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Liam O’Connor and Jim Currie, long-standing friends and clients of ace harness racing trainer-reinsman Colin Brown, have no regrets about outlaying $37,500 to purchase Its Rock And Roll at the APG Perth yearling sales early last year. The gelding has already earned $76,825 from two wins and two seconds from four starts and he has excellent prospects of adding another $30,225 to his tally by winning the $50,000 Westral Champagne Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Brown is bubbling with confidence and is planning to take full advantage of the coveted No. 1 barrier by attempting an all-the-way victory in the Group 2 feature event over 2130m. None of the ten runners has raced beyond 1730m, but Its Rock And Roll should have little difficulty in competing strongly over the longer journey, with Brown declaring that the gelding is feeling better than he was when he won the Group 1 Sales Classic Final on March 2. “His ring craft has improved dramatically since then and he’s got a lot of natural speed and a bit of toughness as well,” Brown said. Its Rock And Roll made an impressive debut when he was a 30/1 outsider from the No. 1 barrier and led and won from Highly Flammable and Shockwave at Gloucester Park in the first week of February. He then finished a head second to Babyface Adda before he started at 12/1 and began speedily from barrier seven in the Sales Classic in which he raced wide early and then in the one-out, one-back position before finishing strongly to get up and beat the pacemaker Shockwave by a head, rating 1.56.6, a race record. Brown then gave Its Rock And Roll two and a half weeks off before preparing him for this week’s classic. Its Rock And Roll resumed in a 1684m event at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon when he started from the back line, settled in sixth position and quickly dashed forward into the breeze after 550m. He fought on doggedly to be a two-length second to quality New Zealand-bred two-year-old Bletchley Park, who rated 1.56.2, with a final quarter in a sizzling 26.8sec. Brown said that it was an exceptional performance by Its Rock And Roll, who took no harm from his tough run at his first appearance for just over seven weeks. Its Rock And Roll is bred to shine as a two-year-old. His dam, the Victorian-bred Miss Worthy Whitby won at three of her eight starts at Bathurst, Albion Park and Gloucester Park as a two-year-old in 2010. The Storm Inside, a half-brother to Miss Worthy Whitby, had six starts for six wins as a two-year-old early in 2016. His wins included the Group 2 Fitzpatrick Memorial at Menangle and the Group 1 APG Classic for colts and geldings at Melton. Toughest for Its Rock And Roll to beat on Friday night could well be Valbonne, a New Zealand-bred colt by Mach Three. Valbonne, prepared by Mike Reed, will start from the No. 5 barrier on the front line and will be driven by Chris Lewis. Valbonne warmed up for the Champagne Classic in fine style at Pinjarra on Monday of last week when he raced in the breeze for the first 500m and then in the one-out, one-back position before finishing solidly to win from Sangue Reale and Babyface Adda. Lewis will be aiming to win the Champagne Classic for a record eighth time after victories with Pardon Me Boys (1987), Talladega (1999), Wirrapunda (2001), All Four Firing (2002), Slick Operator (2003), David Hercules (2009) and Mister Jadore (2013). Ross Olivieri, who prepared Talladega for his win in the classic, is hopeful that Rich And Spoilt colt Babyface Adda will overcome the outside barrier (No. 9). Babyface Adda has won at Gloucester Park and Pinjarra and leading reinsman Shannon Suvaljko said he was confident he would fight out the finish. “I have no doubt that he will compete strongly over the 2130m,” he said. Collie owner-trainer David Hunter has high hopes that his smart filly Itz All About Magic will prove hard to beat and remain unbeaten after four starts, following successes at Pinjarra (two) and Gloucester Park. Stuart McDonald will drive Itz All About Magic, the only runner off the back line who should gain a perfect run behind the likely pacemaker Its Rock And Roll. Ken Casellas

