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Outstanding young reinsman Dylan Egerton-Green is poised to achieve a wonderful and well-deserved milestone this week by landing his 100th winner for the season. He chalked up his 99th success at Gloucester Park on Tuesday evening when he drove 5/1 chance Mandy Joan to a stylish victory over the pacemaker My Prayer in a 2130m event for three-year-old fillies. Mandy Joan was restrained from barrier seven and settled at the rear before Egerton-Green brought her home with a storming three-wide burst. The victory gave Byford trainer David Thompson a welcome present for his 56th birthday which he will celebrate on Friday. The 26-year-old Egerton-Green is rapidly becoming one of the State’s finest drivers and he has already surpassed his previous most successful season when he won 69 races last season. “It’s always been an ambition to drive a hundred winners in a season,” he said. “Originally, I thought I’d have my best season when I had a claim. I lost my claim about three years ago and I’ve just been chipping away.” His victory with Mandy Joan was tinged with considerable sadness. Earlier in the day, Egerton-Green had attended the funeral of 20-year-old Lockie Hernaman, a close friend and teammate at the Harvey Bulls football club. Egerton-Green should bring up his century of winners this week either at the meeting at Narrogin on Friday night or at Gloucester Park the following evening. He has six drives at Narrogin and his better chances appear to lie with last-start winner She Said Diamonds in race one and the consistent Ultimate Offer, who is favourably drawn at barrier two in the fifth event. Egerton-Green is also looking forward to a busy night at Gloucester Park on Saturday where he has a drive in eight of the ten events. He is enthusiastic about the prospects of the Dennis Roche-trained Jaxon Jones in the opening event, the Christmas In July at the Beau Rivage Pace for two-year-olds. He has driven the gelding to impressive all-the-way victories at Bunbury at his past two starts. At his latest outing Jaxon Jones sprinted home over the final quarter in 27.5sec. and defeated Jaspervellabeach (unbeaten at his three previous starts) and Major Martini (who had won at each of his two starts). “You must respect Jaxon Jones, who beat a horse who had won at his only three starts,” Egerton-Green said. “Every time he has gone around Jaxon Jones has got better and better and I can’t see why he can’t go better this week. The draw (No. 3) makes it a bit harder because he can’t lead this week. But I really like the horse.” Egerton-Green also will drive six pacers from the stables of leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond with his best prospect among them expected to be Mighty Santana in race seven. He was impressed when he drove Mighty Santana for the only time in a 2631m stand at Pinjarra three starts ago when the five-year-old raced in the breeze for much of the way and won easily by two lengths from Captured Delight.   Ken Casellas

Astute Byford trainer David Thompson holds a strong hand in the opening event at Gloucester Park on Friday night with three runners in the 2130m Retravision Westbred Pace and in-form young reinsman Dylan Egerton-Green has given punters a valuable lead by choosing to drive Liam Neil in preference to stablemates in preference to Whoswhointhezoo and Our Perkins. Thompson has got away to a flying start in the 2018-19 season with six wins and three placings from his first 12 starters, while Egerton-Green is in seventh position in the Statewide drivers’ premiership table with seven winners and 31 placegetters. Four-year-old Liam Neil is in sparkling form, with three wins and a last-start third to The Art Form from his past four starts. He will start from barrier six in the field of nine, with Whoswhointhezoo (barrier two) and Our Perkins (three) are better drawn. Stuart McDonald will drive Whoswhointhezoo, an all-the-way winner over subsequent city winner Lot Twenty One two starts ago, and Aiden de Campo has been engaged for Our Perkins, who led and won for Egerton-Green at Pinjarra three starts ago. Liam Neil is by Modern Art and is out of Jane Elouise, a winner of four races from 14 starts, including the group 3 Sales Classic for two-year-old fillies at Gloucester Park in February 2006. Liam Neil is a half-brother to three winners, including Soho Jackman, who earned $282,518 from 26 wins and 25 placings from 94 starts. Liam Neil is the youngest runner in Friday night’s race, which promises to provide a keen struggle for early ascendancy between the polemarker Bhagwan (Mitch Miller) and the massive gelding Whoswhointhezoo. Liam Neil possesses a strong finishing burst and he and he and the Aiden Warwick-trained Hastalavista will have many admirers. Hastalavista, who will be driven by Aldo Cortopassi, is awkwardly drawn at barrier eight, but the six-year-old has the ability to overcome this significant disadvantage. He was placed once from four starts as a four-year-old and reappeared in August after a 13-month absence. His six outings in this campaign have produced five wins and a second placing. The Neil Lloyd-trained Bhagwan is an M2-class performer and the noted frontrunner is sure to appreciate meeting lower-assessed rivals on extremely favourable terms.   Ken Casellas

