The sky's the limit for harness racing champion pacer Im Themightyquinn after he gave an awesome display of his brilliance and dazzling speed to crush his rivals in the Yalumba Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
It was a fantastic first-up performance by the small, streamlined seven-year-old who appears to have all the rich summer carnival plums at his mercy, as well as the Cranbourne Cup and Victoria Cup.
A run in the Mount Eden Sprint next Friday night could be on the cards for the champion, but the major events on his agenda are the Cranbourne Cup, Victoria Cup, the Fremantle Cup, WA Pacing Cup and the interdominion championship.
Leading trainer Gary Hall sen. was almost breathless with excitement and admiration after his son Gary had driven Im Themightyquinn to his runaway victory, by just under two lengths from Fast Play, and smashing the track record for 2100m.
Im Themightyquinn rated 1.54 which eclipsed the record rate of 1.55.2 set by Dasher VC when he won the Four-Year-Old Championship at Gloucester Park last November, beating David Hercules and Why Live Dangerously. Im Themightyquinn and Dasher VC are by American-bred stallion.
The remarkable Im Themightyquinn, who was making his first appearance since finishing a gallant second to Smoken Up in the interdomininion championship final at Auckland’s Alexandra Park early last April, was favourite at 2/1 on, with veteran star Has The Answers well in demand at 2/1.
Has The Answers began with his usual alacrity from barrier five, but was forced to work hard, out wide, by Aussie Reactor in the early stages before Morgan Woodley got the oldtimer in front after 300m.
Hall immediately sent Im Themightyquinn forward to race outside Has The Answers and the second 400m section of the final mile was run at a breakneck 27.2sec. Remarkably, Im Themightyquinn was literally bolting at this high speed and he asserted his authority when he burst to the front with a lap to travel.
He then covered the next two 400m sections in 29sec. and 29.2sec. and was not extended in winning from Fast Play, who ran on from fifth on the pegs at the bell to be second, a length in front of Aussie Reactor. Has The Answers faded to finish seventh in the field of eight.
“We all love him and I cannot believe how he went tonight, first-up,” a beaming Hall sen. said. “I can only imagine that he will improve a bit.”
It was on the recommendation of Hall sen. that a WA syndicate comprising Beth Richardson, Glen Moore, Garry Ralston, Mark Congerton, Joe Barber, Henry McManus and Karen Hall bought Im Themightyquinn for $190,000 after the gelding had earned $110,224 from six wins and eight placings from 27 New Zealand starts.
Im Themightyquinn now has earned $1,776,781 from 30 wins and 25 placings from 72 starts. He is unbeaten at his past six WA starts.
OHOKAS BONDY AIMED AT FEATURE FOUR-YEAR-OLD EVENTS
Crack New Zealand-bred pacers Ohokas Bondy and Seel N Print warmed up in fine style for their assault on the rich series of feature events for four-year-olds when they fought out the finish of the Ringbolt Margaret River Pathway Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Forrestdale horseman Greg Bond, who trains Ohokas Bondy and Seel N Print in partnership with his wife Skye, declared he was extremely happy with their performances and said that the pair would be his main two chances among six stablemates who are being set for the four-year-old features.
The Bonds are also preparing Nimrod, Lewis Hamilton, Eliminator and Johnny Be for the $50,000 Four-Year-Old Championship on November 18, the $175,000 Golden Nugget Championship a week later and the $125,000 McInerney Ford Classic on December 2.
Ohokas Bondy, favourite at 5/2 on, was driven with supreme confidence by Colin Brown when he scored an impressive 1m victory over 6/1 second favourite Seel N Print (Michael George) in the 2506m event on Friday night.
Ohokas Bondy, who started from the outside of the back line, mustered great pace 400m after the start to charge to the front 275m later. George then sent Seel N Print, winner of last season’s WA Derby, forward to work in the breeze.
Seel N Print issued a spirited challenge over the final stages, but Ohokas Bondy prevailed in splendid fashion to win by 1m, rating 2.1.1 after sprinting the final 800m in 57.8sec.
It was Ohokas Bondy’s 18th win from 31 starts and boosted his earnings to $281,578. He has had 21 starts in WA for 18 wins.
