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The win of Highly Flammable at Gloucester Park tonight brought up the 3000th career win for trainer Gary Hall Snr and he is the first trainer in Western Australia to achieve this milestone. Somewhat remarkably Highly Flammable wasn’t driven by Hall’s son Gary Hall Jnr with Maddison Brown taking the drive. Hall brought up win number 3001 later in the night when Robbie Easton saluted with Gary Hall Jnr at the reins. It was win number 1733 for the father/son combination and Robbie Easton became Hall Snr’s 2246th winner in Perth. The fascination of Gary Hall for harness racing began in 1964 when he used to sneak out of his family home in Mount Lawley and ride his pushbike to Gloucester Park on a Saturday night. Hall and a mate would jump the fence into the course and boost their meagre funds per medium of betting on the horses that graced the track during its halcyon days. Hall was the form student and his mate closer to the legal betting age. “I remember having five shillings on a horse called Yamagee that paid three pounds seventeen and six for the place and I thought it was Christmas”, Hall recalled years later. After building his bank to a bit more than 30 pounds, Hall took a fancy to a gelding called Prince Land and had his mate put ten pounds on the horse. “He told me that he had managed to get 66/1 and the bookie hadn’t wound the price down. I gave him another ten pounds for a second bet at the price”. The horse duly won and Hall was counting out his £1320 winnings on his bed at home when he was sprung by his mother who was more than a little concerned at where the money had come from. Hall came clean and after that night his parents would take him to Gloucester Park. After leaving school Hall got a job as a trainee auctioneer at the Midland saleyards where he met Arthur Jones. Jones, known to all and sundry as Buck, was enjoying success at the time with a gelding called Satin Son and Hall soon began jogging horses for Jones. Like all stable-hands who aspired to being drivers, Hall bought a quiet gelding and went through the Reinsman’s School at Gloucester Park under the tutelage of Cyril Lilleyman. He got his licence to drive in races as an 18yo at a time when driving concessions and junior driver races didn’t exist. Drives were hard to come by and Hall began leasing and training a couple of horses, starting with Silent Revel which he managed to run a couple of places with without winning. A mare called Plebette gave Hall his first win as a trainer when she won at Collie on 5th March 1971 Tobaree gave Hall his first success at Gloucester Park as both a trainer and driver when she won on 16th September 1972. Hall continued to work a regular job as he had a young family to support and a job as a clerk in Perth’s Crown Law Department saw him meet Crown Prosecutor Ron Davies who was equally as big a harness fanatic as Hall. In 1982 Hall’s direction in harness racing was changed when Ron Davies gave him a position as his private trainer and this gave Hall the confidence to branch out on his own as a public trainer in 1983. Another big change occurred for Hall in 1982 but the impact wasn’t quite so immediate. His son Gary was born and from the outset developed a similar obsession with horses to that of his father. With a young family to support, Hall struggled to make ends meet until he leased Maru Adios which had not been placed in three years. Hall turned the gelding around and in his first year at Hall’s Hazelmere stables, Maru Adios won 11 races and almost $39,000 in stakes. Soon owners began to recognise a training talent and better quality horses began to become available. Among them was a Racy Prince stallion called Vero Prince which won six on end and was favourite for the 1986 Golden Nugget Championship before Hall copped a disqualification for a swab. “I was never guilty of giving the horse anything. I may have been guilty of having inadequate stable security but never of giving anything to my horses”, Hall said. Hall managed to get the 12 months penalty reduced to three on appeal but he had lost the momentum and again had to battle to put a team of competitive horses together. Well-known breeder Roy Annear offered to lease Hall a 3yo colt by Racy Prince from the good race-mare Honest Talk with an option to purchase for $5,000. Hall had a couple of smart youngsters at the time in Love Of Glory and Almagest and Hall decided that the Racy Prince colt would have his first run with hopples with the pair. “I got the young stable-hand to drive the colt with instructions to follow us around and not be too concerned if he struggled to keep up in the last lap”, Hall recalled. No one was more surprised than Hall when the colt sprinted past his more illustrious stable-mates in the last lap. Hall, and good mate Glen Moore, exercised the option of purchase the next day. Named Zakara, the colt went on to win 44 of his 134 starts and more than $477,000 in stakes including the historic feat of winning four successive August Cups. Zakara was the first outstanding horse trained by Hall and he gave Hall a taste of just what success was there for the taking if the horse had the natural ability. “I don’t train any differently now to what I did when I started in the sixties but the horses I train now have a lot more ability that what the early ones did”. “I am basically self-taught and although I have watched other trainers closely I have made up my own mind of what is best for each horse. Phil Coulson and Fred Kersey have had a major influence on my training.” Hall believes there is no substitute for plenty of hard work and aerobic work in a jog cart in the sand. “My horses are strong which they need to be if they are to be put into a race”, Hall said. Putting his horses into a race was a characteristic of Gary Hall’s driving style and although he has driven more than 600 winners he was never regarded as a great driver. His record as a trainer is second to none and he has obliterated the training records of the previous Western Australian benchmarks Fred Kersley and Trevor Warwick and has trained 600 more winners than his current closest rival Ross Olivieri. Hall is the leading trainer in the 106 year history of the WA Pacing Cup having trained 11 winners of the race. He is also the leading trainer in the history of the Fremantle Cup with eight wins in that race. Zakara gave Hall a taste for Grand Circuit racing when the stallion finished third to Imprimartar and Time Symbol in the 1991 Fremantle Cup. A month later Zakara finished fourth in the famous 1992 WA Pacing Cup behind Westburn Grant, Franco Ice and Imprimartar and this prompted Hall to take the horse to Victoria where he finished third in the 1992 Victoria Cup behind Franco Ice and Impressionist. “Zakara was the first really good horse I had and he would have had a better record if I hadn’t stuffed four or five big races driving him”, a reflective Hall said some years later. On 16th July 1998 Hall watched his son Gary celebrate his 16th birthday that afternoon by driving Enhancer to victory at Pinjarra. It was the first of more than 1730 