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There's no shortage of scratched heads throughout Australian trotting stables as some of the sport's greatest minds try to break down the Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup post-barrier draw, including the man many think is in the box seat. Trainer Gary Hall Snr's favourite Chicago Bull makes his interstate debut in Saturday night's Group 1 at Tabcorp Park Melton, and the proud West Australian joined RSN 927 today to share his thoughts. "It's a bit tricky," Hall said. "Barrier three - where does (Chicago Bull) go? He's got good gate speed, but I wouldn't imagine Tiger Tara (gate 2) will let him cross him. "Nobody's sure what the one (Gotta Go Ya Hu) is going to do, whether it will hold up or whether it will hand over to Tiger Tara. You can't afford to do too much speed battling early because it doesn't matter how good you are you are going to be left wide open at the end." Hall said much of the deciding would be left in the hands of reinsman Gary Hall Jnr. "Junior's got a little bit of a tricky draw and he'll probably come out and have a look at what's going on and assess," he said. "As you know there's probably no one better in the game at doing that than he is. I've left it all in his hands. "There's quite a few different scenarios. If Mach Doro comes out a 100 mile an hour and crosses, Chicago Bull may even find the front. If Mach Doro doesn't come out, then I think Tiger Tara will find the front. Then it depends on if the one hands over and then it depends how fast horses like Franco Nelson and Im The Boss and all those horses go. It's a very hard race to read what's actually going to happen." Read more here!   Trots Media

See how Chicago Bull's driver, Gary Hall Jnr, rates his #VictoriaCup barrier draw; as the mighty #ChicagoBull heads off on his whirlwind Gr.1 tour of Australasia! PLUS: King of Swing, Rocknroll Lincoln AND a very nice pick-up drive for Jnr on NZ Cup day!   Ken Casellas

Chicago Bull will take centre stage yet again at Gloucester Park tomorrow night, but it’s some of the lesser likes that has driver Gary Hall Jnr excited heading to the 10 race program. Hall Jnr teams up with trainer Gary Hall Snr on four short price favourites, including Chicago Bull and WA Derby winner King Of Swing. Tomorrow night’s Group 2 J.P Stratton Cup (2130m) will round out Chicago Bull’s preparations for the Victoria and New Zealand Cups over the next month. Hall Jnr said getting the six-year-old through the run in one piece was his priority. “First and foremost, we would like him to win,” he said. “We wouldn’t like him to be beaten before Melbourne. “We do hope him to get through the run.” Hall Jnr said he would look to adopt similar tactics with Chicago Bull to what he has done in previous starts, hoping to slowly work his way to the front from barrier six. Chicago Bull’s stablemate Runrunjimmydunn is expected to provide the most formidable opposition tomorrow night, but Hall Jnr said a lot would have to go right for him to beat Chicago Bull. The first of Hall Jnr’s favourites on the night is five-year-old  consistent gelding Overboard Again in the Glenroy Chaff Pace (2130m). Overboard Again has barrier one for tomorrow night’s event and Hall Jnr said he was hopeful he would be able to lead all the way. “He worked really well yesterday,” he said. “There are a couple of fast beginners outside of him, but I’m confident. “I think from the pole he will be able to hold the lead and be hard to beat.” King Of Swing went down narrowly to Motu Premier in last Friday night’s Media Guild Cup and has the chance to bounce back in tomorrow night’s Yes Loans Pace (2130m) from barrier three. Despite being beaten as a $1.50 chance last week, Hall Jnr said he was pleased with King Of Swing’s performance and expected him to get back on the winners list tomorrow night. “After a lap last week I thought he was no hope,” he said. “He pulled really hard and he hadn’t had the preparation we would’ve liked leading into that race. “If that race was this week, I think he would win.” Fellow four-year-old Speed Man was also as a short price favourite last week, but, similarly to King Of Swing, Hall Jnr said he expected a bold showing tomorrow night. “Speed Man is in really good form,” he said. “This looks like a drop in class for him and hopefully he will end up outside the leader at some stage.” Tomorrow night’s Gloucester Park meeting gets underway at 5.20pm. Tim Walker