“I was happy with both their runs,” Bond said. “It was nothing super, but the closing sectionals were good. Now we’ll step them up in readiness for the big four-year-old races.
“Colin (Brown) didn’t pull the pull-downs or the plugs. He knows the horse and the horse is not one of those Im Themightyquinns who put the foot down and just explode away. Seel N Print is a natural running horse, who’ll run away from other horses, whereas Bondy is not.
“Both horses pulled up well tonight, heart-rate wise. They had easier runs than I thought they might have had and they’ll probably have two more starts before the feature events.”
SVILICICH EYES ANOTHER MOUNT EDEN SPRINT FOR REAL LIFE
Veteran pacer Real Life is racing better than he was 12 months ago when he was successful in the Mount Eden Sprint and cagey Byford trainer Tony Svilicich gives the Victorian-bred eight-year-old a good chance of winning the feature sprint event again when it is decided over 1700m at Gloucester Park next Friday night.
There is a random barrier draw for the big sprint and Svilicich declared that Real Life was capable of a second Mount Eden success if he drew favourably.
Svilicich took the unusual step of running Real Life in a claiming event at Gloucester Park on Friday night, with a price tag of $25,000 on thegelding. There were no takers and Real Life will remain in the care of his 65-year-old owner.
Real Life, with Morgan Woodley in the sulky, was favourite at 5/2 on in the 2100m Oxford Landing Estates Claiming Pace on Friday night and he showed that he retains his wonderful natural speed when he rated 1.56.6 in scoring an excellent victory over Albert Jaccka and Omegarama. He dashed over the final two 400m sections in 28.8sec. and 28.7sec.
Real Life started from the No. 4 barrier on the back line and he was in eighth position, three wide, as Little Sonny Bill set the pace in the first lap.
The early pace was solid and Shane Loone vacated the perfect one-out, one-back position after 650m to go forward three wide with 103/1 tote outsider Ultimate Under Fire, thus giving Real Life a much-needed cart up in the three-wide line.
Real Life was sixth at the bell and he sustained his strong effort to burst to the front with 100m to travel and win in good style from 9/1 second favourite Albert Jaccka, who followed Real Life in the three-wide line over the final 1000m. Omegarama, a 14/1 chance, maintained his splendid form when he finished boldly from seventh on the pegs at the bell to be third.
Real Life, who rated 1.55.8 when he beat Has The Answers in the Mount Eden Sprint in October 2010, has been a wonderful performer who now has had 70 starts for 20 wins and 24 placings for stakes of $234,478. He has won eight races in Victoria and 12 races in WA.
His seven-year-old full-brother Mister Anthony continues to race in good form in Victoria where he was won seven races this year to boost his record to 20 wins and 11 placings from 56 starts for earnings of $180,904.
TARTARY GLADIATOR COMEBACK GATHERS MOMENTUM
Eleven-year-old Tartary Gladiator continued his comeback in grand style with a runway victory in the 2503m Heggies Vineyard Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Owned and trained by Kevin Keys, the WA-bred gelding was driven a copybook race by Grant Williams to win by two and a half lengths from 20m backmarker Davy Maguire, with Artorius a fast-finishing third.
This was Tartary Gladiator’s 13th appearance in his current campaign after a serious leg injury had kept him on the sidelines for several years after he had won the Golden Nugget Championship in April 2005.
Tartary Gladiator managed only one placing from his first nine starts this year before he struck top form. His past four starts have produced two striking victories, a second and a third placing.
On Friday night Tartary Gladiator started from 10m and was excellent value at 11/1, with Mach Dynasty, aiming for four wins in a row, hot favourite at 2/1 on and Artorius second fancy at 7/1.
Mach Dynasty was quite fractious behind the 10m barrier strand, but Justin Prentice was able to get him away without a hitch, while frontmarker Hilton Mile High jumped straight to the front.
Mach Dynasty settled down in tenth position before Prentice sent him forward 650m after the start. However, Mach Dynasty was unable to wrest the breeze position from Falcons Medley and was forced to tramp three wide for the rest of the race.