winners for the combination and the younger Hall’s aptitude at the reins hastened his father’s scaling back from driving duties. Hall imported his first New Zealand horses in the early nineties but it wasn’t 2001 that he struck the jackpot with the arrival of a 3yo colt called The Falcon Strike. Racing in New Zealand as Falcon Strike, the son of Falcon Seelster had finished fifth to Franco Heir in the Group One New Zealand Sires Stakes before being sold to clients of Hall’s stable. The Falcon Strike was the early favourite for the WA Derby after winning his first four races in Perth including the Group Three Western Gateway Pace but a chequered run in the Derby saw him finish down the track behind the interstate runners Manifold Bay and Franco Heir. Manifold Bay again proved his nemesis eight months later in the 2001 Group One Golden Nugget Championship after The Falcon Strike had won seven of his eight starts leading into the race including the Group Three McInerney Ford Classic. While Manifold Bay was to only win one further Group One race, the 4yo Chariots of Fire at Harold Park in February 2002, The Falcon Strike won both the Group One WA Pacing Cup and Group One Fremantle Cup as a 4yo and then backed that up with a further two WA Pacing Cups, two Australian Pacing Championships and a second Fremantle Cup in the ensuing three seasons. Zakara was Hall’s first runner in an Inter Dominion series when he took part in the 1992 Championship held at Moonee Valley. He was placed third in two heats behind Christopher Vance and Lord Muckalee before he struck trouble in the third round of heats and just missed a spot in the final won by Westburn Grant. He started favourite and finished fourth in the consolation won by Imperial Atom. Twelve years later on his home circuit of Gloucester Park, Gary Hall went within the virtual nostril of winning the Inter Dominion when The Falcon Strike was beaten in the last stride by Jofess. It was an even more remarkable performance given the work Hall had put in to get The Falcon Strike back to the track after an absence of more than 14 months following a fifth placing in the 2002 Victoria Cup won by Safe And Sound. The Falcon Strike broke down that night and didn’t resume racing until April 2003 and for the remainder of his career Hall needed all his experience to keep the stallion sound and fit to compete at the highest level. A campaign through the Perth winter of 2003 was followed by a Newcastle Mile win that earned The Falcon Strike a berth in the 2003 Miracle Mile won by Sokyola. Returning to Perth, The Falcon Strike reeled off four straight wins including a second WA Pacing Cup/Fremantle Cup double and an Australian Pacing Championship for good measure. His form, combined with a home track advantage saw The Falcon Strike installed as pre-post favourite for the 2004 Perth Inter Dominion although some experts, including the Inter Dominion king Brian Hancock expressed doubts as to the horse’s ability to get through four runs in a fortnight. Hall has stuck to his training methods throughout four decades and sees little reason to change. “I train the way I want to train and whenever I have tried to change has been when I have got into trouble”, Hall said. “I am conservative in how fast I work them and when they are racing there are some weeks when they don’t get fast-worked at all”. Most trainers would regard a horse like The Falcon Strike as a once in a lifetime occurrence but in 2008 Hall struck gold a second time when he arranged the purchase for his stable of  the 3yo Im Themightyquinn after the gelding had finished third in the $200,000 Harness Jewels final. It took some time for the high-speed son of Washington VC and his new trainer to gel and at each of his first eight starts in Perth Im Themightyquinn followed the normal Hall stable pattern and either raced in the lead or outside the leader’s wheel. The first time Im Themightyquinn was driven with a sit was in the 2009 Fremantle Cup when, with Shayne Cramp at the reins, he finished third to Power Of Tara and Divisive. “He always had high speed but he pulled very hard so he was worked a lot of long slow work until he eventually learned to relax”, Hall explained. “When a horse with his speed can learn to relax they can do great things”. Commencing with his 4yo season and after learning to relax more in his races, Im Themightyquinn proved almost unbeatable at Group One level and in 28 starts against the Southern Hemisphere’s best over six seasons of racing Im Themightyquinn at Group One level recorded a remarkable 15 wins, four seconds and seven thirds. Hall is the first however to give a big chunk of the credit to his son for the success the pair have enjoyed over the past dozen seasons. “Junior is a natural big-race driver and while I was a decent driver in my own right at Gloucester Park I wasn’t up to driving against the other top-shelf drivers” Hall said. “To beat the likes of Gavin Lang, Chris Lewis, Tony Herlihy and Anthony Butt you need to be in the big races all the time and you also need a relaxed personality which Junior has in spades”. While the self-deprecating Hall may be under-selling his ability at the reins, his record this century as a trainer is without peer in Australia as evidenced by 51 wins at Group One level including a record 11 WA Pacing Cups, three Inter Dominions, eight Fremantle Cups, five Australian Pacing Championships, two Auckland Cups, five WA Derbies, two Golden Nugget Championships, four FHRC 4yo Classics and a Blacks A Fake Championship at Albion Park. Not surprisingly Gary Hall Snr was indicted into The West Australian Racing Industry Hall of Fame in 2014.   Alan Parker

Fresh from a week off, Chicago Bull is poised to make it three wins from four starts this campaign, when he lines up in the Community TAB Free-For-All Pace (2130m) on Friday night. The six-year-old was a notable absentee from last week's FFA event, taken out by Luis Alberto. This week's FFA event has attracted a field of nine, with Chicago Bull's trainer Gary Hall Snr having five of the nine runners.  After a surprise defeat at his second start this campaign at the hands of Whozideawasthis, Chicago Bull was back to his best a fortnight ago when he settled outside and eventually wore down race leader Vultan Tin.  Despite drawing barrier seven for this week's $25,000 event, reinsman Gary Hall Jnr is bullish about Chicago Bull's chances. "It does look interesting," Hall Jnr said. "I'm not really sure what happens early, but it probably doesn't concern us too much. "He's well and he's raring to go. "He's going to be awfully short, but he should be winning." Whozideawasthis gets another chance to topple Chicago Bull this week, after he drew barrier two and has just Tommy Be Good to his inside.  