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Tabcorp Park Menangle will host two Group 1 events this Sunday afternoon. Miracle Mile and Inter Dominion winner Beautide is set to compete in the Len Smith Mile and looks hard to beat while lightly raced two year old filly Rosie Oreilly looks to be the biggest danger to kiwi youngster Supersonic Miss in the Australian Pacing Gold Final. Rosie Oreilly is trained by Danny Thackeray and has pulled up extremely well after her fourteen metre victory in the semi final. "She has pulled up really well and hasn't missed a feed since her semi final so I couldn't be happier with her," Thackeray said. "I have decided to stay here in New South Wales rather than travelling home, she has settled in really well here at Jack Primmer's property, it is a great set-up and there is plenty of green grass to keep her happy." Thackeray is based at Euroa in Victoria and enjoyed his first trip to Menangle although admitted the supposed 'hoodoo' for travelling horses did concern him before Saturday night's performance. "Rosie Oreilly got a soft lead but it was the first time I have taken runners to Menangle and it was nice to get a winner, my other filly Artistic Angel finished sixth in her semi and wanted to hang a bit in the run and she will compete in the consolation." "I was aware that some horses from Victoria have come to Menangle for the first time and have struggled and that was in the back of my mind but the big track didn't seem to create any issues for my pair." Rosie Oreilly has always showed ability but Thackeray confirmed there has been solid improvement in the lead up to her debut run at Melton earlier this month. "She always showed enough without being a star but as we got closer to the races she just kept on getting better and better, I still think she will be a better three year old, she's very long legged and has a bit of growing still to do." "Rosie Oreilly is paid up for everything so I will take her home after the APG and think about the Vicbred and the Breeders Crown but at the moment I am just concentrating on Sunday." By Greg Hayes - SKY Racing | Harness Racing New South Wales |

Popular Gippsland harness racing trainer and driver Daryl Woolcock lost a lengthy battle with illness on Easter Monday. As well as being a thorough gentleman Daryl trained and drove pacers and trotters for decades, ending up at Koo Wee Rup. He had multiple wins with Tiffany Valley and Tamara Valley in the 1980's and in more recent times winners included Heeza Hudson (Warragul Horse of the Year) and Hudson Pacemaker. Perhaps his best horse was the talented trotter Pepperell Dancer, who won the Eddie Evison Memorial Trotters Cup at Warragul on the Easter weekend in 2008, plus also won the Bruce Skeggs and Yarra Valley Trotting Cup races, as well as winning metro races at Moonee Valley and Melton. Hudson Pacemaker and Pepperell Dancer were both later sold interstate, where Daryl's training ability helped the horses go on to numerous city successes. In the early 1990's Melbourne race caller David Raphael, who later went on to a distinguished career broadcasting in Hong Kong, dabbled briefly in trots driving and got his start in the sulky, and in race broadcasting, with the assistance of Daryl. Meanwhile local filly Queen Of Pop will be back in Sydney this Saturday night for the rich Australian Pacing Gold two-year-old fillies Final, after running second in a qualifying race at Menangle Park last Saturday night. Kyle Galley

The first harness racing mobile start Warragul Cup was a great success on Easter Sunday. Ballarat horseman Michael Stanley took out The Linc Group Warragul Pacing Cup with Hilltop Hustler, a four-year-old who had no luck in the Mildura Pacing Cup at its previous run, but is an up-and-coming pacer of the future, and will be aimed at further feature races going forward. Hilltop Hustler has recorded 10 wins and 8 placings from only 35 starts, and was well supported by punters. The Cup for Trafalgar horseman Glenn Hunter was over soon after it started, as Astronaut galloped and virtually took no part. It capped an up and down day for Glenn - he placed third in the Trotters Cup with Dawn Tears but earlier lost the opening race in the stewards room after debutante Lazy Sunday drifted in in the home straight when first past the post. Runner up in the Cup was Loveable Larrikin, with Savesomtimetodream finishing third. The 2:00 mile rate barrier was broken for the 2620 metre distance, indicating the quality of the Warragul track. The co-feature on Sunday, the Eddie Evison Memorial Trotters Cup, was won by Eisenhower for Kilmore husband and wife team Peter Lane and Anita Burke. In another exciting contest, Eisenhower held off his rivals to score narrowly from Im Whitney, with local Dawn Tears having no luck in finishing a close up third. Four generations of the Evison family were on hand to present the silver Cup to the winning connections. Longwarry pacer Intergalactic took out the final race of the day for trainer Lee Evison and driver Josh Duggan. A large group of happy owners were on hand to accept the trophy after Melita Bromac won the Warragul Club and Downtowner Guineas. Melita Bromac will head for the rich Victorian Oaks series after her Warragul win. A good crowd enjoyed an exciting day of racing on Sunday, with TAB betting up considerably on last year. Footballer's 'Crackers' Keenan and Peter Daicos and legendary trotting horseman Ted Demmler were among the special guests on the day. The quality of the field in the Pacing Cup supported the Warragul Harness Racing Club's decision to switch the event from a handicap to a mobile barrier start. Last year's Miracle Mile winner Baby Bling was among the entries, a winner of over $800,000 in stakes, and horses of that calibre gracing the local track gave the club extra publicity. Kyle Galley

It is more than a month since Im Victorious suffered a serious tendon injury in the Inter Dominion Grand Final at Tabcorp Park Menangle. The healing process has been a slow one but trainer Michael Brennan is extremely happy with the progress his stable star has made since the incident and is looking forward to being reunited with him in the future. "Snoop (Im Victorious) is getting daily physio on the injury, he is being looked after over there in Sydney by a great team of people and they are trying to ensure they keep some mobility in his leg despite the excessive scar tissue," Brennan said. "He will continue the treatment in Sydney for another six weeks or so and after that he should be ready to make his way back home to Perth and live out his days in a paddock on my property, I think he deserves it." While there had been some speculation that Im Victorious could make a miraculous comeback and return to the racetrack, Brennan believes that it would be highly improbable. "More than likely he will never be able to race again but to be honest I'm just hoping that he will be 'paddock sound' so I can get him home and spend time with him again." "His injuries have healed to the point where the vets are no longer concerned with regards to infection in the tendon and now they are just making sure through the physio that too many adhesions don't form and create issues for us." It has been a tough time for everyone concerned with Im Victorious but Brennan admits he has come to the realisation that he has to move past the devastating loss of the Western Australian Derby winner. "I had arrived at the point where I just had to move on, there was no point in dwelling on it, the whole situation was very devastating for all of us and now I have to try and find my next star." Im Victorious won more than $750,000 in his 34 start career and won 22 races. By Greg Hayes - SKY Racing Harness Racing New South Wales                 Warning to recipients:   This email and any attachments are confidential and subject to copyright. If you are not the intended recipient any use, disclosure or copying is unauthorised. If you have received this email in error please advise us immediately by reply email and delete all copies. It is your responsibility to examine this email and any attachments for viruses. Any personal information in this email must be handled in accordance with privacy legislation.          