Approaching the bell Williams sent Tartary Gladiator forward to gain an ideal three-wide trail behind Mach Dynasty. Falcons Medley took a narrow lead 400m from home and soon after that Williams asked Tartary Gladiator for a special effort. The old gelding responded grandly and burst to the front 220m from home before careering away to win very easily at a 2.0.1 rate.
Davy Maguire finished powerfully from 11th at the bell and Artorius finished full of running after being last with a lap to travel. Tartary Gladiator has had only 36 starts for 15 wins and seven placings for earnings of $155,808.
UP-AND-COMING GRINJARO MAKES IT FOUR IN A ROW
Five-year-old WA-bred Grinjaro gave further proof that he is on target to contest rich summer carnival events when he finished with a typical powerful burst to win the 1700m Nautilus Estate Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night to extend his winning sequence to four.
Owned and trained by octogenarian Ken White, Grinjaro, favourite at 5/2 on, boosted his earnings to $196,447 from 15 wins and 12 placings from 45 starts.
Gary Hall jun., who drove him perfectly, has a fine record behind the son of, with eight wins and four placings from his 15 drives.
Grinjaro started from the outside of the front line and Hall had no hesitation in restraining the horse to last before he followed the three-wide run of Spunky Monkey to move into seventh place at the bell. After going four wide at the 450m mark, Grinjaro burst to the front on the home turn and won easily by 4m from Millwood Meg, who had enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back.
Grinjaro dashed over the final 800m in 56.9sec. and rated a smart 1.55.8.
PATIENT WILLIAMS LANDS THE PRIZE WITH FRANCO JAZZMAN
Karnup horseman Grant Williams drove a clever waiting race which paved the way for Franco Jazzman’s impressive victory in the 1700m Hill Smith Estate Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Williams was perfectly happy to keep the 5/2 second favourite well back in the field in the one-out line while there were torrid battles in front, with 10/9 favourite Hilarious Life being tormented in the lead, first by Bruce Almighty and then by Alhambra Rocket.
Hilarious Life started from the No. 1 barrier and was fully extended early when Bruce Almighty (5/1) applied plenty of pressure and got to the lead by three quarters of a length after 100m, but was unable to muster sufficient speed to get to the lead.
Soon after Hilarious Life resisted the challenge from Bruce Almighty, Brad Stampalia took Alhambra Rocket forward and denied the pacemaker the opportunity to take a breather.
After the first 400m section of the final mile went by in a flying 28.5sec. it was obvious that Hilarious Life was in trouble. Franco Jazzman was eighth at the bell when Williams urged the New Zealand-bred five-year-old forward, three wide.
The third quarter went by in 29.4sewc. and Franco Jazzman sprinted the final 400m in a sparkling 28.2sec. He hit the front 250m from home and went on to score by one and a half lengths from Bruce Almighty, who finished with admirable determination.
Van Cullen, who trailed the leader, fought on solidly to be third, while Hilarious Life wilted to seventh.
Franco Jazzman, who was produced in fine fettle by Mt Helena trainer Ray Williams, father of Grant, looks set to develop into a classy performer. He has had 26 starts for ten wins and nine placings for stakes of $68,156.
By, he is out of the unraced mare Jazz Franco, whose dam Joanie Franco produced several winners, including Janice Franco, who has just been retired to stud in WA after a good career of eight wins, 19 placings and $76,782 from 110 starts.
NEVER WAVER LOMBO BORN TO BE A WINNER
Five-year-old Never Waver Lombo, daughter of dual classic winner Nevabend Lombo, bounced back to form with a vengeance and ended a losing sequence of nine when she raced wide early, led after 400m and then gave a bold frontrunning display to beat 2/1 favourite Lincoln Beach Girl by almost three lengths in the 2100m Twin Islands Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Never Waver Lombo, trained at Byford by Peter Tilbrook, was solidly supported on the tote from 5/1 to 9/4 and Chris Lewis was in no mood to take any prisoners as he revved up the WA-bred mare from barrier four in the early stages.
Polemarker Lincoln Beach Girl led for the first 400m before Never Waver Lombo surged to the front. She sprinted the final 800m in 57.3sec. and proved far too good for Lincoln Beach Girl, who battled on gamely. Incendio (Morgan Woodley) fought on to be a good third after working hard without cover. The winner rated 1.57.2.
