Up-and-coming pacer Red Salute has started from the prized No. 1 barrier four times in his 51-start career for four all-the-way victories over 2130m and Oakford traineris confident that the gelding will continue this trend when he starts from the inside barrier in the $35,000 Alltools Four And Five-Year-Old Championship over 21230m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
"I was rapt with his performance last week and he can go faster than that," said Olivieri when commenting on Red Salute's strong frontrunning performance to win over 2130m at a 1.56.9 rate last Friday night.
"That was a controlled, aggressive type race and he'll probably need to go faster this week. To hold up and lead will be Plan A. Polak (barrier three) can begin fast, but they might also respect Red Salute's gate speed. And I don't think that Northview Punter (barrier four) is capable of crossing Red Salute."
Red Salute will again be handled by, who has driven the WA-bred pacer at 12 of his 15 wins. Red Salute is an M6-class performer and the highest-assessed runner in the race.
Answering a query that he should be overjoyed at the gelding drawing the No. 1 barrier against lesser-performed horses, Olivieri said: "It's a good field which contains several horses who are on M3, M4 and M5 marks, and they are going to get to an M6 mark and better.
"Red Salute was immature and had a gaiting problem as a young horse. But we've ironed out that problem and now he's more fluent and a bit quicker (at the start). Red Salute is like an AFL footballer with his first pre-season under his belt. He's a new kid on the block in fast class and he's shown that he's up to them in that company. I'm not saying that he's better than them, but he's not out of place in top company."
Owners Denise Trobe, Jeanine Diederich, Adrian Staltari and Anthony Jones are hoping that Red Salute will make amends for his distant last in the Four And Five-Year-Old Championship 12 months ago when he started from the No. 4 barrier and raced three wide early before getting a length in front of Your Good Fortune and was about to cross to the pegs and lead when he broke into a bad gallop and dropped back to the rear.
Your Good Fortune, favourite at 7/4 on, went on to set the pace and win by a length from Famous Alchemist. These two pacers will again contest the race this year, with Famous Alchemist at No. 5 on the front line and Your Good Fortune on the outside of the back line and each facing a stern test.
Olivieri will also be represented by star mare Sensational Gabby, who has fared badly in the draw and will start from the outside (No. 7) on the front line, within the sulky.
"The draw is against her," Olivieri said. "Her biggest hope is if Polak and Northview Punter charge forward and try to beat out Red salute and they run some ridiculous lead time. Then she would be right in the race. But if they come out under normal speed and run normally she will not have much hope."
Leading trainer Gary Hall sen. holds a powerful hand in Friday night's event with five runners --- Northview Punter, Famous Alchemist, Benjamin Banneker, Real Hammer and Soho Valencia. He conceded that Red Salute would be hard to beat from the No. 1 barrier, but said that Soho Valencia should not be underestimated despite drawing the No. 4 barrier on the back line and having his first start for 17 months.
"Soho Valencia is easily the best horse in the race, but he will need the run," Hall said. "He's going along nicely, but being first-up is the problem. However, he will still acquit himself well, particularly if he gets a favourable passage."
Soho Valencia, an M1-class performer, will be making his first appearance since he made his WA debut in a prelude of the Golden Nugget when he worked hard in the breeze before winning easily from Midnight Dylan and Bronze Seeker over 2130m at Gloucester Park in October 2012. He has raced 33 times for 19 wins and seven placings for stakes of $298,942.
It was then discovered that he had bone chips in his off fore knee, a condition which required surgery. Clint Hall will drive the five-year-old on Friday night and his younger brother Gary will handle four-year-old Northview Punter, who notched his 17th victory from 37 starts when he raced without cover before beating Shirlz Sensation at a 1.53 rate over 1684m at Pinjarra three Mondays ago.
will drive Famous Alchemist, his son Justin will handle Benjamin Banneker and Robbie Williams will be in the sulky behind Real Hammer, who will be the rank outsider in the race.
HALL TIPS PELUSIAC TO SET THE PACE AND WIN
Champion trainer Gary Hall sen. is bubbling with confidence that lightly-raced gelding Pelusiac will prove too speedy for his ten rivals in the $17,000 Milwaukee Nothing But Heavy Duty WA Derby Prelude over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
"He should lead and win," he said. "I'd like him to make amends for last week when he didn't get a clear run."
Pelusiac, driven by Robbie Williams, raced three back on the pegs and was blocked for a clear passage in the final circuit when eighth behind outstanding stablemate Elegant Christian in the 2536m Caduceus Club Classic.
Gary Hall jun. will resume in the sulky behind Pelusiac this week and he should have little trouble in getting him straight to the front from the No. 2 barrier on the front line. Drawn inside of him is Major Rush, who has won once from 27 starts and invariably is driven with a sit.
