Champion reinsman Gary Hall jun. predicted that Im Victorious would be a star on the Australian grand circuit over the next few years after driving the brilliant five-year-old to a superb victory in the $250,000 Yes Loans Fremantle Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
A bold move by Hall to set Im Victorious alight from the rear with a three-wide burst after 650m to race outside the pacemaker and 6/4 favourite Bettors Fire paid handsome dividends when the-trained gelding surged to the front on the home turn and beat his arch rival by 2m.
This gave the 31-year-old Hall his sixth victory in the Fremantle Cup to equal the record ofin the group 1 event which was first run in 1928.
"Im Victorious is a wonderful animal and, fingers crossed, he can stay fit and healthy for the next few years because he's going to be a very good representative for WA in the major Eastern States races," Hall said.
And now Brennan, who had the task of preparing Im Victorious for the Fremantle Cup less than a month after the New Zealand-bred gelding had finished fourth in the Miracle Mile at Menangle and then an unlucky last in the Victoria Cup at Melton after receiving severe interference, is setting his sights on the $400,000 Nepean Conveyors WA Pacing Cup next Friday night.
"He was a bit flat when he returned from Victoria before he enjoyed a week off relaxing in his own special paddock at Debbie Prentice's Boyanup property," Brennan said. "Debbie does a fantastic job and she treats him like one of her own.
"He then came back into work and was still a little bit flat before he started picking up. His work last Saturday and again on Wednesday was first-class and I was confident of winning the Cup even though he didn't draw a good barrier."
Hall jun. praised Brennan, saying: "Full credit to him; to get the horse back to his best after an Eastern States campaign is not easy. I know, through experience with Dad, how hard it can be. Hat's off to Mouse (Brennan), Lara (his wife) and the crew at Brennan Pacing.
"I'm sure that everyone hoped Im Victorious could do what he did tonight, but I wasn't really sure whether he could definitely do so. I thought that it was the perfect race to attempt to do that (go forward early and into the breeze) and just see where he was in relation to the rest of them ... to see if he could make his own luck.
"A lot of people think that his speed is his biggest asset, but his biggest asset is his manners and his ability to relax when you use him mid-race. He's the complete package.
"I have been very lucky to have driven horses likeand Im Themightyquinn. We were driving down the Freeway the other day and Dad asked me if I realised how lucky I have been in the game. And I do often sit back and think about it, but while you're still competing and coming out every week you've got to keep that behind you and keep moving forward and upwards.
"I'm sure that one day when it all sinks in and when you've got time to sit back and think about it all I'll appreciate what has happened and I'll appreciate all the support I've had along the way."
Im Victorious was a 5/2 second favourite from barrier four on the back line and he settled down in ninth position before Hall made his pre-emptive strike after 650m. Dasher VC, winner of the Fremantle Cup 12 months earlier, broke into a fierce gallop moments after the start, whiletook up the running with the polemarker Bettors Fire.
After first quarters of the final mile in 29.5sec. and 29sec., Harper lifted increased the tempo with a 28.2sec. section. But Bettors Fire was unable to shrug off Im Victorious, who gained the ascendancy on the home turn and covered the final 400m in 28.sec. to beat the gallant Bettors Fire at a 1.56.5 rate over the 2536m.
David Hercules, fourth favourite at 11/1 from the outside of the back line, raced in tenth position before starting a three-wide run (with a trail) 1400m from home. He sustained his strong effort to finish third, a length behind Betters Fire. Hokonui Ben, who enjoyed a good suit, one-out and one-back, for much of the journey, was a sound fourth.
This Time Dylan, a stablemate of Im Victorious, was ninth at the bell before finishing strongly into sixth place. Washakie, third favourite at 5/1, raced in sixth position in the one-wide line in the middle stages beforesent him forward, three wide, with 1400m to travel. He moved to fifth at the bell before wilting to 11th.
Im Victorious is still comparatively inexperienced, having raced only 31 times for 21 wins and three placings for stakes of $707,035.