“It’s all systems go,” declared champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr as he said that superstar Chicago Bull, Australasia’s best pacer, was spot on to contest rich feature events over the next three months. And he said that he had no concerns over the outstanding six-year-old’s ability to handle the standing start in the $800,000 New Zealand Cup over 3200m at Addington on Tuesday, November 13. The mighty little gelding has not contested a stand in a glittering career of 58 starts for 38 wins and 15 placings for earnings of $1,624,424. After predicting that Chicago Bull would extend his winning sequence to nine by beating his six rivals in the $50,000 J. P. Stratton Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night, Hall said that he was not worried about the gelding handling the standing start and beginning smoothly in the Group 1 New Zealand Cup. “I know that he hasn’t raced in a stand yet, but he’s a good pacer and we don’t have to worry about pins and all that,” he said. “His hopples are too small, anyway. We gave him a trial in a stand at Byford three months ago and he felt as though I could push him out as fast as I wanted.” That was Chicago Bull’s second standing-start trial. He also paced away faultlessly at Byford in a trial in July 2017. Chicago Bull will leave Perth by air for Melbourne on Wednesday of next week and Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr is sure to have him at his peak for the Victoria Cup, a 2200m mobile at Melton on Saturday, October 13. “If all goes well in the Victoria Cup, Chicago Bull will leave for New Zealand on the following Thursday (the 18th),” Hall Jnr said. “We then plan to run him in a 2200m stand at Alexandra Park on October 26 before travelling from Auckland down to Christchurch for the Cup. “All’s well with Chicago Bull and he’s had just two hoppled runs since winning the Navy Cup last Friday week. I expect him to win again this week and it would be good for him to have a relatively hard race before going away. I expect Talktomeurmattjesty to lead from barrier one and run along a bit. “I certainly would like Chicago Bull to keep the picket fence against his name, and that would give us a bit of extra confidence going into the big races away from home.” One of Chicago Bull’s main rivals in the New Zealand Cup looms as five-year-old Ultimate Machete, who is due to resume racing after an absence of nine months in a race at Addington on Friday night. His most recent appearance was at Gloucester Park last January when he finished fourth behind My Hard Copy, Lazarus and Chicago Bull in the 2536m Fremantle Cup. Earlier, in November and December last year Ultimate Machete won the Group 1 Four-Year-Old Classic and the Group 1 Golden Nugget at Gloucester Park. After contesting the New Zealand Cup, Chicago Bull will be set for the Inter Dominion championships series in Melbourne in December. The Hall father-and-son combination is no strangers to big-race successes in New Zealand, with Im Themightyquinn winning the $400,000 Auckland Cup in March 2011, the $800,000 Inter Dominion championship at Addington in April 2011 and the $250,000 Auckland Cup in March 2013. The Halls have combined to win the Stratton Cup with Bengeeman (2002), Alzona (2011) and Waylade (2015) and Chicago Bull is racing with such confidence and brilliance that it is extremely difficult to visualise him being beaten on Friday night. Chicago Bull will start from the No. 6 barrier in a field of seven and Hall Jnr will assess his tactics as the race unfolds. Busselton trainer Barry Howlett has the lightly-raced Talktomeurmattjesty working in good style and the even-year-old appeals as the likely leader. At his first outing since he had a tough run, three wide for much of the way, before fading to 11th behind Real Lucky at Gloucester Park on May 25. Talktomeurmattjesty will be driven by Chris Lewis, who has won the Stratton Cup seven times with Black Irish (1983), Village Kid (1985, 1988, 1991), Ohoka Ace (2005), Sneakyn Down Under (2009) and Sensational Gabby (2014). The Michael Brennan-trained The Bucket List (Michael Grantham) has excellent place prospects after several strong efforts in recent starts. He was seventh (and last) at the bell before finishing fast, out four wide, to be a close fourth, less than a length behind the winner Motu Premier in the Media Guild Cup last Friday night. He sat behind the pacemaker Chicago Bull before running on gamely to finish second to that pacer in the Navy Cup the previous week. Tricky Styx, a fast-finishing winner last week, is likely to be engaged in a keen duel with Talktomeurmattjesty, Waylade, Runrunmjimmydunn and Argyle Red for third place. Ken Casellas

A STIRRING track workout has convinced Gary Hall Sr his stable star Chicago Bull is better than ever. And the timing has the champion trainer even more excited. “I feel like I’ve timed it all well. He’s just now getting to his peak, The run this week (Gloucester Park on Friday) night will top him off nicely for the Victoria Cup,” Hall Sr said. Chicago Bull is a dominant favourite in Friday night’s $50,000 Group 2 JP Stratton Cup (2130m) at Gloucester Park tomorrow (Friday) night. He’s aiming for his ninth win on end and his 12th victory from his past 13 starts. “His work on Tuesday was outstanding, just outstanding. It’s as good as he’s ever worked at home,” Hall Sr said. “He’s been building nicely and he’s had some easy wins over here, but the plan was always to wind him right up for the Victoria and NZ Cups. It’s all coming together well. “I deliberately picked the race this week because it’s eight days before the Victoria Cup and he thrives on the quick back-up.” Chicago Bull will start from gate six tomorrow night and looks like finding the lead, unless the headstrong polemarker Talktomeyourmattjesty wants to try and him out from the pole. “It shouldn’t matter either way given how well he’s going,” Hall Sr said. It’s then onto the plane to Melbourne Wednesday night ahead of the Group 1 Victoria Cup on Saturday week. Then it’s another plane flight from Melbourne to Auckland on Thursday, October 18. “That gets him there a week or ahead of the race which suits him at Alexandra Park (October 26),” Hall Sr said. Looking ahead to the NZ Cup, Hall Sr made light of suggestions the 3200m standing-start would be a daunting challenge to a pacer known more for his brilliance. “Everyone talks about his speed, but he’s tough this horse, very tough. He doesn’t have the point-to-point brilliance of Quinny, but not many in history have had that, but he’s tough and he’s versatile,” he said. “The distance doesn’t worry me. He’ll love it. I can’t wait to get over there and give it a crack, you know how much I’ve always to have a runner in the NZ Cup.”   Adam Hamilton

