In 1983, trainer-reinsman Gary Hall Sr was broke, jobless and with four kids under five. Things were looking decidedly grim for Hall, his then-wife Sue and their young family until the relatively unknown, unheralded and unwanted Maru Adios entered his stable. Maru Adios was the only horse the trainer could get hold of, having returned to Hazelmere following an unsuccessful stint as a private trainer for Ron Davies. Without the acquisition of Maru Adios, Hall Sr may have given the game away decades ago and his champion driver son Gary Hall Jr and the re-emerging Clinton Hall might not have become involved in the sport. Furthermore, Zakara, The Falcon Strike and Im Themightyquinn – and numerous other outstanding horses – may not have ever graced Gloucester Park. No one wanted Maru Adios. Little wonder because the horse hadn’t run a place in three years. Fortunately Hall was able to lease the horse off Wally Wright and in that season he won 11 races and ran 22 places, banking $38,000 in stakes and kept the wolf from the door. It’s no surprise that Hall is invariably quick to name Maru Adios as his favourite horse. “Without old Maru Adios there’s no doubt that I would have had to give the game away,” Hall said. “He helped to put us back on our feet, fed the kids and it wasn’t that long afterwards that Roy Annear, a big owner at the time, offered me a bad knee-knocking Adios Vic gelding named Colt Eightytwo.” Colt Eightytwo won a number of races for Hall during that period, and the success he had with him led to Annear offering him the half-brother Zakara. According to Hall, people still remember what a magnificent physical specimen Zakara was. “I don’t know whether it was his good looks or my bad drives that cause people to remember Zakara, but to be fair, I didn’t really think I drove all that bad, having driven over 600 winners in my career,” he said. “We were struggling at the time and needed the money and in the WA Pacing Cups and other big races I overdrove Zakara a few times through anxiety and trying too hard. “That’s why I’m lucky to have Gary (Hall Jr) now. He just doesn’t make those mistakes.” While harness racing fans have lasting memories of Zakara’s glistening coat and long flowing mane, Hall is quick to point out Zakara wasn’t initially an eye-catching animal. “Zakara was a 15-and-half to 16 hands two-year-old and was the worst-looking horse you would ever see. He looked terrible and had about six inches of hair all over and was full of ringworm,” Hall said. “I put him in one of the boxes down back and fed him up and just looked after him and never put him into work, as I was just going to get him looking good and then send him back home. “He had been broken in and I had a couple of staff working for me at the time and I needed to find something for them to do, so they jogged him up then put the hopples on him and he paced reasonably well. “From there we gave him some pacework then one morning we took him to Guildford with Love Of Glory and Almagest, who had run first and third in the Golden Slipper that year and were my first real good horses. “I put young Travis Gardiner on Zakara and asked him to sit last with him and if he couldn’t keep up not to knock the horse around. “Turning for home Love Of Glory was tackling Almagest and along came Zakara with Travis just sitting on him and he went straight past them. It was a shock for us but an even bigger shock for Travis as he never got behind the horse again.” Hall subsequently took Zakara to Wagin for his debut, where he sat five-wide throughout and won easily despite the horse nearly ending up on the outside fence in the straight as he used to bore out. Hall fondly remembers that it was quite a good night as they had a show on there and Zakara also won the prize for best-looking horse. “We didn’t realise what we had at the time, but when we put a pole on his outside it straightened him right up and he went from strength to strength,” he said. In stark contrast to the dark days of the early 1980s the Hall stable is about to claim their eighth WA Metropolitan trainers title, with Gary Hall Jr also having already sewn up his seventh WA Metro drivers title with both winning their first Metro premierships during the 2005/2006 pacing season. Older brother Clinton Hall enjoyed his greatest success earlier this year when he drove Hokonui Ben then trained by his father Gary to an all-the-way upset win in this year’s Group 1 $400,000 WA Pacing Cup. Hall Sr is now well on the way to establishing a powerful family dynasty the likes of which hasn’t been since the dominant days of the Kersley and Warwick families. But unlike the Kersleys and the Warwicks, who ruled WA pacing for decades, Gary Hall Sr had no harness racing background. Hall did, however, have a rapidly-growing love of the sport, the punt and a natural affinity for horses, having ridden recreationally from a young age. “The fact that I didn’t have any preconceived notions worked in my favour as I actually think it was an advantage to become involved without any background in the sport,” Hall said. “I spend a lot of time gaiting them, teaching them to race properly and working on their overall health and fitness. “Zakara taught me this as the more regular his routine was, the better he worked and raced.’’ “Rather than varying their routine with the conventional wisdom being that horses need variation in their work and working them with inferior horses in order to boost their confidence and give them a kill, I try to bring out their competitive instinct by working them with better horses in an attempt to get them to a higher level of fitness and competitiveness.” Hall though is also quick to admit that he learned a lot by watching master horseman Fred Kersley at work. “I learnt more from watching Fred Kersley over the years than he’ll ever know and always admired the way he went about it and Gary (Hall Jr) is named Jr because I wanted him to be exactly like Fred,” Hall said. It’s hard to argue with Hall’s methods, with 30 Group 1 wins later with a record 8 WA Pacing Cups, 5 Fremantle Cups, 3 Inter Dominion Finals, 2 Auckland Cups, Golden Nuggets, Derbies, and virtually every feature race worth winning on the WA harness racing calendar. It means it’s the Hall father and son’s combination that is now the most lethal in WA harness racing. Andrew Carter Courtesy of Harness Racing Victoria
Superstar pacers Im Themightyquinn and Alta Christiano will start from the outside barrier in their events at Gloucester Park on Friday night and this disadvantage will not stop either from winning with something in reserve. Under the preferential barrier draw system each had to draw the No. 7 barrier on the front line. But Im Themightyquinn has a massive class advantage over his eight rivals in the 2536m Abbott And Company Printers Pace and Alta Christiano is vastly superior to his opposition in the 1730m Sully's Painting Pace. The star pacers from the Serpentine stables of leading trainer Gary Hall sen. will be driven by Gary Hall jun., fresh from four winners at Gloucester Park last Friday night and a treble at outer country track Narrogin on Tuesday night. Asked how he would rate Alta Christiano on a scale out of one hundred, Hall jun. didn't hesitate in replying with a 90. Unsurprisingly, he gave Quinny a rating of 100. The all-conquering father and son combination then agreed that the lightly-raced four-year-old Alta Christiano is a better pacer than Im Themightyquinn was at the same age. And that's high praise indeed, considering that as a four-year-old Im Themightyquinn won the group 1 McInerney Ford Classic, was third behind Power of Tara and Divisive in the group 1 Fremantle Cup, won the group 3 Winter Cup from Mysta Magical Mach and finished a head second to Maffioso in the group 1 $200,000 Chariots of Fire at Harold Park. "Alta Christiano hasn't quite got the high speed that Quinny's got," said Hall sen. "But he's got a high cruising speed," declared Junior. Hall jun. was delighted with Im Themightyquinn's superb first-up victory last Friday night when the nine-year-old made light of the heavy, rain-soaked track to rate 1.56.4 in easily defeating Rocket Reign and Hokonui Ben over 2130m. That was his first appearance after a seven-month absence as he recovered from a hairline fracture in his off hind cannon bone. "He felt just as good as he always has," he said. Hall surprised almost everyone last week when he drove Im Themightyquinn assertively from barrier five to send the gelding to the lead after about 170m before setting the pace over the 2130m journey. Over the longer journey of this week's event Hall is unlikely to set Im Themightyquinn alight from the No. 7 barrier and will bide his time before urging the champion forward. Please Release Me (barrier two) and Polak (three) are speedy beginners and noted frontrunners. Both Matt White (Please Release Me) and Mark Reed (Polak) are sure to be anxious to win the early speed battle. However, there is a possibility