Colin Brown has been training and driving pacers for more than 40 years and he now declares that he is preparing the fastest pacer of his harness racing distinguished career a small, insignificant-looking filly by the name of Amelias Courage. The Victorian-bred Amelias Courage emerged as a major WA Oaks contender with a superb victory in a modest C1-class event at Gloucester Park on Tuesday night, a performance which was a strong indication that she would prove hard to beat in the on Twitter WA Oaks prelude at Gloucester Park on Friday night.    Amelias Courage will start from barrier two on the front line in the $20,000 prelude over 2130m and Brown is confident that she will seriously challenge boom filly, the high-priced New Zealand import Our Angel of Harlem. Amelias Courage raced without cover outside the pacemaker The Freedom Fighter before getting to the front 600m from home and then easily withstanding a challenge from Pavarotti to beat the promising New Zealand-bred five-year-old by more than a length, rating a slick 1.55.2 over 2130m. It was an exceptional performance after a fast lead time of 35.6sec. followed by quarters of 29.5sec., 29.3sec., 28.8sec. and 29.2sec. Brown was lavish in his praise of the filly, saying: “She has run 3sec. quicker on the track than any horse I’ve trained. If I told you the times she’s run at Jandakot you wouldn’t believe me. I don’t doubt her ability. She has just run 1.55.2 in the breeze and Our Angel of Harlem will have to be good to beat me. Amelias Courage could have gone better if something had really come at her. “We really had to make a statement before the Oaks and I always like to show the handicapper something.” Brown said that Amelias Courage had the potential to be classed alongside two outstanding mares he has trained in Sand Pebbles and Franco Eden. The WA-bred Sand Pebbles raced 81 times for 26 wins, ten placings and $313,102 in prizemoney. She won the $100,000 Ladyship Mile at Harold Park in November 2004 and a week later finished second to Sokyola in the $550,000 Miracle Mile. Eden Franco, a New Zealand-bred five-year-old, arrived in WA last September and in nine starts for Brown in October, November and December, she was successful seven times. Brown lauded Amelias Courage’s toughness, saying: “The problem has been that we haven’t drawn barriers from which we could use her stamina. She’s only a small horse and she has run a 26sec. quarter on the track but she doesn’t seem to do that in her races.” Amelias Courage was purchased at the Victorian yearling sales by Graham Searle and Geoff Waters and was prepared in Victoria by Peter Manning. “What happened was the Victorian handicapping system changed and this disadvantaged a horse like her who had won a bit of prizemoney, and she wasn’t eligible in three-year-old company and she drew badly against good horses in open races,” Brown said. “The owners made the decision to send her over here to me and Liam O’Connor and Jim Currie bought shares in her. It has taken us a bit of time to get the best out of her. Over in Victoria she pulled very hard and was just an aggressive, attack, attack filly. “Her main aim is the WA Oaks and you cannot have a horse who is going to attack over 2536m. We have put gear on her and taken gear off and it has taken a fair bit of time to get her sorted. She goes best when driven tough and I don’t mind if she leads or has to sit in the breeze on Friday night.” The polemarker in Friday night’s race is noted frontrunner Miss Sangrial, who led for much of the way when a half-length second to Pick My Pocket over 2100m at Bunbury last Saturday week. Amelias Courage, who has earned $85,164 from nine wins, ten seconds and two thirds, is also a smart frontrunner, who led at five of her eight Victorian wins. Our Angel of Harlem, to be driven by Shannon Suvaljko for Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed, is awkwardly drawn out wide at barrier No. 7, but is expected to be a warm favourite. Our Angel of Harlem began from the inside of the back line at her latest start, at Gloucester Park last Friday week, and was trailed the pacemaker when she choked down, galloped and disrupted the field 1100m from home. The race was abandoned. At her previous outing, at her Australian debut at Pinjarra, Our Angel of Harlem raced three wide in the first lap and then in the breeze before finishing third behind Bettor A Believer. That followed a superb runaway victory in a Byford trial.   Suvaljko is confident of success on Friday night, saying: “I think she is close to her top and we can work forward from the wide barrier. She is definitely the one to beat.” Star reinsman Gary Hall Jnr, who needs two wins to bring up his century for the season, said that he expected a strong effort from Liberty Rose, who will start from the inside of the back line, immediately behind the freewheeling Miss Sangrial. Liberty Rose was travelling easily in the breeze at her most recent outing when a horse choked down, fell and caused interference to other runners. This forced the stewards to stop the race. “She felt as though she had them all covered,” Hall said. “She’s got toughness and a good turn of foot and I give her a really good chance.” Ken Casellas

Metropolitan trainer-driver Colin Brown enjoyed a night at Harold Reid Paceway to begin the new Albany Harness Racing Club season last Friday, landing four winners on the eight-race program. Brown, one of WA’s most successful reinsmen, won half the card at the season opener, with Arma Rich Girl, Fortunate Adda, Maxentius and Eden Franco all successful. Eden Franco started a red-hot $1.50 favourite in the night’s feature race the $8500 Libby Harding Pace (2258m), and settled outside the leader Mighty Flying Deal for the majority of the race. On the final lap Eden Franco briefly hit the front before Mighty Flying Deal fought back on the inside nearing the home corner, but the short-priced favourite did enough in a terrific battle nearing the line to win by 1.6m, which handed Brown his fourth. Earlier Brown drove four-year-old gelding Maxentius to victory in the Premium Custom Homes Pace (2258m) after downing fellow fancy All Jokes Aside by 7.6m at the line. Three-year-old filly Fortunate Adda scored her third career win, making ideal use of the front row draw as Brown had her outside the leader in running before holding off Clovelly Spirit by 2.4m at the finish. Brown also won the opening event on the card with Arma Rich Girl, who jumped a $17.80 chance on the tote, to edge out $1.30 favourite Captured Delight by a neck in a thrilling finish to the Formation Homes 3YO Pace (2258m). Short-priced favourite All About The Cash proved too strong in race 2 for trainer-driver Lang Inwood, while concession driver Madeleine Young prevailed in another tight result, and Mr Nickel won by a half head over Crimson Floyd in race 3. Albany trainer Charles Draper also tasted success on opening night after Snowball Mackenzie won at his first start for the new stable, scoring a dominant 8.8m win in the last race. AHRC will hold their second meeting this Sunday night, featuring the annual New Year’s Eve Cup Stakes. By Cameron Newbold Reprinted with permission of The West Australian  