Four-year-old Alta Christiano, the youngest and least experienced runner in the Garrards Horse And Hound Easter Cup at Gloucester Park on Thursday night, is poised to give master trainer Gary Hall sen. his fourth victory in the $40,000 event and maintain his unbeaten record in Australia. Hall, who has won Easter Cups with The Falcon Strike (2003), Patches (who dead-heated with OK Windermere in 2006) and Rebel Scooter (last year) delights in setting challenges for himself and his pacers. And he is testing his skill by lining up Alta Christiano against several older and vastly experienced pacers with outstanding form in standing-start events and over marathon trips. Alta Christiano has had only 13 starts for nine wins and he has never contested a race over the Easter Cup journey of 2902m. Alta Christiano, to be driven by Clint Hall, has taken part in only one standing-start event, over 2200m at Forbury in October 2012, when he began safely off 10m before breaking into a fierce gallop 500m after the start and finishing tenth as favourite at 7/4 on, 66 metres behind the winner Alta Capone. Alta Christiano has not been extended in winning easily at his five starts in Western Australia, all in mobiles over 1684m to 2536m. He is a rising superstar who looks set to meet his latest challenge and emerge triumphant, despite the disadvantage of starting from the outside of the front line of six. Alta Christiano, a chunky stallion, has dashed to an early lead and coasted to victory in his first two starts in his four-year-old campaign. Hall sen. originally intended to take him to Sydney to contest the $100,000 group 1 Len Smith Mile at Menangle on Sunday April 27. But he scrapped those plans a couple of weeks ago when he discovered that Beautide, brilliant winner of the interdominion championship at Menangle on March 2, was being set for the Len Smith Mile. He explained that he decided to keep Alta Christiano at home and to give him more experience before tackling champions of the calibre of Beautide. Clint Hall's priority will be to get Alta Christiano away to a safe beginning. Once that is achieved he will formulate his tactics, which most certainly will be to dash forward in an attempt to get to an early lead. Polemarker Hez Got the Nod (Shannon Suvaljko) is a renowned frontrunner and Pembrook Henry (Chris Lewis) also revels in the role of pacemaker, but their drivers would be ill advised to try to retain the lead if seriously challenged by Alta Christiano. In a touch of irony, the main dangers to Alta Christiano appear to be pacers formerly prepared by Hall sen. They are the 40m backmarker Hokonui Ben and This Time Dylan, who will start off the 20m mark. Hokonui Ben, now in the stables of Aldo Cortopassi, and This Time Dylan, now trained by Michael Brennan, meet Alta Christiano on favourable terms. If all Cup runners had to start off their automatic handicap marks, Hokonui ben would be starting off 120m, not 40m under the discretionary conditions of the race. And This Time Dylan would start off 80m. Hokonui Ben resumed after a month's break at Gloucester Park last Friday night when he set the pace and won from the fast-finishing This Time Dylan over 2130m. He will be improved by the outing and looks a strong each-way hope this week. Hokonui Ben is a grand stayer. Clint Hall drove him to a memorable all-the-way victory in the $400,000 WA Pacing Cup over 2936m in mid-January. Three starts ago, at his second run for Cortopassi, Hokonui Ben covered a good deal of extra ground before finishing powerfully to win the $50,000 RWWA Cup over 2536m from Northview Punter and David Hercules. It is worth noting that Hokonui Ben, winner of a 3200m stand in New Zealand in December 2011, has started in only two stands in WA, winning them both, the group 2 $50,000 Navy Cup at Gloucester Park in November 2012 and another 2503m event a fortnight later. Cortopassi has high hopes that Hokonui Ben will give him his second training and driving success in an Easter Cup. He drove Total Defiance when the New Zealand-bred four-year-old raced in sixth position before unwinding a spirited three-wide burst from the 1000m to get to the front at the 250m mark and win from Real Life and Badboy Nitro. Brennan, who trained Anvils Big Punt for his all-the-way win in the 2011 Easter Cup, will be looking for another strong finishing effort from This Time Dylan, who will again be driven by Chris Playle. This Time Dylan has started in seven standing-start events for four wins. The Justin Prentice-trained Braemoor is a standing-start specialist whose past eight wins have all been in stands. The seven-year-old will start from 10m and cannot be underestimated. Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri, who has won the Easter Cup three times (Abmidas, 1997), OK Windermere (2006) and Arma Harris (2010), will be represented by three of the six front-line runners --- Pembrook Henry (Lewis), Compact Rocket (Stuart McDonald) and Finbar Abbey (Chris Voak). All are capable standing-start performers. Lewis will be aiming for his sixth Easter Cup after successes with Pallaton (1980), Gold Rowan (1984), Village Kid (1987), Abmidas (1997) and OK Windermere (2006). Hazelmere horseman Mike Reed, who trained and drove Just Packapunch for his win over Scanio in the 1995 Easter Cup, has five-year-old Polak primed for a strong effort. The gelding, who worked in dashing style in winning a Byford trial on Sunday morning, will start from 10m. He was the 7/4 favourite in last year's Easter Cup when he raced in the breeze in the middle stages and finished a sound fourth behind Rebel Scooter. LIBERTYBELLE MIDFREW CAN OVERCOME UNFAVOURABLE DRAW Libertybelle Midfrew has been most impressive at her first two Australian starts and she should maintain her winning form by proving too strong for her rivals in the Garrards Horse And Hound On Course Now WA Oaks Prelude over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Thursday night. The daughter of Christian Cullen is unfavourably drawn at barrier four on the back line, but she has the ability to overcome that disadvantage and make it three wins from three starts for her new trainer Mike Reed and reinsman Shannon Suvaljko in the space of 17 days. Libertybelle Midfrew covered a lot of extra ground before finishing powerfully to beat All About Pink by more than two lengths at her WA debut over 1730m at Gloucester Park and then she rated 1.57.8 when she dashed to the lead in the middle stages and defeated Cielito over 2185m at Pinjarra after sprinting over the final 400m in 27.1sec. Reed is also hopeful that his other runner My Samantha Jane will be prominent and will earn a start in the $150,000 WA Oaks on May 9. My Samantha Jane has had 13 starts for two wins and five placings. She followed an all-the-way win over 2190m at Northam with a close second to Jungle Jewel at Kellerberrin and a fighting third behind Libertybelle Midfrew at Pinjarra after leading early and then sitting behind the pacemaker. She will start from the No. 3 barrier on the front line on Friday night with Stephen Reed in the sulky. Byford trainer David Thompson will be represented by smart fillies Harriet Elisabeth and Harper Grace. Harper Grace is ideally drawn at the No. 1 barrier. She has led and won at two of her four starts --- over 2130m at Gloucester Park and 1684m at a 1.55.5 rate at Pinjarra. Harriet Elisabeth has won five times from 11 starts, but her prospects diminished when she drew the outside barrier on the back line. She revealed improved toughness at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week when she worked hard in the breeze before finishing determinedly to win from Highest Royalty and Lipizzaner. Lipizzaner, who will start from barrier two on the front line, will be driven by Matt White for Byford trainer Ryan Bell, who will handle stablemate All About Pink from barrier three on the back line. Boyanup trainer-reinsman Justin Prentice has a high opinion of The Parade, who has won at six of her 14 starts. The Parade, a last-start Bunbury winner, is sure to be prominent after starting from the No. 4 barrier off the front. RED SALUTE GETS HIS CHANCE West Australian-bred five-year-old Red Salute has recovered from a hoof injury and he gets an ideal chance to return to the winning list when he contests the 2536m Garrards Horse And Hound Open Daily Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The Ross Olivieri-trained gelding will appreciate a drop in class when he starts out wide at No. 5 on the front line. He has the ability to overcome that disadvantage. Red Salute, driven by Chris Voak, resumed after a three-week absence in a 2130m event last Friday night. He enjoyed a soft run when he raced on the pegs in fourth position before he finished strongly, out four wide, to be fourth, only two metres from the winner Hokonui Ben. Red Salute has won 15 times from 53 starts and Voak is confident the bay will develop into a contender for the major feature events at the next summer carnival. Thursday night's field is quite even and it is difficult to predict which horse will start favourite. Leading trainer Gary Hall sen. holds a strong hand with three of the eight runners, Whos Mistake (barrier two), Passion Stride (six) and Benjamin Banneker (the only runner on the back line). The Chris King-trained Lord Lombo is a versatile performer who will have many admirers after excellent seconds to Hokuri Handrail and Lovers Delight at two of his past four starts, following a victory over Uppy Son and Midnight Dylan. Copagrin, an M1-class performer, will be lining up against much better performed pacers, but cannot be discounted from the prized No. 1 barrier. SOHO VALENCIA LOOKS A STAR BET Soho Valencia is tough and versatile --- and these ingredients should guarantee him of victory in the 1730m Retravision Pace at Gloucester Park on Thursday night. He has had three starts for leading trainer Gary Hall sen. after being off the scene for 17 months, and his form has been most impressive. He worked hard in the breeze at his first two outings for seconds to Northview Punter and Sensational Gabby and then he revealed great determination to charge home, out wide, from eighth at the bell to get up and snatch a nose victory over the pacemaker Franco Torres. He sped over the final 800m in 56.4sec. and rated a smart 1.56.4 over 2130m last Friday week. Clint Hall is likely to send him forward from barrier three on the front line in a bid to take up the role as pacemaker from the two nine-year-old veterans on his inside, Lombo Air Express and Talk It Up. The Bob Mellsop-trained Little Boy Blue could also make a bid for the early lead, starting from the No. 4 barrier. The five-year-old mustered plenty of early pace when a brilliant all-the-way winner over I Am Legend and Mighty Flying Thomas at a 1.55.8 rate over 2130m last Friday week. by Ken Casellas