Hall was driving Im Victorious on Friday night for the first time for 22 months. He drove him three times for his first three wins in February and March 2012 and he boasts a 100 per cent record with the son of, who has sired the winner of the past five Fremantle Cups (Im Themightyquinn three times and Dasher VC in 2013 before Im Victorious continued the streak on Friday night).
Hall has won the Fremantle Cup six times (twice with, three times with Im Themightyquinn and once with Im Victorious). Lewis has won the Fremantle Cup with Black Irish, Village Kid (twice), John Albert, Sandy Bay and Dasher VC.
HEZ THE BART MAN COMPLETES A TREBLE FOR CORTOPASSI
Darling Downs horsemanstruck a purple patch at Gloucester Park on Friday night when he landed a treble in the space of 85 minutes.
The 37-year-old Cortopassi completed the treble when he brought veteran pacer Hez The Bart Man home with a spirited burst to score an easy victory in the $25,000 Yes Loans Fremantle Cup Consolation over 2536m. This followed wins with Topnotch Dan and Pure Empathy.
Hez The Bart Man, a New Zealand-bred eight-year-old trained at Oakford by, was a 9/1 chance from barrier two on the back line in a race in which the polemarker Sneakyn Down Under was a solidly-supported 9/4 favourite, with Pacific Warrior the second fancy at 4/1.
Sneakyn Down Under set a brisk pace and Cortopassi had Hez The Bart Man poised to strike in sixth position in the one-wide line. Cortopassi started a three-wide move approaching the bell and the gelding got to the front 250m from home before drawing away to win by two lengths from 9/1 chance Danieljohn, who finished boldly from seventh at the bell.
Famous Alchemist (16/1) raced three back on the pegs and did not get clear until very late, when she flashed home to be third, just ahead of outsider Cyclone Mitch, who rattled home from tenth with a lap to travel.
"Hez The Bart Man was going to run second at his previous start (when fourth behind Toretto) before making a mistake with 100m to travel," Cortopassi said. "And I was very happy when I got the call to drive him again tonight. He loves to roll into the race and with a nice even tempo he just keeps going at the one speed."
Sneakyn Down Under faded to finish tenth, while Pacific Warrior raced at the rear and was twice inconvenienced in the final circuit before finishing a creditable sixth. Hez The Bart Man, owned by David and Carolyn Ward, won once from two starts in New Zealand and seven times in Victoria before arriving in WA where his 24 starts have produced four wins and 12 placings. His career record stands at 59 starts for 12 wins, 22 placings and stakes of $146,203.
LORD LEXUS MAKES A GOOD IMPRESSION
Five-year-old New South Wales-bred Lord Lexus showed that he has the ability to maintain a successful family tradition when he scored an impressive victory at his second appearance in Western Australia.
He overcame the disadvantage of starting from the outside of the front line and he was last in the first lap before finishing powerfully, three and four wide, from eighth at the bell to romp home an easy two-length winner over In The Perfect Storm in the 2130m Yes Loans Pathway Pace.
Trained at Hazelmere byand driven confidently by , Lord Lexus was a 15/2 chance in a race in which polemarker Shnappy (7/4) and Ben Cartwright (5/2 from barrier two) dominated betting. The victory gave Reed a most satisfying birthday present after turning 59 four days earlier.
Ben Cartwright was smartest into stride and challenged Shnappy hard, but unsuccessfully, for the lead over the first 350m. This resulted in a particularly fast lead time of 35.5sec. and left Shnappy and Ben Cartwright susceptible to horses who had comfortable passages at the rear.
Gary Hall jun. finally got Ben Cartwright to the front 250m from the post, but the four-year-old was a sitting shot. Suvaljko drove Lord Lexus to the front with 100m to travel and the gelding scored by two lengths from 9/2 chance In The Perfect Storm, who started a three-wide burst from the rear approaching the bell and was tracked by the winner, who rated 1.57.7.
Ben Cartwright held on to finish third and will pay to follow. Shnappy wilted to finish fifth.