Stuart McDonald has stuck with Whozideawasthis, following his fifth placing in last week's FFA. Lauren Jones is the new driver for the talented Herrick Roosevelt, who lines up for his first start since May 3, when he was unplaced behind Chicago Bull. A winner at 13 of his 29 starts, Herrick Roosevelt made an encouraging return from a long injury layoff earlier this year and progressed to FFA company. He starts from barrier three this week and looks set to have his chance to be in the finish from the draw. Hall Snr also has Tact Major and My Hard Copy in the race. My Hard Copy made a promising return in last week's FFA, where he ran on gamely from the rear of the field to finish fourth. Maczaffair looms as the main roadblock to Hall Snr taking out the FFA event, drawing barrier four. The mare produced a strong performance last week when third to Luis Alberto, her third start back from a spell.  Vincenzo Perrugia and Im Soxy round out the nine horse field, the latter of the two finished second to Luis Alberto last week. Hall Snr will be hopeful progressive four-year-old Ideal Liner can continue his winning form when he lines up in the Off The Track-More Than Just A Racehorse Pace (2130m). Ideal Liner has scored five wins from six starts this campaign, including his past four. His past two wins have both been on Friday night's at Gloucester Park, but will face a tricky test from barrier 11 this week.  Mighty Santanna, Mister Bushido, Warfare and Thereugo have all drawn on the front line ahead of Ideal Liner and will make life tricky for Hall Jnr in the sulky. Hall Snr and Hall Jnr will also team up with last start winner Mad Robber in the TABtouch-Better Your Industry Pace.   Tim Walker

Chicago Bull’s absence has opened the door for the next wave of open class pacers to score a Free-For-All victory in this Friday night’s Rotary Club Of Fremantle Pace (1730m). The Gary Hall Snr-trained Chicago Bull was back to his brilliant best in last week’s Free-For-All, but connections decided against running him for a third straight week. Despite not having Chicago Bull engaged, the Hall Snr team will still be well represented in the $25,000 event with six of the 12 runners. Perhaps the most intriguing of the six is the evergreen nine-year-old My Hard Copy, who will line up for the first time since August last year. The two-time WA Pacing Cup champion made a brief cameo last winter, before being sent for a spell. He has barrier eight for his return on Friday night with Clint Hall booked for the drive. Campora finished third behind Whozideawasthis and Chicago Bull two weeks ago and gets a golden opportunity to score at Free-For-All level this week from barrier one. King Of Swing has put in two solid performances at Free-For-All level over the past fortnight and Gary Hall Jnr has elected to drive him, signalling he could be the best of the stable’s half-dozen. The 2018 WA Derby winner will have his work cut out from barrier six though, given speedy runners Vultan Tin and Im Soxy are on his inside. Whozideawasthis will start from barrier 12 in this week’s event and brings the most consistent recent form at the level to the race. The in-form Tact Major and Zennart are the other Hall Snr-trained runners in the race. Vultan Tin had to settle for second after he led against Chicago Bull last week and looks a chance of being able to find the front from barrier four this week. Im Full Of Excuses and Back To The Beach represent the Ross Olivieri stable in the event, but haven’t enjoyed their best run of form of late. Maczaffair was another of the runners to be well beaten by Chicago Bull last week, finishing 16m adrift in fifth place. The Mach Three mare is third-up this week and looks set to get the ideal run from barrier 10. Reinsman Mark Reed said he wasn’t overly concerned by last week’s performance, but was hopeful the five-year-old would improve this week. “Her run first-up was really good,” he told GPTV. “She was a bit flat last week, but she normally takes a few runs to get to her top.” Reed said he was hopeful noted front-runner Campora could hold the front. “It’s not a bad draw for her inside the back line, providing Campora can hold up,” he said. “She should get a good trip, it just depends if she sees daylight at the end or not.” Luis Alberto, who has been more than competitive at Free-For-All level of late, rounds out the strong 12 horse field.   Tim Walker

Last week, much of the commentary around the Free-For-All was around the Gary Hall Snr-trained duo of King Of Swing and Chicago Bull and whether the challenger could topple the champ. As it turned out, the even less celebrated Hall Snr-trained pacer Whozideawasthis toppled them both. All three pacers are back again this week. However, a new contender re-emerges to try and take down Chicago Bull, widely regarded as the nation's best pacer. Vultan Tin returns to the track after two Friday night's off in this week's Life Is On Schneider Electric Free-For-All (2130m). The seven-year-old was unplaced at his three most recent starts, following a win on Easter Thursday. Despite the slightly patchy form and presence of Hall Snr's runners, connections of Vultan Tin have reason to be buoyant this week, given he will start from barrier two.  Vultan Tin's stablemate Anime has the inside draw, while King Of Swing, Chicago Bull and Whozideawasthis have drawn four, five and six respectively. Maczaffair, who made a strong return last week in the Fillies and Mares Free-For-All, rounds out the field from barrier three. Reinsman Chris Voak said he expected Vultan Tin to have little issue finding a prominent position from barrier two, but indicated the small field could bring about his undoing. "I couldn't imagine him (Anime) holding us out," Voak told GPTV. "I don't like these five horse fields...especially for Vultan Tin because they've got too many horses for speed that will zap him late. "It's been like that the last few times he's had to sit in the breeze. "This time he looks to be able to lead, but we've probably got King Of Swing peppering us. "It's a good test." Later in the night, Voak will look to deliver himself and trainer Ross Olivieri their first win in the Group 1 Diamond Classic (2130m) when they team up with Run For Mercy. Run For Mercy went within a short half-head of winning her Diamond Heat, narrowly falling short of Askmeilltellya. The Pet Rock filly has put together two wins and four placings from six career starts and Voak said he'd always had a liking for her over Double Expresso, despite her inferior record. "Ross had her and Double Expresso working up and I said to Ross 'if I can have the choice I'm taking her'," he said. "As it turned out, Double Expresso won her first five straight. "I think Run For Mercy is very underrated against Double Expresso. "She hasn't been hidden in any of her races, I reckon she's had to sit in the breeze for 80 per cent of them." Run For Mercy has drawn barrier 12 for the feature and Voak said it suited his filly perfectly. "I think it's been kind to us and unkind to a few of the other major players," he said. "Run For Mercy's trackwork (on Tuesday morning) was as good as it's been. "I think it's the most exciting race on the program." Voak also has the drive on leading fancies Veiled Secret, Crystal Sparkles and Captured Delight on the program.    Tim Walker