Trainer Gary Hall Snr is in firm agreement with the TAB Inter Dominion handicappers. Chicago Bull is No.1. The Peth superstar pacer owns the rare air of being top-ranked horse for Australasia’s premier harness racing series after Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) announced the first round of rankings today. Last season’s Inter Dominion runner-up has won 11 of his last 12 starts and is about to embark on a monster campaign that will take in the $200,000 Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup on Saturday night October 13, the $800,000 New Zealand Cup at Addington in November, and ID18 in Victoria, which kicks off on December 1. “He ran second to Lazarus (in the Inter Dominion final) and never got a crack at him; he won two heats and was third in the other. He’s won 11 out of 12 races since … you can’t fault his form,” Hall Snr said. “They keep saying he hasn’t beaten anything but that’s just not true. Lazarus, San Carlo, Tiger Tara … he was racing all those horses over here. I know he was on his home track … but they’re grossly underrating him.” Pressed on where Chicago Bull ranks right now among Hall Snr’s all-time top horses, the trainer was a mix of circumspect and audacious, if it’s possible to be both.  “Right now, he’s the second best horse I’ve ever had,” he said, “But, saying that, he’s also better than Quinny (Im Themightyquinn) was at this stage in his career.” Any suggestion therefore that Chicago Bull requires a coming out party against the best is erroneous; he’s been there and done that in the Inter Dominion. Are travel questions fair? Sure.  “I think he’ll handle that. He’s a pretty laid back fella,” Hall Snr said. “The only thing is you never quite know I suppose. He’s always got a paddock mate, so he needs the right company, that’s all.” The Bulls’ Michael Jordan was always the best, but Scottie Pippen helped. On the New Zealand Cup Hall Snr said it was a race he’d tried to win three times before. “Fourth time lucky hopefully,” he said. “I tried to win it with Quinny but he fibrillated, bled, broke a leg… it just didn’t work out. It’s a great meeting. I went 12 years in a row and would love to win it.” Meanwhile, Tim Butt-trained rising star Let It Ride, who produced a slashing run to win the Grand Circuit Blacks a Fake classic in Queensland, is second on the ID18 pacing rankings, ahead of New South Wales’ Tiger Tara. Kiwi superstar Speeding Spur is top ranked in the TAB Inter Dominion Trotting Championship, with Andy Gath-trained Tornado Valley number two, ahead of Temporale, Kyvalley Blur and Glenferrie Typhoon.   Cody Winnell

CHICAGO Bull will farewell his home state, at least for a couple of months, when he tackles Friday night’s $50,000 J P Stratton Cup at Gloucester Park. Trainer Gary Hall Sr confirmed he would run Chicago Bull this week, just eight days ahead of the Group 1 Victoria Cup at Melton. “It’s a good race this week and he thrives on backing-up,” Hall Sr said. Chicago Bull will dominate betting regardless of draws on Friday given he’s won his past eight on end and 11 of his past 12 starts. Beyond the Victoria Cup, Hall Sr still has his sights on a 2200m standing-start handicap at Alexandra Park on October 26 for Chicago Bull. The Aussie TAB has Chicago Bull $3 favourite for the Victoria Cup and $4.50 favourite for the NZ Cup. __________________________________________________________________________________ EMERGING star Kima Frenning could face a big choice in a week or so. Frenning, the popular former Swede with the infectious smile, won her fourth Victorian country cup inside the past 12 months aboard former claimer Im The Boss last Thursday night. It the biggest of the four as well when Im The Boss led throughout to snare the $70,000 Group 2 Kilmore Cup, a race won by Lennytheshark and Soho Tribeca. It followed last season’s wins in the Cobram, Mildura and Shepparton Cups. The win, first-up from a spell and despite overracing at times in the lead, surely makes Saturday week’s Group 1 Victoria Cup a logical next target. But the same can be said for Im The Boss’ stablemate and another of Frenning’s regular drives, Wrappers Delight, who won well again at Melton last night. Frenning loves both horses, but has a special affinity for Im The Boss as he was her “breakthrough” horse. “I have got absolutely no words for this horse, he has just done so much for me. He just came to the end of his preparation last campaign and to come back and win a race like the Kilmore Cup against horses like that, he is just ridiculous,” she said. “When he is at his best he just goes to the front and keeps going and that is the way he races and that is what he does, he just knows it’s raceday.” Frenning admit to concern down the back straight the last time after Im The Boss had been so keen in front. “I was a bit worried as he’d been pulling a bit and then I saw I had My Kiwi Mate outside of me and Bettermatch out three-wide, but he just felt so strong on the bit and he just keeps boxing on and that is his best asset. He’s just got the biggest heart ever.” Im The Boss held-on to beat the rejuvenated Three Ways by 2.6m with another 1.9m away to Bad Billy in third spot. Favourite My Kiwi Mate didn’t enjoy doing the work outside the leader and tired late for seventh. __________________________________________________________________________________ A VICTORIA Cup tilt is next for classy sit-sprinter Mach Doro after his return to winning form at Menangle last night (Saturday). Owner Dom Martello looks set to have two runners in the Cup with his emerging pacer Wrappers Delight also right on target after winning at Melton last night. For Mach Doro, it won’t be his first Victoria Cup. Trainer Craig Cross took him down for the January, 2017 Cup won by Lazarus, but it was over at the start when Mach Doro galloped away. Cross looks to have timed his run at the race well with Mach Doro needing the run when first-up at Menangle two week’s back, then making the most of a gun run to beat quality rivals last night. Driver Luke McCarthy blasted Mach Doro off the gate to find the lead and then, sensibly, took the trail on seasoned Grand Circuit star Tiger Tara over the longer 2300m trip. Favourite Franco Nelson, first-up since June, had to work outside the leader, while Mach Doro had the cold trail. Tiger Tara sizzled a 26.9sec split from the 800-400m and still ran home in 27.7sec, but Mach Doro out-zipped him along the inside to win by 2.2m. Much-improved mare Village Witch ran a fantastic third, while Franco Nelson tried hard and was only beaten 3.8m in fourth spot in a slick 1min54sec mile rate. __________________________________________________________________________________ A DARING dip into open-class just failed to pay-off with emerging WA star King Of Swing last Friday night. With stable star Chicago Bull having a week off and knowing the Media Guild Cup was a preferential draw, trainer Gary Hall Sr threw King Of Swing into the race. The immensely talented former Kiwi drew the pole and led as expected, but was nabbed late by the tough and more seasoned Motu Premier. King Of Swing certainly had his chance with comfortable early splits and, although got a tad keen at times, driver Gary Hall Jr kicked away with what looked a winning break rounding the home bend. But Motu Premier, who did the work outside, just kept coming and snatched victory by a half-head over King Of Swing with Vampiro another head away in third spot in a 1min57.6sec mile rate for 2536m. It’s great to see Motu Premier, himself a former member of the All Stars’ barn, getting back to his best form for Merv Butterworth and trainer Ross Olivieri. __________________________________________________________________________________ SHANE Tritton has turned his unbeaten Chariots Of Fire hopeful Gods Spirit out for a spell. “He pulled-up with a bit of a cold after winning at Menangle last Tuesday so he can have a break now and come back around Christmas time to wind-up for the Chariots,” Tritton said. Gods Spirit won his first and only NZ run and, since being sold to Tritton, has won all four runs at Menangle by an aggregate of 65.1m. And he’s already paced a 1min50.9sec mile. __________________________________________________________________________________ FORMER Kiwi trotter Father Christmas just keeps getting better for Brent Lilley. The eight-year-old posted his fourth and best win from just 12 Aussie runs – he’s been placed six times as well – when he made light work of a 10m handicap to thrash his rivals in the Group 3 Kilmore Trotters’ Cup last Thursday night. Lilley flexed his muscle with five runners in the race and also snared third spot with Kyvalley Barney.   Adam Hamilton