they might have to contend with a contest against the polemarker Whos Mistake, a speedy beginner and an all-the-way winner at Gloucester Park five starts ago. But whatever the outcome of the early speed battle there appears no possible chance that the pacemaker (or any other runner) will be able to withstand the blistering speed of Im Themightyquinn at the business end of the race. Hall almost certainly will adopt aggressive tactics with Alta Christiano by urging him forward from the wide barrier in the sprint event. There is no brilliance whatsoever among the six runners drawn inside of Alta Christiano. The polemarker Life Boat is an eight-year-old and the five are seven-year-olds. Life Boat has a losing sequence of 21 (without a placing), Courage On Fire has a losing sequence of six (one placing), The Burnside Flyer has a losing sequence of 23 (no placings), Terrifying has a losing sequence of 22 (no placings), Dominus Vobiscum has a losing sequence of 22 (two placings) and Ticket To Nowhere has a losing sequence of 23 (one placing). Even a casual student of form would reach a quick conclusion that Alta Christiano will be bursting to the front in the early stages of the race and that Arousing, an in-form mare drawn the inside of the back line, will enjoy a soft passage three back on the pegs before finishing into the placings. OLIVIERI SET TO STRIKE AGAIN Astute Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri will be out to enhance his reputation as a first-up specialist when Victorian pacer Shelby Cruzin makes his WA debut in the 2130m Alltools Pathway Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Followers of the Olivieri stable have cashed in recently when he scored victories with Finbar Abbey and Selkie when they were having their first start for him. Finbar Abbey won at Northam at his first appearance for almost three months and then won at his next two starts at Gloucester Park, including the Easter Cup. Then Selkie, at her first outing for Olivieri, gave a bold frontrunning display to win the Race For Roses last Friday night. Shelby Cruzin has been unplaced at his past five starts (all at Melton and against considerably more formidable opposition than he will meet at his WA debut). A half-brother to seven winners, he was successful six starts ago when he unwound a powerful finishing burst and sprinted over the final 800m in 57.4sec. and the last 400m in 28.4sec. when as an 80/1 outsider he beat Ginger Bliss at a 1.57.4 rate over 2190m at Maryborough on January 20. Shelby Cruzin has had 46 starts for nine wins on Victorian country tracks and ten placings and is the tightest assessed runner in Friday night's field, with a C7 classification. He fared poorly in the random draw and will start from the outside of the front line. One of his toughest rivals is sure to be Sign In, who broke a losing sequence of 17 when he begun speedily from barrier five, set the pace and beat Kristoff over 1780m at Northam on Thursday of last week. He is trained at Wanneroo by Debbie Padberg and reinsman Shannon Suvaljko is likely to make full use of his sparkling early speed from barrier three in a bid for the lead. LEDA McNALLY IS SET TO ATONE Outstanding mare Leda McNally should make amends for her defeat in the Race For Roses last Friday night by outsprinting her rivals in the 2130m TABtouch Breeders Stakes Prelude at Gloucester Park on Friday night. She is the class runner of the field and she has the ability to overcome her back-line draw to defeat another quality mare in Famous Alchemist, who fared badly in the random draw and will start from the outside of the front line. A victory on Friday night will exclude the winner from the ballot for the $40,000 final of the Breeders Stakes over 1730m the following Friday night. Leda McNally, trained at Pinjarra by Chris King, is an M10-class mare who has won 19 races and earned $284,458. Famous Alchemist, trained at Serpentine by Gary Hall sen., has an M6 classification and has amassed $262,349 from her 13 wins. Apart from Alkira Jetstar, an M3-class performer, all the other mares in the race are classified M0, M1 or M2. Leda McNally, driven by Chris Voak, was outstanding in defeat last week when she started off the back mark of 50 metres in the 2536m Race For Roses. A rain-soaked track made her task virtually impossible, but she put up a grand effort, running home determinedly from tenth at the bell to be third behind the pacemaker Selkie and Salliwood. Famous Alchemist finished last behind Pacific Warrior in a field of twelve in a 1730m event last Friday week. But punters should completely overlook that performance. Famous Alchemist started out wide at barrier six and raced three wide for most of the event in which she faded from third at the bell to last. She was superb at her previous appearance when she worked hard without cover before winning the $20,000 Golden Girls Mile from Maggies Mystery at Pinjarra, rating 1.54.4 over 1684m. Maggies Mystery, unplaced at her past two starts, is handily drawn at No. 2 on the back line and she is capable of a bold showing. THAT IS CORRECT GETS HIS CHANCE Eight-year-old That Is Correct has returned to racing after a spell in excellent form and he appeals as a good value bet in the 2503m Ross North Homes Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Trained at Serpentine by Matt Scott, That Is Correct will start from the No. 1 barrier on the front mark and Aiden De Campo will be keen to get the experienced standing-start performer away smoothly. That Is Correct impressed at his second appearance after a spell when he started rom 10m and raced four back on the pegs in seventh position before moving to fifth at the 400m mark and running home with a resolute burst to finish second to veteran performer Shardons Rocket over 2503m last Friday week. That followed his good first-up performance a week earlier when he finished strongly to be fifth behind Dundee Three over 2503m. That Is Correct was a fast-finishing winner over 2503m last September when he defeated smart performer Gday Mate. Shardons Rocket, from the back mark of 40m, and last-start winner Hez Got The Nod, off 20m, are likely to vie for favouritism and they look set to be prominent. Hez Got The Nod began fast off the 20m mark last Friday night and he came from eighth in the middle stages to move to fifth, three wide, at the bell before sustaining his strong effort to take the lead 300m from home and then hold on and win from Will Of iron and Sonic Classic. He is in peak form and cannot be underestimated. by Ken Casellas
Miracle Mile entrant Im Victorious had a week's break in the paddock after finishing sixth in the WA Pacing Cup but will be ready to perform at his best in the Western Australian heat of the Inter Dominion on February 15th. Trainer Michael Brennan confirmed he is set to have his first serious workout this week and will have two more before he races again. "Im Victorious raced so well in the Fremantle Cup after coming home from the Victoria Cup off a similar preparation that I have decided to do exactly the same thing," Brennan said. "He was a little bit flat the day after the WA Pacing Cup but I guess that was a little bit expected after he carried the flat tyre for nearly the entire race but it didn't take him long to brighten up in the paddock and when I brought him back in after a week he was raring to go." Brennan is unsure of the travel arrangements should Im Victorious qualify for the Inter Dominion Grand Final. "I'm pretty sure Im Themightyquinn and Mysta Magical Mach got a Direct Flight into Sydney for the final from memory but it isn't really a concern for me until he actually qualifies, I am not getting too far ahead of myself." "I know the connections of Leda McNally are wanting to head across as well and then two horses might qualify from the Perth heat so it is all up in the air at the moment." Gary Hall Jnr will drive the horse for Brennan after partnering him in his last two starts. "Yeah that's the plan, nothing has changed after the WA Cup, Junior has got a Fabulous record and has won plenty of big races including the Inter Dominion." "It was a big thrill to be part of Inter Dominion day last year when Im Victorious competed in the Chariots Of Fire and it would be even more special to have a horse compete in the Inter Dominion itself, I'm looking forward to the series." Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |
Former Kiwi pacer Hokunui Ben has emerged as a bolter to claim the Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit title after a thrilling victory in the Gr.1 $400,000 Nepean Conveyors WA Pacing Cup at Gloucester Park. With a maximum 100 points on offer, victory was clearly going to elevate the chances of any runner being crowned Grand Circuit champion this season. Connections of co-leaders Christen Me and For A Reason (160 points) decided to bypass the Perth feature as they get set for the upcoming Inter Dominion Pacing Championship in Sydney. Most were tipping last week’s Fremantle Cup Im Victorious as the horse to beat despite a tricky draw on the inside of the second-line while many thought Bettors Fire could turn the tables on his conqueror from last week. But it was the ideally drawn Hokunui Ben who defied all. Sent straight to the lead by reinsman Clinton Hall, Hokunui Ben cruised through a lead time of 101.4 seconds while Toretto sent in the trail with Bettors Fire parking without cover. Race favourite Im Victorious quickly maneuvered away from the inside and sat mid-field in the moving line. The first quarter was recorded in a leisurely 31 .1 seconds. Gary Hall Jnr aboard Im Victorious made his move three-wide and raced up looking for the position on the outside of the leader but Kyle Harper aboard Bettors Fire wasn’t about to give away his position outside of Hokunui Ben. They roared through the second quarter in 28.4 seconds before Im Victorious was able to ease and land the position of one out/one back and with clear viewing of his main dangers. The let-up for Im Victorious was only brief as the favourite was forced to make another move with the three wide line starting from back in the field with a lap remaining. Im Victorious was working extremely hard. Hokunui Ben continued to build on the pressure and paced the third quarter in 28.1 seconds while his rivals started to feel the pinch. As Hokunui Ben raced off the back straight for the final time, Clinton Hall decided to wait no longer and skipped away on his rivals leaving his stablemate Toretto as the only legitimate threat. With the winning post within his sights, the steps became shorter for Hokunui Ben as Toretto continued to take ground off him. At the finish, Hokunui Ben lasted by the barest possible margin of a nose from Toretto while an unlucky This Time Dylan was five metres away in third. Race favourite Im Victorious finished sixth while it was later established he carried a flat tyre for the duration of the event. The final quarter was posted in 29.2 seconds. The mile rate for the 2936m event was 1;59.6. “That’s a great victory; I was disappointed with the horse last week in the Fremantle Cup so we changed his work around this week and really lightened off his workload.” Winning trainer Gary Hall Snr said. “That was a terrific drive by Clint, he rated perfectly him perfectly and I’m proud to see him get his first Cup winner. This horse just keeps stepping up and we’ll now look at the Inter Dominion series with him.” Hall Snr added. The victory provided winning trainer Gary Hall Snr with his 8th WA Pacing Cup trophy, the master horseman has now won eight of the last twelve editions of the famous race. For winning driver Clinton Hall, it would prove to be his first Cup success, and his front running tactics would prove to be inch perfect. Hokunui Ben is raced by Queensland based owner Jeroen Nieuwenburg. Nieuwenburg has raced plenty of pacers with success from the Hall stables in Perth over several years now and is no stranger to success either after Dartmoor won the 2008 Australian Pacing Championship. Oddly, both Nieuwenburg and Hall Snr have never actually come face to face. by Chris Barsby
Pinjarra trainer Michael Brennan declared that star five-year-old Im Victorious would strip fitter and stronger for the $400,000 Nepean Conveyors WA Pacing Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night than he was when he scored a brilliant victory in the Fremantle Cup last Friday night. "He has improved since that run and has tightened right up," he said. "You've got to remember that was his first run for three weeks and he has got through the weekend heatwave in great shape and he felt super in his work yesterday (Monday) and today (Tuesday). "I couldn't be happier with the horse and the way he's going. The 2936m is going to be right up his alley. He'll have plenty of time to find his feet and then it will be up to Junior (Gary Hall jun.)." Brennan and Hall are bubbling with confidence that Im Victorious will be able to overcome the tricky draw on the inside of the back line and become just the eighth pacer to complete the Fremantle Cup-WA Pacing Cup double in the one season and the first horse to win the WA Derby, Golden Nugget, Fremantle Cup and WA Pacing Cup. Horses to have won the Cups double in the one season are Black Bertha (1942), Pure Steel (1980), Village Kid (1988 and 1989), The Falcon Strike (2002 and 2004), Baltic Eagle (2003) and Im Themightyquinn (2011 and 2012). The 31-year-old Hall, the second most successful reinsman in the 101-year history of the WA Pacing Cup with six winners (behind Phil Coulson with seven), is far from fazed about Im Victorious starting from the inside of the back line and the possibility of becoming hemmed in and unable to obtain a clear run. He aims to get Im Victorious off the inside and into the clear as soon as possible. "A lot of these races are won by horses who race on the leader's back, three back on the fence or even further back on the pegs," he said. "But when you've got a horse like Im Victorious and consider the artillery he carries, the fence is the last place you want to be. "So I plan to get off as soon as we can. You have just got to make sure you survive the early hustle and bustle in the race and then I'll just play things by ear. You've just got to weigh up the option and when things change out there your options change. With Im Victorious we're not screwed down to any set tactics. He's very versatile and we'll let the race tell us when to make our move." Hall used bold tactics last week when he charged forward from the rear with Im Victorious 650m after the start and raced the gelding in the breeze outside the pacemaker and favourite Bettors Fire before getting the upper hand on the home turn and beating Bettors Fire by a comfortable 2-metre margin. This week Hall may have to employ different tactics, mainly because young trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper said that he expected to race in the breeze with the five-year-old. Bettors Fire led from the No. 1 barrier in the Fremantle Cup, but he unlikely to have the gate speed to be able to burst to the front from the No. 4 barrier. The general consensus among the Cup trainers and drivers is that Hokonui Ben, trained by Gary Hall sen., will set the pace after starting from barrier two, on the outside of his younger and less experienced stablemate Toretto. Hall sen. reinforced this general opinion by saying: "Toretto is at his best when leading, but I think that his best chance will be if he takes a sit behind Hokonui Ben. I think that Toretto is about a year away from being up to this class. And from second on the fence Toretto is still going to have a great chance. "The problem I've got when I've got multiple runners is that I don't want to look to be involved in team driving. I know that the stewards are always aware of that, but I wouldn't team drive purposely. I send horses out there to try to make sure that they all finish in the best possible position. And I think Toretto's best chance is to be sitting on Hokonui Ben. "I expect Hokonui ben to lead. He is quite talented in front. Obviously, the best two horses in the race are Im Victorious and David Hercules." Hall jun. said that he was not concerned at starting from the inside of the back line as he recalled the first public barrier draw he attended, for the 2002 WA Pacing Cup, a week after he had driven The Falcon Strike to victory in the Fremantle Cup. "Mike van Rens, major owner of The Falcon Strike, told me that I would be picking the barrier," he said. "I walked up to the stage and pulled out barrier nine, the outside of the front line in those days, and I spent the rest of the night and the rest of the week really depressed and thinking that I had ruled myself out of the race. "The Falcon Strike came out and won the race and I decided I would not put too much focus on future barrier draws and let what happens happen and just believe in your horse and your ability as a driver." Brennan, in his second season as a trainer after serving an apprenticeship with Hall sen., said that he had high hopes that his other Cup runner This Time Dylan, who flashed home with a sparkling late burst to finish sixth in the Fremantle Cup, could be placed in this week's big group 1 feature. "His finishing burst was sensational and he's done a massive job in the past eight weeks," he said. "I was just fortunate that Brian Ridley claimed him three Fridays ago and he came to me in such good order from the Hall stable." Harper advised punters that Bettors Fire was capable of a bold effort, saying: "I think he's right up there with the top of the bunch and he'll definitely be there fighting out the finish. He was a touch underdone and not 100 per cent last week and he has improved after that run. However, there are no excuses for his defeat. He was beaten by a better horse on the night and probably a better horse generally at this stage. "I think that Hokonui Ben will find