THERE was certainly no panic in the Chicago Bull camp after he suffered a shock defeat at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Having just his second run back from six months out with his back injuries, the pint-sized superstar found the front from gate three and all looked rosey. But veteran stablemate Whozideawasthis, who handed-up early from the pole, peeled-off Chicago Bull’s back and easily ran past him to win by 1.6m in a brisk 1min53.6sec mile rate for 1730m. “Sure it’s a shock when think you’ve beaten Chicago Bull like that, but knowing how this horse works with him at home and goes past him, it didn’t blow me away,” driver Stuey McDonald said. “You’ve got to remember this horse is rock hard fit, has a fantastic kick of speed off a cold run and Chicago Bull is nowhere near wound-up, he’s still carrying plenty fat around his tummy after so long out.” Trainer Gary Hall Sr was philosophical after the defeat and landing the first four home in the Members Sprint itself. “It was a great result for the stable, just not the way we expected it,” he said. “Bully needs the racing. Sure we thought he’d still win, but it shows how important the next couple of runs will be to trim him down. “You can only get them so fit at home and he’s never been a great trackworker at the best of times.” Driver Gary Hall Jr only had to wait 20 minutes to bounce-back from Chicago Bull’s defeat when he partnered with trainer Justin Prentice and Kiwi-bred filly Majorpride to win the feature, the $50,000 3YO Diamond Classic (2130m). Majorpride led, looked in trouble and switched-off a few times, but rallied when needed to beat another Kiwi bred, Hello Hotshot, in a cosy 1min58sec mile rate. ________________________________________________________________________ JOT down June 15 for the comeback race of Aussie pacing star Soho Tribeca. Trainer-driver Mick Stanley has been pleased with the six-year-old since he won a Melton trial last week at his first public appearance since fracturing a leg in the Sunshine Sprint at Albion Park last July. “He’ll have another couple of trials then, all going well, I’ll run him first-up in that Italian Cup at Melton (June 15),” he said. “It’s been a long, slow haul back and you do worry if they’ll make it back at all, but so far, so good.” Stanley has ruled-out the Len Smith Mile in Sydney late next month and will also skip a Queensland Winter Campaign to stay home in Victoria. That said, rumblings continue in Western Australia about a possibly match-race later in the year between Soho Tribeca and arch-rival Chicago Bull. While it would be a fantastic PR opportunity, it will need a lot to go right to happen. ________________________________________________________________________ IT’S a real shame star Aussie three-year-old Lochinvar Art isn’t heading to the Harness Jewels, but he’s being kept busy at home. The Laura Crossland and David Moran trained colt toyed with a moderate field of older rivals at Shepparton on Monday. He then skipped across the NSW border to Wagga to make it 12 wins from just 21 starts in a qualifying heat of his next major target, the NSW Breeders Challenge. Lochinvar Art’s 1min53.8sec mile rate for 1730m is by far the quickest time run at the sprint trip around the recently redeveloped Wagga track. Beyond the Breeders Challenge, Lochinvar Art is early favourite for the Queensland Derby in July. In a season of mixed results, he looks set to get his chance to snatch Australian 3YO of the Year honours despite a string of horror draws and minor placings in the big races so far. ________________________________________________________________________ IT was the race Emma Stewart simply couldn’t lose with all six runners and star colt Centenario proved the best of them. Chris Alford took Centenario straight to the front from gate two in the Holloway Classic at Ballarat last Friday night and his chances soared when main danger, Hurricane Harley, broke for no reason outside the leader in the early stages. Alford then let Centenario roll along in slick splits and cruised to a 5.1m win in a brisk 1min53.4sec mile rate for 1700m over the outsider of the six runners, Always Fast, who trailed the leader with filly Two Time Bettor making late ground along the inside for third. Hurricane Harley lost at least 30m in his break, settled last and made some ground late for a 12.2m fifth, which was impressive given Centenario’s closing splits of 54.6 and 26.4sec. In other stable news, Stewart’s huge wrap on youngster Mirragon is certainly shining through. Gutted when a gallop in a heat cost him a berth in the Australian Gold final, Stewart quickly switched focus on a compensatory, albeit less lucrative target, the Group 2 Home Grown final. After a powerhouse heat win, Mirragon stepped-up again to thrash his rivals despite the doing all the work in last night’s $50,000 final. Insiders say Stewart rates Mirragon right alongside Australian Gold third placegetter Be Happy Mach as the stable’s top baby this crop. ________________________________________________________________________ THE margin wasn’t big, but the win was impressive by Queensland’s best pacer, Colt Thirty One, at Albion Park last night. Grant Dixon’s four-year-old made a midrace move to sit parked, given main danger Lilac Flash the one-one trail, and just held-off that pacer to win by a nose in a brisk 1min54sec mile rate for 2138m. Best driven with a sit, Colt Thirty One certainly has the talent to be a major players in the feature races at Queensland Winter Carnival for leviathan owner-breeders Kevin and Kay Seymour. ________________________________________________________________________ IT’S hard to believe not that long back trotter Savannah Jay Jay went more than two years – October 14, 2016 to November 11, 2018 - and a staggering 39 races without a win. Now he’s going better than any trotter in Australia. Hobby trainer Stan Cameron has rejuvenated his eight-year-old, who made it four wins on end beating another in-form star McLovin in the Group 3 Jack Slack Memorial Trotters’ Cup at Ballarat last Friday night. It was a ripper contest with McLovin surprisingly having to sit parked outside roughie Illawong Armstrong in blazing times and Savannah Jay Jay making the most of a one-trail for drivers James Herbertson to snatch a 1.3m win. McLovin’s performance was monstrous given the 1min57.8sec mile rate for 2200m. It was just 0.3sec outside My Tribeca’s track record. ________________________________________________________________________ TRAINER Bernie Hewitt made the big Dubbo meeting his own last Friday night, jagging four of the seven winners. Those wins included the feature, the Group 3 Red Ochre Classic where he teamed with his son, former rugby league player Doug Hewitt, and emerging mare Scarlet Babe. It was the biggest win of Doug’s fledgling driving career. ________________________________________________________________________ PICKING up some media presenting work with Sky Racing in Sydney has provided a fringe benefit for Queenslander Brittany Graham. Graham, daughter of successful trainer Darrell, is making a real splash at Sky and her family sent her down one of their better horses, Franco Totem, to train in her spare time and race at Menangle. He’s won two of his past three starts, including an easy victory with Robbie Morris aboard last night (Saturday). “We always liked him at home and felt he was one of our best horses, but to have him come down here and do so well is such a thrill. I’m pinching myself,” Graham said. Also at Menangle, emerging open-class player Joes Star Of Mia staked his claim for next month’s Len Smith Mile and a Queensland winter raid with a first-up win. Driven off the pace by Amanda Turnbull, he just held-off Outrageous El by a whisker to win in a slick 1min54.6sec mile rate for 2300m. The shock of the night came when Great Southern Star winner Dance Craze beat just one of her five rivals home as a $1.08 favourite in the Group 2 NSW 4&YO Trot. The Group 2 3YO final went to owner Emilio Rosati and trainer-driver David Miles with filly Emerald Stride over favourite and NSW Trotters’ Derby winner Xebec.   Adam Hamilton