The $9,000 Inverell Cup will highlight the club's first ever TAB meeting at the Paceway on Sunday afternoon which will also be run in conjunction with the TAB Carnival of Cups series. A strong eight race card is set for action with over $50,000 in prizemoney up for grabs. The Cup looks to be an open affair on paper with strong chances given to several runners. Corilla Tess and Princess Zara were both impressive at the recent Armidale TAB Carnival of Cups meeting whilst Aleyska Dream, who has been consistent in recent times, has the alley to dictate terms. Just by being on course one lucky patron will go into the draw to win a brand new Toyota Yaris. The opening event is set to start at 12:48pm and will be broadcast live on Sky Racing 2. Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |              

Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) is excited to announce a three-year Breeders Challenge sponsorship agreement with the pre-eminent NSW nursery Pepper Tree Farm. Situated in the Lachlan Valley in the central west of NSW, Pepper Tree Farm was established by Rob and Julie Van Dyke in 1996. The substantial quality of horses bred at the stud since its inception is highlighted by four Australian 2yos of the Year; an Australian 3yo of the Year; six winners of the Group 1 Australian Pacing Gold; Victoria and NSW Derby winners; an Australian and Victoria Oaks winner and multiple Breeders Challenge and NSW Sires Stakes champions. Pepper Tree Farm Principal Rob Van Dyke said: "New South Wales has done a lot of positive things over the past few years so we are keen to show our support. "We have a good relationship with the controlling body and believe it is important to have a leading stud such as ours to sponsor the NSW feature juvenile race series. Pepper Tree Farm is very excited to be the sponsor for the ensuing three years." The introduction of the Breeders Challenge was a significant structural change to the NSW breeding industry. The incentives and initiatives associated with the Breeders Challenge have rapidly evolved over the past few years and now include the rich Major Race Series (including trotters), Regional Finals, Nominators (breeders) Cash Bonuses, Owners Bonus Certificates, Blue Series and Incentive Certificates. HRNSW CEO Sam Nati said: "It's immensely satisfying to have a stud such as Pepper Tree Farm associated with one of our most important brands. Rob and Julie are forward thinkers and pivotal to the development of the standardbred in Australia for almost two decades."   Dale Walker | Manager - Marketing | Harness Racing New South Wales                  

Inter Dominion winner Beautide will return to the scene of his biggest career victories when he steps out at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night. The son of Bettors Delight last raced on March 2 and despite having a week in the paddock to recover, trainer/driver James Rattray is expecting a big performance. "I gave him seven days to get over the Inter Dominion, he really appreciated the break and put on a little bit of weight so all things are heading in the right direction with the Len Smith Mile at the end of the month," Rattray said. "Ideally I would have liked to have given him a trial but because the track has been shut undergoing renovations, I've had to do all the work with him at home but I'm still expecting a big performance from him this Saturday night." Saturday's event has attracted the first three placegetters from the Inter Dominion Grand Final with Seel N Print and For A Reason nominated to compete. "It is a nice race for Beautide but the plan is to only give him this one hit-out before the Len Smith Mile, it should tighten him up nicely and have him ready." "After the Len Smith Mile I'm thinking I will give him another short break and get him ready for races like the Miracle Mile so at this stage I'm ruling out going to Queensland." Rattray was happy to see Pachacuti return to the winners' list at Hobart on the weekend and confirmed the four year old pacer will be returning to his stable later in the season. "That win on Sunday night would have done him the world of good, he just needed that for his confidence, he has the four year old Sires Stakes in Tasmania and also the Easter Cup but he will then come back here to Sydney." "Another horse will be joining him on the trip up here too, a horse called Devendra, he has won a few cups down there." By Greg Hayes - SKY Racing (Harness Racing NSW)|          

AN effortless win by Victorian pacer Five Star Anvil in the Governor's Cup in Hobart on Sunday night has tempted trainer Adam Kelly to keep his stable star in Tasmania for one more assignment. Kelly had planned to take Five Star Anvil back to Victoria this week but he is toying with the idea of running him in the $40,000 Easter Cup in Launceston on April 20. Five Star Anvil powered home from the rear of the field to win the Governor's Cup over 2579 metres at Tattersall's Park in Hobart on Sunday night to defeat Saab Quality and Motu Crusader. It was the first leg of a feature race double for Kelly who also prepared the Tasmanian Derby winner Outrageous El. While the race was set up for a swooper owing to a solid tempo set in front by Our Chain of Command, Five Star Anvil still had to produce the goods when driver Gavin Lang asked for the supreme effort. But it was the ease with which the gelding delivered the knockout blow to his rivals that impressed his trainer. "The plan was always to run in this race (Governor's Cup) and head home but he was awesome tonight so I am now thinking about staying for the Easter Cup in a fortnight," Kelly said. "If I thought he would get a 30-metre handicap I probably wouldn't stay but he might be a chance off 20 metres, anyway that's something I'll have to weigh up in the next day or so," he said. The nominations for the Easter Cup close on Tuesday (April 8). Lang was delighted with the win. ''The race pretty much played into our hands with such a solid tempo but in saying that he still had to deliver and he did it well within himself," Lang said. Five Star Anvil is one of five horses Kelly brought to Tasmania for a month-long stay and they have all delivered multiple wins making it a very profitable exercise. By Peter Staples

VICTORIAN pacer Outrageous El extended the list of interstate horse to have won the Group 3 Tasmanian Derby in recent times when he led all the way to take out this year's edition of the classic event for three-year-olds. With experienced reinsman Gavin Lang in the sulky, Outrageous El stepped straight to the front from the pole position (1) and he was never headed, going on to score comfortably from another interstate invader Lake Eyre with local hero Resurgent Spirit a close-up third. Resurgent Spirit was attempting to break the al-time record for the most number of consecutive wins in Tasmania but after facing the breeze for the duration he was unable to deal with the pressure in what was one of the best fields to contest the race in many years. Outrageous El delivered the goods and realised a dream for his owners and it also was an unexpected result for the gelding's trainer Adam Kelly who admitted connections had bought the horse in New Zealand for $30,000 without expectations of winning a Group race. It was the gelding's fifth win in succession and he was the best horse on form in the race and Lang rated the horse superbly in front. Lang, rated one of the nation's best reinsmen, has been a regular visitor to Tasmania over  the years and had driven in many Tasmanian Derbies but this was his first success. Listen to what trainer Adam Kelly had to say about Outrageous El's Tasmanian Derby win. By Peter Staples  