David Hercules, one of the best pacers ever bred in Western Australia, has made a remarkable recovery from a serious tendon injury and has come out of retirement to continue his fabulous harness racing career after an absence of 17 months. The equine millionaire, now a ten-year-old, will return to action when he starts from the outside in a field of nine in race seven at Gloucester Park on Friday night, a $23,000 event over 2130m which features Cyamach, an all-the-way winner of the TABtouch Inter Dominion championship consolation over 2936m last Friday night. “He’s fully fit and ready to go,” said breeder Steve Johnson, whose wife Jeneen races the gelding in partnership with David Botha. David Hercules last appeared when he started at 2/1 on and raced in the breeze outside the pacemaker Soho Highroller before wilting to fifth behind the fast-finishing My Hard Copy over 2130m at Gloucester Park on July 10, 2015. He was retired by trainer David Thompson two months later with a wonderful record of 104 starts for 39 wins, 18 seconds and 15 thirds for earnings of $1,259,019. His wins included four in group 1 events, six at group 2 level and four in group 3 races. Purchased as a yearling in 2008 for $15,000, David Hercules has won 27 times at Gloucester Park. Thirteen of those wins were over 2130m, the distance of this week’s event. He was named the WA Horse of the Year for the 2014-15 season at the WA Standardbred Breeders Association awards night after his victories that season included the Fremantle and Pinjarra Cups and the Village Kid Sprint. David Hercules, a versatile performer with wonderful natural speed, has overcome many setbacks in an up-and-down career. He almost died after suffering from a virus in Melbourne following his unplaced effort in the Breeders Crown for two-year-olds. And his career was in serious doubt when he was badly affected by a soft palate breathing problem as a five-year-old. He recovered after surgery in Melbourne. Thompson has given David Hercules a slow and steady program in his comeback campaign, culminating with impressive victories in four and five-horse trials over 2150m at Byford on the past three Sundays. In the first of those trials, on November 27, David Hercules rated 1.57.2 and beat Our Regal Ideal by 2m. A week later he beat Bettor Pack A Pistol by almost two lengths after dashing over the final two 400m sections in 29.7sec. and 27.4sec. Then last Sunday he rated 1.56.8, with final quarters in 29sec. and 27.4sec., and defeated Kiwi Legend by five and half lengths. He was handled in those trials by his regular reinsman Morgan Woodley, who will find things on Friday night considerably tougher against eight rivals, most of whom have been racing in good form. However, David Hercules represents the class in the field and he has bright prospects of making a successful comeback. Cyamach and Waylade, trained at Serpentine by Gary Hall sen., competed meritoriously during the Interdominion championship series and they will have many admirers. Gary Hall jun. will drive Cyamach from barrier three and he is sure to be anxious to burst to an early lead. However, Cyamach is not certain to get to the front in the early stages, with noted frontrunner Red Salute drawn inside of him at barrier two. Red Salute, prepared at Oakford by Ross Olivieri, set the pace when a sound second to the talented Delightful Offer over 2100m at Bunbury two starts ago and he was an all-the-way winner over 2130m at Gloucester Park three starts before that. Waylade (Clint Hall) finished strongly to win from brilliant stablemate Beaudiene Boaz over 2130m at Gloucester Park five starts ago and he maintained that form during the Inters series with a third behind Bling It On and a fourth behind Hectorjayjay. Chris Voak will drive Mynameskenny for trainer John Oldroyd and though awkwardly drawn at barrier six the five-year-old cannot be underestimated. He has won at 20 of his 39 starts. Drawn on his inside at barrier five is 12-year-old Shardons Rocket, a veteran of 286 starts who continues to race with commendable spirit. Another evergreen pacer is nine-year-old Lisharry, who caught the eye when he finished strongly to be third behind VC Manoeuvre and Delightful Offer last Friday night. Ken Casellas

Western Australia’s best pacer and leading chance in the 2015 TabTouch Inter Dominion Perth was handed a career ending blow last night. A tendon injury will see David Hercules retire from harness racing just 10 weeks out from Australasia’s greatest harness racing event. This was to be David Hercules third attempt at an Inters crown, having competed in 2012 and earlier this year in NSW. Trainer David Thompson said in an interview recently the horse meant everything to him. “He’s Part of the family, the chances of finding another one like him are slim” The 9yo son of Artesian last saw victory in June this year with a win in the $50,000 Pinjarra Cup, taking his career earnings to over $1.2m. The Byford based gelding was well travelled, having made the trip to the eastern states six times. From those interstate raids he walked away with 2 VicBred Super Series finals and a 4yo Breeders Crown Final. At home he was a hero. His first win was at Gloucester Park in just his third start, with big race success coming soon after - taking out the Sales and Champagne Classics as a 2yo. In his 3yo season he took out the Group 3 Caduceus Club Classic and the Group 3 Western Gateway before heading over east. As a 4yo the pacer saw success in the 4yo Classic and the Manea Classic before going to Melton for two Group 1 wins. A long list of consistent free-for-all performances followed, culminating in a dominant win in the $250,000 Fremantle cup in 2015. Trainer David Thompson said the horse had seen his fair share of issues, having gone under the knife a few years ago to fix a breathing issue, and having treatment for sore joints since he was 2 years old. “He’s never let us down, anytime he may not have lived up to expectations there has normally been something wrong” Herc will head to a breeding farm where he will accompany young foals after being weaned off their mother.  by Scott Hamilton

The two $100,000 Westbred finals for two year olds at the harness racing meeting at Gloucester Park on Friday night both fell to favoured runners. 2 year old fillies With the late scratching of Sheer Rocknroll, this race always looked like it was Dodolicious's to lose and that is exactly as it turned out. Allowed to settle three back in the running line early by driver Ryan Warwick, Dodolicious was set alight by Ryan passing the 1400 metres mark and swept to the lead with 1100 metres to run. From there it was always a matter of what she would win by and when Ryan gave her her head passing the 500 metres Dodolicious shot away for an emphatic victory. Jasmin Amal from the David Thompson camp and in the hands of Morgan Woodley made ground from well back and wide to run second ,16 metres from the winner in front of another big finisher in Malua Volio in the hands of trainer driver Justin Prentice. Dodolicious paced the 2130 metres in a smart 2:36.1, a mile rate of 1:58 with closing sectionals of 57.5 and 28.4.. Bred, raced and trained by high profile Perth trainer Greg Bond, Dodolicious is a daughter of champion sire Bettors Delight. Friday nights win was her fourth from just six starts and took her stake earnings to $83,843 View race replay here 2 year old colts/geldings This looked a hard race to call as the first three favourites all had similar records and as it turned out the draw was the determining factor in the end. The well supported Ross Ashby trained Johnny Disco with Chris Lewis in the bike lead easily from barrier one and kept up a very solid tempo throughout. The other two public elects in Rich Yankee and Lightning Jolt worked around to get handy with 1000 metres to go with Rich Yankee finding the breeze and Lightning Jolt the one by one. However when Chris Lewis pushed the go button at the 400 metres mark, Johnny Disco shot away and didn't have to driven out to record a comfortable victory. 120-1 chance Americanbootscoota in the the hands of Tom Buchanan had trailed Johnny Disco the whole way and poked up on the inner for second in front of Lightning Jolt and Rich Yankee. Johnny Disco paced the 2130 metres in 2:35.7, a mile rate of 1:57.6 with closing sectionals of 57.9 and 28.1. The son of Jeremes Jets has been a model of consistency in his debut season with three wins and four placings from his nine starts and stake earnings of $86,048 View race replay here Harnesslink Media  