Champion trainer Gary Hall Snr admits that he is nervous as he prepares to watch his superstar pacer Chicago Bull make his much-anticipated comeback in the $25,000 Gannon’s Harness Racing Colours Free-For-All over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “Yeah, I’m apprehensive,” Hall said. “But only because I want him to do well.” Six-year-old Chicago Bull has made a full recovery from a freak stable accident in New Zealand last October when he flipped over backwards and fractured eight bones in his wither region. “There’s no problems with the injuries and he is not worried about them,” Hall said. “Recent cross-firing problems have been cured. We have trimmed his feet a bit. He had a size five shoe and we’ve now dropped down to a size four. “He’s underdone, but I’m really happy with him. He worked well this morning (Wednesday) when he and Ideal Liner finished together. We didn’t put him to the sword. He’s drawn two on Friday night and we don’t want to burn him out in a bid for the early lead. “He will have a few starts during the winter before getting ready to contest the Interdominion championship series in Auckland in November. And, all going well, he will return to Perth for the Fremantle Cup and WA Pacing Cup.” Star reinsman Gary Hall Jnr will handle Chicago Bull on Friday night and he is expected to get the little gelding away smartly from the No. 2 barrier before making a bid for the lead. Polemarker Tact Major, a stablemate of Chicago Bull, is a speedy beginner. But Lauren Jones appears certain to take a sit when challenged by Chicago Bull. That would be in Tact Major’s best interests. Bunbury trainer Stephen Reed’s comeback pacer Kiwi Legend possesses sparkling early speed and much interest surrounds the tactics employed by reinsman Mark Reed. The Hall stable dominates the event, with five of the ten runners Chicago Bull, Tact Major, Whozideawasthis, Herrick Roosevelt and Campora. Herrick Roosevelt (Stuart McDonald) is in tremendous form and Whozideawasthis (Micheal Ferguson) is also racing with great spirit. But neither has the class to seriously challenge Chicago Bull, who has earned $1,693,747 from 40 wins and 16 placings from 61 starts. Chicago Bull boasts an amazing record at Gloucester Park where he has been unbeaten at his past 12 starts on the track where he has raced 46 times for 35 wins, four seconds, six thirds and one fourth placing.   Ken Casellas

Lightly-raced four-year-old Quick Stride has been shining on country tracks and he has bright prospects of extending his winning sequence to six when he contests the $18,000 Perth Plasterboard Centre Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night at his first appearance in the city. Trained at Boyanup by Justin Prentice and driven by Gary Hall Jnr, Quick Stride has won twice at Narrogin and four times at Bunbury’s Donaldson Park track. He is versatile, possessing good gate speed and powerful finishing burst. At his latest outing he charged home, out wide, from eighth at the bell to win by four lengths from It Aint Royal over 2569m at Donaldson Park last Saturday week. By American sire Live Or Die, Quick Stride is out of the unraced Northern Luck mare Lucky Stride, whose dam Jessica Clare had 118 starts for 11 wins, 39 placings and stakes of $81,285. Hall drove Jessica Clare to two Gloucester Park victories when the mare was trained by Ross Olivieri. Jessica Clare is the dam of the Olivieri-trained Back To The Beach, who looks a strong winning chance in the Bridge Bar Pace on Friday night. Toughest for Quick Stride to beat on Friday night is likely to be five-year-old Heez Manly, who will be having his third start after an absence 11 months. Heez Manly, to be driven by Stuart McDonald for champion trainer Gary Hall Snr, impressed last Friday night when he settled down in eighth position before dashing forward to race in the breeze with two laps to travel. Heez Manly challenged the pacemaker Liam Neil strongly before taking a narrow lead 270m from home and fighting on grimly when a close second to Liberty Rose. The Prentice-Hall Jnr combination will be strongly fancied to win the Christmas in July at the Beau Rivage Pace with Warfare, a New South Wales-bred six-year-old by Courage Under Fire who impressed at his West Australian debut at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week when he  raced in the breeze before surging away to win convincingly from Vincenzo Peruggia at a 1.53.6 rate over 1730m.  Warfare has good gate speed and is perfectly drawn at barrier one in the 2536m event. A winner of one race (at Penrith) in New South Wales, Warfare has won 11 times in Victoria. He is the first foal out of the Ultimate Falcon mare Flamin Yomax, who earned $123,609 from 15 wins and 18 placings from 61 starts. One of Warfare’s most serious rivals could well be Warriors Code, who caught the eye at Gloucester Park on Tuesday evening when he charged home from last at the bell to be second to Mistersandman over 2130m. Friday night’s program should open with a spirited tussle between polemaker The Art Form and Im Soxy, who will start from the No. 5 barrier. Im Soxy, to be handled by Ryan Warwick for Bunbury trainer Brian Clemens, revealed excellent fighting qualities last Friday night when he worked hard in the breeze before taking the lead 100m from the post and winning by a head from the pacemaker Mighty Flying Deal. Warwick was full of praise, saying: “He did it really easily. He’s getting better and better and is not finished with yet.”   Ken Casellas

