Gloucester Park preview for Friday night

10:31 PM 01 Jan 2014 NZDT
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Gloucester Park
Gloucester Park in Perth.


Lightly-raced six-year-old Silent Prowl is a noted frontrunner and his prospects of winning The West Australian $50,000 Nights of Thunder at Gloucester Park on Friday night soared when he drew the coveted No. 1 barrier in the 1730m sprint.

He also started from the inside barrier when he was surprisingly beaten out by the flying Polak in a qualifying heat last Friday night when Polak set a fast pace and won by just over a length from Silent Prowl, who got into the clear in the home straight and finished strongly.

Waroona trainer-reinsman Bob Mellsop will be determined to retain the lead this week, with Polak faring badly in the random draw. Polak will start from the outside in the field of nine and it is difficult to imagine Shannon Suvaljko getting the horse to muster sufficient speed to get to an early lead.

Six nights before his surprise defeat as a 2/1 on favourite last Friday night, Silent Prowl relished his frontrunning role when he won by two lengths from Lisharry over 1730m at Gloucester Park. At his previous outing, Silent Prowl led and was easily beaten into second place by Lunar Tide, who rated 1.53.9 over 1684m at Pinjarra.

Those three runs by Silent Prowl were at his first three starts in Western Australia --- and his first after an absence of 12 months --- and he should now be close to his peak.

Silent Prowl, by Art Major and bred in New Zealand, has done all his racing in Australia. Before arriving in WA he won seven times from 16 starts in Victoria --- twice when leading, three times after racing without cover and twice when he sustained a strong finishing burst.

To set the pace and win Silent Prowl will have to buck the trend in the first seven runnings of the Nights of Thunder when only two pacemakers were successful --- Quick Drawn McCaw in 2008 and Lombo Navigator in 2011. Lombo Navigator is the only winner of the race to have started from the No. 1 barrier.

Smart four-year-old Smokey The Bandit will have many admirers after drawing favourably at barrier two. A winner at nine of his 39 starts, Smokey The Bandit has impressed with excellent seconds at his past two outings. He sat behind the pacemaker Nowitzki when second to that pacer in the $175,000 Golden Nugget Championship on December 6. He also trailed the leader (Courage Tells) when a half-head second to that pacer in a Nights of Thunder heat last Friday night.

Leading trainer Gary Hall sen. has high hopes of winning the Nights of Thunder for the third time after his son Gary drove Tealsby Karita to victory in the inaugural running of the event in 2007 and Hokonui Ben to a three-length victory over Heisbackinblack after facing the breeze a year ago.

Hall will be represented by talented New Zealand-bred four-year-old My Hard Copy, who has had 34 starts for ten wins and 12 placings. Shane Butcher will again drive the gelding who led from the No. 1 barrier and won a heat in easy fashion from The Feather Foot and Glenferrie Hood last Friday night. My Hard Copy dashed over the final 800m in 56.8sec. and rated 1.54.6, the fastest of the three heat winners.

The prospects of the other heat winners, Courage Tells and Polak, slumped when they drew out wide at barriers eight and nine, respectively.

Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri and champion reinsman Chris Lewis will be attempting to win the feature sprint for the second time when eight-year-old Bet Your Life starts from barrier three. Bet Your Life, an all-the-way winner over 2130m five starts ago, started from barrier seven and did well to fight on from eighth on the pegs at the bell to finish fifth behind My Hard Copy last Friday night.

Olivieri and Lewis combined to win the Nights of Thunder in 2009 when 9/1 chance Davisons Destiny flew home, out very wide, from seventh at the bell to snatch victory from the pacemaker and 7/4 favourite Indian Giver.


Seven years ago Aaron Skalecki brought 14/1 chance Risk And Reward home with a powerful burst to snatch victory from the pacemaker Truscott Storm in the second running of the group 3 West Australian Trotters Cup and now he has high hopes of becoming the first reinsman to drive two winners of the $30,000 feature event.

He will handle the in-form New Zealand-bred seven-year-old Hot Holiday, who has the strength and will-to-win to overcome the 30m handicap mark.

Hot Holiday is prepared by Skalecki's partner Natalie Duffy, whose mother Laurel Schofield trained Risk And Reward. Duffy trained and drove 5/4 on favourite Makarewa Don when he won the 2012 Trotters Cup by just under six lengths from stablemate and 33/1 chance Idle Maple, driven by Skalecki.

Hot Holiday warmed up for Friday night's Cup with a splendid effort in a 2503m trot at Gloucester Park last Friday night when he started from 30m and Skalecki dashed him forward, three wide, in the first circuit to work hard outside the pacemaker The Beau Brummell. Hot Holiday fought on tenaciously and got his nose in front in the final stages before Prince Eddie flashed home to get up and defeat him by a neck.