Outstanding four-year-old Libertybelle Midfrew will have to end a 49-year hoodoo if she is to defy the odds and win the $35,000 Princi Butchers Winter Cup at the harness racing meeting at Gloucester Park on Friday night. No mare has been successful in the time-honoured group 3 Winter Cup since Phil Coulson drove Color Glo to victory in 1966. This week's Winter Cup, with a disappointing field of just six runners, is looming large as an enthralling clash between Libertybelle Midfrew and the State's best pacer, the evergreen eight-year-old David Hercules, who will start from the outside barrier. David Hercules, winner of 39 races and $1,252,269 in prizemoney, is certain to start an odds-on favourite, but with Libertybelle Midfrew drawn perfectly at the No. 1 barrier under the preferential draw conditions of the race some pundits will favour Libertybelle Midfrew's prospects of causing a boilover. Some students of form will point to the fact that Libertybelle Midfrew, a smart frontrunner, has not tasted defeat over 2536m, the distance of the Winter Cup. Her wins over 2536m have been in a prelude of the WA Oaks, the Oaks final and the Golden Nugget Championship last year and a Free-For-All early in May this year. And Libertybelle Midfrew has already proved that she is a pacer out of the ordinary when she bucked the trend by racing three wide for much of the journey before winning the Golden Nugget at 6/1 last December, beating the 11/8 favourite Waylade. She was only the second mare to win the Golden Nugget in the 35-year history of the classic. Trainer Mike Reed has freshened up Libertybelle Midfrew, who has not raced since finishing ninth behind David Hercules in the 2692m Pinjarra Cup on June 1. The New Zealand-bred mare started out wide from barrier seven and Mark Reed restrained her back to last in the field of 12. She was forced to race three and four wide in the final circuit and virtually had no chance with the pacemaking David Hercules reeling off final quarters in 27sec. and 28.5sec. on the way to winning from Our Jimmy Johnstone, rating 1.54.7 to set a track record for the journey. David Hercules also has not raced since the Pinjarra Cup, but his work has pleased Byford trainer David Thompson since that event. David Hercules, with Morgan Woodley in the sulky, started from the outside barrier in a field of five in a 2150m trial at Byford on Sunday morning and he ran home solidly from the one-out, one-back position to finish second, a half-length behind Libertybelle Midfrew, who had enjoyed a perfect trail behind the pacemaker Hokonui Ben. Libertybelle Midfrew rated 1.55.9 in the solidly-run trial, with the quarters in the final mile going by in 29.9, 28.3, 29 and 29. Friday night's Cup could well develop into a cat-and-mouse affair between Mark Reed and Woodley, with Woodley likely to assess the situation depending on the pace being set by Libertybelle Midfrew. It is more than likely that Woodley will send David Hercules forward in the first lap to sit outside the mare, or even in a bold bid to assume the role of pacemaker. Thompson and Woodley will be attempting to win the Winter Cup for the second year in a row. Twelve months ago David Hercules was favourite at 11/8 when 12 runners contested the Winter Cup. He started from barrier six and after racing four and three wide early, the gelding worked hard in the breeze outside the pacemaker Our Arlington before finishing strongly to win from Please Release Me and Ima Rocket Star. Last year's victory gave Woodley his second success in the Winter Cup, after succeeding with the Tony Svilicich-trained Has The Answers in 2011. Champion trainer Gary Hall sen. and champion reinsman Gary Hall jun. hope to continue their remarkable dominance of the Winter Cup by scoring with talented New Zealand-bred four-year-old Machtu, who has won at 13 of his 24 starts. The Hall stable nominated nine horses for the Cup, but decided to rely solely on Machtu after scratching My Hard Copy, Waylade, Hokonui Ben, Crusader Banner, Soho Jackman, Soho Highroller, Norvic Nightowl and Notabadexcuse. The 65-year-old Hall has trained the winner of the Winter Cup seven times and his 32-year-old son has driven the winner of the event six times. Hall sen. has won the Cup with Kaydee (1994), The Falcon Strike (2003), Inontheball (2004), Washakie (2008), Im Themightyquinn (2009 and 2013) and Davy Maguire (2012). Hall jun. has been the winning driver behind The Falcon Strike, Washakie, Im Themightyquinn (twice), Davy Maguire and Lookslikelightning in 2005. Machtu has raced three times since resuming after a five-month absence. He was first-up when he raced in the one-out, one-back position in the Pinjarra Cup before challenging for the lead 150m from the post and then wilting to third. He then set the pace and sprinted over the final 800m in 54.6sec. to score an effortless eight-length win over 2692m at Pinjarra and then started off 50m and worked hard when a fighting third to Danieljohn over 2631m at Pinjarra after getting to the front in the final stages. Ken Casellas