Reinsman Clint Hall declared that inexperienced gelding Elegant Christian was spot on for the WA Derby on Friday week and was supremely confident that he would wind up his preparation for the $200,000 classic by winning the $50,000 TABtouch Western Gateway Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Elegant Christian stunned punters when he started at 25/1 on and was beaten in a minor event at Gloucester Park on Monday of last week. However, Hall said that there was a significant excuse for that defeat (by a nose behind Mister Jadore) and that the lightly-raced three-year-old had bounced back to his brilliant best with a dazzling performance in a 2150m trial at Byford on Sunday morning when he romped to a 15-length victory after flying home over the final 800m in 55.5sec. "He drew the outside of the front line in the trial and I kept him four and five wide on the first corner before easing him back to last," he said. "And then after we got through the first quarter I asked him to come out and he went up and took the breeze and he raced there for a lap until he went to the front at the bell. "I sent him around the last two corners and he was fine, back to normal. We added a nearside lugging pole, a Murphy blind and an underhead check --- and he felt super. "I made him run round the corner from the 800m to the 600m and made him run again from the 400m to the 200m. I then let him ease up going to the line and I was quite surprised when I saw he had run 26.9sec. for the last quarter." Six days earlier Elegant Christian hung very badly in a 2130m event at Gloucester Park when he raced in the breeze outside Mister Jadore. He fought on gamely, but just failed to overhaul the pacemaker. Trainer Gary Hall sen. then discovered that the gelding was suffering from an ulcer in his mouth which caused him to hang inwards. This has been cured. That was Elegant Christian's first defeat in a six-start career and now Clint Hall is bubbling with confidence that the gelding will be untroubled to set the pace from the prized No. 1 barrier on the front line in Friday night's group 3 event. Elegant Christian is one of four runners from the powerful Hall stable, the others being Machtu, Eyre Crusher and Classic American. Kim Prentice will drive Machtu from barrier two on the back line, Morgan Woodley has been booked to handle Eyre Crusher (inside of the back line) and Chris Voak will drive Classic American from barrier four on the back line. Clint Hall drove Machtu when he gave a superb performance to score a runaway victory in a 2536m Derby prelude last Friday night. But he had no hesitation in choosing to drive Elegant Christian this week. Machtu settled at the rear in last week's event before surging forward to the breeze in the middle stages and then charging away from his rivals to win by just under seven lengths from Three Blind Mice. "It was a super run by Machtu and he is sure to be prominent in this week's race," Hall said. "Eyre Crusher will appreciate drawing the inside of the back line and should follow Elegant Christian. He should finish in the top three." Eyre Crusher has had nine starts for four wins and four seconds. Classic American has won at six of his nine starts, but faces a stern test from barrier four on the back line. Mister Jadore, a winner of ten races, also faces a tough task from the outside of the back line. Pelusiac, with a record of five wins and three seconds from ten starts, left Hall's stables last Sunday week and will be making his first appearance for Capel trainer Andrew De Campo. He will be handled by Aiden De Campo from barrier three on the back line. Adding further interest to the race will be the Australian debut of Ultimate Major, who has entered de Campo's stables this year after winning at three of his four starts in New Zealand late last year. He will start from barrier four on the front line. Three Blind Mice (barrier two) and Calais (three) are smart geldings who are racing keenly and should be prominent. However, Elegant Christian appears likely to carry too many guns for his rivals and should give Hall sen. his third success in the Western Gateway Pace. He trained and drove The Falcon Strike when he beat Knightwatchman and Shadow Maker in 2001 and he prepared Alta Christiano for his success 12 months ago. HALL SAYS SOHO VALENCIA IS "GOING PLACES" "I think he's going places and is a Christmas horse, and a Christmas horse should take care of these," said Clint Hall when assessing the prospects of Soho Valencia in the 2130m Princi Butchers Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Hall will drive the five-year-old, who will start from barrier three on the back line and is likely to make a sweeping move in the first lap in a bid to burst to the front. Soho Valencia is one of four runners in the race prepared by leading trainer Gary Hall sen., the others being last-start winner Dashing Christian (Kim Prentice), Benjamin Banneker (Kiara Davies) and Our Arlington (Lauren Jones). They are better-assessed pacers than Soho Valencia, who is an M1-class performer. But Soho Valencia has greater ability and potential than that trio and he is certain to prove very hard to beat after second placings as favourite on the past two Friday nights. They were his first two runs after an injury-enforced absence of 17 months and they were full of merit. He had a tough run when a fighting second to his classy stablemate Northview Punter last Friday week and then he raced without cover all the way when second to the brilliant mare Sensational Gabby last Friday night. "He drops down a bit in class this week after last week's Free-For-All," said Clint Hall. "His run last week was super. Chris Lewis (Sensational Gabby) didn't make the mistake of letting Soho Valencia into the race after having the advantage of the barrier draw. This week Soho Valencia will be hard to beat." The prospects of Lovers Delight, the impressive winner of the Clarke final last week when he worked hard in the breeze before getting up to defeat Lord Lombo, deteriorated when he drew the outside of the front line in the preferential barrier draw. Dashing Christian has drawn ideally at No. 2 on the front line and is capable of a bold showing. He should be prominent throughout. He impressed last Friday night when he raced three back on the pegs before charging home to snatch a nose victory over Mighty Flying Thomas. Adding interest to the race will be the return of smart eight-year-old Ohoka Samson for Pinjarra trainer-reinsman Kade Howson. Ohoka Samson has been off the scene for four months, but impressed when he sprinted over the final 400m in 27.6sec. to win a 2185m trial at Pinjarra on Sunday morning, rating 1.55.9. He will start from barrier four on the back line. DROP-DOWN RULE SHOULD HELP MAGGIES MYSTERY When smart five-year-old mare Maggies Mystery was an unlucky fourth behind Erris Lad last Friday night she increased her losing sequence to ten and immediately became the latest beneficiary of the drop-down rule, with her classification being altered from an M3 to an M2 mark. This has enabled her to be handicapped off the front line in the discretionary M1 and better Bet Today Collect Today Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night, thus boosting her prospects. Maggies Mystery, to be driven by Aldo Cortopassi for Burekup trainer Colin Reeves, was unlucky last week. She was in ninth position on the pegs at the bell and was finishing strongly, but was hampered for room when fourth, just over a length behind the winner. She caught the eye four days earlier when a fast-finishing fourth behind Soho Jackman in a 1730m, sprint at Gloucester Park. There is plenty of exposed form in Friday night's standing-start event over 2503m and punters should get great value for their investments, with polemarker Copagrin and last-start all-the-way winner Major Fury (barrier two) sure to be prominent. Hez Got The Nod, J Walker, Pembrook Henry, Balleybofey, Danieljohn and Erris Lad all have sound claims. QUINNY GETS ALTA CHRISTIANO ON THE MOVE Richly-talented New Zealand-bred four-year-old Alta Christiano was beaten in a track workout last Saturday morning. But it was an effort which enhanced his prospects of winning the first heat of the Making Smoking History Johnson Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Why? The answer is simple. He was beaten on the home track of Serpentine master trainer Gary Hall sen. by none other than superstar Im Themightyquinn. Alta Christiano, driven by Clint Hall, set the pace in then workout before being beaten comfortably by Im Themightyquinn (Gary Hall jun.). "We ran the mile and a half on the 1000m track in 3min. 3sec. and the last quarter took 27.1sec.," said Clint Hall. "It was Quinny's first real hit-out and his first workout with another horse in this preparation. He went to the line under a strong hold. "Alta Christiano should be too good for his rivals on Friday night. His first-up run was very good. He was nice and relaxed and sharp at the end, and he wanted to run another quarter." In that 2536m event at Gloucester Park last Monday week Alta Christiano made most of the running and won easily from Jungleface Jake after sprinting over the final 800m in 55.8sec. and the last 400m in 27sec. It was his first appearance after a ten-month absence. Alta Christiano will start from the inside of the back line on Friday night and Hall is likely to attempt to get him off the pegs and to go forward as early as possible. Im Themightyquinn will return to Gloucester Park on Friday week with an exhibition workout. He is expected to return to racing on the same track a fortnight later. SCHOOLBOY LANDS FIRST CITY WINNER Sixteen-year-old schoolboy Micheal Ferguson took time off from his studies to go to Gloucester Park with his parents Brian and Allison on Tuesday evening --- and he landed his first city winner by driving 5/2 chance Barkers Hall to an all-the-way victory over the even-money favourite Dashing Major in the 2536m Schweppes Pace. A day earlier, he got permission to take the afternoon to attend the meeting at Pinjarra where he drove Adda Notherzero to a thrilling nose victory over Chooks Reward after bringing Guilty Grin from the rear to finish a nose second to Director Whitby Ferguson now has driven four winners in his brief career after learning the ropes from his father, a Byford trainer-reinsman who has been concentrating on breaking in young pacers in recent years. Young Ferguson also has been assisting at the Serpentine stables of leading trainer Gary Hall sen. during school holidays and on weekends. Barkers Hall, a Victorian-bred five-year-old, is trained by Hall and his win on Tuesday night was his first in 12 starts in Western Australia. Ferguson jumped Barkers Hall straight to the front from the No. 2 barrier and he stole a march on his rivals when he was able to get the gelding to amble through the first two 400m sections of the final milem in 32.7sec. and 30.7sec. before increasing the tempo with two final quarters in 28.4sec. by Ken Casellas  