Lord Lexus, byand out of Panoramic Lady, has raced only 17 times for four wins, nine placings and $25,063 in prizemoney. Panoramic Lady had 50 starts for ten wins, ten placings and $29,594.
Lord Lexus is a half-brother to outstanding performers Make Me Smile (678 starts for 34 wins, 14 placings and $517,518), Cant Bluff (60 starts for 21 wins, 21 placings and $281,348) and Lady Lexus (54 starts for 25 wins, 17 placings and $316,518). Make Me Smile won the New South wales Derby at Harold Park in April 2005 before finishing third behind Innocent Eyes in the Chariots Of Fire the following January.
MACHTU STAKES HIS CLAIM AS A WA DERBY PROSPECT
Lightly-raced gelding Machtu is the latest in an ever-increasing army of talented three-year-olds trained in Serpentine by Gary Hall sen. to emerge as a strong prospect for the rich WA Derby in April.
Machtu, a winner at three of his five starts in New Zealand, made a stylish Australian debut at Gloucester Park on Friday night when he was favourite at 3/1 on and worked hard without cover before winning the 2130m Yes Loans Three-Year-Old Pace by three lengths from fast-finishing stablemate Eyre Crusher (22/1), with two lengths to the pacemaker Hugh Victor (6/1) in third place.
jumped polemarker Hugh Victor straight to the front before being tackled hard for the lead by 84/1 outsider Crimson Floyd. The lead time was a fast 35.8sec. and after 500m Matt White gave up his quest for the lead and slotted Crimson Floyd to the pegs to follow Hugh Victor.
This left Machtu in the breeze and Woodley gave Hugh Victor a much-needed breather with a 32.8sec. first quarter of the final mile, followed by a 30.9sec. quarter. Hugh Victor then sped over the third 400m section in 28.1sec. and the final quarter went by in 28.8sec. Machtu got on terms with Hugh Victor 550m from home before gaining a narrow ascendancy on the home turn.
Eyre Crusher rattled home from last at the bell to deprive Hugh Victor of second placing. The winner rated 1.58.2 over the 2130m to take his record to six starts for four wins and $23,518 in prizemoney. His dam Letatalk (by) managed just one win, one placings and $3938 in stakes from 20 starts.
"He was purchased for 'a bit of money' and with that sort of record in New Zealand you would expect him to come here and show something," said reinsman Gary Hall jun. "He's worked up very nicely at home and is a really nice horse to drive. He does everything you want him to do and is very versatile.
"So that's why we chucked him in at the deep end straight away and he's come up with the goods. I thought that we were in a little bit of trouble early. I don't think he's got a hell of a lot of gate speed, and there was plenty there from a few unexpected ones.
"I think that Hugh Victor would have been pretty hard to beat (had it not been for the spirited early challenge). We planned to sit outside of him, quietly, until the 900m and then apply a bit of pressure. But we might have struggled to get over him, based on his run, after what he had to do early."
OUR AMAZING ART'S WIN REVIVES HIS FORM AS A TWO-YEAR-OLD
As a two-year-old Our Amazing Art won at Addington from The Gold Ace and then finished a head second to Our Major Mark in a group 1 $80,000 feature event. The Gold Ace has now amassed $1,028,621 from his 19 wins and 12 placings from 52 starts and Our Major Mark has earned $645,935 from 22 wins and 20 placings from 70 starts.
Our Amazing Art, now a six-year-old, went into the M0-class 2130m Yes Loans Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night, favourably drawn at barrier two on the front line and at the gift price of 11/2.
Punters who took into account his form as a juvenile in New Zealand and his splendid record as a pacemaker were on good terms with themselves whengot Our Amazing Art past the polemarker and 9/4 favourite Justlikelindt and into the lead 50m after the start.
Suvaljko then rated Our Amazing Art expertly in front and thegelding strolled to victory by 4m over Justlikelindt, rating 1.57.4 to boost his record to 59 starts for 11 wins, 12 placings and stakes of $108,907. This ended a losing sequence of 12, stretching back to last May when he was successful at Penrith.