Isaiah Artois boasts a 58 per cent win record and the prospects of the noted frontrunner winning the $100,000 Westbred Classic for three-year-old colts and geldings at the harness racing meeting at Gloucester Park on Friday night were boosted when he drew perfectly at the No. 1 barrier. Byford trainer David Thompson has timed the gelding's preparation extremely well and Colin Brown will be aiming to set the pace and keep his 11 rivals at bay in the group 1 feature event. Isaiah Artois, a winner at seven of his 12 starts, resumed after an absence of almost 11 months when he overcame an early check and raced three wide before taking the lead 450m after the start in a 2185m event at Pinjarra three Mondays ago. He dashed over the final 800m in 57.3sec. and held on doggedly to beat the fast-finishing Wilkins Kahluastar by a neck. Then at Pinjarra eight days later he started from the back line and worked to the front in the middle stages before winning convincingly from Astra Boy. His chief rivals appear to be the Justin Prentice-trained pair of Captain Oats and Bettor Reward, Three Bears and Mynameskenny. Captain Oats notched his eighth win from 28 starts when he burst straight to the front from barrier seven and set the pace before winning easily from stablemate Master Jaxon in a 2100m $25,000 feature at Bunbury last Friday night. He sprinted over the final 400m in 27.7sec. Captain Oats will start from barrier five on the front line of nine runners and the highly-promising Bettor Reward will start from barrier two on the back line and prove hard to beat. Unraced as a two-year-old, Bettor Reward has been most impressive in winning, without being extended, at his three appearances as a three-year-old Bettor Reward's average winning margin is 11.4m. In his three wins, two at Bunbury and the other at Pinjarra, the gelding has recorded final quarters of 28.1sec., 27.3sec. and 27.5sec. Three Bears, trained at Busselton by Matt White, cannot be underestimated. He started out wide at barrier six at Bunbury last Friday night and after racing three wide early and then in the breeze he fought on strongly to be a neck second to Delightful Jade after a final quarter of 27.6sec. Ken Casellas

Twenty-three year old harness racing driver Caris Hamilton-Smith is drawn to bring up her second win in the 2014/15 Garrard’s Concession Drivers Challenge when she takes the reins behind the David Thompson trained Lombo Supremo at Northam tomorrow night. Hamilton-Smith will be having just her 28th drive for the season and eight of her previous 27 drives have come in Garrard’s Challenge races. The Garrard’s Challenge is designed to provide greater driving opportunities for the next generation of reinsmen and reinswomen. Lombo Supremo is ideally drawn in barrier three and at his only previous start at Northam earlier this season he led throughout from barrier two and won by the best part of 15 metres over the 2190 metre distance of tomorrow’s race. Hamilton-Smith’s only race win came behind Themightynadal in a heat of the Garrard’s Challenge at Pinjarra on January 5th. The fourth and final leg of the 2014/15 Garrard’s Concession Drivers Challenge Series Three will be run at Bunbury on Saturday night and last season’s winner Kristy Sheehy (61 points), Maddison Brown (59 points) and Cody Wallrodt (55 points) appear to have the title race to themselves. There are ten points available for a win, eight for second and seven for third and the leading trio’s closest rival has 38 points. Kristy Sheehy will drive the Ross Olivieri trained Awesome Desire at Northam and Art Of Illusion for Steve DeCampo at Bunbury. Maddison Brown will drive Blissntheblack for trainer Merv Jupp at Northam and the Terry Atkins trained Helushka at Bunbury. Cody Wallrodt doesn’t have a drive at Northam after his drive Ya Dreamin was scratched and he will receive four points for this missed drive, unless Jocelyn Young fails to obtain a medical clearance tomorrow morning following her fall at Pinjarra on Monday in which case he would pick up the drive on Hez The Artisan. Wallrodt will drive pole-marker Jasper Rox for trainer Kevin Egerton-Green in the race at Bunbury. The winner of Series Three will receive a $500 Garrard’s voucher plus a trophy while the overall Challenge winner will receive $2,000 cash plus trophy and the opportunity to represent Western Australian in the NSW Rising Stars Series next month. POINTS SERIES THREE 2014/15 GARRARD’S CONCESSION DRIVERS CHALLENGE   BUNBURY PINJARRA Total McDonough, B L (Bailey) 6 8 14 Sheehy, K S (Kristy) 4 10 14 Wallrodt, C L (Cody) 10 3 13 McDonald, S A (Stuart) 3 7 10 Chabros, B A (Bronson) 5 4 9 Ferguson, M B (Micheal) 7 2 9 Miller, M C (Mitchell) 8 1 9 Jones, L C (Lauren) 1 6 7 Brown, M K (Maddison) 1 5 6 Hamilton-Smith, C M (Caris) 2 1 3 Green, B E (Brayden) 1 1 2 Justins, J R (Jack) 1 0 1 OVERALL POINTS 2014/15 GARRARDS CONCESSION DRIVERS CHALLENGE   SERIES 1 SERIES 2 SERIES 3 Total Sheehy, K S (Kristy) 23 24 14 61 Brown, M K (Maddison) 29 24 6 59 Wallrodt, C L (Cody) 18 24 13 55 Grantham, M P (Michael) 26 12 0 38 Ferguson, M B (Micheal) 10 17 9 36 Barron, L (Letitia) 17 18 0 35 Jones, L C (Lauren) 22 4 7 33 McDonald, S A (Stuart) 20 0 10 30 Hamilton-Smith, C M (Caris) 8 18 3 29 Justins, J R (Jack) 14 12 1 27 McDonough, B L (Bailey) 0 12 14 26 Chabros, B A (Bronson) 13 0 9 22 King-Davies, C P (Cheyenne) 0 17 0 17 Green, B E (Brayden) 6 8 2 16 Miller, M C (Mitchell) 0 3 9 12 Foster, C L (Chienoa) 0 9 0 9 Matthew, H J (Harley) 7 0 0 7 by Alan Parker

