three lengths, with Shardons Rocket a wilting third.
Ridley is hoping that This Time Dylan proves to be an even better success than the previous horse he claimed from the Hall stable --- Rakarebel.
Ridley outlaid $10,000 to claim Rakarebel early last May, and in ten starts for Brennan Rakarebel won once and was placed four times for earnings of $18,550. And then Ridley received $20,000 when Rakarebel was claimed in July by eastern states owners. Rakarebel has continued his career in New South Wales and Victoria where he has had 11 starts for seven third placings.
Talk It Up was claimed by a syndicate headed by Laurie Kennedy and the evergreen nine-year-old will be prepared by Wanneroo trainer Barry Morrison.
by Ken Casellas