The three big zero’s alongside Ohoka Darcy’s name in the opening event, the $18,000 Book Your TABtouch Inter Dominion Hospitality Now Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night, should not deter punters from supporting the New Zealand-bred five-year-old. Yes, it is true: Ohoka Darcy, prepared at Ravenswood by Nathan Turvey, has finished last at his past three starts and he has been beaten by 150m, 85.4m and 124.1m - a combined total of 359.5m. At the end of May Ohoka Darcy resumed after a short spell when he gave an impressive display to win by five lengths from A Bit Ruthless after being checked and breaking into a gallop and then racing three wide for most of the 1776m journey. He then raced in the first week of June, July and August when he galloped at the start of a stand and finished a distant last at Gloucester Park and then broke in running in mobile events and finished last at Narrogin and Gloucester Park. “He raced three wide the trip for his first-up win at Wagin,” Turvey said. “He went really good, but I don’t know whether that hurt him a bit. After that, he got a bit agitated and started going rough and galloping. So, I turned him out to freshen him up. “I took him to the trials at Pinjarra on Sunday and I didn’t push him. I just wanted him to go to the line feeling good. He did and felt real good (in finishing fourth behind Lady Dupree in a field of five). “He will start from barrier one on Friday night and is a capable leader. I’ll play things by ear. It doesn’t look good, looking at his numerical form. But at his latest start he was going to run third behind Vultan Tin and Sprinter before he galloped.” Ohoka Darcy won at three of his eight starts in New Zealand and his 23 starts in Western Australia have produced eight wins and four placings. He is sure to meet extremely stiff opposition on Friday night from the speedy five-year-old Just Bet On Black, who is trained and driven by Colin Brown and will start from the No. 3 barrier on the front line. Brown’s team has been firing lately and smart punters are sure to rally to support Just Bet On Black, who possesses excellent gate speed and has a fine record of ten wins and eight placings from only 27 starts.   Ken Casellas

Speedy pacer Franco Rayner will resume after a three-month absence when he will start from the outside of the front line (No. 9) in the 2130m $23,000 Retravision Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. But Banjup trainer-reinsman Colin Brown said that he is not intending to use the four-year-old’s blistering gate speed and that he would be driving the gelding conservatively. “I’m thinking that he is forward enough to be competitive, but we won’t be hurling out of the gate,” Brown said. “We know that he’s got very high gate speed, but I just don’t think he’s fit enough at this stage of his preparation to use that and still run a race at the end. “He is essentially a beach horse, and with the recent wintry weather we haven’t been able to work him how we would like. He’s had a lot of work, but I really don’t know where he’s at.” Two starts ago, on May 12, Franco Rayner started from the No. 9 barrier and revealed dazzling speed to charge straight to the front before setting a fast pace and winning easily from Naughty Maravu at a 1.55.8 rate over 1730m. Though most of his 16 wins from 45 starts have been when he has set the pace, Franco Rayner is also capable of unwinding a spirited finishing burst. The Justin Prentice-trained Natural Disaster is in top form and will have an army of supporters. He will start from the No. 7 barrier and should be prominent throughout in his bid to win for the ninth time from only 14 starts this season. In a strong field, Sprinter, Our Jericho, Vultan Tin, Mach Time and Harry Hoo will all have many admirers. Perhaps the main opposition to Natural Disaster will come from Sprinter and Our Jericho. Gary Elson, trainer of Sprinter, is confident the four-year-old will maintain his splendid form, even from the awkward draw of the inside of the back line. “He was superb in defeat at the hands of Vultan Tin at his latest run (last Friday week),” Elson said. In that event Sprinter started out wide at barrier seven and settled in ninth position before running home boldly from seventh at the bell to finish second, two and a half lengths behind the flying Vultan Tin, who opened up a lead of several lengths in the middle stages. The Ross Olivieri-trained Our Jericho will start out wide at barrier eight, but looks a strong chance after several excellent recent efforts, including two thirds behind star pacer Chicago Bull. Our Jericho has a losing sequence of 16, but is certainly capable of ending that run of outs. He has been freshened up since his good fourth behind Ideal Alice and Vultan Tin on July 21. Ken Casellas