Talented Victorian harness racing pacer Outrageous El confirmed his status as a genuine Tasmanian Derby prospect with an effortless win against the older horses in a class one over 2200 metres in Launceston on Sunday night. Driver Rohan Hadley was forced to make his charge work hard to find the lead but once in front the Adam Kelly-trained gelding travelled sweetly and when asked to extend at the top of the home straight he forged clear. Outrageous El went on to score by almost six metres from El Jays Magic with Another Jasper over two metres astern. It was the gelding's third win in success from his four lifetime starts and his second in Tasmania, having been successful in Devonport at his first try on foreign soil. Kelly was hoping the son of Elsu would measure up to Derby class when he travelled him across Bass Strait and so far the three-year-old has lived up to expectations. The Tasmanian Derby will be run over 2579 metres at Tattersall's Park in Hobart on Sunday night. Peter Staples  

Prominent Tasmanian harness racing owners Jamie Cockshutt and Barry Cooper will be hoping their New Zealand-bred three-year-old Watch This Spot can produce his best to win Sunday night's SEW Eurodrive Tasmanian Derby over 2579 metres at Tattersall's Park. Cockshutt and Cooper purchased Watch This Spot in New Zealand last year for an undisclosed sum and immediately sent him to Dean Braun's stable. The gelding won a 2YO on debut at Cranbourne and after a minor placing at his subsequent outing at Terang he was dispatched to Tasmanian where he scored an emphatic win in Launceston. He was shipped straight back to Victoria where he placed at Kilmore before ending his 2YO season with a win at Bendigo,' Watch This Spot resumed in March with a win at Kilmore and after meting interference in the VHRSC 3YO Cup at Melton he went to Geelong where he finished a game second to Ideal Majority in a 3YO Pace over 2100m. Braun is quietly confident watch This Spot can emerge triumphant on Sunday. "This is a very nice horse that is more than capable of winning the Tasmanian Derby," Braun said from Melbourne today. "I wouldn't be sending him if I didn't think he could win." "It is likely to be a strong Derby from what I hear but I have a lot of confidence in this horse. He hasn't disappointed me at any stage and provided he travels well I expect him to be hard to beat," he said. The Derby promises to be one of the best in years with local star Resurgent Spirit aiming to notch his 14th consecutive win and steal the record for the most number of consecutive wins in Tasmania from the great Halwes. Local 3YO Rusty Red Comet also has been racing in career best form with his win last Sunday night in Launceston testament to his ability to warrant respect in next Sunday night's classic. Peter Staples

After failing to secure a winner owning thoroughbreds and greyhounds, Spreyton owner Warren Viney turned his attention to harness racing and to his delight he struck gold. Viney is paying up for three pacers of which two, Lake Eyre and Soho Wonder, are based in Victoria with Melton-based mentor Beau Tindale but went around in Launceston last night. Lake Eyre scored an emphatic win in a 3YO and older pace over 2200 metres. With top Victorian driver Lisa Miles in the cart, Lake Eyre faced the breeze for much of the race before powering clear in the home straight and went on to defeat Robyn Scherbotsky by almost 16 metres with Lady Elaine four metres away third. It was Viney's second winner in the space of a week as his Tasmanian-based 3YO Wasonic Snake successful in Launceston last week. The other horse in Tindale's care, Soho Wonder, raced in Launceston last night and finished a game second to quality Tasmania three-year-old Rusty Red Comet. Given the ease with which Lake Eyre dispensed with his rivals he would be more than competitive in next Sunday night's Tasmanian Derby but it will be touch and go as to whether he gains a start in what promises to be one of the best Tasmanian Derbies in ages. Peter Staples