New Zealand-bred filly Balcatherine will begin her WA Oaks campaign when she starts in a prelude of the classic, the Intersport Slater Gartrell Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night and she has the raw ability to overcome the disadvantage of starting from the inside of the back line in the 2130m event. She is unbeaten at her only two starts in New Zealand when she was not fully extended in moderate company in winning at a 2.1.1 rate over 2200m at Gore on December 27 and at a modest 2.6.6 rate over 2200m at Invercargill on January 21. Now prepared by Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr, Balcatherine will be driven by Gary Hall Jnr. “She’s got high speed and is going great at home,” said Hall Snr. “She’s probably a little bit underdone with a rushed preparation. This is a bit of a test for her, but she’s up to the task.” Balcatherine was not bustled at the start at her two runs in New Zealand and she revealed excellent sprinting ability to finish powerfully. At her debut at Gore she ran on from seventh (one-out and one-back) at the bell to move to the breeze 500m from home and then take the lead with 150m to travel. She beat the pacemaker Star Ruler by just over a length, with final quarters of 29.3sec. and 27.9sec. Then at Invercargill she started from barrier five in a field of seven and raced in fifth position, four back on the pegs, before going four wide on the home turn and bursting to the front 80m from the post to win, unextended, by two and a half lengths from Myrcella. Balcatherine’s rivals include several fillies aimed at the $150,000 Gannon’s WA Oaks on May 3. The Hall stable will also be represented by Fake News, a winner at six of her 15 starts. She will be driven by Stuart McDonald from barrier five and can improve on her seventh behind the brilliant Dracarys last Friday night when she had a tough run in the breeze. Justin Prentice, trainer of Dracarys, has two runners in Friday night’s event Majorpride (Michael Grantham) from barrier one and Fulfil The Dream (Nathan Turvey) from barrier three. Fulfil The Dream has blossomed this season, winning at three of her five starts. She gave a solid frontrunning display to win from The Royal Lady over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week. That followed a sound third behind Dracarys and Majorpride at her previous outing. Busselton trainer Barry Howlett’s promising filly My Prayer will have admirers from the No. 4 barrier after her strong finishing wins at Pinjarra at her past two starts. And Annie Belton’s La Roue De Lamour is showing steady improvement with a good win from the breeze at Bunbury, followed by her good frontrunning display when a fight last-start second to Dracarys.   Ken Casellas

THE two biggest names in Aussie pacing are close to comeback races. This season’s open-class ranks were cruelled when firstly Soho Tribeca and then Chicago Bull were sidelined with serious injuries. But the pair are at the same stage of comeback preparations and only three to four weeks away from the racetrack. “All is going well at this stage. He’s about a month away, so the Len Smith is a big chance. We’d love to get there,” Soho Tribeca’s trainer-driver Stanley said. Hall Sr said: “Chicago Bull sounds like he’s at about the same stage as Soho Tribeca. He’ll be ready for a trial in three weeks or so.” There is talk about a possible Gloucester Park match race, but Stanley said his sole target for now was the Group 1 Len Smith Mile on June 30. That said, owner Rob Watson is a big picture man and will ultimately call the shots on where Soho Tribeca heads. “There’s a lot to consider and get through, but it would be amazing for the sport if a match-race happened,” Watson said. “I’d love to see and would certainly throw some money behind it.” _____________________________________________________________________________ EXCITING former Kiwi trotter McLovin capped his preparation for a return “home” with an easy Melton win last night. The Andy and Kate Gath-trained six-year-old will now head to Auckland for the Anzac and Rowe Cups. McLovin worked to the front, dictated terms and won the $24,000 Group 3 Sundons Gift Trotters’ free-for-all (2240m). He’s won six of seven starts since being bought by Norm Jenkin and joining the Gaths. _____________________________________________________________________________ FORMER young Kiwi star Ana Malak is seeing plenty of Australia. The four-year-old made a huge splash, including winning the Group 1 Golden Nugget, in his first Aussie campaign in WA for trainers Greg and Skye Bond. Worried by his handicap status in WA, the Bonds negotiated with Victorian trainer Dean Braun to take Ana Malak for a stint in Victoria. Braun has set his sights on more travel, this time to Tasmania for the $75,000 Easter Cup at Launceston on April 20. As soon as word got out Ana Malak was being set for the race, he was installed a $3 favourite. It promises to be a strong race with other mainlanders like Kerryn Manning’s exciting four-year-old Duke Of Wellington and recent Charlton Cup winner Cant Refuse are others being set for a Tassie raid. Ana Malak won four of six NZ starts before being unbeaten in three runs for the Bonds. The son of Bettors Delight hasn’t raced since winning the Nugget at Gloucester Park on December 14. _____________________________________________________________________________ COULD exciting juvenile colt Pandering be a “sneaky” for the Harness Jewels? The son of Courage Under Fire won on debut for Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin by 35.5m at Ballarat last Friday and is raced by Justin Baker, the managing owner of brilliant three-year-old trotter Alpha Male. Stewart is on record as saying if, as expected, Alpha Male heads to the Jewels she would like to take one or two juvenile pacers with the trotter to Addington. Stewart also has Victoria’s best juvenile so far this season, Be Happy Mach. Another Ballarat winner going places after a sparkling win last Friday is Andy and Kate Gath’s three-year-old trotter Majestuoso. It’s clear he’s in the top few trotters of his age in Australia after posting his fourth win of the season and scoring by 20.3m. _____________________________________________________________________________ ELLMERS Image showed he has the potential to take the next step with a gritty win in blazing time at Menangle last night. Trainer-driver Amanda Turnbull gave him a crack at the Melbourne Inter Dominion last year, but he just battled through the heats before brilliantly winning the consolation. Ellmers Image also ran a strong second to the classy Our Uncle Sam in the Group 1 Bohemia Crystal on Miracle Mile night. Last night he made a midrace move to sit parked outside the speedy Majordan, who did work hard in a 26.1sec opening quarter from a wide draw. The pair hit the line together with the photo showing a nostril margin to Ellmers Image in a 1min49.6sec mile. Former Kiwi pacer Cash N Flow was third. The win was Ellmers Image’s 14th from 52 starts and edged him close to $170,000 in earnings. Another winner of note at Menangle was former Great Southern Star winner Glenferrie Typhoon, who won his first race since being bought from Western Australia. Glenferrie Typhoon reached the top for Andy and Kate Gath before connections took him to WA for a stint. Now a nine-year-old with trainer Roy Roots Jr, Glenferrie Typhoon posted his 32nd win in a 1min59sec mile rate for 2300m. It was his first win since last October.   by Adam Hamilton