In Greek mythology Hercules is famous for his strength and for his numerous far-ranging adventures, and harness racing’s version has certainly proven himself worthy of the name during his seven years on the racetrack. The fact that David Hercules has always been ‘a good horse’ is not up for debate, for he was a dual Group winner in his debut season as a two-year-old. But recognition of him being a bit more than ‘a good horse’ had been slow to take hold in his home state. Arguably it was because, much like his namesake, his greatest achievements had occurred whilst away on one of those ‘numerous far-ranging adventures’. Despite being a multiple Group One winner in Victoria, he remained a ‘Group one maiden’ in Western Australia having lived in the shadow of Im Themightyquinn since graduating to fast class. He had long been thought of as the heir apparent to the King of Gloucester Park’s throne, but it wasn’t until January of this year that he was finally able to add a well-deserved hometown Group One to his list of accomplishments, when brilliantly taking out the $250,000 Fremantle Cup. Arguably, David Hercules turned in an even greater performance just seven days later when he went down bravely in the $400,000 WA Pacing Cup to My Hard Copy. Previously regarded by some as ‘more of a speed horse ‘, his trainer David Thompson is quick to dismiss those suggestions ahead of David Hercules return from a spell tomorrow night. “While he has definitely gotten stronger with age, I have never thought of him as a one trick pony,” Thompson saod. “I couldn’t be happier with him, he has just had the one trial and I was very happy with that. “ With an eye to November’s Inter Dominion series at Gloucester Park, Thompson is looking to keep the son of Artesian ‘on the go’ during the winter months. “We’ll look at the Pinjarra Cup despite his assessment, as well as races like the August Cup,” Thompson said. “He’s a bit older now so I’d like to keep him ticking over and we’ll just pick races off as need be” Pacific Warrior has been dominating the open class ranks in David Hercules’ absence, and with a fitness edge, he remains the one to beat. RWWA Media

Having just returned to Western Australia, tough harness racing competitor David Hercules is heading east again. David Hercules booked his passage across the Nullarbor with his tough Inter Dominion heat victory at Gloucester Park tonight. Just a fortnight ago David Hercules contested the Victoria Cup at Melton, with the David Thompson -trained pacer due in Sydney in two weeks. The Inter Dominion Final is scheduled to be held at Tabcorp Park Menangle on March 1. David Hercules guaranteed his position in the elite field when he outstayed his rivals with Morgan Woodley in the cart. After racing in the ‘death seat’, the son of Artesian completed a three-and-a-half metre win from Pacific Warrior, with Dynamite Dude two metres away third. David Hercules’ previous trip to New South Wales resulted in an unplaced effort in the Hondo Grattan Stake in 2011. PAUL COURTS

The West Australian harness racing community will be attached to the radio and television this Saturday night as David Hercules competes in the Group 1, Victorian Pacing Cup worth a massive $400,000. Trainer Dave Thompson spoke to the TABradio team about his assault on the Victoria Cup at Melton this Saturday night. “The horse went over on Wednesday night, he seems as bright as a button, went for a jog and everything’s great” Thompson said.   Having drawn nine, Thompson stated that it was one of his more preferred avenues leading into the race, whilst relishing the challenge of the opposition. “We just have to hope for the best because class wise it’s a step up, it’s probably the best group I’ve seen assembled together for a long long time” he added. After a brilliant performance in the WA Pacing Cup, seeing a narrow defeat to the swooping My Hard Copy, Thompson seemingly is not one to look in the rear-view mirror, but basking in the moment. “Some people are saying this is going to be one of the best races ever, so to have one of the runners in it, just makes me so proud of the horse” said Thompson. “I’m just so lucky to be involved with him” he added. “I’m even going to try and enjoy this one! Normally I just end up getting too wound up… we just have to sit back and enjoy it”. David Hercules runs in the Victorian Cup at Melton, race starting at 6:32pm WST, covered extensively on TABradio and seen on Sky Racing.  If you weren't on-course for the $400,000 Western Australian Pacing Cup, or even if you were, do yourself a favour and take a look at one the most dramatic WA Pacing Cup's ever seen at Gloucester Park.   Racing and Wagering Western Australia