the front and if we find the breeze, as I expect, I'll be aiming to stay there. If anything tries to get past us, they'll be three deep for a pretty long time." Harper said it was a surreal feeling to have his first starter in a WA Pacing Cup and he recalled fondly one of his first memories of the big race --- back in 2001 when his father Lindsay prepared and drove Havago to victory. "I remember going down to the beach and watching Havago work," he said. "It has always been an ambition to work a horse on the beach for a Pacing Cup, and here I am all this week doing just that, and it's amazing." Ace reinsman Morgan Woodley, who drove outsider Mysta Magical Mach to victory in the 2009 WA Pacing Cup, was naturally disappointed when the David Thompson-trained David Hercules drew poorly at barrier four on the back line. But he has certainly not given up hope and he declared that the speedy seven-year-old could not be in any better shape than he is at the moment. Woodley said that the 2936m posed no problems for the gelding. He said that he was going into the race with no set plans and would decide on his tactics as the race unfolded. Eight-year-old Ima Rocket Star has drawn favourably at barrier three on the front line and co-trainer Greg Bond said that the gelding would relish the 2936m journey. "Staying is his forte," he said. "He is fit and well and he'll probably work forward at the start and get into the running line. If Bettors Fire gets to the breeze, we could get the ideal trail behind him." Tern-year-old iron horse Washakie, winner of the 2010 WA Pacing Cup (when he defeated Im Themightyquinn), is a resolute stayer, but his prospects faded when he drew the outside of the front line. Capel trainer Andrew De Campo has two runners --- Dasher VC and Lombo Navigator --- and they are outsiders after drawing poorly. Dasher VC, winner of the 2013 Fremantle Cup, will start from the outside of the back line after breaking into a bad gallop soon after the start of the Fremantle Cup last week. Lombo Navigator, who will be having his first start since finishing last in a sprint vat Gloucester Park on September 20, will start out wide at No. 6 on the front line. Bookmaker Steve Mulhall has Dasher VC at 33/1 and Lombo Navigator at 50/1, with Im Victorious favourite at even money. The market: evens Im Victorious, 5/1 Hokonui Ben, 7/1 Bettors Fire, 9/1 David Hercules, 20/1 Washakie, Ima Rocket Star, This Time Dylan, 25/1 Hez the Bart Man, 33/1 Toretto, Dasher VC, 50/1 Lombo Navigator, Livingontheinterest. HALL FANCIES FAMOUS ALCHEMIST OVER THE LONG JOURNEY New Zealand-bred mare Famous Alchemist has never won a race beyond 2200m, but reinsman Gary Hall jun. is confident she will lead all the way in the Nepean Conveyors WA Pacing Cup Consolation over the marathon journey of 2936m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. "She's pretty tough and I don't think the long trip will worry her," he said. Hall's optimism bubbled to the fore after the five-year-old drew the prized No. 1 barrier. "She will hold up early and is a great leader," Hall said. "There is nothing in the race who could sit outside her and then hold off the late challengers." Hall has good reason to be confident. Famous Alchemist has started 18 times in Western Australia and has not been beaten in the five events in which she has set the pace. She is undefeated in the three starts in which she has begun from the No. 1 barrier in WA. Famous Alchemist, trained by Gary Hall sen., was an all-the-way winner over 2130m two starts ago, when she defeated Maggies Mystery, before she contested the consolation of the Fremantle Cup over 2536m last Friday night. She started from barrier three and raced three back on the pegs before getting clear in the final stages and flying home to be third behind Hez The Bart Man and Danieljohn. The major danger to Famous Alchemist looms as the Justin Prentice-trained Gday Mate, who will start from the inside of the back line and looks set to enjoy a perfect sit behind the likely pacemaker. Gday Mate bounced back to top form last Friday night when he started from barrier five on the front line and raced in ninth position before charging home to win at a 1.57.2 rate over 2536m from J Walker and Hokurin Handrail. The Hall camp hopes to complete a successful night by winning the final event, the Nepean Conveyors Three-Year-Old Fillies Pace with the highly-promising Majorly Foxy Styx, who has won at each of her past four starts, including her first three outings this season. "She has drawn out wide at barrier six, but she should have the measure of her seven rivals," Hall jun. said. "She is a big filly with plenty of ability." WILLIAMS EXPECTS OHOKA Kentucky TO FLOURISH IN FRONT Promising New Zealand-bred five-year-old Ohoka Kentucky produced a sparkling burst of speed to cruise to an effortless victory at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week and trainer-reinsman Robbie Williams predicted that the Christian Cullen gelding would be seen in a different role at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Ohoka Kentucky will start from the No. 1 barrier and Williams will be aiming for an all-the-way win in the 2130m first heat of the San Simeon Pace. The gelding started from barrier four at his latest appearance and Williams was content to keep him in sixth opposition in the one-wide line before setting him alight with a fast three-wide sprint 450m from home. Ohoka Kentucky burst to the front 150m later and raced away to beat The Oyster Bar by five lengths at a 1.56.3 rate over 1730m. It was his fourth win from eight starts in Western Australia. "He has worked on super since his latest outing, he's got good gate speed and is good in front," Williams said. Ohoka Kentucky should be at reasonable odds because there is a lot of exposed form in the race, with Rowchester, Jay Bees Grin, Heez On Fire, Clifford, Mister Sarkozy and Borntobeanartist all worthy of serious consideration. DELUXE EDITION HAS SOUND CLAIMS IN QUALIFYING HEAT Four-year-old Deluxe Edition still has a tendency to pull hard in her races, but she looks a good bet in the second heat of the Im Themightyquinn Mares Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The daughter of Jet Laag, who is trained at Oakford by Ross Olivieri, warmed up for this event in fine style when she bowled along in front for Chris Voak and beat Jezaenkoubeauty and Firebomb over 2130m at a 1.58 rate at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week. She has had 30 starts for eight wins and 12 placings and gave a sample of her class five starts ago when she finished second to star mare Leda McNally and ahead of the talented Famous Alchemist over 1730m at Gloucester Park. She will start out wide at barrier five on the front line on Friday night and Voak looks sure to get her away to a fast start in a bid to take the lead in the early stages. Olivieri has a good second string in the race in Arousing, whose prospects diminished when she drew the outside of the front line. Eight-year-old Kotare Ash is out of form and has managed one placing from her past ten starts. But she should appreciate the No. 1 barrier and is capable of causing an upset. The consistent Arch On Fire will have many admirers from the inside of the back line. She has had 94 starts for 13 wins, 31 placings and $130,532 in stakes and should enjoy a perfect run on the pegs. She was ninth in the middle stages and sustained a strong three-wide burst to dead-heat for fourth behind Pure Empathy over 2130m last Friday night. by Ken Casellas
Young trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper declared that he couldn't be happier with rising star Bettors Fire drawing the coveted No. 1 barrier in the $250,000 Yes Loans Fremantle Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night and said he was confident of leading and holding his 11 rivals at bay. He said that the brilliant five-year-old was "bigger, rounder and stronger" than he was when an unlucky fifth behind Hokonui Ben in the Village Kid Sprint last Friday week. "Since that race I have freshened him up a bit," the 23-year-old Harper said. "He got a little bit lighter than I would have liked and now he's put on between ten to 20kg. I find he races better when he's a bit bigger. He has put on the weight in his neck, over his barrel and over his rump. He's rounded right up and is nice and fit. "I upped his intake of grain and have given him slow work. Now I'm producing him as the sharper horse he was before (when he won the Navy Cup, Mount Eden Sprint and Bunbury Cup) and I think he's got good enough gate speed to hold up pretty comfortably." Harper said that Bettors Fire was one of four stand-out horses in the group 1 Cup over 2536m. "I couldn't be happier, drawing No. 1, especially with two of the main three dangers (Im Victorious and David Hercules) drawing the two outside positions on the back line. The other danger is Washakie, who has drawn the inside of the back line. "Really