When former champion juvenile Sensational Gabby managed just one win and one third placing from 11 starts between December 2012 and January this year her harness racing future was in extreme doubt. She was wrecking her winning prospects by overracing fiercely and hanging and her connections were seriously considering retirement plans. But astute Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri did not give up the battle and after months of experimenting he has cured her bad habits of pulling hard and hanging in her races and now she has regained all the brilliance which enabled her to win at 23 of her first 27 starts. She paced generously and faultlessly when she revealed blistering speed to outclass her rivals in the Ray Duffy Memorial at Gloucester Park on Friday night, recording a smart 1.54.8 rate over the 2130m after speeding over the final mile in 1min.53.9sec. Sensational Gabby now has several feature events for mares over the next two months at her mercy. These include the $20,000 Golden Girls Mile at Pinjarra on April 21, the $35,000 Race For Roses at Gloucester Park on May 9, the $40,000 WASBA Breeders Pace on May 23 and the $30,000 Westbred Fillies and Mares Classic on May 30. And so well is Sensational Gabby performing that there are plans to set her for rich feature events next summer, including the Fremantle Cup and WA Pacing Cup. Olivieri is well pleased that Sensational Gabby is now tractable in her races, but he remains tight-lipped about what gear changes he has made to cure her bad habits. Sensational Gabby was an easing 13/4 second favourite on Friday night when most punters pinned their faith on Soho Valencia, who was a heavily-supported 2/1 on favourite from the No. 2 barrier on the front line. However, the anticipated battle for supremacy never really eventuated, with Chris Lewis firing out Sensational Gabby from the No. 1 barrier and establishing a decisive early lead on the opposition, leaving Soho Valencia in the breeze, but a couple of lengths behind the flying pacemaker. After a 29.3sec. first 400m section of the final mile Sensational Gabby left the opposition floundering in her wake as she sped of the next quarters in 28.5sec., 27.7sec. and 28.4sec. Sensational Gabby won by two lengths from Soho Valencia, with almost a length to Code Red (9/1) in third place after he had trailed the leader throughout. The five-year-old WA-bred Sensational Gabby has now amassed $527,495 from 27 wins and six placings from 48 starts. Sensational Gabby's win gave Lewis the third leg of a winning treble in consecutive events --- after wins with Shirlz Sensation and Lovers Delight. Lewis almost landed four wins in a row (in the four legs of the quadrella) when Pembrook Henry set the pace and finished second to Erris Lad. MACHTU EQUALS STATE RECORD Crack New Zealand-bred gelding Machtu is now a clear favourite for the $200,000 WA Derby on Friday week after his devastating performance to crush his rivals in the Cowden Ltd Derby Prelude at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Machtu, prepared by leading trainer Gary Hall sen., is spot on for the rich classic and he equalled the State record for three-year-olds over 2536m when he rated 1.57.2 in beating Three Blind Mice by almost seven lengths. Robyns C C also rated 1.57.2 when she finished strongly to win a race for fillies last August. What made Machtu's performance all the more impressive was that he worked hard without cover for much of the way before storming away from his rivals in the final stages with a final 400m in 28.2sec. After unplaced runs at his first two starts in New Zealand as a two-year-old in December 2012, Machtu has won at seven of his next eight starts. His five WA starts have produced four wins and a fighting second to stablemate Elegant Christian. Machtu, favourite at 3/1 on, started from barrier four and raced three wide for the first 200m before Clint Hall restrained him back to settle in ninth position. Hall started a three-wide run after 900m and Machtu quickly moved alongside the pacemaker So Ubettabelieveit. Machtu surged to the front 270m from home and careered away from his rivals. Three Blind Mice, trained by Barry Howlett, was a 19/1 chance who raced without cover during the first lap and then gained the one-out, one-back trail behind Classic American before being shuffled back to seventh at the bell. He finished powerfully, out wide, to be a splendid second. Life Live Fast (66/1) enjoyed an ideal pegs run throughout and fought on along the inside to be third, with Zacharia finishing solidly into fourth place. Machtu, who has earned $51,038 from seven wins and a second from ten starts, is the fourth foal out of Holmes Hanover mare Letatalk, who managed to win only once from 20 New Zealand starts for stakes of just $3938. SHIRLZ SENSATION IS ON THE RISE Four-year-old Shirlz Sensation looks set for a bright career after another outstanding performance to score an effortless victory in the Community Newspaper Group Westbred final at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Starting favourite at evens from barrier two on the back line, Shirlz Sensational was driven aggressively by Chris Lewis before scoring by three lengths from Smooth Caesar (6/1), with the strongly-supported 9/4 second fancy Soho Jackman one and a half lengths farther back in third place. Oneheart Twofists jumped straight to the front from barrier three and he was joined by Shirlz sensation 700m after the start after a slow 37.9sec. lead time and 30.9sec. opening quarter of the final mile. The third quarter whizzed by in 28.1sec. before Lewis sent Shirlz Sensation to the front with 230m to travel. The final quarter was covered in a sparkling 27.8sec. and Shirlz Sensation rated a smart 1.57 over the 2130m. Soho Jackman started from the outside of the back line and did a good job to finish third. He was last 1050m from home before sustaining a solid three-wide burst. Shirlz Sensation, part-owned and trained by Mike Beech, has turned the corner this season, with his past seven starts producing five wins, a second and a third. He was also extremely impressive last Friday week when he raced without cover before winning by more than ten lengths. He now has raced 22 times for seven wins and three placings for stakes of $58,720. LOVERS DELIGHT IS GETTING TOUGHER Lightly-raced six-year-old Lovers Delight, a noted frontrunner, revealed improved stamina and determination when he raced in the breeze before beating the pacemaker Lord Lombo in the $25,000 Pick Of The Little Scrapbooking Clarke final at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Trained at Capel by Andrew De Campo and driven by Chris Lewis, Lovers Delight, the heavily-supported 3/1 favourite, simply carried too many guns for his 11 rivals. Lord Lombo, a 9/1 chance, was first into stride from barrier two and Lewis then was quite content to allow Lovers Delight to settle in the breeze. After a third section of the final mile in 28.1sec. Lord Lombo looked set to score an upset win. But he was unable to withstand the finishing effort of Lovers Delight who got to the front in the final 25m and scored by 2m at a 1.57.6 rate over 2130m. Outsider Franco Torres overcame the disadvantage of starting from the outside of the back line when he ran on from eighth (on the pegs) at the bell to be third, a half-head in front of polemarker Benjamin Banneker. The New Zealand-bred Lovers Delight has raced 22 times in WA for eight wins and eight placings to take his career record to32 starts for 12 wins, ten placings and $170,203. He now graduates to an M3 classification and looks set for many more successes. BREAKTHROUGH SUCCESS FOR MISSISSIPPI BELL Four-year-old Mississippi Bell, unplaced at her only seven previous appearances at Gloucester Park, made a significant breakthrough when her Waroona trainer Bob Mellsop drove her to a convincing victory in the 2130m Ross North Group Mares Pace on Friday night. Mississippi Bell, a 12/1 chance from the inside of the back line, relished the run of the race behind the pacemaker Awesome Desire (13/4) before Mellsop eased her into the clear in the closing stages. She ran on determinedly to hit the front 80m from the post and draw away to beat Awesome Desire by almost a length, with 20/1 chance Mene Jaccka coming from three back on the pegs to fill third position. Love In The Dark, a newcomer from Queensland, was strongly supported to start favourite at 10/9 on at her WA debut for Byford trainer-reinsman Shannon Suvaljko. She was beaten for early speed from the No. 3 barrier and worked hard in the breeze before fading to finish eighth. Mississippi Bell rated 2.0.3 and took her record to 28 starts for six wins and one placings for stakes of $33,032. She is by American stallion Riverboat King out of Northern Lights mare Firestorm Whitby and is certainly bred to be a good winner. Firestorm Whitby's dam Tempting Franco produced five winners, including Typhoon Whitby, who had 46 starts for 17 wins, seven placings and $163,751. Typhoon Whitby finished second to The Kindly One in the $100,000 1999 Bathurst Gold Tiara, won the $60,000 State Sires Series for two-year-old fillies at Gloucester Park in