Harness racing champ Beautide will go into the Victoria Cup without a lead-up race. Another untimely virus forced Beautide's scratching from the Bendigo Cup and ruined a much anticipated rematch with Christen Me. Trainer-driver James Rattray hoped to find another suitable race, but opted not to tackle the standing-start Shepparton Cup next Saturday night. "There's no race for him I think suitable, so it'll just be a trial now. It's not ideal, but he's had a big build up and is still very close to his top," he said. "Of course you'd like a lead up run, but it's not too be. We haven't had the best run of things since the Miracle Mile. "He'll still run a great race in the Victoria Cup and be able to have the two runs before the Inter Dominion. Rattray said Beautide developed an elevated temperature Thursday. "He was a lot better by Friday, but I wasn't willing to take any chances with him, so I scratched from Bendigo," he said. "He's better again today (Saturday) and I'll find a trial for him to have a really serious hit out." That's likely to be at Melton on Tuesday. Beautide's setback has seen his odds continue to ease for the Victoria Cup. He opened $4.5 with the Aussie TAB and has continued to ease. He's now on the fourth line of betting at $6.50. In contrast, he remains a clear $4.20 favourite to successfully defend his Inter Dominion crown.                                                                                        * Star Western Australian pacer David Hercules Is still set to tackle the Victorian Cup despite being beaten in the Group 1 WA Pacing Cup. Trainer David Thompson said he was "incredibly proud" of his charge, who did a power of work in the gruelling 2936m epic and still ran a mighty second to the Gary Hall Sr trained outsider The Cup was one of the most hotly-contested Grand Circuit races in recent history, resulting in a scorching 1min57.4sec mile rate for the marathon trip. "It was always going to be hard from the back row, but I think it was the best run of his career. I'm so proud of him," Thompson said. "The owners are keen to have a crack at the Victoria Cup and then come back home for his Inter Dominion heat." Despite his hard run, David Hercules rallied and looked the winner with 80m to go before My Hard Copy flashed and him and snatched victory in the last few strides. A superb and patient Clint Hall drive was the key to My Hard Copy's win. "Gee it was a good drive. He was clear last with a lap to go, cut the corner and went through on the inside to pass a few, then got right to the outside before the final bend," Hall Sr said. "Then he locked wheels on the home bend and thought he'd lost his chance, but the little horse picked himself up again and flew home to win." It was an amazing ninth WA Cup win for Hall Sr. "This one was a pleasant surprise. I didn't think I'd have a runner only a month or so ago," he said. "I'm especially thrilled to win it for Steve Chapman (owner). He's put so much into the sport and never really had much luck until now. "I didn't nominate any of mine for the Inter Dominion. They are all just nice horses on their own patch." Hall Sr admitted to being just as excited by the win of his emerging young star Beaudiene Boaz in a ho-hum three-year-old race as he was the Cup win. "He's my next big thing. He's the best three-year-old I've trained," he said. "He sat three wide for 400m, then sat outside the leader and raced away in a 55.5sec half to win by 20m and mile rate 1min54.4sec (for 1730m)." Hall Sr has ruled out a Victoria Derby tilt and said even a NSW Derby trio was unlikely. "I'm not afraid of anything, but we've got three Inter Dominions coming up in Perth and this horse is my future. I want to look after him now," he said. Hall Sr trained a staggering six winners on the 10-race card on WA Cup night.                                                                                       * Emma Stewart now has three of the first six favourites in Hunter Cup markets. It's the most staggering dominance since the days the Purdon clan trained as one or the late Vinnie Knight "owned" the Grand Circuit. Despite Stewart's glamour pair Guaranteed and Philadelphia Man having the weekend off, she still found a way to make waves in feature race betting markets. That's because the enigmatic Restrepo produced one of the more amazing performances of this season so far by thrashing a good field in the Hamilton Cup despite coming from a 30m backmark. The Aussie TAB slashed his Hunter Cup odds from $21 to $12. Stewart also has the $4.50 favourite Guaranteed and $9 shot Philadelphia Man. Guaranteed and/or Philadelphia Man are expected to tackle next Saturday's Shepparton Cup. Restrepo remains a $21 shot for the Victoria Cup on January 31 where Guaranteed is $5 favourite just ahead of Philadelphia Man and Christen Me at $5.50. "He's taken a couple of runs to get back to his best, but we were thrilled with his run behind Philadelphia Man last week and knew it would improve him a bit further," Stewart said. "He's a really special horse to us and it's great to have him back to his very best with the big races just around the corner." Restrepo blasted to the lead in the middle stages of the Hamilton Cup from former Kiwi Arden Rooney, who had found the front, and danced away to beat that horse by almost 22m. Adam Hamilton - Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand

Underrated Western Australian pacer David Hercules has become harness racing’s latest millionaire. The son of Artesian broke through the magical barrier thanks to his Fremantle Cup success at Gloucester Park last night. Driven by Morgan Woodley, the David Thompson-trained gelding led throughout from barrier three to easily account for Northview Punter and Copagrin. Rating 1:57 for the 2536-metre trip, David Hercules extended his record to 36 wins and 31 placings from 96 starts for earnings of $1,099,044. David Hercules new status makes him the 61st Australasian-bred pacer to earn more than $1million since Cardigan Bay became the world’s first millionaire in 1968. The mighty Gammlite was the first to reach $1million by racing solely in the Southern Hemisphere, a feat he achieved in 1983. A decade later, Westburn Grant became the first $2million earner, with Blacks A Fake surpassing $3million in 2007 and $4million in 2010. Karloo Mick holds the unique honour of being the only millionaire never to win a Group One race. Five trotters have bankrolled more than $1million, with Lyell Creek the ground breaker in 2001. The son of Roydon Glen was also the first to pass $2million. Like Cardigan Bay, Lyell Creek earned prizemoney in America, with Take A Moment the first to reach the mark by racing solely in Australasia. While no Australian-bred trotter has earned $1million, Sundons Gift is the only Aussie-trained squaregaiter in the elite fraternity. Amazingly, Scotch Notch, which raced during the 1980s, is still the highest earning Australian-bred trotter with stakes of $670,755 – of which half was earned in the Northern Hemisphere. PAUL COURTS

David Hercules, a $15,000 yearling in 2008, is poised to become harness racing’s latest millionaire. Engaged at Gloucester Park tomorrow night, David Hercules is expected to prove too good in the Fremantle Cup, which will see the pacer pass the magical million barrier. Trainer David Thompson declared the eight-year-old was “spot on” and that he “couldn’t be happier with his preparation” ahead the 2536-metre Group One. Reinsman Morgan Woodley echoed Thompson’s sentiment when he said: “We’re brimming with confidence and it’s his time to shine.” David Hercules, which has amassed $936,044 as a result of 35 wins and 31 placings from 95 starts, drew favourably at barrier three - after having no luck 12 months ago when he started from the outside of the back line in the Cup. David Hercules also drew along the back line in the Western Australia Pacing Cup. “He was gallant in both those big cups, finishing third to Im Victorious and Bettors Fire in the Fremantle Cup and fourth behind Hokonui Ben, Toretto and This Time Dylan in the Pacing Cup,” Woodley said. “He finished less than two lengths from the winner in both events. “I’m exceptionally happy with the way the horse has been racing. He couldn’t have come back in any better fashion than he has. “He has been doing it with ease and I understand his training since his last run has been exceptional.” While David Hercules has been installed a firm favourite, there is no lack of confidence from rival trainers, particularly Kevin Keys, who prepares Tuxedo Tour, and Rod Oliver, trainer of Heez On Fire. Ace reinsman Chris Lewis and Gary Hall junior gave punters a ‘heads up’ by opting to drive Tuxedo Tour and Heez On Fire. Lewis and Hall share the record of six Fremantle Cup wins, with Lewis scoring behind Black Irish (1983), Village Kid (1988 and 1989), John Albert (1995), Sandy Bay (2005) and Dasher VC (2013). Hall was successful with The Falcon Strike (2002 and 2004), Im Themightyquinn (2010, 2011 and 2012) and Im Victorious (2014). Lewis will drive the inexperienced and lowly-assessed Tuxedo Tour in preference to the brilliant mare Sensational Gabby, which he drove to a dashing all-the-way victory over Hokonui Ben and Tuxedo Tour last week. Champion trainer Gary Hall has three Cup runners, Toretto, Northview Punter and Soho Jackman, but Junior has opted to stick with Tuxedo Tour. Keys laid down the gauntlet to the rest of the field by stating Tuxedo Tour is capable of leading throughout. “My instructions to Gary will be to lead from barrier two,” he said. “There will be only one instruction and that is to lead. “Tuxedo Tour is a better horse on the pole and he’s one of those horses who is better rolling than being held up. “I’ve left no stone unturned…he’s had plenty of work and plenty of swimming.” KEN CASELLAS