King Of Swing will take centre stage at Gloucester Park for the Gary Hall stable tonight and looks poised to continue his hot winning streak. The Rocknroll Hanover colt has been in imperious form since taking out the WA Derby in April, justifying his high purchase price from New Zealand. King Of Swing, drawn in barrier one, is the raging $1.50 TAB favourite to make it six straight wins when he tackles a class rise in the 2018 WA Trotting Media Guild Cup (2536m). Hall’s son Gary Jr, who will drive King of Swing, says the bay horse faces his strongest test since arriving from New Zealand, but remained confident he was up to the challenge. The top reinsman said it was his intention for King Of Swing to take full advantage and go to the lead from his coveted inside draw. “I think if you get it right at the start from one at Gloucester Park it’s pretty hard to get crossed,” Hall Jr told Tabradio. “He gets out pretty good and is a lot more keener in his races this time in so the start shouldn’t be a concern. “I don’t think he deserves to be as short as he is and first time in this type of company which will be pretty hard. “You have to take him on trust a little bit meeting this company for the first time, but you would expect him to win if he leads comfortably. "There is no denying his class and ability." Vampiro ($3.80), Motu Premier ($6.50) and The Bucket List ($7.50) are the other runners in the field of seven that are in single figures. At $21 is Im Full Of Excuses, the Ross Oliveri-trained gelding has been unplaced in three runs this campaign and last-start ran fifth to Chicago Bull in the Navy Cup (2130m). But reinsman Chris Voak believes the bay gelding has shown signs of improvement and won’t rule him out of finishing in the placings. “I think he is on the improve and I think this prep you will see him come back to his best form,” Voak said. “His run last-start was good and he worked very well during the week. “He is probably this run and another off recapturing his best form. “I give him a sneaky place hope and thought his last run was full of merit. “He came wide and down the line and wasn’t covered up on the pegs. “He actually made ground and it will be a good race.” Julio Santarelli

Champion trainer Gary Hall Snr has just purchased promising New Zealand three-year-old Major Trojan on behalf of stable clients and will set the son of Art Major for the rich WA Derby next May. Hall, who has won four of the past six the WA Derbies with New Zealand youngsters Alta Christiano, Beaudiene Boaz, Chicago Bull and King of Swing, was impressed when Major Trojan scored a superb first-up victory at Alexandra Park last Friday. After starting from barrier five, Major Trojan settled down in second place before bursting to the front after 400m and then setting a solid pace and winning by four lengths from the fast-finishing Bettorstartdreaming. He dashed over the final 800m in 56.9sec. and the last 400m in 28.4sec. and rated 1.56.6 over the 2200m journey. That was Major Trojan’s second start. After he made his debut at Addington early in February this year when second to Heisenberg over 1950m the colt fractured a cannon bone which kept him out of action for seven months. Major Trojan, who is trained by Michael Purdon and has been driven at his two starts by Nathan Purdon, is a full-brother to the brilliant but injury-plagued The Odd Lover, who has managed to contest only 22 races for 12 wins, seven seconds and one third for earnings of $117,681. Beaudiene Boaz, winner of the 2015 WA Derby, has died in the South West of the State after being retired to stud. The cause of death is believed to be a snake bite. Beaudiene Boaz was an outstanding performer for Hall, winning four group 1 events, four group 2s, one group 3 and two listed classics. His major victories were the Golden Slipper in 2014, the WA Derby the following year, the Golden Nugget championship in 2015 and the 2016 Fremantle Cup. Ken Casellas