Chris Voak has given punters a valuable lead by opting to drive veiled Secret in preference to Captured Delight in the Choices Flooring Pace for two-year-old fillies at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He has driven both fillies to victory at their most recent outing, scoring with the Ross Olivieri-trained Veiled Secret at Pinjarra on July 31 when the Tinted Cloud filly raced wide early and then without cover before beating Orphan Reactor at a 1.57.4 rate over 1684m. That was Veiled Secret’s first win from six starts. She will begin from barrier three on the back line on Friday night. Voak drove the Terry Ferguson-trained Captured Delight when she raced wide early from barrier four, took the lead after 300m and won by a head from Rosies Ideal at a 1.58.9 rate over 2130m at Gloucester Park last Friday week. Captured Delight won at her previous start when driven by Michael Grantham --- when she raced without cover before beating Ella Gant Player and All Over Tan over 2130m at Gloucester Park. Ferguson has engaged Dylan Egerton-Green for the filly on Friday night when she will start out wide at barrier eight on the front line. Grantham will drive the polemarker Muffins, and trainer Michael Brennan is confident she will improve on her encouraging fourth behind Havarti over 1684m at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon. Havarti, trained by Rob MacDonald at Pinjarra, revealed excellent gate speed from barrier four when she led all the way on Monday and beat Orphan Reactor by just under three lengths when having her first start for two months. Havarti will start from the No. 5 barrier, with another fast beginner and excellent frontrunner All Over Tan at barrier four. All Over Tan, trained at Byford by Peter Anderson, will be driven by Chris Lewis and will take a power of beating if she is able to burst to an early lead. Banjup trainer-reinsman Colin Brown was impressed with Fortunate Adda’s win on debut at Northam on Tuesday of last week and is looking for another strong showing from barrier six on Friday night.    Fortunate Adda raced outside the pacemaker Wilkins Medinahall before beating that filly after final quarters in 29.6sec. and 28.9sec. “What I know from the track is that she can run a 27sec. quarter,” Brown said. “What I don’t know is how many (27sec. quarters) she’s got. She’s probably got only one. She’s got gate speed and high speed at the end of her race … so who knows? Hopefully, I can put her in the race at some stage. “She’s a nice filly, has been well educated and has been in work for a long time. She has been well schooled. Two-year-olds don’t normally win first-up, especially against the experienced ones. I don’t know how tough she is. At Northam, she faced the breeze and we were lucky enough to be able to rate back, and the leader let us get a 31.4sec. and 32.4sec. for the first two quarters. She really only had to go the last 600m.” The best-performed filly in the race is Rosies Ideal, who has had eight starts for Pinjarra trainer-reinsman Shane Young for three wins and two placings. Rosies Ideal will be seriously tested from the outside (No. 9) on the front line, but she has the spirit and strength to overcome that distinct disadvantage. Ken Casellas

Mitch Maguire put up such a remarkable performance to buck the odds and win at Pinjarra last Monday week that he should continue his winning ways by proving the master of his rivals in the $23,000 Milwaukee 18V Fuel Heavy Duty WA Derby Prelude over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Several outstanding three-year-olds will contest Friday night’s event, but Mitch Maguire, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, has won with such authority at his past three starts that he should capitalise on his favourable barrier at No. 2 on the front line and notch his 11th win from 17 starts and his ninth win from ten starts in Western Australia. Colin Brown will handle Mitch Maguire, replacing the suspended Ryan Warwick, who has driven the colt at all of his nine WA outings. At Pinjarra on Monday of last week, Mitch Maguire started off 30m in a 2631m stand. He galloped badly and settled down some 20 lengths behind the early leader. He improved to be eighth at the bell and he sprinted brilliantly 550m from home to burst to the front at the 300m mark and then he coasted to victory at a 1.59 rate. “It was a tremendous run,” said stable driver Ryan Bell. “We clocked him off the video to go his final mile and a half in 2min. 52sec.” Bell said that he did not expect Friday night’s race to be a walk in the park for Mitch Maguire. “He’s got very good gate speed, but so have Im The Best (barrier one) and Herrick Roosevelt (three) and there might be fireworks early.” Bell will drive Mitch Maguire’s stablemate Rock Diamonds from barrier five, for the first time in a race. “It’s a tricky draw and we’ll probably stay out of trouble and do our best work late,” he said. Rock Diamonds has shown excellent promise and has won at eight of his ten starts in WA. Ace trainer Gary Hall sen. Will be represented by Herrick Roosevelt, who has made most of the running to win easily at his only two starts --- at Bunbury and Gloucester Park in December. He is favourably drawn at barrier three on the front line and will be driven by Clint Hall. Gary Hall jun. will continue as the driver of the Michael Brennan-trained Im Rockaria, who has won at ten of his 17 starts and is awkwardly drawn at barrier seven. Kim Prentice will drive Mustang Bart, a newcomer from Victoria who has drawn the inside of the back line for his WA debut for Victorian trainer Gary Barton. Mustang Bart has had 14 starts for three wins in Victoria and one in New South Wales.   Ken Casellas

Kiwi Legend, described by his trainer Mike Reed as a very good horse who is on target for the Interdominion Championship series and the WA Pacing Cup next summer, looks a star bet in the opening event, the 2536m Retravision Pace, at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The New Zealand-bred five-year-old will start out wide at barrier seven in the field of eight, but that should prove no obstacle as he attempts to notch his twelfth win from 30 starts. He will be handled by Shannon Suvaljko, who returned to action in dashing style at Gloucester Park on Tuesday evening after serving a term of suspension when he landed a double with 2/1 favourite and pacemaker Artistic Lilly and 10/1 chance Plati, who charged home with a brilliant burst of speed. Kiwi Legend bounced back to top form last Friday night when he began speedily from barrier seven and got a half-length in front of 5/2 on favourite Bungalow Bill in the early stages. But Colin Brown then was content to rate Kiwi legend in the breeze and the gelding surged to the front 110m from home and won easily from Bungalow Bill at a 1.56.4 rate over 2130m, with final sectionals of 28.6sec. and 27.8sec. “He won very well and Colin said he was bolting and could’ve gone to the front leaving the back straight in the last lap,” Reed said. And Brown said: “He won with the ear plugs in and with a leg in the air.” Reed said that Kiwi Legend (who has earned $166,685 from 11 wins, eight seconds and three thirds from just 29 starts) would contest the $35,000 Alltools Four and Five-Year-Old Championship on Friday week before being sent for a spell. Reed has good prospects of a quinella result in Friday night’s race, with Foxy Dame, to be driven by Brown, favourably drawn at the No. 2 barrier. Foxy Dame started from the back line and impressed when she finished powerfully from sixth at the bell to win narrowly from Bad Round and Questionable Gesture at a 1.57.4 rate over 2130m last Friday night. Mexicano (barrier one) and the promising, lightly-raced Talktomeurmattjesty have place prospects. Talktomeurmattjesty, to be driven by Chris Lewis for Busselton owner-trainer Barry Howlett, has raced only 13 times for seven wins and five placings. He is awkwardly drawn at barrier six. Ken Casellas