I think that Bettors Fire, Im Victorious, David Hercules and Washakie stand out above the rest of the field. I think that Im Victorious and David Hercules will come very fast, very late. So then I won't have the chance of holding back to the field and keeping Washakie hemmed in, if he is trailing me. I will just have to get going and hope that we're good enough to hold off Washakie and the others." Kevin Jeavons, who races Washakie in partnership with Gino Monaco and Lindsay Severn, said that the ten-year-old trained in New South Wales by John McCarthy, was still racing with youthful enthusiasm and had arrived in Perth on Tuesday morning in "good nick" after a float trip from Sydney to Melbourne and a flight from Melbourne. He is stabled at Noel Keiley's Byford property. Washakie, who has raced in the Fremantle Cup three times for an eighth behind Power of Tara in 2009, a second to Im Themightyquinn in 2011 and fourth behind Im Themightyquinn in 2012, notched his 53rd victory from 140 starts and boosted his earnings to $1,837,473 when he won the group 3 $45,000 Shirley Turnbull Memorial at Bathurst on December 26. Two starts before that he won the group 1 $100,000 Treuer Memorial at Bankstown for the fifth year in succession. Jeavons said that he would leave the driving tactics to McCarthy, who is due to arrive in Perth on Wednesday to fine tune the evergreen gelding for his assignment on Friday night. David Hercules worked in dashing style in a trial at Byford on Sunday morning for trainer David Thompson, but his prospects diminished when he drew the outside of the back line in the Cup. However, reinsman Morgan Woodley warned that it would be unwise to disregard David Hercules as a realistic prospect, saying: "He has proved himself time and time again that he is a top-notch performer and if the early pace is solid and he gets a suitable run he can certainly come home and make his presence felt. "Perhaps if we can get a cart up behind Im Victorious and get taken into the race he could be a good each-way chance. It looks as though Bettors Fire will lead and prove to be tremendously hard to beat. The rest of us will be relying on that little bit of luck. Thommo couldn't have David Hercules any better than he is at the moment and if the horse had drawn one or two we would have been very confident." At his most recent outing, David Hercules started from the outside of the front line and was restrained to the rear before he finished powerfully to be second to Hokonui Ben in the Village Kid Sprint last Friday week. Woodley then handled David Hercules in a 2150m trial at Byford on Sunday morning when he sat behind the pacemaker Mysta Magical Mach before surging home to win the trial by 7m from Mysta Magical Mach at a 1.57.4 rate after speeding over the final two 400m sections in 28.7sec. and 27.2sec. "He ran the final sectionals in very slippery times and still had something left in reserve," Woodley said. Dasher VC, who started from the No. 1 barrier and set the pace before holding on to win the 2013 Fremantle Cup over 2936m, will start from barrier two on the back line for Capel trainer Andrew De Campo and reinsman Chris Lewis. "It's not a bad draw," said de Campo. "I expect Bettors Fire to lead and Dasher VC should get a good run through. We might go to the fence and be three back. I reckon there will be a fair bit of pressure in the race and Dasher VC can really sprint. His form is good; it's better than it reads on paper and he goes into the race with a chance." By Ken Casellas
A sizzling final quarter in 26.8sec. by star pacer Im Victorious in a track workout at Pinjarra last Saturday morning excited champion reinsman Gary Hall jun. who will be reunited with the five-year-old when he drives him in the $250,000 Yes Loans Fremantle Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Hall replaces Justin Prentice, who has done an outstanding job in driving Im Victorious at his past 25 starts for 17 wins. Hall drove Im Victorious at three of his first four starts for three victories and has high hopes that he will maintain his unbeaten record behind him by winning the 2536m Fremantle Cup. “The barrier (No. 4 on the back line) is not the best, but Im Victorious is potentially the best horse in the field,” Hall said. “I drove him on the track at Pinjarra on Saturday morning and we worked with two mothers and went pretty good. He went like you would expect him to go and Mouse (trainer Michael Brennan) said it was the quickest he had worked down there. “He went a tick under 3min. 3sec. for the mile and a half and covered the last quarter in 26.8sec. It is a pretty quick track, but the cones were out and we were about three and four wide. I was more happy with the way he pulled up. The workout didn’t worry him at all. “He had to travel back from Victoria (after the Victoria Cup), had a few days off and a few days jogging. He had had only one track run before Saturday’s workout and I’m looking forward to driving him again. Obviously he has a big future and this is just the start of something. “When I drove him as a three-year-old (in February and March 2012) he was really laid-back. I knew he was good, but you couldn’t gauge how good he was because he only did what he had to do to win. There always seemed to be a little bit more there all the time, when you asked for it. He’s the complete racehorse.” Hall named Bettors Fire as the hardest for Im Victorious to beat and said that he had no set plans how he was going to drive Im Victorious. “I’ll probably make up my mind regarding tactics when I’m out there,” he said. “I’ll see how hard they come out of the gate and what happens early.” Hall has won the Fremantle Cup five times with pacers trained by his father Gary. They have been successful with The Falcon Strike twice and with Im Themightyquinn three times. Im Themightyquinn failed to win the Cup four times in a row when he started at 5/2 on and raced in the breeze over the final 900m before being beaten a head by the pacemaker Dasher VC in last year’s event. Hall sen. has three runners in this year’s Cup --- Livingontheinterest (barrier two), Toretto (three) and Hokonui Ben (five). Brennan has a second string in This Time Dylan, who will start from the No. 4 barrier and will be driven by Justin Prentice. Luivingontheinterest, who also started from barrier two in last year’s Cup (in which he finished fourth) will be handled by Kim Prentice, Clint Hall will drive the in-form Hokonui Ben and Shane Butcher is likely to get the drive behind Toretto. Chris Voak has opted to drive Leda McNally in preference to Red Salute, citing the barrier draw for his decision. Leda McNally, trained by Chris King, will start from barrier three on the back line, with Red Salute, a smart winner last Friday night, faring poorly by drawing the outside (No. 7) on the front line. Leda McNally is the only mare in the Cup and Voak gives her a sound winning chance. “We need luck and speed in the race,” Voak said. “It’s a good draw for her and she’s in form. I used her out of the gate last week to get a spot and she was on the speed for the first 700m while Shardons Rocket and Ima Rocket Star had a duel. “Then I was the only horse who was on the speed who made any impression late. And she went down by only a head (to This Time Dylan).” TRUCKERS RUFFNUT TO REAPPEAR AFTER A 39-MONTH ABSENCE Former star juvenile pacer Truckers Ruffnut will make his first appearance in a race after an absence of 39 months when he contests the 2536m Yes Loans Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night and Bunbury trainer Murray Hansen predicts a strong first-up showing. “He damaged a suspensory in 2010 and then hurt his other front leg,” Hansen said. “This is our fourth attempt to get him back. The previous three were unsuccessful when we got him right up to trialling before he went amiss. “It’s so far, so good this preparation. His legs are fantastic and he’s got through two trials with flying colours. Justin Prentice drove him in his latest trial when he sat last before running home to finish second to Dasher VC (on Monday of last week).” The final quarters were covered in 27.6sec. and 28.3sec. “We clocked him coming home in 55.1sec.,” Hansen said. Eight days before that Ryan Bell drove Truckers Ruffnut in a 2185m trial at Pinjarra in which he dashed over the final quarters in 28.6sec. and 29sec. and beat Madeline Holly by a head. “He’s very classy and he doesn’t feel like that he’s lost anything,” Hansen said. “Just before he broke down he was ready to show his best and was definitely a Cups horse. It’s been a long road back and barrier five is not ideal, but he’s the class horse of the race and can win. He has had a lot of work and I couldn’t be happier with him.” Truckers Ruffnut, now an eight-year-old, has earned $221,420 from 18 wins and 14 placings from 47 starts. At his most recent appearance he started off 10m and finished second to frontmarker Christopher Three in a 2503m event at Gloucester Park on October 15, 2010. He had won at two of his three previous starts. As a three-year-old in 2009 Truckers Ruffnut won the group 3 WA Sales Classic, the group 1 $100,000 State Sires Series and the consolation of the Breeders Crown at Melton. By Ken Casellas