The 2019 WA Derby was built up as one of the strongest ever. It ended as a precession, as Major Trojan delivered reinsman Gary Hall Jnr and trainer Gary Hall Snr a fifth win in the $200,000 feature at Gloucester Park. The Group 1 event started in eventful circumstances as likely pacemaker and the well backed Its Rock And Roll had to be retired from the race when reinsman Colin Brown’s sulky got a flat tyre. It allowed Franco Edward to run to the lead and Major Trojan settled behind him when Hall Jnr elected against pressing on to the front. Hall Jnr had to be patient on the final lap as he sought clear running room, but on the turn for home he was able to get off the pegs and was poised for his run. The Art Major colt then stormed away over the closing stages to record a seemingly effortless 4.7m win to Bletchley Park, who narrowly beat Franco Edward for second place. Eloquent Mach, who won the main Derby lead up the Western Gateway a fortnight ago, was well beaten. Hall Jnr, who won the WA Derby previously with Alta Christiano (2013), Beaudiene Boaz (2015), Chicago Bull (2016) and King Of Swing (2018), said his fifth win in the time honoured event was the pick of them. “It’s a special one because you put your neck on the line with those sort of horses when you pay that money for them,” Hall Jnr told RWWA Harness. “I know Snr feels the pressure a lot more than me. “Sometimes you scratch your head when you pay the big money for them, but he was super tonight. “He’s still got room for improvement.” Major Trojan will now be aimed towards the Golden Nugget in December. The Derby win started a run of four straight winners on the night for Hall Jnr, who teamed up with Liberty Rose, Dracarys and Whozideawasthis in the following three races. Liberty Rose’s win in the In Appreciation Of Dr Tom Rieusset Pace (2536m) ended a frustrating run of outs for the mare. Hall Jnr said Liberty Rose deserved the breakthrough win and felt she may be a better horse when she didn’t lead. “We’ve not found any issues with her,” he said. “I was disappointed in a few of those races. “Some horses don’t like leading and I thought it would’ve suited her from what we saw as a three-year-old. “Maybe she likes being tucked away.” Dracarys showed why she would be the one to beat in next month’s WA Oaks, with a dominant win in the Oaks Prelude. Whozideawasthis then completed the stunning run of success for Hall Jnr, when he took out the Free-For-All event of the evening. The eight-year-old gelding won at Free-For-All level two starts back and continued the excellent form last night by upstaging the short-price favourite Handsandwheels. Hall Snr also had Tact Major win last night at just his second start back since November 2017. In a further boost for the stable, Hall Snr said Chicago Bull was a month away from making his return to the races. Tim Walker

The majority of WA Trotting Media Guild members believe that former Kiwi pacer Major Trojan will open his winning account on Friday night at Gloucester Park. Now in the stables of leading trainer Gary Hall, Major Trojan has finished second twice and  third last week (all behind stablemate Eloquent Mach) in his three starts in WA. The West Australian’s Ernie Manning, TABradio’s Matt Young and Guild president Wayne Currall have all made Major Trojan their best bet at the meeting. Manning believes Major Trojan gets the chance to confirm his favouritism for next week’s $200,000 WA Derby. “Major Trojan was most impressive when he fought on and held third after facing the breeze last Friday,” Manning said. “Trainer Gary Hall has declared the colt is his best Derby prospect.” Young and Currall agree. “Major Trojan showed last week he has good staying power and gate speed,” Young said. “He should be leading and winning the Prelude on Friday night quite comfortably.” Currall likes what he’s seen of Major Trojan. “Gary Hall has an uncanny knack of identifying young Kiwi pacers and turning them into superstars,” he said. “Major Trojan is in that ilk and I expect him to easily account for this field.” Multiple winner of the Guild’s tipping competition Stuart Lowe has made Eden Franco his star bet. “My best bet is Eden Franco, who is the class runner in the Empress Stakes,” Lowe said. “She has the most win dollars in the race and is drawn to lead from barrier two.” Longshot guru Pat Harding believes Herrick Roosevelt will make it successive wins. “My best bet comes up in race three,” Harding said. “At long last the Hall-trained Herrick Roosevelt finally broke through for a win last week. This week, coming from barrier two, I think he can make it two in a row and keep punters happy.” Budding racecaller Hayden King is keen on the consistent Lord Willoughby. “Lord Willoughby will sit just off the pace and use his brilliance to overhaul the leaders and stave off closers late,” King said. The West Australian’s racing co-ordinator Ryan Havercroft thinks punters can start the meeting off on a winning note by supporting Ace Bromac. “Ace Bromac has finished runner-up twice from wide draws since resuming from a let-up,” Havercroft said. “From barrier two he will settle close to the speed and looks a chance to go one better this Friday.” GPTV’s Ken Casellas has selected Caviar Star as his best bet. “It’s always a difficult task to win from a 30 metre handicap, but I expect Caviar Star to be up to the challenge by overcoming this disadvantage and winning on Friday night,” Casellas said. “His form this season has been exceptional and he’s my best bet this week.” VALUE BETS ERNIE: Eden Franco, freshened by trainer Colin Brown, has the exceptional record of nine wins and six places from 18 Gloucester Park starts. She impressed when a front-running winner at headquarters last November. MATT: Forever Remembered is a sniper and in a competitive standing start might be the late swooper at big odds.  WAYNE: Madame Meilland is drawn to get the run of the race behind likely leader Eden Franco, who loves to bowl along in front. Could run a race at odds. STUART: The value bet looks to be Back To The Beach. He covered a heap of ground, from a wide draw, before finishing a close-up fourth last start. Has the pole draw here in a similar field. PAT: My value bet comes up in race eight with No. 3 Lord Willoughby. This horse had a win four starts ago and I think he is well placed with Chris Lewis aboard to record another win. HAYDEN: Baylan Jett wasn't disgraced at his latest start and could be at a hefty price. Has claims. RYAN: Vincenzo Perrugia is racing in fine style and from barrier one on Friday he will give you a sight. Ran second to Handsandwheels after breezing four starts ago and could upset more fancied rivals. KEN: For value, I suggest Handsandwheels at an attractive quote in race four, in which he is the sole back-line runner. His recent form has been hard to fault. To view all of the Media Guild tips click here. Good Punting!   Wayne Currall