Star Forrestdale trainers Greg and Skye Bond have made a flying start to the 2018-19 season with 16 winners and seven placegetters from 35 starters from the first 25 days of the season and they have high hopes that up-and-coming star Vampiro will continue this golden run at Gloucester Park on Friday night by winning the $25,000 Media Guild Cup over 2536m. Vampiro, a New Zealand-bred five-year-old, is in the best form of his 35-start career which has produced 15 wins, eight seconds and four thirds. He will again be driven by Ryan Warwick, who has won the Media Guild Cup with Fernleigh in 2004 and Simply Susational last year. Simply Susational, an 11/2 chance, gave the Bond stable its second victory in this event, following Ima Rocket Star’s win over stablemate Talk It Up in 2013. The Bond stable also finished second with Can Return Fire in the 2012 Media Guild Cup and had thirds with Mister Odds On in 2009 and Eastwood Fire in 2011.   Vampiro was gallant in defeat at his most recent appearance, in the 2536m Spring Pace last Friday week when he raced three wide for the first 400m and then worked hard in the breeze before getting to the front 250m from home and finishing a close second to the fast-finishing Runrunjimmydunn after a final 800m in 56.7sec. That followed impressive victories at Gloucester Park on each of the three previous Fridays. Vampiro will start from the No. 6 barrier in a field of seven on Friday night and Warwick will have plenty of options, including an early charge to put pressure on the comparatively inexperienced King of Swing. Warwick may well decide to restrain Vampiro in the early stages before making a mid-race move or waiting for a spirited last-lap charge. There is a strong possibility that the Ross Olivieri-trained Motu Premier (barrier five) will dash forward in the early stages to challenge the expected pacemaker King of Swing. Champion reinsman Chris Lewis used similar tactics in a 2536m event last Friday week when Motu Premier started from barrier seven and surged forward into the breeze after 550m to apply pressure on the pacemaker, the smart four-year-old Speed Man. Motu Premier worried Speed Man for two and a half laps before getting up to beat him by a half head. Olivieri, who will also be represented by Im Full of Excuses (Chris Voak), hinted strongly that Motu Premier was likely to apply similar pressure on King of Swing. “Motu Premier’s winning prospects will depend largely on whether King of Swing is stronger than Speed Man,” said Olivieri, who prepared Media Guild Cup placegetters Franco Amon (2008) and Gary Bromac (2010). Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall snr declared that King of Swing, last season’s WA Derby winner, was two or three lengths better than Speed Man, who has won at ten of his 22 starts. However, Hall admitted that he was throwing King of Swing into the deep end in a bid to assess his ability against top-flight pacers. King of Swing notched his fifth win in a row when he enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back, before finishing powerfully to defeat the pacemaker Dontstopbelievin at a 1.57.5 rate over 2185m at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon when the final 800m was covered in 55.8sec. King of Swing, who is being set for the four-year-old feature events, including the Golden Nugget championship later this season, has an M0 classification and certainly faces an acid test against far more experienced and better-credentialled rivals in The Bucket List (M7), Vampiro and Waylade (M6), Motu Premier and Im Full of Excuses (M5). Hall has won the Media Guild Cup with The Falcon Strike (2003), Kotare Flame (March 2007), Washakie (2008) and Our Arlington (2014). Gary Hall jnr, who will be in the sulky behind King of Swing, has been successful with The Falcon Strike, Kotare Flame, Washakie and the Kevin Keys-trained Tuxedo Tour (2015). Lewis has won the Cup five times --- with Village Kid (1987 and 1991), Paly (2002), Has The Answers (2010) and No Blue Manna (November 2007). The Michael Brennan-trained The Bucket List (Michael Grantham) is a definite knock-out chance in Friday night’s Cup. He maintained his splendid form when he ran home strongly to finish second to Chicago Bull in the Navy Cup last Friday night. He will start from the outside barrier this week and Grantham is likely to hold him up for a late charge at the leaders. Ken Casellas

High-flying reinsman Chris Voak guided Mister Versace to a stylish all-the-way victory two starts ago last Friday week, but he says the six-year-old is even better when held up for a late burst. Mister Versace, trained at Banjup by Annie Belton, is favourably drawn at barrier three in the $22,000 Most Winners On A Night Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night and Voak hinted strongly that he would adopt different tactics this week. “Even though Mister Versace has good gate speed, I don’t think he can cross Argyle Red (barrier two) and I expect him to perform really well,” he said. “Argyle Red has got Free-For-All form against good horses and is capable of improving on his recent unplaced efforts. “I expect Mister Versace to go well from a sit. He’s a better sit-and-kick horse than a frontrunner. His ability to follow the pace and finish off is his best asset.” Last Friday night Mister Versace was trapped wide early after starting from barrier eight and was then restrained back to seventh in a field of eight. He was sixth at the bell and sprinted strongly approaching the home turn. But he was forced very wide and did well to battle on into fourth place behind Speed Man. “He loomed, out three and four wide, and made ground,” Voak said. “And he has improved since that run.” Argyle Red, trained at Pinjarra by Rob Macdonald, will be handled by Jocelyn Young and the seven-year-old is certain to appreciate a considerable drop in class after competing against Chicago Bull, Vampiro, The Bucket List and Runrunjimmydunn at his past four starts. He has been unplaced at his 11 starts since he led from barrier five and won from Talktomeurmattjesty and Handsandwheels over 1730m late last January. He is very close to recording his 15th victory. Veteran Sokys Big Bullet is also capable of a bold effort at his second appearance after a spell. He trailed the pacemaker Better B Chevron and fought on well when third behind Speed Man and Three Kings over 2130m last Friday night. Leading trainer Gary Hall Snr said he expected a strong showing from Overboard Again from barrier four after the gelding had no luck when seventh behind Soho Chelsea last Friday night when he was forced to cover a lot of extra ground. Ken Casellas