In the latest news from the Hall stable star performers Im Themightyquinn and Alta Christiano are back in work and on the comeback trail. “Im Themightyquinn has been back in work for four days and his sore feet seem to be all right,” Hall said. “He has no other problems and if everything goes well he should be able to resume racing in five to six weeks. Hopefully he will be back to his best for the WA Pacing Cup and Fremantle Cup. I’m still keen to take him to Sydney for the interdominion championship next March. He’s got to defend his title.” Hall said that Alta Christiano, a winner of seven of his 11 starts and unbeaten at three appearances in WA, was on the mend after damaging the suspensory ligament in his nearside foreleg. “After receiving stem cell treatment he got an infection, and that was nearly the end of him,” Hall said. “But he has overcome all those problems and started work on Monday. He probably won’t be ready to race again until about March. If I can get him up and going, I could take him to Sydney for the Chariots of Fire.” By Ken Casellas
Champion reinsman Chris Lewis has won the $30,000 Sealanes Parliamentarians Cup six times since the race was inaugurated in 1993 and he has bright prospects of maintaining his great strike rate by driving Dasher VC to victory in the 2130m mobile event at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “He should improve a lot on his first-up run (when a fighting fourth behind Bettors Fire in the 1730m Mount Eden Sprint last Friday night) and Chris is happy with him,” said Aiden De Campo, son of the seven-year-old’s trainer Andrew De Campo. “He will probably be doing the work in the breeze, but hopefully he’ll be good enough to win. He was always going to need the run last week, at his first start for almost nine months. We don’t hopple him in between runs and Dad works him in the cart in the bush. “We have been keeping him off the track and confining him to bush work in an attempt to keep him sound. He’s got bad joints, but it’s nothing serious. He’s an old horse and it’s just a bit of wear and tear.” The New Zealand-bred Dasher VC, who has amassed $629,342 in prizemoney from 21 wins and eight placings from only 46 starts, is awkwardly drawn out wide at barrier six on the front line on Friday night and Lewis is likely to go forward in the early stages in a bid to get to the breeze or even take the lead. There is no a great deal of natural speed on the inside of Dasher VC, apart from Please Release Me, who has been placed only twice from his past 11 starts. Please Release Me will start from the No. 5 barrier and it will be most interesting to watch what tactics Chris Brew adopts behind the speedy and versatile eight-year-old. There is also little doubt that the Tony Svilicich-trained Shardons Rocket (Morgan Woodley) will go forward from barrier four. Shardons Rocket is racing with great heart and his effort when sixth behind Bettors Fire last week, when he raced three wide in fourth place for almost the entire journey, was full of merit. But there is little argument that Dasher VC is certainly the class runner in the Cup. He gave a sample of his wonderful ability when he led and held on grimly to win the 2936m Fremantle Cup by a head from Im Themightyquinn last January. A win this week by Dasher VC would help overcome the disappointment of Andrew De Campo when his pacer Lombo Navigator (driven by Matt White) set the pace until the final 150m when second to Im Themightyquinn in the Parliamentarians Cup over 2536m 12 months ago. Lewis has won the race with Hilarion Star (1993), Heros Knight (1998), Our London Pride (1999), Jimmy Nail (2003), Competitive Edge (2006) and Ima Spicey Lombo (2010). Forrestdale trainers Greg and Skye Bond have a strong representation in Friday night’s race, with both Ima Rocket Star (Colin Brown) and Our Major Mark (Ryan Warwick) is splendid form and capable of winning, despite their back-line draws. Greg Bond and Brown combined to win the 2004 Parliamentarians Cup with Money Magnet and Bond is extremely happy with the form of his runners. Ima Rocket Star, a winner at 25 of his 57 starts, raced four and three wide early and then without cover when a fighting second to Bettors Fire in the 2536m Navy Cup last Friday week. That followed wins over 2536m and 2130m and a splendid second to Im Victorious at his three previous outings. Our Major Mark notched his 21st victory when stormed home from last 360m from home to win by two lengths from Hez The Bart Man over 2536m last Friday night. Seasoned performer Davy Maguire has drawn nicely on the inside of the back line for his first start for Wanneroo trainer Debbie Padberg. He was claimed for just $5000 by John and Debbie Padberg when he scored a stylish win at a 1.55 rate over 1730m at Gloucester Park last Monday week. “I quite like him,” said Mrs Padberg. “He’s fit and his track work has been very good.” Leda McNally, the only mare in the race, is nicely drawn at No. 2 on the back line and she is capable of unwinding a sparkling late sprint. Dredlock Rockstar, an M1-class performer trained at Busselton by Michael Callegari, was a 40/1 chance when he impressed greatly last Friday night when he thundered home from 12th and last at the bell to be third behind Bettors Fire and Im Victorious. He will start from barrier two on the front line. BONDS AND BROWN LOOKING FOR MIDNIGHTY DYLAN TO REPEAT THE DOSE “He’s a noted frontrunner and loves this trip,” declared trainer Greg Bond when assessing Midnight Dylan’s prospects in the $21,000 Normandie Foods Italian Sprint over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Bond and his wife Skye, part-trainer of the New Zealand-bred five-year-old, are confident of success this week after preparing the winner of the Italian Sprint in the past three years. They have combined with ace reinsman Colin Brown to win the sprint with Motu Treasure in 2010 and 2011 and Kamwood Laughter last year. Motu Treasure (10/9 on) led from barrier four and won easily from Mon Gee and Tsunami Lombo in 2010 before he started from the No. 2 barrier and at 9/2 when he set the pace and held on to defeat the 6/4 on favourite Grinjaro by a nose in 2011. Last year Kamwood Laughter was favourite at 5/4 on from barrier four. She raced wide early and then in the one-out, one-back position before being shuffled back to sixth at the bell. She was badly blocked for a clear passage in the back straight before she flew home, out wide, from sixth at the 250m mark to beat the pacemaker Elite Angel by a half-length. Midnight Dylan, a winner at 12 of his 55 starts, gave a sparkling frontrunning display to win effortlessly from Empire Flame at a 1.56.3 rate over 1730m two starts ago, at Gloucester Park five Friday nights ago. A week later he started from the No. 2 barrier when he challenged unsuccessfully for the early lead from polemarker Western Cullen. After racing in the breeze for a while Midnight Dylan raced in the one-out, one-back position and failed to flatter, finishing sixth behind Western Cullen. Bond said it would be wise to overlook that unplaced effort, saying: “Before his win the previous week he had had a couple of runs in Kalgoorlie and at his latest outing he was probably one and a half to two lengths off his best. So we took him home and freshened him up, which he has enjoyed. “He’s now all good to go and we expect him to come out, fit and fresh and firing. He will be holding up from the inside barrier and leading. I’m looking forward to the race, now that he has drawn barrier one. That makes his job a tad easier, if nothing else. He’s not a certainty, because there are some good horses in the race, including The Ragpickers Dream and Danieljohn.” The Bonds also have an excellent second string runner in the race in Your Good Fortune, a smart five-year-old with 14 wins from only 30 starts. Your Good Fortune, a winner at four of his past five starts, is drawn at No. 4 on the front line and will be handled by Ryan Warwick. “Your Good Fortune is a horsed with more than a good share of ability,” Bond said. “If the race is run upside down and if he’s camped over them, he could be dangerous.” Bond said that if Midnight Dylan won another couple of city races he was most likely to be sold to race in America. “We sold Kamwood Laughter to America and she has already won a few races at Yonkers,” he said. “Motu Treasure was sold to race in Adelaide, but after one start at Globe Derby Park he injured a leg. However, he’s on the mend.” Aiden De Campo said he expected a good showing from Danieljohn, who will start from barrier three on the front line at his first appearance since late June. The winner of 16 races from 41 starts, Danieljohn gave a sample of his class when he won the