Two starts ago Pelusiac raced wide early before getting to the front and going on to win the 2100m Battle of Bunbury. He worked hard in the breeze before winning at a 1.53.9 rate over 1684m at Pinjarra five days earlier. He has now raced nine times for five wins and three seconds.
His major rival appears to be his speedy stablemate Eyre Crusher, who has had eight starts for three wins and four seconds. Eyre Crusher gave a sample of his class at Northam on Thursday of last week when he dashed to an early lead and went on to win by more than five lengths at a 1.57.2 rate from Calais over 2190m.
Calais was having his first start for three months and he should be greatly improved by the outing. He will start from barrier four on the front line on Friday night and should be prominent.
Forrestdale trainers Greg andhave three smart New Zealand-bred three-year-olds in the race in Bettor Offer ( ), Zacharia ( ) and Black Mr Mach ( ).
The-trained Tarsao was most impressive at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon when making his first appearance for four months when drove the gelding to an effortless all-the-way victory over 1684m, rating 1.55.6 when he defeated Slurp Alert by more than eight lengths. However, Tarsao's prospects slumped when he drew the outside of the front line.
LADY WILLOUGHBY INHERITS THE SPEED OF HER DAM
Amongst Royalty is one of the smartest fillies to have raced in Western Australia in recent years and her first foal Lady Willoughby has inherited much of her sparkling speed and brilliance.
Lady Willoughby, bred and owned by Bob Fowler, will make her Gloucester Park debut when she contests the $21,000 Alltools Western Crown for two-year-old fillies on Friday night.
"She's going to be a sensation," said trainer. "But she will be meeting stiff opposition from Mohito and Straittothehilton. I'm very impressed with those fillies and it wouldn't surprise me if she can't match them at this stage.
"Lady Willoughby went out and won at her first start, going no time (2.7.2 over 1823m) at Narrogin and then she disappointed us when we thought she would win, but finished only third at Northam."
In the Northam race on Thursday of last week Lady Willoughby competed against colts and geldings and after racing one-out and two-back in a field of five she lacked sparkle and finished third, almost four lengths behind the winner Artillery Major.
However, Olivieri's hopes were boosted on Tuesday morning whendrove Lady Willoughby in trackwork. "He said that she was a different horse to the one who went around at Northam," he said. "Hopefully, her Northam effort was just an aberration and, hopefully, she will go just as well on Friday night as we know she can. Her Mum was good and so is she."
Lady Willoughby will start from the No. 2 barrier in a field of six, flanked by unbeaten fillies, Delightful Jade and Mohito.
Olivieri hopes that Lady Willoughby will go one better than Amongst Royalty, who finished second in the Western Crown in February 2006 when she finished a nose behind Sheza Clout.
Delightful Jade, trained at Capel by, finished strongly from three back on the pegs to win by just over two lengths from Torrevean Mio over 1730m at Gloucester Park at her only appearance, on Tuesday of last week. She is closely related to former champion filly Whitbys Miss Penny.
Mohito, trained at Bakers Hill by Mike Williams, has won at her only two starts, at Northam and Pinjarra, when she set the pace for, who will be anxious on Friday night to get her to an early lead from barrier three.
Straittothehilton, trained at Byford by Katja Warwick, will start from the outside barrier and is the most experienced filly in the race, with her four starts producing a debut victory at Pinjarra followed by three second placings. She has been beaten at her past two outings (at Bunbury and Pinjarra) by the Jesse Moore-trained Tricky Styx.
Tricky Styx will start from barrier five on Friday night and must come under serious consideration in what should prove to be a highly competitive event. She is a half-sister to Go West U Terror, who won the 2010 Western Crown for colts and geldings.
ARTILLERY MAJOR SET TO GUN DOWN THE OPPOSITION
Astute Oakford trainerfirmly believes that Artillery Major has the firepower to remain unbeaten by proving too strong for the enemy in the $21,000 Alltools Western Crown for two-year-old colts and geldings at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
"I think that Artillery Major is a huge chance," Olivieri said. "He's fast and he's strong."
Artillery Major, handily drawn at barrier three on the front line, will be at a far shorter quote than he was when he made his debut at Northam on Thursday of last week when he was a 25/1 chance who led early and then raced without cover before beating Nitro Lad, rating 2.0.7 over 1780m.
will drive Artillery Major and , back after an ocean cruise, will handle Olivieri's second-string runner Coeur de Whitby, who will start out wide at barrier six.
"I put him in a race at Pinjarra on Monday in preference to running in a trial and he ran second in 1.58 and did it really well," Olivieri said. "He will improve his own weight on that run and if he improves as much as I think he will he'll be competitive on Friday night."
by Ken Casellas