Never Waver Lombo, by Canadian stallion, has had 38 starts for nine wins, ten placings and stakes of $60,668. She won six times in Victoria and now has had 14 starts in WA for three wins and five placings.
Never Waver Lombo is out of Nevabend Lombo, who earned $119,640 from her eight wins and five placings from only 25 starts. She won four times in WA, three times in Victoria and once in New South Wales. She won the WA Sales Classic for two-year-old fillies in March 2001 and 14 months later was successful in the WA Oaks, beating Indyianna Lombo and Montana Anna.
Never Waver Lombo
GATE BENDER RESPONDS TO GEAR CHANGES
Speedy New Zealand-bred six-year-old Gate Bender responded to several gear changes made by Forrestdale trainers Greg and Skye Bond when he resumed after a spell in fine style with a convincing victory in the 2100m Pewsey Vale Pathway Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
“When he arrived in WA we really liked him, but he lost his way in a couple of runs at the end of his last campaign,” Greg Bond explained.
“We gave him a break and when we brought him back we decided to go back to basics and made changes to his gear. We got rid of the under head check, the head check and the pull-down blinkers, and now he seems to be a bit more comfortable.
“He was a reasonably cheap horse and hopefully he’ll go through the metro grades to get to an M2, M3 or M4 mark. Then if he takes the next step, it will be a bonus.”
Gate Bender, making his first appearance for two months, started from barrier five and a hot favourite at 5/2 on. Polemarker Governor Johnny (7/1) was smartest into stride, with Gate Bender out three wide for the first 550m before getting to the breeze.
Colin Brown was perfectly content to rate Gate Bender in the breeze before the six-year-old sprinted fast to burst to the front on the home turn win from win by just under a length from 37/1 chance What God Knows, who had trailed the leader all the way.
Gate Bender, who rated 1.58.6, has had 15 starts in WA for seven wins and four placings for an overall record of 52 starts for 12 wins, 13 placings and stakes of $71,476.
SON OF FERGIE SURGES HOME FROM THE REAR
WA-bred six-year-old Son of Fergie looks set for further successes after surging home from ninth in the middle stages to beat My Jasami by two lengths in the Jansz Tasmania Pace over 2506m, at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
A 7/2 chance trained at Bunbury by Steve de Campo and driven by Justin Prentice, Son of Fergie started from the outside of the back line and settled at the rear while polemarker Nullabor Song led for the first 400m before Easton Swift took over.
My Jasami moved into the breeze in the first circuit and took the lead 400m from home. But he was unable to withstand the powerful finishing burst of Son of Fergie, who cruised to the front in the final 100m after the final 800m had whizzed by in 56.7sec.
A week earlier, Son of Fergie had broken through for an overdue victory to end a losing sequence of 14. He has amassed $203,669 from 15 wins and 19 placings from 62 starts.
Son of Fergie
CHIEF INANGA JUSTIFIES HALL’S CONFIDENCE
New Zealand-bred seven-year-old Chief Inanga justified the confidence of Gary Hall jun. when he finished full of running to win the 2096m Dalrymple Estate Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
After 6/4 favourite Borat had galloped hopelessly from the inside barrier, Chief Inanga, second favourite at 11/4, settled down in a perfect position, one-out and two-back, as Jennas Shadow sped to an early lead.
But Hall was in no mood to enjoy such a luxury and he exuded confidence in his horse by vacating the ideal spot in the one-wide line 400m after the start and dashing forward to assume the position in the breeze.
Jennas Shadow bowled along in front for Robbie Williams, but he was unable to withstand the finishing burst of Chief Inanga, who swept to the front with 120m to travel and won by a half-length from Ohoka Dakota, who ran home gamely after enjoying the one-out, one-back trail. Jennas Shadow held on to be third.
Chief Inanga gave Hall the first leg of a treble. He was successful later in the program with Im Themightyquinn and Grinjaro. Chief Inanga is prepared by Gary Hall sen., the trainer of Im Themightyquinn.
Chief Inanga has had 41 starts in New Zealand for four wins and 14 placings, 21 starts in Victoria for five wins and eight placings and eight starts in WA for two wins and three placings. He was earned $91,071.
by Ken CASELLAS