Kiwi Legend, the youngest and least experienced runner in the Abbott and Company Printers $35,000 Lord Mayor’s Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night, is a smart frontrunner whose prospects of a harness racing victory in the group 3 feature event soared when he drew the prized No. 1 barrier. The only time New Zealand-bred Art Major five-year-old has started from barrier one in 23 starts in Western Australia was three starts ago when he led and won easily from Tact Major and Ohoka Assassin over 2130m at Gloucester Park on September 16, speeding over the final 400m in 27.5sec. Kiwi Legend, trained at Henley Brook by Mike Reed, warmed up for Friday night’s Cup in impressive style last Friday week when he started from the outside barrier (No. 9) and was restrained to the rear before surging home from tenth (and last) at the bell to finish second to Bronze Seeker over 2536m. He was sixth on the home turn. That was his first outing for 16 weeks. His previous appearance was on September 23 when he led from barrier two and won from Swimbetweentheflags and Vertical Four at a 1.55.8 over 2130m. Kiwi Legend, who has raced only 25 times for nine wins, eight seconds and three thirds, gave a sample of his class last season when he finished second to star pacer Beaudiene Boaz in the group 1 Golden Nugget in December 2015. He will be driven for the first time this week by Colin Brown, who has yet to win a Lord Mayor’s Cup. He has been placed three times in this event in recent years --- second with Demoralizer in 2007, second with Can Return Fire in 2011 and third with Lombo Pocket Watch in 2012. Reed has fond memories of the Lord Mayor’s Cup, having prepared and driven Manageable to a notable victory over Morgan James and Village Kid in 1988. Village Kid won the Lord Mayor’s Cup four times (1985-86 and 1989-90) with Chris Lewis in the sulky. Lewis has also been successful in this event with Ballantines (1992), Desert Patrol (1993), Royal Motoring (1998) and Ohoka Ace (2005). Lewis had the choice between Bronze Seeker and Tuxedo Tour in Friday night’s race and he has opted for Bronze Seeker, who will start from the outside of the back line. Stuart McDonald has been engaged to handle Tuxedo Tour, who will be having his first start for Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri. Tuxedo Tour, a good frontrunner, is handily drawn at No. 2 on the front line and is sure to have admirers. He has not appeared since he raced three back on the pegs and faded to last behind Mynameskenny over 2130m on December 16. Bronze Seeker is racing with commendable enthusiasm and is capable of unwinding a spirited finishing burst. His Peter Anderson-trained stablemate Lisharry will be driven by Michael Grantham from barrier two on the back line. He raced one-out and one-back and ran home strongly when second to Flaming Flutter over 2536m last Friday night. He was a fast-finishing winner over Three Bears at Pinjarra four days earlier. Millionaire pacer David Hercules looms as a major winning chance at his fourth start after a lengthy injury-enforced absence. The David Thompson-trained ten-year-old is awkwardly drawn at No. 6 on the front line, but he is capable of overcoming that disadvantage. He has fought on solidly at his past two starts for third placings behind Ideal Alice and Flaming Flutter. He will again be driven by Morgan Woodley, who has won the Lord Mayor’s Cup with Mysta Magical Mach in 2009 and 2013 and with Another One For Me in 2012. Adding considerable interest to this week’s Cup will be the return to WA racing of smart pacer Condrieu, a seven-year-old who has returned to the Forrestdale stables of leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond after John McCarthy started the New Zealand-bred gelding 15 times at Menangle in the past year for wins in 1.52.4 and 1.51.5 over 1609m. Nathan Turvey will drive Condrieu from barrier four on the front line. The Bonds will also be represented by Courage Tells (Ryan Bell) and Bettor Offer (Ryan Warwick). Both pacers have each-way prospects, with Bettor Offer, drawn on the inside of the back line, a strong winning chance. Ken Casellas