Star harness racing performer David Hercules is poised to make the Village Kid Sprint a one-act affair after drawing ideally in the Group Two at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The West Australian-bred pacer will be at very short odds to go one better than his second behind the front running Hokonui Ben in last season’s edition of the feature From barrier three driver Morgan Woodley will be aiming to burst to the front and set a fast pace with David Hercules, which resumed from a 15-week absence with a superb victory a fortnight ago. Produced in grand shape by trainer David Thompson for his first-up triumph, David Hercules has the natural speed and brilliance to threaten the track record of 1.53.1 set by Livingontheinterest in June 14, 2013. David Hercules finished third on that occasion. As it stands, David Hercules holds the track record for 1700 metres (1.52.8) and 2130 metres (1.53.6). The son of American stallion Artesian, David Hercules has been an outstanding bargain for David Botha and Jeneen Johnson, with his 94 starts producing 34 wins, 31 placings and stakes of $896,444. As for dangers in the $60,000 dash, brilliant mare Sensational Gabby shapes as the ‘most likely’ from barrier four. Despite her lacklustre sixth last week, Sensational Gabby’s form has been first rate this preparation, with her victories including the Members’ Sprint, Stratton Cup, Mount Eden Sprint and Norms Daughter Classic. KEN CASELLAS

Woodley to break through in August Cup Morgan Woodley, who has driven a placegetter in three of the past four August Cups, has high hopes of breaking through for his first victory in the winter feature event by scoring with David Hercules in the $35,000 Curtin FM August Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night. David Hercules, trained at Byford by David Thompson, has drawn fairly at barrier four on the front line, but is likely to be left in the breeze outside the likely pacemaker Northview Punter, who will start from the coveted No. 1 barrier in the 2536m event. Trainer Gary Hall sen. conceded that he was slightly disappointed at Northview Punter's effort when second behind stablemate Our Arlington in a 2503m stand last Friday night. But his spirits were boosted after the random barrier draw. David Hercules proved the master of Northview Punter three starts ago when he started from the No. 5 barrier and worked hard in the breeze before finishing strongly to beat the pacemaking Northview Punter by a half-length, rating 1.55.7 over 2130m. David Hercules was gallant in defeat when fourth behind Reuben Brogden in a 1730m sprint last Friday night. He was at a significant disadvantage, starting from the outside of the back line. He settled at the rear before Woodley started a three-wide move 1100m from home. The seven-year-old sustained a strong effort to finish just under two lengths from the winner. David Hercules had been most impressive in winning at his four previous starts (after resuming from a spell), winning twice each over 2130m and 2536m. Friday night's event will be the 63rd running of the August Cup and Thompson is hoping that David Hercules will become just the eighth horse to complete the Winter Cup-August Cup double in the one season. Those to have achieved this feat are Tavis (1975), Peter Anstey (1977), High Moore (1979), Preux Chevalier (1985), Manageable (1989), Shattering Class (1998 and 1999) and Another Party (2000). Woodley's placegetters in recent August Cups have been Mysta Magical Mach (third behind Im Themightyquinn in 2010), Has The Answers (third behind Lombo Navigator and Rocket Reign in a thrilling three-way photo finish in 2011) and Has The Answers (second to Uppy Son last year). Mysta Magical Mach and Has The Answers were prepared by Tony Svilicich, who won the August Cup with Digger of Fortune in 2003. Svilicich has trained six minor placegetters in the past six August Cups. In 2008 he was represented by Roydon Holmes and Demoralizer. Roydon Holmes (9/1) led until the final 20m and finished a close second to Glencadam, and Demoralizer was third. He did not have a runner in 2009 before Has The Answers led until the final 50m when second to Im Themightyquinn in 2010. His other runner Mysta Magical Mach was third. A year later Has The Answers (6/4 on) set the pace when third. In the 2012 August Cup Mysta Magical Mach (6/1) set the pace and was two lengths in front with 120m to travel before being swamped and was relegated to fifth behind Dasher VC. Twelve months ago Has The Answers was favourite at 6/4 when set the pace from barrier two and led until the final 90m when beaten by the fast-finishing Uppy Son. This year Svilicich will be represented by outsider Shardons Rocket, who will be driven by Chris Lewis, but faces an extremely difficult task from the outside of the back line. The August Cup is a particularly significant event for Hall sen., who had the distinction of training Zakara for his four wins in the race --- in 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1994. Hall's other August Cup winner was Im Themightyquinn, who started at 5/2 on in 2010 when he got to the front 50m from the post before defeating the pacemaker Has The Answers. The Cup prospects on Friday night of last-start winners Reuben Brogden and Our Arlington were boosted when they drew favourably at No. 2 and No. 3 on the front line. Reuben Brogden, trained by his owner Gary Elson, was most impressive last Friday night when he was tenth at the 500m mark and stormed home from sixth, five wide, on the home turn to defeat Old McDonald at a 1.54.4 rate over 1730m. Our Arlington also caught the eye last Friday night when he galloped soon after the start and settled down a distant ninth before dashing forward to move into the breeze 1400m from home and then gained the one-out, one-back trail and then finishing boldly to snatch victory from Northview Punter. Hall predicts big things for Machtu Champion trainer Gary Hall sen. has labelled Machtu the second best pacer in his Serpentine stables and is bubbling with confidence that the New Zealand-bred three-year-old will make a triumphant return to racing by proving too powerful for his rivals in the 2130m Glengarry Spectacles Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Machtu will be making his first appearance for 20 weeks when he starts out wide at No. 4 on the back line for champion reinsman Gary Hall jun. This will be the gelding's