CHICAGO Bull just continues doing everything right heading towards the New Zealand Cup. The pint-sized superstar stretched his unbeaten run this season to seven wins with another easy and dominant display at Gloucester Park last Friday night. The horse they call “mini Quinny” in WA, has won 11 of his past 12 starts and was only beaten a whisker in the other. There is no doubt he’s the best pacer in this part of the world right now. And he’s only got one more run at home at Gloucester Park before heading to Melbourne for the Victoria Cup across the Tasman for the NZ Cup. “He runs again here on Friday week, then it’s across to Melbourne where we will stay with Daniel Jack for the Victoria Cup,’ Hall Sr said. After the October 13 Victoria Cup, Chicago Bull heads to NZ via Auckland for an Alexandra Park standing start on October 26. Hall Sr said he planned to run Chicago Bull in both the NZ Cup and the NZ Free-For-All on the Friday. “If he misses anything it will be the Inter Dominioon because is the money is not huge and he’s got the two big races at home in January,” Hall Sr said. “I’d love to run in the Inter Dom because the race means so much, but the prizemoney isn’t great and if something has to give, that’ll be it.” ____________________________________________________________________________________ TIGER Tara will need to do something and quickly to return to the NZ Cup after his fantastic placing last year. Kevin Pizzuto’s stable star has been winless in three runs this campaign and looked a shadow of himself in the free-for-all at Menangle last night. He drew wide, settled last in a hotly run race and made no impact before finishing 5.5m from the winner in seventh spot. The race was run by Steve Turnbull’s emerging talent Joes Star Of Mia, who gunned-down the in-form My Alpha Rock for an upset in a 1min50.3sec mile. My Alpha Rock worked hard to find the front from a wide draw in a 26.9sec opening quarter and kept finding for Lauren Tritton, but Joes Star Of Mia nabbed victory by a nose in the last stride. ____________________________________________________________________________________ NEW Zealand Cup plans for Queensland’s best pacer, Alleluia, will be a lot clearer by the end of this week. Owner Greg Mitchell has set Wednesday as D-Day. “It’s been a lifetime dream to have a runner in the NZ Cup. I’m really looking to experiencing the whole event,” he said. Alleluia won four on end at Albion Park before storming home from a bad draw and hopeless position for fourth in the free-for-all last night. It’s certainly the right year to chase the NZ Cup with some big names either having gone amiss or been sold to the US. WA’s Chicago Bull is the horse to beat and much interest will surround Ultimate Machete when he returns to racing next month for the All Stars barn. ____________________________________________________________________________________ IF you get the chance, take a look at Gods Spirit in the third race at Menangle on Tuesday. The former Kiwi, who won his only NZ start before being sold to Team Tritton, has looked fantastic winning all three runs for the new barn so far. Shane Tritton has declared him a serious Chariots of Fire horse. Gods Spirit’s three wins have been by an aggregate 53.9 metres and he’s paced miles in 1min51.0sec, 1min51.7sec and 1min50.9sec. “He’s something else. Now it’s about teaching to become a complete racehorse before he goes into the big races. The ability is there,” Tritton said. “The trick with our handicapping system now is that’s only four wins away from being in fast-class at Menangle. If he keeps winning he’ll get there after just eight runs. “That makes it tricky to teach him along the way.” ____________________________________________________________________________________ HE might be an 11-year-old now, but Kyvalley Blur may never have raced better. The US-bred member of Brent Lilley’s barn made a one-act affair of the Group 3 True Roman free-for-all at Melton in a 1min58.1sec mile rate for 2240m last night. It was his fourth win from his past five starts and the only defeat was a top second to the now sadly sidelined star Sparkling Success. Last night’s win capped a milestone for Kyvalley Road, who stormed past the $500,000 barrier. Lilley “owned” the race with the first four runners home. El Paco, Any Old Way and Conon Bridge were next across the line in order. Despite his years, Kyvalley Blur looks every bit a major player in the upcoming resurrection of the Inter Dominion trotting series in Victoria. ____________________________________________________________________________________ INTERESTING move in Tasmania with the state’s marquee race, the Tasmania Cup, switching back from a mobile to standing-start handicap on March 16, 2019. Horses will need to contest qualifying heats the week before to qualify. “There will be a 40m maximum backmark,” added Harness Racing Tasmanian spokesman Duncan Dornauf. ____________________________________________________________________________________ IT is amazing to think Love Ina Chevy was on death’s door for the best part of a week from a snake bite to his mouth less than three years ago. Trainer Lance Justice held 24-hour vigils, day after day, as his prospects of surviving continued to fluctuate. Eventually he turned the corner. Now he’s winning the fast-class races at Melton. Love Ina Chevy underlined his career-best form when he posted his third Melton win from his past five starts in the fifth event last night. And he did so after sitting behind the leader and main danger, Audi Hare, and still having enough “ping” to gun him down in a closing 26.8sec quarter at the end of a 1min54.0sec mile rate for 1720m. Unthinkably, Justice has every reason to aim for the Melbourne Inter Dominion series given Love Ina Chevy’s improvement, gate speed and versatility.   Adam Hamilton