group 2 San Simeon Classic at Gloucester Park last January and the group 3 Harvey Cup from Russley Rascal and Franco Renegade in March. “He has had a fair amount of work and is pretty forward in himself,” said de Campo, who will drive the five-year-old who is trained at Capel by his father Andrew. “He worked well on our home track this morning (Tuesday) when I sat behind Quick Reflection and got up to beat that horse, without either horse being extended.” HALL ON THE DOORSTEP OF THE MILESTONE OF 1500 CITY WINNERS Champion trainer Gary Hall sen. is on the doorstep of a notable milestone. The 64-year-old Serpentine horseman has 15 runners engaged in the ten-event program at Gloucester Park on Friday night and he needs just one winner to record his 1500th city training success. Most of his runners have sound each-way prospects and when asked for his best prospects he said that Askmenow and This Time Dylan were the two he fancied most. But he also said that Soho Highroller, Rowchester, The Ragpickers Dream and Jar Zinyo had sound claims and most of his other starters were capable of winning if they enjoyed a slice of luck. Much water has passed under the bridge since Hall, a week after celebrating his 23rd birthday, trained and drove his first city winner when he dashed 5/2 chance Tobaree to an early lead, set a dawdling pace and then charged away to win at a 2.12 rate over 12 furlongs from Elaborate and Royal Spinner. He has been a trendsetter who has produced many outstanding performers, including superstars The Falcon Strike and Im Themightyquinn. Hall notched his 1499th Metropolitan winner when his son Gary drove hot favourite My Hard Copy to a splendid all-the-way victory over Jay Bees Grin in the 1730m event for C3-class pacers at Gloucester Park on Tuesday night. Hall said that the New Zealand-bred four-year-old Askmenow should prove hard to beat in the 1730m Del Basso Smallgoods Parliamentarians Cup for Mares Pace. Askmenow, to be driven by Gary Hall jun., will start from the No. 2 barrier on the front line. She has won at nine of her past 13 starts and Hall jun. is likely to attempt an all-the-way win over the sprint trip. Hall sen. has four runners (Askmenow, Chloe Vargarita, Famous Alchemist and Korobeit Angel) engaged in the race and he had little hesitation in declaring that Famous Alchemist was the best of that quartet. “But she has drawn on the outside (No. 7) on the front line and will find it tough from there,” he said. “She has got a bit more class and a bit more speed than Askmenow, but Askmenow is more forward in condition and she’s tough. “Dropping back from 2536m to 1730m will also certainly help Askmenow.” Askmenow started from barrier four in a 2536m event last Friday night and she worked hard before getting to the front after 450m and she faded to finish third behind Our Major Mark and Hez The Bart Man. She should appreciate racing against her own sex this week. Hall also has high hopes for This Time Dylan, who will start from the outside of the front line in the 2130m Action Industrial Catering Claiming Pace. The New Zealand-bred eight-year-old was most impressive last Friday night when he came from the rear to race three wide (without a trail) for almost 800m before surging on the front and scoring an 8m victory over Lord Coburn in a 2503m stand. It was his fourth win in a stand from his past six starts, but he should be capable of readjusting to a different tempo when he returns to mobile racing this week. In the latest news from the Hall stable star performers Im Themightyquinn and Alta Christiano are back in work and on the comeback trail. “Im Themightyquinn has been back in work for four days and his sore feet seem to be all right,” Hall said. “He has no other problems and if everything goes well he should be able to resume racing in five to six weeks. Hopefully he will be back to his best for the WA Pacing Cup and Fremantle Cup. I’m still keen to take him to Sydney for the interdominion championship next March. He’s got to defend his title.” Hall said that Alta Christiano, a winner of seven of his 11 starts and unbeaten at three appearances in WA, was on the mend after damaging the suspensory ligament in his nearside foreleg. “After receiving stem cell treatment he got an infection, and that was nearly the end of him,” Hall said. “But he has overcome all those problems and started work on Monday. He probably won’t be ready to race again until about March. If I can get him up and going, I could take him to Sydney for the Chariots of Fire.” NOWITZKI, A FIRST-UP SPECIALIST, TO MAKE HIS WA DEBUT Star Victorian-bred four-year-old Nowitzki should continue his perfect record of recording a first-up victory by proving too smart for his 11 rivals at his WA debut in the 2130m BLVD Tavern Joondalup Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The Art Major gelding has settled well at Michael Brennan’s Pinjarra training establishment for his Victorian trainer-reinsman Daniel Jack and he has the class to overcome the disadvantage of starting from the outside of the front line. He is unbeaten at his three first-up starts in a brief career of 14 runs for seven wins and four placings. He won by 6.7m at his debut, at Melton in March 2012, and he also was successful at his next two first-up runs, by 8.2m at Cobram in November 2012 and by 14.1 at Kilmore last July. He has not raced since he started from the back line, dashed to an early lead, set the pace and faded to third behind Chilli Palmer and Hilltop Hustler over 2240m at Melton on August 23. At his previous start he raced wide early and then in the breeze before finishing third behind Bit Of A Legend over the same journey at Melton. Nowitzki’s only serious rival on Friday night appears to be Rowchester, who will start out wide at barrier six on the front line. Rowchester, trained by Gary Hall sen., has turned the corner with strong wins at his past two starts --- when racing in the breeze and beating Tommy Smith over 2185m at Pinjarra and when leading and beating Ardens Southee over2536m at Gloucester Park. by Ken Casellas
Champion mare Bettor Cover Lover faces a daunting task at her first West Australian appearance when she contests the $50,000 Nepean Conveyors Mount Eden Sprint at Gloucester Park on Friday night, but the six-year-old’s trainer and driver Brent Mangos is confident she will give a bold showing at her first start for five months. “She got good speed and good stamina and she hasn’t got too many weaknesses,” the New Zealand trainer declared. “I’m sure she will acquit herself well. She will be going into the race probably about 80 per cent and she’s got a great record in sprint events.” The random barrier draw certainly did not boost Bettor Cover Lover’s prospects. She drew the outside of the back line in the 1730m event. Another hurdle Bettor Cover Lover must overcome is the fact that only six mares have been successful in the 57-year history of the Mount Eden Sprint, formerly known as the State Sprint Championship. The most recent win by a mare was in 1992 when Rod Chambers drove Whitbys Miss Penny to victory over My Current Account and Antique Gold. Before that, Dainty’s Daughter won in 1970, Pyramus in 1971, Virgil Queen in 1977, Kiwi Cloud in 1978 and Line On in 1986. The New Zealand-bred Bettor Cover Lover has raced 33 times for 19 wins, 11 placings and prizemoney of $996,156 for her West Australian owners Trevor and Colleen Lindsay. She has not raced since winning a $150,000 event in 1.53.8 over 1609m at Ashburton on June 2. She gave yet another sample of her tremendous class three starts before that when a strong-finishing third behind Im Themightyquinn and Terror To Love in the 2700m Auckland Cup at Alexandra Park in March. Her wins have been over 1609m (two), 1700m (three), 1950m (three), 2000m (one), 2200m (six), 2240m (two), 2600m (one) and 2700m (one). Bettor Cover Lover warmed up for the Mount Eden Sprint with a smart workout in a 2185m trial at Pinjarra last Saturday morning. She was smartest to begin from the No. 2 barrier and led early before sitting behind the pacemaker Dasher VC. After modest 400m sections of the final mile in 31.5sec., 31.6sec. and 29.8sec. the pace went on and the final quarter whizzed by in a sizzling 26.6sec., with Dasher VC winning by a nose from Bit Of A Legend, with a neck to Bettor Cover Lover in third place and a long head to Leda McNally, the only other runner in the trial in which the winner rated 2.0.1. “It was a nice trial by Bettor Cover Lover,” Mangos said. “I didn’t drive her out. She was only there for a workout.” Mangos said that he would not worry about bringing Bettor Cover Lover to Gloucester Park during the week to get her accustomed to the track and surroundings. He had his first drive at Gloucester Park on Monday afternoon when unplaced behind New Zealand-bred four-year-old Three Kings. “For a half-mile track it is a good track,” he said. “The surface is good and the bends are good. She’ll get around without any