Our Amazing Art, prepared at Wanneroo by, had put the writing on the wall the previous Friday night when he sat behind the pacemaker Rocky Marciano and finished second to that pacer over 2536m.
"Last week he raced over 2536m and he's a bit suspect over that distance," Suvaljko said. "He can't get hoppled during the week and I'd like to thank Isaac Edwards, who does all the work with this horse.""
Last-start winner Tuxedo raced three wide for the first lap before getting to the breeze before he faded to finish ninth. Justlikelindt was blocked for a clear passage in the final lap.
"Tuxedo was coming around them, so I had to make him do some work, and down the back I've made them run (with a third quarter in 28.6sec.) and I had them all off the bit," Suvaljko said. "We had Justlikelindt on our back and so I had to hold him back in a pocket for as long as possible."
TOPNOTCH DAN GETS HOME AT 67/1
made the most of the opportunity to drive veteran pacer Topnotch Dan for the first time when trainer 's No. 1 driver opted to handle stablemate Lord Coburn in the 2130m Yes Loans Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Topnotch Dan, a Tasmanian-bred nine-year-old and rank outsider at 67/1, caused a major upset when he finished solidly from sixth at the bell to win narrowly from fast-finishing pair Menelaus of Sparta (46/1) and Lisharry (17/1).
Most punters pinned their faith in noted frontrunner Real Hammer, who was resuming after a spell and looked a certainty from the prized No. 1 barrier, particularly after a dashing Byford trial win the previous Sunday.
Real Hammer set the pace and after the first two quarters of the final mile in moderate 29.6sec. and 29.5sec. he looked set for an easy victory. The third section whizzed by in 28.9sec., but Real Hammer then began to show signs of wilting. Topnotch Dan, who had enjoyed an ideal sit in the one-out, two-back position (behind Lord Coburn in the one-out, one-back position), started a three-wide burst after the bell. He went four wide at the 400m and hit the front 50m from the post.
Lisharry, who started a three-wide run at the 900m, was forced five wide passing the 400m and he finished determinedly. Menelaus of Sparta impressed in charging home from eighth at the bell to snatch second place.
Topnotch Dan, owned by Lloyd and Judith Whish-Wilson of Launceston, had been unplaced at each of his seven starts in his current campaign and had a losing sequence of 13. After extending his losing sequence to ten late in November, Topnotch Dan's classification went from M2 to M1 under the drop-down regulation. He now moves to an M2 mark again.
He won 13 races in Tasmania and one in Victoria before arriving in WA where he has raced 41 times for four wins. He won a group 3 $30,000 classic for two-year-olds in Hobart in July 2007 and is one of seven winners out of the unraced Torado Hanover mare Shansue Mod. Topnotch Dan now has earned $182,921 from 18 wins and 32 placings from 105 starts.
GDAY MATE'S WIN SURPRISES HIS TRAINER-DRIVER
New Zealand-bred five-year-old Gday Mate, whose previous five wins had been in stands, caused an upset in the 2536m mobile Yes Loans Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night when he stormed home from the rear to snatch victory at 20/1.
It was a win which surprised the gelding's trainer-driver, who gave him little chance against several smart rivals, including J Walker (7/2), Hokuri Handrail (5/4) and Franco Renegade (7/1).
Hokuri Handrail (Gary Hall jun.) was kept under pressure in front, with Franco Renegade pulling hard in the breeze and having his head in front for much of the way.
Gday Mate raced in ninth position before sustaining a spirited finishing burst to get to the front in the final 30m to beat J Walker by a metre, with Hokuri Handrail a metre away in third place. Franco Renegade wilted to finish seventh.
"I didn't think Gday Mate was going to get over J Walker," the 25-year-old Prentice said. "J walker has been flying and was in the one-out, two-back position, leaving us with a lot of ground to make up. At the 400m Gday Mate was making up a lot of ground and I thought we were a chance turning for home. But half-way down the straight I didn't think I was going to catch J Walker. So he's done a massive job to fight out the finish and put his head in front."