August 1999 and was fourth behind Tupelo Rose in the 2000 Victoria oaks. Mississippi bell also is closely related to former outstanding pacer Franco Tiger, who amassed $991,387 from 43 wins and 36 placings from 116 starts. Franco Tiger's victories included the 1992 Miracle Mile, the 1992 Australian Pacing Championship, the 1992 Queensland Pacing Championship and the 1993 Treuer Memorial. He also finished second to Westburn Grant in the 1992 interdominion championship at Moonee Valley and third behind The Harlem Boy and Jack Morris in the 1993 WA Pacing Cup. SPRINT TRIP SUITS CARTERS ROCKET Carters Rocket, a flop when he led and faded to third behind Wolowitz over 2190m at Northam last Tuesday, appreciated returning to a sprint journey when he scored an all-the-way victory in the 1730m Kennards Hire Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. His one-length win over Ima Grumpy Jasper at a 1.57.78 rate ended a losing sequence of 12, which included only two placed efforts. Polemarker Im Clean Cut, a surprising 5/4 on favourite after finishing ninth, twelfth and eleventh at his three previous starts, was beaten out at the start by Carters Rocket (second fancy at 17/4) from the No. 2 barrier. This proved decisive. Colin Brown gave Carters Rocket his head and the New Zealand-bred five-year-old by Elsu sped through the first 400m section of the final mile in 28.7sec. before Brown was able to give the gelding a breather with a leisurely second quarter in only 31.9sec. Carters Rocket covered the final quarters in 29.8sec. and 28.2sec. and won from Ima Grumpy Jasper, a 12/1 chance who ran on from eighth in the middle stages. Im Clean Cut trailed the pacemaker before getting a clear passage in the final stages to finish gamely into third place. Carters Rocket, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, won twice from seven New Zealand starts and has been a handy performer in Western Australia where his 38 starts have produced eight wins and seven placings. He now has a record of 46 starts for ten wins, ten placings and $57,931. Carters Rocket is out of the unraced Pocket Rose, whose full-sister Tupelo Rose was a champion performer who earned $879,867 from 35 wins and 25 placings from 101 starts. Hollywood Rose, a mare by Butler B G, failed to win from 20 starts in the early 1990s. However, Tupelo Rose quickly developed into a superstar who won several group 1 and group 2 events as a juvenile. She won two group 1 classics for fillies as a two-year-old at Alexandra Park in 1999 before winning the New Zealand Great Northern Oaks, the Victoria Oaks, the Queensland Oaks and Australian Oaks the following year. Tupelo Rose won 12 races in New Zealand, 12 in Australia, one in Canada and ten in America. AM OPULENT Four-year-old Am Opulent, a group 1 classic winner as a two-year-old in New Zealand, took full advantage of the coveted No. 1 barrier at Gloucester Park when she gave a bold frontrunning display to win the 2130m Gannons Mares Pace on Friday night. Favourite at 7/4 on, Am Opulent was driven with supreme confidence by Ryan Warwick, who gave the mare her head when she dashed over the final 800m in 57.5sec. She won by a neck at a 1.57.3 rate from 15/1 chance Bettor Whitby, who trailed her throughout. Jungle Genie (13/2), a stablemate of the winner, sustained a three-wide burst from last in the middle stages to be a neck away in third place. Am Opulent, who ended a losing sequence of ten with an easy victory at Harvey at her previous outing, gives every indication of many more wins. She has earned $162,757 from ten wins and eight placings from 31 starts. A winner of three races from seven starts in New Zealand, Am Opulent has had 24 starts in WA for seven wins and seven placings. She revealed abundant early promise and was successful in the group 1 Caduceus Club Classic for two-year-old fillies at Alexandra Park in April 2012. Her dam Imprint (by Life Sign) earned only $22,622 from three wins and three placings from 14 starts, but she is closely related to Smart Son, who earned $347,805 from 41 wins and 59 placings from 226 starts. He was successful in New Zealand, Australia and the United States. Am Opulent completed a double in the first two events on Friday night's program for Forrestdale trainers Greg and Skye Bond, who prepared Carters Rocket for his win in the opening event. The Bonds continued on their winning ways with a double at Kellerberrin on Sunday afternoon when Showstopper and Jungle Jewel scored all-the-way victories. DASHING CHRISTIAN ENDS LOSING RUN OF 14 New Zealand-bred seven-year-old Dashing Christian ended a losing sequence of 14 when he unleashed a powerful burst which enabled him to get up in the final stride to snatch victory by a nose over 7/4 favourite Mighty Flying Thomas in the 2536m Plscrapbooking.com.au Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Dashing Christian, third favourite at 5/1, started from the inside of the back line and Clint Hall had him in fifth position, three back on the pegs, for most of the race, with Shifting Sand (14/1) setting the pace. Mighty Flying Thomas settled in tenth place before Morgan Woodley sent him forward after 550m to move into the breeze. After a third quarter of the final mile in a brisk 28.2sec., Mighty Flying Thomas got his head in front with 375m to travel and looked set for victory when he led clearly in the home straight. But Dashing Christian sprouted wings and gained the verdict by the barest of margins after a final quarter in 28.9sec. The Feather Foot (9/2) ran on strongly from sixth at the bell to be third. Dashing Christian, who had finished encouraging seconds at his two previous starts, gave trainer Gary Hall sen. and Clint Hall a double after they had combined to win the previous event with Machtu. Dashing Christian, a winner at one of his seven New Zealand starts, raced seven times in New South Wales for seven wins and six placings. He has had 23 starts in WA for three wins and nine placings to take his career earnings to $105,955 from 11 wins and 19 placings. He is then second foal out of Falcon Seelster mare Dreamy Dash, who managed just one win and seven placings from 33 starts for earnings of $17,165. ERRIS LAD MAKES THE MOST OF DROP-DOWN RULE The drop-down rule introduced a couple of years ago which enables pacers assessed M2 and better to drop down a grade has proved a tremendous boon for WA-bred Erris Lad, who has returned to winning form three times after receiving this advantage. Horses handicapped M2 or better drop down a grade after completing a losing sequence of ten. Erris Lad, trained at Hazelmere by Mike Reed, dropped back from an M2 to an M1 classification after chalking up a losing run of ten when a sound fourth behind Major Fury last Friday week. This enabled the seven-year-old to start from the front line in Friday night's 2503m TABtouch Handicap, an event for M1 and better-class pacers. Colin Brown took advantage of the front-line draw and had Erris Lad, a 20/1 outsider, poised to strike from the one-out, one-back position, with 3/1 chance Pembrook Henry setting the pace. Erris Lad finished full of running to take the lead 100m from the post. He went on to beat Pembrook Henry by a half-length, with a neck back to 16/1 chance Hez Got the Nod, who finished strongly out five wide after racing three back on the pegs. Flyalong Falcon, favourite at 5/2, lost his chance by galloping at the start. Mister Sarkozy also galloped and The Pacing Priest broke soon after the start. Flyalong Falcon came from tenth in the middle stages to be fifth before breaking on the home turn and dropping back to finish last. Erris Lad has been the beneficiary of the drop-down rule three times. His previous victory was last November when having his first start after a losing run of ten. His previous win before that success came after he had also enjoyed a downgrade. Under the old handicapping regulations Erris Lad would now have an M5 classification. His win on Friday night returns him to an M2 mark. FLYING START PAVES THE WAY FOR LA PASSIONE A flying start from the outside barrier paved the way for New Zealand-bred five-year-old La Passione's impressive victory in the 2536m McInerney Ford Pathway Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Darling Downs trainer Aldo Cortopassi revved up La Passione from the unfavourable No. 7 barrier and the gelding quickly charged past polemarker Good Luck Dollar and into the lead. Cortopassi was able to get La Passione to relax and the 4/1 second favourite coasted through the first two sections of the final mile in 31.8sec. and 30.7sec. before dashing over the next two quarters in 28.7sec. and 29.1sec. to win by two lengths from Black Cracker, who fought on doggedly after racing without cover. Good Luck Dollar trailed the leader and finished a neck away in third place. La Passione, by American stallion Pacific Rocket, is beginning to realise his potential after arriving in Western Australia about 14 months ago after having had 18 starts in New Zealand for four wins and seven placings. His 21 WA starts have produced four wins and six placings and he should develop into a handy and consistent city performer. Ken Casellas  