Richly-talented harness racing four-year-old Delightful Offer has made a complete recovery from a damaged suspensory ligament and will reappear after a nine-month absence when he contests the Devils Lair Classic Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Greg Bond, who prepares the New Zealand-bred Bettor's Delight gelding in partnership with his wife Skye, said that Delightful Offer would be set for feature summer carnival events, including the rich interdominion championship series in November and December if he remained sound and regained the wonderful form which saw him win at nine of his 12 starts in Western Australia. “He’s been back in work a fair while and he’s fit and forward and ready to run a good race,” he said. “If he stands up I’ll probably nominate him for the big races. We’ll see what he does in the next month to six weeks and go from there.” Delightful Offer has been off the scene since finishing fourth behind Run Oneover and Beaudiene Boaz in a listed classic for four-year-olds at Pinjarra on November 9 last year. He had won at his six previous starts, including victory in the group 3 Higgins Memorial at Gloucester Park when he finished second behind Another Vinnie after a torrid run in the breeze and then being severely checked 250m from home when his stablemate Condrieu broke in front. Later, Delightful Offer was awarded the race after Another Vinnie was disqualified. Delightful Offer, to be driven by Colin Brown, is unlikely to have things all his own way on Friday night when he will have to overcome the awkward drawn at No. 5 on the front line. The unfancied Bettor Party (who has a losing sequence of nine) runs his best races when he leads and Bronson Chabros is likely to attempt to take full advantage of the favourable No. 1 barrier by setting the pace. Serpentine trainer Gary Hall sen. holds a strong hand in the race, with Ideal Justice (a winner at nine of his 16 starts) and American Boy (a winner at 14 of his 19 starts) sure to be prominent. Gary Hall jun. will drive Ideal Justice from barrier two, with his elder brother Clint in the sulky behind American Boy, who faces a hard task from barrier nine. Hall sen. said that he was confident that Ideal Justice would run a big race, saying: “He’s getting better with every run.” Ideal Justice was far from disgraced last Friday night when he worked hard without cover and fought on gamely to finish third behind the pacemaker Northern Assassin. Bond said that it would be wise not to discount the prospects of his second string runner Ima Connoisseur, who has been placed at each of his past four starts. “He is racing very well and must be considered from the inside of the back line,” he said. Adding considerable spice to the race will be the return to racing of star mare Libertybelle Midfrew, an M9-class performer who will start out wide at barrier eight with Mark Reed in the sulky. This will be Libertybelle Midfrew’s first appearance since she finished last in the WA Pacing Cup last January. She is the winner of 16 races and $567,147 in prizemoney and she warmed up for her first-up assignment with a smart trial win at a 1.58.3 rate over 2150m at Byford on Sunday morning. She dashed over the final 400m in 27.9sec. and she was timed at 27.3sec. over the final quarter when second to Smo in a trial a week earlier. Ken Casellas

Talented New Zealand-bred filly Angel Bromac is on target to emulate her close relative Arma Xpress by proving too speedy for her rivals in the KAI Construction Gold Bracelet over 2130m at Gloucester Park harness racing  on Friday night .Arma Xpress set the pace and beat the Kim Prentice-trained and driven Eagle Rox by a half-length in the group 3 Gold Bracelet in 2012. Prentice also trains and drives Angel Bromac and he has high hopes of making amends for Eagle Rox’s narrow defeat by winning this week’s classic.  A convincing victory certainly would tempt Prentice to set Angel Bromac for the rich Golden Slipper the following Friday night. Arma Xpress completed the Gold Bracelet-Golden Slipper double four years ago, but she suffered a career-ending knee injury 18 months later and had to be retired with a record of 12 wins and one second from 18 starts for stakes of $279,890. The inexperienced Angel Bromac, owned by Robert Watson, is the first foal out of Falcon Seelster mare Amaretto Bromac, a half-sister to Arma Antoinette, the dam of Arma Xpress. Angel Bromac’s winning prospects soared when she drew the prized No. 1 barrier in Friday night’s classic. She possesses sparkling gate speed and Prentice is sure to plan for an all-the-way win. Angel Bromac is the least experienced runner in the field of ten, with only two starts, both at Gloucester Park. She made her debut on May 24 when she dashed to an early lead and went on to win by three lengths from Miss Twiggy Whitby at a 1.57.6 rate over 1730m. Then, on June 3 she was a 9/1 chance from the outside of the back line in the $100,000 Diamond Classicwhen she mustered great early pace to charge into the breeze after 450m. Prentice then applied considerable pressure on the pacemaker Red Hot Roxy which saw the first two quarters of the final mile whizz by in 28.8sec. and 28.1sec. Angel Bromac eventually got to the front 440m from home before she was swamped by the fast-finishing Lady Luca in the final 80m and finished a 2m second to that filly, who rated 1.55.6 over the 1730m journey. The Justin Prentice-trained Lady Luca, who finished boldly from sixth in the one-wide line at the bell, will start from barrier five in this week’s race and cannot be underestimated. However, Maczaffair (barrier three) and Doalittlerocknroll (two) look the toughest for Angel Bromac to beat. Maczaffair, trained by Mike Reed and to be driven by his son Mark, has excellent gate speed and she has won easily at her past three starts. She impressed at her most recent start, at Gloucester Park last Monday week, when she started from the outside (No. 9) and began fast to race three wide for the first 450m before bursting to the front and going on to win by two and a half lengths from Sarah Goody, rating 1.58.2 over 1730m. Doalittlerocknroll overcame the disadvantage of starting out wide at barrier eight to win the group 1 $100,000 Westbred Classic last Friday night. A 14/1 chance for trainer-reinsman Justin Prentice, Doalittlerocknroll settled down in eighth place before moving up to third (three wide) at the bell and sustaining her strong burst to overhaul the 5/4 on favourite Red Hot Roxy in the final stages to score by a head. Beach Goddess, a stablemate of Maczaffair, has raced eight times for four wins and three seconds and will have admirers. She will start from the No. 6 barrier with Colin Brown in the sulky. Ken Casellas