first start since he finished a close third behind Three Blind Mice and Eyre Crusher in the WA Derby early last April. "He has returned in great shape and his trials at Byford on the past two Sundays have been phenomenal," said an enthusiastic Hall sen. "He won both his trials, beating open-class horses and you would think that he would just win on Friday night. "In a 2550m stand on Sunday Machtu led and beat his open-class stablemate Livingontheinterest by a length after sprinting the final 400m in 27.9sec. In a 2150m mobile the previous Sunday he led and covered the final 800m in 56.5sec. and beat top-class pacer David Hercules on his merits. "Machtu is the second best horse in our stable, behind Im Themightyquinn. We are really happy with him and his long-term mission is the interdominion championship in Perth in 2016. At the moment we will take races as they come and see how he goes. "Quinny is back in work and is coming along nicely. He should resume racing towards the end of October and his main target is the $700,000 New Zealand Cup on the second Tuesday in November. It's a stand and he will draw the front line." Machtu, who has won at seven of his 12 starts, is one of three Hall runners in Friday night's race, the others being High Courage (No. 3 on the front line) and Classic American (outside of the back line). High Courage and Classic American are smart colts, but appear a class below Machtu. Nonetheless, each will be fancied to figure in the finish along with Burning, the promising Mach Three colt in the stables of Greg and Skye Bond. Burning, a speedy frontrunner and winner at seven of his 16 starts, will begin from the inside of the back line. An all-the way Pinjarra winner three starts ago, he lost few admirers when a fighting second to Elegant Christian over 2130m last Friday night after working hard without cover. Hall sets sights on 250 winners There is no stopping the all-conquering Hall training complex and now champion horseman Gary Hall sen. has lifted the bar and is setting himself fresh challenges as the 2013-14 season comes to an end. The Hall camp has 14 starters on the ten-event program at Gloucester Park on Friday night and punters would be well advised to include all 14 runners in their thoughts. Hall, a runaway winner of the trainers' premiership, would dearly love to end the season in a blaze of glory on Friday night. Leading reinsman Gary Hall jun. also would love to wind up the city season by winning the final event with honest performer Globalization in the Pedrini Painting Westbred Pathway Pace. Hall sen. leads the Metropolitan trainers' premiership with 169 wins --- a mile head of Greg and Skye Bond (63), Ross Olivieri (62), Debbie Padberg (32) and Andrew De Campo (25). On all tracks in Western Australia during the season he has had 814 starters for 209 winners, 116 seconds and 96 thirds for prizemoney of $2,966,533. In second place is the Bond stable with 146 winners and 128 placegetters from 817 starters. This is the first time a trainer has prepared more than 200 winners in a season in this State. Hall currently has 50 horses in work and he wants to keep the winners rolling in. "My aim for the 2014-15 season is to train 250 winners and to win the WA Pacing Cup for the ninth time," he declared. "Im Themightyquinn will run in the Cup, providing the wheels stay on." Hall is also looking for big things from exciting three-year-old Machtu and he also predicted bright futures for many of his horses, including Beaudiene Boaz, Nuala, Zennart and Juliana Bromac. Get on Machs A Pearler Unfavourable barriers have dogged Machs A Pearler in recent weeks and the New Zealand-bred four-year-old should greatly appreciate starting from the prized No. 1 barrier in the first event at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The honest gelding, trained at Forrestdale by Greg and Skye Bond, looks a good thing and punters should establish a good bank for the night by supporting him to end a losing sequence of seven. Machs A Pearler has enjoyed little luck recently after starting from the back line three times and from the outside of the front line twice at his past five outings. He is a smart frontrunner ideally suited over the sprint trip of 1730m. Punters should take it into serious consideration that he has led in ten of his 490 starts for five wins and five second placings. The Bond stable has 13 runners on Friday night, including six starters in the $25,000 King's Park Fashion Schrader final over 2130m. Four of those runners --- Tuapeka Kahu, Lunar Tide, Bettor Offer and Im Terrific --- are last-start winners, while the other two, Jay Bees Grin and Condrieu each finished third at their most recent outing and have sound prospects. Libertybelle Midfrew runs a sizzling trial Star filly Libertybelle Midfrew looms large as the best bet on the ten-event program at Gloucester Park on Friday night after running a superb trial at Byford on Sunday morning. Libertybelle Midfrew, trained by Mike Reed and to be driven by his son Mark, has the class to overcome the disadvantage of starting from barrier seven, the outside of the front line in the 1730m Casey Australia Pace. She warmed up for the race in dashing style at Byford on Sunday morning when she raced wide early and then took up the running before careering away from her four rivals to win the 2150m trial by almost 19 lengths from Shezablaze, rating 1.57.1 after sprinting over the final 800m in 56sec. This performance showed that the filly was poised to make amends for her shock first-up defeat at 10/1 on when she raced without cover and finished third behind Harriet Elisabeth and Jungle Jewel over 2130m on August 1. That was her first appearance since scoring a runaway victory in the WA Oaks on May 9 to take her West Australian record to five starts for five wins. Making good appeal as a placegetter is the Andrew De Campo-trained Maddy White, who should be prominent throughout from the No. 2 barrier on the front line. The David Thompson-trained Harriet Elisabeth has won at seven of her 18 starts and is capable of a bold showing from barrier three on the back line. Where Dreams Grow, trained and driven by Justin Prentice, has won at each of her past three starts, two at Bunbury and then one at Gloucester Park, when she set the pace from barrier two. But she faces a stern test from the No. 6 barrier.  Ken Casellas  

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