Champion trainer Gary Hall sen. has a massive opinion of five-year-old Soho Valencia and he has decided to throw the stallion in at the deep end by starting him in open-class company in the 2130m Ray Duffy Memorial at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Hall has thrown down the gauntlet by opting to start the stallion, at his second appearance after an injury-enforced absence of 17 months, against seasoned campaigners, including WA Pacing Cup winner Hokonui Ben and brilliant mare Sensational Gabby. The Duffy Memorial is a $21,000 event for pacers handicapped M5 or better. Soho Valencia is on an M1 mark and Hall had the option of starting him against weaker opposition in the $17,500 PLSScrapbooking.com.au Pace. But Hall is confident that Soho Valencia has the class to defeat his rivals in the Duffy Memorial, saying: "I'd like to see him lead in a Free-For-All over 2130m and see how good they are. I know how good he is." Whether Soho Valencia, to be driven by Clint Hall, is capable of leading in Friday night's race is a moot point. He will start from barrier two on the front line, with the five-year-old Sensational Gabby on his inside. Sensational Gabby possesses sparkling gate speed and Chris Lewis is certain to attempt to jump in front and set a merry pace. Soho Valencia had his first start since October 2012 when he contested the Four And Five-Year-Old Championship last Friday night. He started from barrier four on the back line, was sent forward, three wide, after 600m and then raced on the outside of the pacemaker Red Salute before getting to the front 250m from home and finishing second to Northview Punter. Soho Valencia finished more than two lengths in front of Sensational Gabby, who started from the outside of the front line and impressed in sustaining a spirited three-wide burst (with cover) from tenth at the bell to be sixth. Looming large as the horse to beat for both Soho Valencia and Sensational Gabby is Hokonui Ben, the all-the-way winner of the $400,000 WA Pacing Cup over 2936m on January 17. He finished with a powerful burst from eighth at the bell to win from Northview Punter and David Hercules two starts ago and then covered a lot of extra ground when fourth behind Red salute and Sensational Gabby last Friday week. Hokonui Ben will start from the outside of the front line for trainer-reinsman Aldo Cortopassi , but the seven-year-old with an M11 classification has the class to overcome this disadvantage. Hall, who has trained 122 winners this season, prepares five of the eight runners in the Duffy Memorial. His other four starters are Famous Alchemist, Whos Mistake, Passion Stride and Code Red. MACHTU LOOKS THE GOODS IN DERBY PRELUDE New Zealand-bred gelding Machtu looks set to return to the winning list by proving too fast and too strong for his nine rivals in the 2536m Cowden Ltd WA Derby Prelude at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He will start from barrier four on the front line for trainer Gary Hall sen. and reinsman Clint Hall, who will replace his younger brother Gary, who has driven the gelding at his four starts in Western Australia for three runs and a last-start second to stablemate Elegant Christian over 2536m at Gloucester Park last Friday week. Gary Hall jun. is serving a 30-day suspension. Machtu was far from disgraced at his most recent appearance when he raced wide and then worked hard outside the pacemaking Elegant Christian. Machtu refused to give in and was beaten by less than a length after dashing over the final 800m in 55.3sec. His most serious rival on Friday night is likely to be his stablemate Classic American, who will start from the outside of the back line with Kim Prentice in the sulky. Classic American, a seven-length winner at his only appearance in New Zealand, over 2200m at Cambridge last June, made his Australian debut at Gloucester Park early last December when he raced in the breeze and finished second to Calais. He then chalked up wins at his next five starts before his defeat at Bunbury last Saturday night. He went to Byford on Sunday morning where he rated 1.58.6 in winning a 2150m trial after trailing the pacemaker Keeper of Keys. The final 400m took 28.1sec. Pinjarra trainer Kade Howson has three New Zealand-bred runners in Friday night's event --- polemarker So Ubettabelieveit, Live Life Fast (barrier six) and Ohoka Cooper (barrier three on the back line) and Forrestdale trainers Greg and Skye Bond will be represented by Black Mr Mach (barrier three) and Zacharia (barrier seven). The Hall camp will take the highly-promising Elegant Christian to the Byford trials on Sunday morning after the gelding suffered a shock defeat at 25/1 on in a 2130m event at Gloucester Park on Monday afternoon. Elegant Christian, who went into the race with a perfect record of five wins from five starts, started from the No. 3 barrier on the front line and jumped a length clear of polemarker Mister Jadore. But he was unable to cross to the pegs and then proved a handful for Clint Hall as he hung in badly when racing in the breeze. He finished determinedly to be a half-head second to Mister Jadore. The stewards then ordered the gelding back to trials. Trainer Gary Hall sen. said that Elegant Christian was affected by an ulcer in his mouth which caused him to hang. "We'll clear that up and then he should be okay," he said. Another WA Derby prospect Pelusiac left Hall's Serpentine training establishment last Sunday morning and has entered the Capel stables of Andrew De Campo. Pelusiac had ten starts for Hall for five wins and three seconds. He was a 5/2 on favourite in a Derby prelude at Gloucester Park last Friday night when he worked in the first 500m before taking the lead. He set the pace before wilting to fifth behind stablemate Eyre Crusher. PACIFIC WARRIOR WILL NEED LUCK FROM TRICKY DRAW Rising star Pacific Warrior, the fastest of the three heat winners,has drawn awkwardly on the inside of the back line and will need luck when he contests the $25,000 final of the Litter Scrapbooking Clarke Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Pacific Warrior, trained at Mt Helena by Ray Williams, has won in dashing style at his past three starts and would have been a warm favourite if he had drawn a favourable barrier on the front line. The race now appears a far more open affair. Reinsman Kade Howson is likely to determine his tactics as the race unfolds. There is reasonable doubt whether the polemarker Benjamin Banneker possesses the necessary gate speed to hold up. If Benjamin Banneker, who has shown gate speed in a couple of his starts, does set the pace and Howson decides to trail him there will be the distinct possibility of Pacific Warrior being denied a clear passage in the final circuit. Benjamin Banneker, trained by Gary Hall sen., has not led all the way in any of his 30 starts which have produced ten wins and eight placings. Most of Benjamin Banneker's victories have come when he has unwound a spirited finishing burst. He has drawn the No. 1 barrier only once before. That was at Gloucester Park last May when he started at 5/2 on and galloped at the start before racing three wide for much of the 2130m journey and finishing gamely to snatch victory by a head. Pacific Warrior relished the task of racing without cover before winning narrowly from the pacemaker Lovers Delight in the third qualifying heat of the Clarke Pace. He rated 1.56 which was significantly better than the rates recorded by the other heat winners, Franco Torres (1.56.7) and Hokuri Handrail (1.58.5). Hokuri Handrail rated 1.56 when he flooded home from eighth on the pegs at the bell to win from Little Boy Blue and Korobeit Angel over 1730m last Friday night. He is a speedy beginner and noted frontrunner who will start from barrier three on the front line and could be seen in the role of pacemaker in Friday night's race. Lord Lombo is a versatile in-form pacer who has good gate speed and is a smart frontrunner. Chris Voak could well attempt to burst to an early lead from the favourable No. 2 barrier. Lord Lombo rattled home from eighth at the bell when second to Hokuri Handrail last Friday week and he was a fast-finishing winner over Uppy Son at his previous start. Lovers Delight and Our Arlington are in fine form and each is capable of winning without surprising. Back-line runners Braemoor and Rocky Marciano can produce strong finishing bursts, but they will need plenty of luck from wide draws. BONDS HOLD STRONG HAND IN MARES EVENT Forrestdale trainers Greg and Skye Bond hold a strong hand with four-year-olds Am Opulent and Jungle Genie in the 2130m Gannon's Mares Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Am Opulent returned to form and broke a losing sequence of ten when she made full use of the coveted No. 1 barrier by leading and winning by three lengths from Adda Rising Star over 2150m at Harvey last Saturday week. Jungle genie started from the outside of the front line and fought on gamely from sixth at the bell to be third. Am Opulent fared the best in the random draw and again will start from the No. 1 barrier. She should lead and prove hard to catch. Jungle Genie, a winner at 11 of her past 22 starts, cannot be dismissed, even from out wide at No. 6 on the front line. Adda Rising Star followed her Harvey second to Am Opulent with a solid win at Bunbury last Saturday night when she raced without cover before beating Lucky Drew by a length. She should be prominent from barrier two. The Debbie Padberg-trained Lavra Florence impressed at Gloucester Park on Monday afternoon when she trailed the pacemaker Showstopper before finishing powerfully to win from that mare and Cieleto at a 1.58.1 rate over 2130m. The New Zealand-bred former Victorian performer will start from barrier five on the front line and looks sure to win many more races. MAJORLY FOXY STYYX TO MISS OAKS Outstanding filly Majorly Foxy Styx has broken down and will miss the $150,000 WA Oaks at Gloucester Park on May 9. "She has bowed a tendon in the nearside foreleg," said trainer Gary Hall sen. Majorly Foxy Styx looked a near certainty in the Oaks after winning in convincing style at her past seven starts. At her most recent outing she romped to victory by six lengths over The Parade in the group 2 Dainty's Daughter Classic at Gloucester Park. That took her record to 15 starts for seven wins and three placings for stakes of $90,530. Meanwhile, star four-year-old Alta Christiano reappeared after an injury-enforced absence of ten months at Gloucester Park on Monday afternoon when he scored an effortless all-the-way victory in a modest C3-class event over 2536m. Driven by Clint Hall, Alta Christiano, produced in big and burly condition by leading trainer Gary Hall sen., took the lead 250m after the start and after ambling through the first two quarters of the final mile in 32.6sec. and 31.7sec., he sprinted over the next two sections in 28.8sec. and 27sec. to beat Jungleface Jake by two and a half lengths at a 2.1.4 rate. Alta Christiano is unbeaten at his first four Australian starts after four wins from eight starts in New Zealand. The easy winner of the WA Derby last April will have his next start at Gloucester Park on Friday week. De CAMPO COMEBACK AT WAGIN Outstanding Capel trainer Andrew De Campo is planning a surprise comeback to race driving. The 47-year-old horseman has nominated himself to drive stablemates Vibrate and Trojan Bromac at the meeting at Wagin on Friday night. He has not driven in a race since 33/1 chance Zenthura raced in the breeze and wilted to seventh behind Paddy Whacked over 1750m at Kalgoorlie on November 13, 2011. His most recent winner was Nowuseeme, who started at 5/1 on and made most of the running to score easily from Mabel Rose over 2100m at Bunbury on June 26, 2009. Vibrate has a losing sequence of 12, stretching back to January 2012. The seven-year-old will start from barrier five in the 2180m Fleay Grocery Store Darkan Pace. Trojan Bromac, a winner of 18 races, will start from the outside in a field of six in the 2180m Darkan Cup, in which the main fancies are expected to be Major Catastrophe (David Young) and Im Riddick (Aaron Beckett). by Ken Casellas

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