Smart harness racing youngster Bettor Not Bitter should prove to be the bet of the night at Gloucester Park on Friday evening by proving the master of his 11 older and more experienced opponents in the 2130m Led Goldfields Westbred Pace. “He’s a nice horse who is being set for the $100,000 Westbred Classic for three-year-old colts and geldings the following Friday night,” said Forrestdale horseman Greg Bond, who prepares the gelding in partnership with his wife Skye. Bettor Not Bitter will be driven by Colin Brown and will start from the No. 5 barrier. He has had 15 starts for four wins and five placings and should be too smart for his rivals, who have managed just 55 wins from a combined total of 633 starts. At his most recent outing Bettor Not Bitter set the pace and finished second to It Aint Royal over 2130m at Gloucester Park on May 27. That followed wins at Narrogin and Bunbury and a fighting second to Mach Time at Gloucester Park after working hard out three wide and then in the breeze. “He’s had a couple of easy weeks and this will be his tune-up for the Westbred final,” Bond said. “To have a chance of winning that race or if you’re going to be in the cut-up you would like to think that he’s got to be hard to beat this week. “All’s good at home with him. He had a few runs as a two-year-old and you could see he was going to improve with time. And he has done that. He’s a developing horse who is going to do a nice job.” Ken Casellas

A dramatic change in his training routine has revitalised Erskine Range and ace trainer-reinsman Colin Brown is confident that the six-year-old chestnut can overcome the back mark of 20m and prove the master of his nine harness racing rivals in the Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “It’s not beyond him to win from there, and though I’ve got respect for several runners in the race, Erskine Range is ready for a strong effort,” Brown said. “We’ve changed his work right around. We have tried to make him a bit sharper and he’s gone back to trackwork, doing the two one-mile heats (at ten-minute intervals at the Jandakot track). He is working those heats very well and is very keen. “Previously he has never trackworked; he’s always galloped at the beach or on a sand track. The signs now are very good. He’s doing it very easily and the change seems to have brightened him.” Erskine Range, who has amassed $245,300 from his 25 wins and 16 placings from 71 starts, is an M5-class pacer and from the 20m mark he meets his M0, M1, M2 and M3 rivals on excellent terms. Under automatic handicapping conditions Erskine Range would start off the 40m mark. Despite this advantage Erskine Range will meet stiff opposition from smart pacers, including Atlastalone, Major Catastrophe, Simply Susational and Sonic Classic, as well as last-start winner Eminence Grise. Boyanup trainer said that Atlastalone (10m) should prove to be hard to beat. “He’s in career-best form and I’ve left Brayden (Green) on because he has driven him in outstanding style for wins at his past two starts,” Prentice said. “Those wins were in mobile, but he is good out of a stand. And he worked very well today (Tuesday).” The David Young-trained Major Catastrophe is a redoubtable stayer who is racing enthusiastically and looks hard to beat. Punters are also likely to rally behind Simply Susational, a winner at 12 of his 36 starts. Simply Susational, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, reappeared after an absence of nine months when he worked hard without cover and wilted to finish fifth behind Donegal Chokin in a 2503m stand at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week. He won at ten of his previous 16 starts (as a four-year-old) and is most capable of making amends for his first-up unplaced effort. by Ken Casellas Fields for Gloucester Park, Friday 18 March 2016 Form guide for Gloucester Park, Friday 18 March 2016