Chicago Bull remains on track for a lucrative campaign to Victoria and New Zealand, following a clinical performance in last night’s (Friday) Group 2 Navy Cup (2130m) at Gloucester Park. Having his first start since August 31, Chicago Bull showed no ill effects from the short break, cruising to his eighth straight victory. Reinsman Michael Grantham forecast pre-race he would look be quick off the arm with The Bucket List from barrier two and that proved to be the case, while Chicago Bull’s driver Gary Hall Jnr slowly moved forward from barrier seven. Within the first 400m, Hall Jnr was able to take the lead with Chicago Bull and got away with a comfortable lead time of 37.9. The six-year-old then had little trouble in front throughout the run, while second favourite Rock Diamonds had to do it tough in the breeze. The Bucket List tried desperately over the concluding stages, but couldn’t make any inroads to Chicago Bull’s lead, as WA’s champion pacer scored by 3m. Veteran pacer Waylade produced an outstanding performance in his first start since December 2016, running on to finish third. Chicago Bull’s trainer Gary Hall Snr said he felt there was no doubt about his stable star being the best pacer in Australasia and would take plenty of confidence to the east coast. “Once he got the lead it was all over,” he said. “The Bucket List ran a credible race. “It augurs well for his trip to Victoria for the Victoria Cup. “I don’t think there’s a horse in Australasia going better than him.” Chicago Bull will line up in the Group 2 Stratton Cup on October 5, prior to his trip to Melbourne for the Victoria Cup on October 13. Hall Snr then said he would give Chicago Bull one run in New Zealand prior to November’s New Zealand Cup. Meanwhile, Hall Snr appears to have another serious contender for this year’s Group 1 Golden Nugget in December, following Speed Man’s win in the 2017/18 GP Junior Driver Of The Year M Grantham Pace (2130m). The pace was clamped right on in the early stages, with Sokys Bigbullet and Speed Man intent on holding the lead from barrier one and two respectively, while Better B Chevron also had a shot for the lead from barrier seven. As a result, the lead time was a slick 35.3 with Better B Chevron eventually taking the lead, while Speed Man was left to face the breeze. That was no obstacle though for Speed Man, who wore down Better B Chevron and held off a string of late challenges from Three Kings and Sokys Bigbullet to record an impressive victory. Hall Jnr said Speed Man’s win was full of merit. “He’s always had toughness on his side,” he said. “If anything, the run last week (2nd to Motu Premier) did him the world of good.” Hall Jnr had two other winners on last night’s program, Soho Chelsea in the 2017/18 GP Trainer Of The Year G Hall Pace (1730m) and Bravo Tex in the GP 2017/18 GP Pacer Of The Year Chicago Bull Pace (2536m). Trainer Matthew Scott and driver Shannon Suvaljko ended the program in impressive fashion, recording a winning double. Despite a wide draw, Neighlor was too good in the TABtouch – Better Your Bet Pace (1730m), before the well supported Smackwater Jack took out the Book Your NYE At Gloucester Park Pace (1730m).   Tim Walker

It would have come as no surprise if Waylade had run his last race on December 23, 2016. The gelding was beaten 12m by Major Reality in a 2536m race at Gloucester Park. Following that run he bowed a tendon and the racing career of the then six-year-old looked as good as over. Trainer Gary Hall Snr made the decision to retire Waylade, who had shown he was capable of performing at the highest level winning the McInerney Ford Classic as a four-year-old. That’s where Caris Hamilton-Smith, who works at the Hall Snr stable, decided to take a chance with Waylade. Hamilton-Smith said it was a significant risk bringing Waylade back into work, given Hall Snr had tried on multiple occasions previously to bring him out of retirement. “He bowed a tendon under his pastern,” she said. “Generally the lower on the leg the injury, the harder it is to get them back. “I asked Senior if I could bring him back into work and he actually offered me the horse. “He looked like a superstar two or three years ago and was one of the favourites for the Inter Dominion, so I was more than happy to take a chance on him.” Now an eight-year-old, the culmination of Hamilton-Smith’s work on the veteran pacer comes tomorrow night in the Group 2 Navy Cup (2130m) at Gloucester Park. Hamilton-Smith said she was extremely careful in bringing Waylade back to a condition which he could race. “It was probably 14 or 15 weeks of work bringing him back, which is probably longer than normal for most other horses,” she said. “There was a lot of hoping he would come up, given Senior had tried to bring him up three or four times before. “Senior has been looking over my shoulder a lot during that time.” Waylade heads in as a $34 chance with TABtouch for tomorrow night’s feature, where he has barrier one for reinsman Michael Ferguson. Unsurprisingly, it is Chicago Bull who has a stranglehold on the market as a $1.14 chance and his appearance in the race means a fairy tale winning return for Waylade is unlikely. Hamilton-Smith said although a win could be out of the question, she is confident Waylade will present as well as she can have him at Gloucester Park. “He looks really good and his legs are perfect,” she said. “It’s been a relatively smooth ride for him given where he was coming from. “He’s probably lacking a few runs for what he needs to win a race like tomorrow night, but he’s only going to get better with racing. “Ideally we will hold up from barrier one, but we are probably all racing for second behind Chicago Bull.” The task of bringing a veteran pacer back to the races is one Hamilton-Smith has already done this year. In March, she had another former Hall Snr pacer Besotted have his first start in her name. It was a successful comeback for Besotted, who won twice in his comeback preparation. Hamilton-Smith, who worked for Peter Anderson for seven years, said she would like to have a similar training establishment to Hall Snr. “I’m coming up on working three years for the Hall stable,” she said. “At this stage I have four in work, given I’m working full time I’m focusing on quality not quantity. “Ideally, long term, I would like to have a setup similar to Senior’s.” Hamilton-Smith said she was very thankful to Hall Snr for the opportunity to train Waylade in between her regular duties as a stablehand. The Navy Cup gets underway at 7.24 tomorrow night.   Tim Walker