Gday Mate, owned by Shannon Prentice, Mark Conlan, Clive Berryman, Peter Kennedy and Ross North, has done all his racing in WA where he has had 71 starts for 20 wins, 34 placings and $239,550.
BRONZE SEEKER BREAKS A LOSING SEQUENCE OF 16
A switch from mobile racing to a stand did the trick for New Zealand-bred five-year-old Bronze Seeker, who recovered from a tardy start to record a smart victory in the 2503m Yes Loans Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The win ended a frustrating run of outs and a losing sequence of 16, stretching back to his narrow win over Red Salute in the Manea Classic at Bunbury last March.
Bronze Seeker, whose previous nine starts had been in mobiles, galloped out for a few strides from the inside barrier on the front line and settled down racing without cover five lengths behind the early leader Balleybofey. Bronze Seeker then was able to gain the one-out, one-back trail 600m after the start whensent Adda Paternal Suit forward and into the breeze.
Bronze Seeker, favourite at 2/1, gave a fine example of his sit-sprint ability. After a 28.3sec. third quarter of the final mile, Bronze Seeker sprinted over the final 400m in 27.9sec. and got to the front in the final couple of strides to beat Balleybofey by a head, with two lengths to Adda Paternal Suit in third place.
After winning 11 times from 26 starts in New Zealand, Bronze Seeker, a son of, was purchased by Ian Sermon, Lee Bunney, Ross Waddell, Ken Casellas and Tracey Sermon and now the gelding has had 34 starts in WA for Bickley trainer for four wins and eight placings.
"Credit is due to Peter," said reinsman. "He's had Bronze Seeker spot on for a long time, but the horse hasn't had any luck and this had all of us pulling our hair out. Bronze Seeker found the line strongly tonight and should win a couple more."
Smart New Zealand-bred mare Pure Empathy made the most of the coveted No. 1 barrier at Gloucester Park whendrove her to an effortless all-the-way victory in the first heat of the 2130m Yes Loans Im Themightyquinn Mares Pace on Friday night.
"She's been going great this whole campaign," said Cortopassi. "All she needed was a good draw. She won pretty easily and went to the line with the plugs in. I never really asked her for an effort."
Pure Empathy, trained at Pinjarra by Brad Groves, was favourite at 9/4 and she was able to amble through the first two 400m sections of the final mile in 31.7sec. and 31sec. before sprinting over the final quarters in 28.8sec. and 28.7sec.Millies Girl (25/1) trailed the leader all the way and finished just more than a length behind the winner in second place. Corza Commotion (18/1) raced three back on the pegs and got clear in the late stages to flash home into third place.
Pure Empathy, owned by Brad and Kelly Groves, Laurie and Valerie Groves and Kalina Brew, has had 56 starts for ten wins, 18 placings and $76,230.
MAGGIES MYSTERY PROVES TOO GOOD FOR HER MALE RIVALS
West Australian-bred five-year-old Maggies Mystery, the only mare in the 1730m Yes Loans Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night, proved too speedy for her ten gelding rivals whendrove her to an all-the-way victory.
Favourite at 5/4 on, Maggies Mystery, trained at Burekup by Colin Reeves, made full use of the prized No. 1 barrier and was able to withstand constant pressure applied by Cool Johnny and go on and win by a nose from 13/1 chance Rocky Marciano, with 2m back to 6/1 chance Heez Orl Black in third place.
Maggies Mystery sprinted over the final 400m in 28.3sec. and rated 1.56 in taking her record to breeder-owner Kim Marsh to 59 starts for 12 wins, 16 placings and $133,155.
"I didn't really have any concerns mid-race when Cool Johnny was applying pressure in the breeze," Prentice said. "She was always under control. Down the back they were coming four and five wide and she took a little bit to get going. But when I pulled the deafeners she knuckled down and did the job.
"Morgan (Woodley) had me 20m out when Rocky Marciano was definitely in front. But to Maggies Mystery's credit she kicked to regain the lead. Maggies Mystery is a beautiful horse to drive and she will keep earning."
by Ken Casellas