trouble. This will be her first look at the track, but that won’t bother her. She is pretty adaptable. Our track at home is an 800m track.” Friday night’s clash between Bettor Cover Lover, rising star Im Victorious, Dasher VC and Bettors Fire will attract enormous interest among local sporting enthusiasts. Im Victorious, undefeated at his six starts, all at Gloucester Park over distances ranging from 1730m to 2503m, in his latest campaign, will start from barrier two on the back line and reinsman Justin Prentice will be looking for the five-year-old to produce a trademark withering finishing burst. Im Victorious thundered home from eighth in the middle stages and fifth at the bell to win the 2130m Stratton Cup by three lengths from Ima Rocket Star last Friday week when he rated 1.55.9. The previous week he sprinted home powerfully from fourth at the bell to win the 1730m Members’ Sprint by 4m from Im Themightyquinn at a 1.53.5 rate. His trainer Michael Brennan said that the gelding had thrived since his latest victory and he was looking forward to him meeting yet another challenge on his learning curve as he prepared for a grand circuit campaign. Dasher VC was produced in splendid condition by Capel trainer Andrew De Campo for his trial win at Pinjarra last Saturday, an effort which showed that the seven-year-old was capable of a bold first-up showing. Dasher VC, a winner at 21 of his 45 starts for stakes of $627,342, will start from the No. 4 barrier on the front line and Chris Lewis is sure to have him in a prominent position throughout. Dasher VC, who led and won the 2936m Fremantle Cup from Im Themightyquinn and Lombo Navigator on January 18 this year, has not appeared since he raced wide early and then without cover before finishing third to Im Themightyquinn and Mysta Magical Mach over 2536m at Gloucester Park on February 16. Adding great spice to Friday night’s feature event will be the appearance of up-and-coming star Bettors Fire, who has had seven starts in Western Australia for six wins and a very close second placing. The New Zealand-bred five-year-old has drawn perfectly at No. 1 on the front line and trainer Kyle Harper is sure to attempt an all-the-way victory. Bettors Fire boosted his growing reputation when he set the pace and scored a decisive victory over Ima Rocket Star in the 2536m Navy Cup last Friday night. He will again have an army of admirers when he faces the biggest test in his fledgling career. Harper will be particularly keen to emulate the deeds of his father Lindsay and elder brother Donald. His father has won the feature sprint with Havago (2002) and Lively Medley (2004) before his brother was successful with Hayton Brain in 2007. Lewis will be hoping that Dasher VC will give him his fifth win in the race. He has won with Village Kid (1987), Whitby Timer (1990), Flashing Star (1997) and Sneakyn Down Under (2008). Gary Hall jun., who will drive Uppy Son, has won the event with Bengeeman, The Falcon Strike and Im Themightyquinn (twice). BIT OF A LEGEND TO WARM UP FOR RICH FEATURE EVENTS Rarely does a Metropolitan maiden class event attract a great deal of attention. But this is far from the case when New Zealand-bred superstar Bit Of A Legend runs in the $17,500 Lancaster Park Pace over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Already the four-year-old is a genuine champion and is the nominal favourite for the $50,000 Retravision Four-Year-Old Championship, the $125,000 McInerney Ford Classic and the $175,000 Lancaster Park Golden Nugget Championship at Gloucester Park next month and early in December. Bit Of A Legend has not raced since he scored an effortless victory in the Breeders Crown for three-year-old colts and geldings at Melton in Victoria on August 18. He also won the two-year-old leg 12 months earlier. Bit Of A Legend is classes ahead of his 11 rivals in Friday night’s event in which he will be an extremely short-priced favourite. He has had 32 starts for Christchurch trainer Cran Dalgety for 16 wins, ten placings and stakes of $621,918. Dalgety and the stallion’s regular reinsman Dexter Dunn are still in New Zealand and Auckland trainer Brent Mangos has been looking after Bit Of A Legend at Rob Tomlinson’s Pinjarra property for the past fortnight. Dalgety is confident of a first-up victory and he said that the horse had come back up really well after a brief spell. “He’s not the sort of horse you need to do a lot of work with to get back to full fitness,” he said. Mangos is looking forward keenly to driving Bit Of A Legend for the first time on Friday night. “I have only ever watched him,” he said. “He is very good out of the gate and he seems pretty adaptable. This should be a nice race for him.” Bit Of A Legend had a splendid pipe opener when Kade Howson drove him in a 2185m trial at Pinjarra last Saturday morning when the horse finished full of running and covered the final 400m in 26.6sec. in finishing a nose second to Dasher VC. Bit Of A Legend is awkwardly drawn, out wide at No. 6 on the front line in Friday night’s sprint. But he is all class and this should prove to be no disadvantage. The son of Bettors Delight has won at ten of his past 12 starts, with his only defeats in that period being by a head and a half-head. He rated 1.56.7 and dashed over the final 400m in 26.7sec. when a head second to Border Control in the New Zealand derby at Addington last April and a half-head second to Border Control in the 1609m Emerald in which he ran the 1609m journey in 1.50.6, with the final 800m in 53.6sec. and the last 400m in 26.6sec. The Ross Olivieri-trained Kiss Chasey will start from the prized No. 1 barrier and should finish second to Bit Of A Legend. A strong frontrunner, he has started from the No. 1 barrier six times for three wins, one second, one third and one fifth placing. KOROBEIT ANGEL LOOKS ONE OF THE BEST BETS Victorian-bred mare Korobeit Angel has won at five of her 11 starts in Western Australia for premier trainer Gary Hall sen. and she should enhance her claims for a start in the two feature events for mares late next month by winning the 2130m West Australian Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Korobeit Angel put the writing on the wall last Friday night when she worked hard without cover all the way and fought on with grim determination to finish a half-head second to the pacemaker and 7/4 on favourite Bettor Dreams at a 1.55.9 rate over 1730m. That performance showed that she should be capable of overcoming the No. 5 barrier on the front line this week and proving too good for her eight rivals. She will again be driven by Gary Hall jun. She will be one of 14 runners from the Hall stable which looks set for yet another highly successful evening. The stable also has high hopes for other mares in Askmenow (2536m Retravision Pace) and Chloe Vargarita (2536m Make Smoking History Pace. Askmenow has won stylishly at her past four starts (since resuming from a spell) and will be strongly fancied in a field of seven which includes other Hall runners in Why Live Dangerously and Heavens Delight, as well as the Ross Olivieri-trained Hez The Bart Man, whom is very close to another win. Chloe Vargarita impressed at her latest outing when she was last in the middle stages and finished fast to be second to Askmenow over 2130m last Friday week. by Ken Casellas
Capel trainer Andrew de Campo's bold gamble to keep Dasher VC away from racing for 11 weeks leading up to the rich group 1 events at Gloucester Park's summer carnival returned a handsome dividend when the lightly-raced New Zealand-bred six-year-old scored a superb all-the-way victory in the $250,000 Yes Loans Fremantle Cup on Friday night (January 18).
Champion harness racing reinsman Chris Lewis produced a masterful front running drive to win with Dasher VC and topple Im Themightyquinn in Friday night's $250,000 Yes Loans Fremantle Cup (2936m) at Gloucester Park.
Champion harness racing pacer, Im Themightyquinn not surprisingly heads the Player fixed Odds market for Friday night's Group One $250,000 Yes Loans Fremantle Cup at Gloucester Park.
Leading harness racing trainer Gary Hall sen. is justifiably bubbling with confidence that champion pacer Im Themightyquinn will triumph in the $250,000 Yes Loans Fremantle Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night, but he is expecting stiff opposition from the Andrew de Campo-trained pair of Dasher VC and Lombo Navigator.
When pre-post favourite Im Themightyquinn lines up in Friday night's Group One Fremantle Cup he will be chasing an unprecedented fourth win in the race which can trace its harness racing history back to 1928.
Im Themightyquinn has drawn awkwardly on the inside of the back line in his attempt for a record fourth Group One $250,000 Yes Loans Fremantle Cup. The Champion pacer won his third successive SEW-Eurodrive WA Pacing Cup last Friday night and will be an odds on favourite to create harness racing history this week at Gloucester Park despite the challenging draw.