Hot Holiday also had a tough run in the breeze before scoring by three lengths from Backas Cobber in a 2130m mobile two starts before that. He has had 61 starts for 15 wins and 16 placings and has never raced better.

Prince Eddie, who will start from 10m, is the likely favourite after his stylish performance last week when he trailed the pacemaker The Beau Brummell and was fourth 60m from the post before unleashing a devastating late burst to get up and beat Hot Holiday.

Prince Eddie is trained by Gary Hall sen., who was successful in last year's Trotters Cup with Makati Maximus, who defeated Xenon and the other Hall runner Tuhimata Glass, driven by Gary Hall jun. Prince Eddie, a lightly-raced New Zealand-bred six-year-old with six wins from 20 starts, will again be handled by Hall jun.

Waroona trainer-reinsman Bob Mellsop is hoping for a change of fortune for polemarker The Beau Brummell, who has finished second and third, respectively, behind Prince Eddie at his past two starts.

Mellsop has not enjoyed much luck in the first eight Trotters Cups. He finished second with Dash Of Light (behind Macladdie) in the inaugural running of the event in 2006. He finished fourth with 10/9 on favourite Dave Star in 2007; he was unplaced with two runners, Drop Of Gin (6/4 favourite) and Dave Star (9/4) in 2008; was unplaced with Baby jack and Drop Of Gin in 2009; he was fourth with 5/4 favourite Gee Invasion in 2010; was ninth with 5/2 chance Our Shoe In in 2011 and finished 11th with 20/1 chance Don Guerrero 12 months ago.

Waroona trainer Nigel Johns and star reinsman Morgan Woodley are hoping for a strong performance from veteran mare Xenon, a narrow winner at Pinjarra two starts ago. They combined to win the 2009 Cup with Compressor. Johns will drive Xenon's stablemate Earl Harbour, a stylish winner over Keepyaguardup and Prince Eddie at Gloucester Park four starts ago.

Kim Young, who trained and drove Macladdie for his success in 2006, has sound prospects with frontmarker Heez Speedy Gonzalez, who led and won by six lengths from Diamond Geezer over 1684m at Pinjarra at his most recent outing.

Wundowie trainer Bruce Stanley, who won the Cup in 2008 with 20/1 chance Dance To Victory, has three runners, Backas Cobber, Ushaka Bromac and Enjoy A Malabu.


Quality pacer Dasher VC, a leading candidate for the Yes Loans Fremantle Cup and the Nepean Conveyors WA Pacing Cup this month, is poised to return to the winning list and end a losing sequence of nine by proving too good for his eight rivals in the $21,000The Form Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

He is unfavourably drawn on the outside of the front line in the 2536m event, but his class should carry him to victory over Ima Rocket star and Leda McNally. Dasher VC wrecked his chances in the Village Kid Sprint at Gloucester Park last Friday night when he started from barrier six and broke into a bad gallop just after the start.

He then trailed his rivals and was retired from the event in the final circuit. He impressed the previous week when he started from the back line, raced three wide early and then without cover before fighting on to finish third behind Livingontheinterest and Hokonui Ben over 1730m.

Capel trainer Andrew De Campo took Dasher VC to the trials at Bunbury's Donaldson Park on Monday when the seven-year-old gave a sparkling display to set the pace and win the 2100m trial by five lengths from Truckers Ruffnut. The gelding sprinted over the final two 400m sections of the final mile in 27.6sec. and 28.3sec. and rated 1.57.

De Campo drove Dasher VC in the trial, but Chris Lewis will again be in the sulky on Friday night.

Ima Rocket Star, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, looms as Dasher VC's chief rival. Ima Rocket Star, a strong stayer, is favourably drawn on the inside of the back line. Since winning the 2503m Navy Cup in mid-September Ima Rocket Star has been placed behind Im Victorious, Bettors Fire and Hokonui Ben.

Leda McNally, the only mare in the race, has won at 17 of her past 30 starts and can never be underestimated. She is fast and versatile and Chris Voak should have her in a commanding position from the No. 4 barrier.


Baldivis horseman Nathan Turvey ended 2013 with a flourish when he trained and drove four winners on the eight-event program in Albany on Tuesday night.

He was successful with Our Copper Art, Comeuppance, Flyalong Falcon and My Bachelors Delight.

And to put icing on the cake he trained the first three placegetters in the $9000 New Year's Eve Cup in which Flyalong Falcon beat Motoringwiththebest (Tim Stone) and Sonic Classic (Trent Wheeler).

Flyalong Falcon, the 5/2 on favourite, raced three wide for the first 650m and then in the one-out, one-back position before he burst to the front rounding the home turn. He score easily from Motoringwiththebest, who fought on doggedly after working hard in the breeze, and Sonic Classic, who ran home solidly from sixth on the pegs at the bell.

by Ken Casellas


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