Harness racing veteran Byford trainer Tony Svilicich is renowned for his great success with pacers with an iron constitution and the ability to race for lengthy periods and in several events in a short space of time. He now declares that hardy 11-year-old Shardons Rocket is “super fit” and is cherry ripe to contest his third race in the space of eight days when he runs in the $23,000 Ray Duffy Memorial over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night - his 250th carreer start. “Three races in a week is good for him because he’s super fit,” Svilicich said. “In between these runs I do less than nothing with him. “He has drawn out wide at barrier seven and I will instruct Colin Brown to go forward and attempt to lead. The horse just wants to go, go, go. I’ll tell Colin to try to get to the front because he can run the distance faster than the others. “If he gets to the front he will win. But if he stays in the breeze and pulls hard, he won’t. That’s his downfall, pulling hard when in the breeze.” Svilicich was extremely happy with the way Shardons Rocket mustered great early speed from the No. 7 barrier at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon when Brown dashed him to the front after 250m and then, with a wing on every foot, led his rivals on a merry dance and scored a decisive victory over Walter James and Machs A Pearler, rating 1.55.9 over 2692m. After quarters in 29.6sec. and 28.5sec., he dashed over the final sections in 27.9sec. and 29.1sec. Asked the reasons why Shardons Rocket had recently turned the corner with two wins and a fast-finishing second to Fernleigh Rebel from his past four starts, the wily Svilicich said: “You have to use your head. The secret is to watch what went wrong and then work to correct the problem.” Before his recent wins Shardons Rocket had a losing sequence of 12 (including just one second and two thirds). Svilicich shed no light on his recipe for success with old pacers who continued to relish racing and win many races in gruelling campaigns of many successive months of two and three starts a week. The evergreen Shardons Rocket has raced 249 times for 37 wins and 75 placings for earnings of $514,820 to follow in the footsteps of previous Svilicich iron horses, including Of Auld Aberdeen (279 starts for 40 wins, 63 placings and $235,201), Digger of Fortune (183 starts for 41 wins, 32 placings and $265,063), Demoralizer (186 starts for 26 wins, 49 placings and $358,199), Has The Answers (240 starts for 76 wins, 65 placings and $1,326,582) and Mysta Magical Mach (160 starts for 34 wins, 54 placings and $1,261,371). A disciple of vitamin supplements and a regimen of driving an old vehicle to chase his pacers around a paddock to keep them fit, Svilicich declares he has no secret or mysterious methods to maintain his remarkable record with veteran pacers who thrive on racing two and three times a week for lengthy periods. There is little doubt that Shardons Rocket will make a determined bid to set the pace on Friday night, but out-of-form eight-year-old Local Rogue could prove a difficult obstacle from the coveted No. 1 barrier if Chris Voak uses the pacer’s excellent gate speed. The speedy Glenlochar (barrier six) could also challenge for the early lead. Lisharry, This Time Dylan and El Machine will have admirers. They should appreciate a drop in class after their unplaced efforts in Monday’s Pinjarra Cup. Ken Casellas Fields for Gloucester Park, Friday 11 March 2016 Form guide for Gloucester Park, Friday 11 March 2016

With his win at Bunbury last night behind the Greg and Skye Bond trained $51.50 chance Jumbo Jet champion harness racing reinsman Colin Brown brought up his 2800th winner in a career spanning some 39 years. Of that tally 369 have been for the Greg and Skye Bond training partnership. Brown drove his first winner on 9th October 1976 at the now defunct York track behind a gelding called Go To It which was trained by Brown’s mentor Jim Schrader. “Jimmy gave us more speeches about life than he did about training and driving although he didn’t always practise what he preached”, Brown said recently. Schrader never rushed the careers of aspiring young reinsmen and both Brown and Schrader’s son Peter went through three six-month Reinsman’s Schools before they were allowed to apply for their country licence. “It was a lot harder than it is now. At that time drivers were allowed to push out at anytime in races and there were a host of old-time hard-school drivers out there and they were very good at driving on the margin”, Brown said. It was almost impossible to hold your position when the likes of a Jim Schrader or Alan Woodworth decided that they wanted to get away from the rails”, he added. Among Western Australian reinsmen only Chris Lewis (4803) has driven more winners. While Lewis has won a number of both State and Perth drivers premierships Brown is yet to win such a title with his best efforts being three times runner-up in the Perth Drivers Premiership behind Chris Lewis, Fred Kersley and Trevor Warwick. Alan Parker

Ace harness racing trainer-reinsman Colin Brown concedes that Calais is a better pacer than his runner Driven, but he is quietly confident that Driven will beat Calais in the 2130m Happy 30th Richie Polak Pathway Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Seven-year-old Driven will start from the No. 1 barrier and Brown plans to set the pace, with five-year-old Calais most likely to be given the task of working hard in the breeze after starting from the No. 2 barrier. Driven, who has managed just one win (when he led from barrier one at Northam six starts ago) from his past 18 starts, had no luck at all when he started out wide at barrier seven in a 2130m event at Gloucester Park last Friday night. He was ninth (and last) at the bell and was blocked for a clear passage in the final circuit when a close-up sixth behind Suspicious Behavia. “I think that Calais may be a better horse than Driven and in 12 months’ time we’ll see Calais possibly a lot better advanced than Driven,” Brown said. “However, Driven is a very good frontrunner and in front he can run time. This really looks his chance on a Friday night to win a Pathway. “He’s now in the form to win an M0. All he has to do is draw (favourably). He is no superstar, but he’s well and truly on top of his game.” Driven, who was a consistent performer at Menangle for Blake Fitzpatrick, was purchased last year by clients of Brown’s stable and made a successful start to his Western Australian career with three wins in Kalgoorlie last November. Calais, trained and driven in his races by Robbie Williams, shows excellent promise and looks certain to improve dramatically on his record of three wins and seven placings from 16 starts. He had a tough run in the breeze when a fighting second to Ohoka Cooper over 2536m on Tuesday of last week. That followed excellent seconds to Bungalow Bill at his two previous starts. Adding interest to Friday night’s event will be the appearance of the Ray Williams-trained Three Kings, who will start from barrier four with Nathan Turvey in the sulky. Three Kings resumed after a spell at Kellerberrin on Sunday when he sustained a strong finishing burst to win from Just Jamie over 2530m. by Ken Casellas Related Links Fields for Gloucester Park, Friday 18 September 2015 Form guide for Gloucester Park, Friday 18 September 2015

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