Superstar millionaire pacer Chicago Bull will have to set a record if he is to win the $50,000 Navy Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night and he is poised to become the first horse to win the Navy Cup a second time after there has been 47 individual winners of this feature event which was first run in 1965 when Lord Mina was successful. The champion six-year-old is in superlative form and star reinsman Gary Hall Jnr is supremely confident that the little gelding will overcome the disadvantage of starting out wide at barrier seven in the field of eight in the group 2 2130m event. This will be Chicago Bull’s final run or second-last run before Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr takes him to Melbourne to contest the rich Victoria Cup at Melton on October 13. “Everything is going really well with him and I’d expect him to be winning,” said Hall Jnr. Hall Snr has won the Navy Cup five times with Abit Rich (1997), Real Life (2009), Hokonui Ben (2012), Beaudiene Boaz (2016) and Chicago Bull (2017). Hall Jnr drove Hokonui Ben to an all-the-way victory when the Cup was a 2503m event from a stand and he brought both Beaudiene Boaz and Chicago Bull home with brilliant last-lap bursts to score easy wins in the past two years. Beaudiene Boaz (7/1) started from barrier eight and came from last in a field of ten at the 1050m mark to take the lead 680m from home and win by two and a half lengths from the pacemaker and 9/4 on favourite Bettors Fire. Then, last year, Chicago Bull was favourite at 6/4 from the No. 9 barrier when he settled in 11th position, was seventh (three wide) at the bell and charged to the front with 570m to travel before scoring by four lengths from the pacemaker Americanbootscoota. The Hall stable will also be represented in this week’s Cup by smart five-year-old Runrunjimmydunn, who will start from the outside barrier with Stuart McDonald in the sulky. Runrunjimmydunn impressed when he notched his 15th win from 43 starts when he raced in fifth and last position and was still last on the home turn before sprinting home strongly, out wide, to win from Vampiro over 2536m at a 1.57.8 rate. Runrunjimmydunny, The Bucket List and Rock Diamonds are racing in fine form, but look set to fight out the minor placings behind Chicago Bull, who boasts a marvellous record of 57 starts for 37 wins and 15 placings for earnings of $1,594,199. The Michael Brennan-trained The Bucket List is favourably drawn at barrier two and Michael Grantham is likely to send the nine-year-old forward in a bid for the early lead. Drawn inside of him on the pole is a former Hall star Waylade, an eight-year-old who has been out of action for 21 months. He is now trained by Caris Hamilton-Smith and will be driven by Micheal Ferguson. The gelding, who has earned $408,325 from 16 wins and 20 placings from 52 starts, will be at long odds. The Bucket List, a brilliant winner of the BOTRA Cup seven starts ago after starting off the 50m mark in the 2503m feature event, has maintained his solid form with three placings from his past five starts.      Rock Diamonds, prepared by Greg and Skye Bond, boasts a record of 16 wins and nine placings from 40 starts for stakes of $245,039. He will be driven by Ryan Warwick from the No. 3 barrier. He was a smart winner over The Bucket List four starts ago and was a sound third behind Runrunjimmydunn and Vampiro last Friday night after enjoying an ideal passage, one-out and one-back. Ken Casellas

The $25,000 Spring Pace over 2536m at 7.24pm is the feature event Friday night and has brought together a small but talented field which will attract good betting nationwide. The barrier draw will ensure the race is packed full of interest with driver tactics certain to decide the winner. Devendra has come up with the coveted barrier 1 position and after racing Chicago Bull to half a metre over the distance four starts trainer Kristy Elson is certain to plan similar tactics on this occasion. Classy Tricky Styx, the Queen of the Avon Valley, is close to her best with two recent thirds in open company and Aiden De Campo will drive the versatile mare for trainer Jesse Moore. The Michael Brennan trained The Bucket List from barrier 3 is a fan of longer distance races and the small field suits. Runrunjimmydunn is the sole Gary Hall Snr runner in the free for all feature and the consistent performer who has drawn in barrier 4 will no doubt be working hard in the run. The powerhouse Greg & Skye Bond stable have three runners engaged and they have drawn barriers 5 to 7. Rock Diamonds known for his early brilliance will find it hard to lead but has the services of Colin Brown. Dodolicious steps up in grade in barrier 6 and the inform stable favourite Vampiro has drawn in barrier 7 with main stable driver Ryan Warwick engaged to drive.   Matt Young

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