Sixteen months ago, Tact Major was on the doorstep of a wonderful career but he broke down with a bowed tendon and his racing future was in serious doubt. However, patient care has enabled him to recover and he will resume after an absence of 490 days when he contests the Glenroy Chaff Bio John Petstock Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “He bowed his tendon twice, but now he seems pretty sound,” said trainer Gary Hall Snr. “He might need the run, but he’s got enough ability to win first-up. He has been working as good as Whozideawasthis (a smart winner last Friday night). But, at home it’s a lot different to being in a race.” Tact Major, a New Zealand-bred seven-year-old, has raced only 22 times for ten wins, four seconds and a third placing. He is favourably drawn at barrier No. 2 in a field of eight and Lauren Jones should have him in a forward position all the way. Argyle Red will start from the No. 1 barrier and Morgan Woodley appears certain to take full advantage of the gelding’s excellent gate speed in an attempt to lead throughout. The Hall stable will also be represented by Campora, a fast-finishing winner four starts ago. Campora will start out wide at barrier seven, but has sound claims after unwinding strong late bursts to finish fourth behind Major Catastrophe and fifth behind Herrick Roosevelt at his past two outings. In what should prove to be a keen betting race, Lord Willoughby and Luis Alberto will have many admirers. The Ross Olivieri-trained Lord Willoughby, with Chris Lewis in the sulky at barrier three, should prove hard to beat following his strong effort last Friday week when he sustained a spirited three-wide burst from eighth at the bell to finish third behind Handsandwheels and Vincenzo Peruggia in the Four And Five-Year-Old Championship. Luis Alberto, to be driven by Jocelyn Young for trainer Debra Lewis, also looks set to fight out the finish. He caught the eye when fourth behind Handsandwheels last Friday week when he was last at the bell and ninth, five wide, on the home turn before charging down the straight. Luis Alberto maintained his outstanding form last Friday night when he thundered home from fourth (three wide) at the bell to win easily at a 1.54.8 rate over 1730m, with final quarters of 27.8sec. and 28.9sec. Another pacer from the Hall camp who will be making a comeback on Friday night is Heez Manly, who will be driven by Kim Prentice from the No. 3 barrier in the Glenroy Chaff Pinjarra Traders Pace. He has recovered from suspensory ligament damage and is capable of winning at his first appearance for 12 months. “He’s sound, but a bit underdone,” said Hall Snr. “However, he is good enough to win, first-up.” Gary Hall Jnr gave punters an important lead by choosing to drive Liberty Rose ahead of Heez Manly, Fake News and Dominate The Dojo in Friday night’s race. Liberty Rose has a losing sequence of 13 but is knocking on the door and should notch her seventh victory this week or in the very near future. She will start from the inside of the back line and should have a reasonably soft passage before Hall sets her alight in the final circuit. She was tenth at the bell before sprinting home powerful, out wide, to finish a head second to Dominate The Dojo over 1730m last Friday night. Fake News, a winner at six of her past eight starts, including an all-the-way triumph in the $30,000 Country Derby at Pinjarra at her most recent outing, will start from the No. 4 barrier and will be handled by Micheal Ferguson. Kevin Keys has engaged Aiden de Campo for Dominate The Dojo, who will begin out wide at barrier eight. Ken Casellas

Highly-regarded New Zealand-bred three-year-old Major Trojan looks set to record his first win in Australia when he begins from barrier two on the front line in the 2130m Glenroy Chaff Oakford Stockfeeds Derby prelude at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “His was a great effort when third in the 2536m Western Gateway Classic last Friday night,” declared champion trainer Gary Hall Snr. “He’s quick out and I think he will lead and prove very hard to beat this week.” Major Trojan started out wide from barrier eight last week and raced three wide early before working hard in the breeze outside the pacemaker Patrickthepiranha. He got to the front 550m from home and fought on doggedly when beaten home by stablemate Eloquent Mach and Franco Edward. That followed Major Trojan’s seconds to Eloquent Mach at Bunbury and Gloucester Park at his first two appearances in Australia. His chief rivals this week appear to be the polemarker Gee Jay Kay and Its Rock And Roll, who will start from the outside barrier (No. 9).  Gee Jay Kay, a comparatively inexperienced gelding with three wins and four placings from ten starts for trainer Vicki Lea and reinsman Shannon Suvaljko, will have plenty of admirers after drawing the coveted No. 1 barrier. He impressed greatly with a commanding performance to set the pace and win a 2185m trial at Pinjarra on Sunday morning after dashing over the final three quarters in 29.4sec., 28.6sec. and 28.4sec. “He showed really good speed off the gate,” said Suvaljko. “We can lead or sit behind Major Trojan and should run a good race.” Trainer-driver Colin Brown expects a strong showing from the talented Its Rock And Roll this week and in the Group 1 WA Derby the following Friday night.  Its Rock And Roll, winner of the Group 1 Sales Classic for two-year-old colts and geldings and the Group 2 Champagne Classic last season, has resumed after a spell in solid form, with his first four starts as a three-year-old producing three seconds and a third placing. At his most recent outing, in the Group 2 Sales Classic for three-year-old colts and gelding a fortnight ago, Its Rock And Roll began speedily from barrier four, but was unable to cross Shockwave in a spirited battle for the early lead. He then had a tough run in the breeze before taking a narrow lead on the home turn and finishing a good third behind Patrickthepiranha and Walsh. “I’m rapt with him at the moment; he really did benefit from the hard run two weeks ago and he’s jumping out of his skin. This week I won’t be able to go forward from barrier nine and sit outside Major Trojan, who rolls along just too quickly. I’ll drive Its Rock And Roll in a way which should guarantee him finishing in the best possible position.” Ken Casellas

Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr has lavished praise on big New Zealand-bred colt Major Trojan and has no hesitation in declaring him one of the best three-year-olds he has prepared even better than superstar $1 million champions Beaudiene Boaz and Chicago Bull.    Hall has trained the winner of four of the past six prestigious WA Derbies and is confident Major Trojan will prove very hard to beat in the $200,000 Derby next Friday week (April 5). Major Trojan, a winner at two of his five starts in New Zealand, has finished a close second at each of his first two starts in Western Australia and Hall is confident the colt will prove hard to beat in the $50,000 Intersport Slater Gartrell Western Gateway Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “I think he’s the best three-year-old I’ve trained, or maybe, the second best, behind Alta Christiano,” Hall said. “Beaudiene Boaz and Chicago Bull were good, but as three-year-olds neither were as good as Major Trojan.” In saying that, Hall admitted that Major Trojan was far from a good thing in the Western Gateway in which he will start out wide, at barrier eight on the front line of the 2536m event. He has plenty of respect for the brilliant Colin Brown-trained Patrickthepiranha, who will be a short-priced favourite from the prized No. 1 barrier. “I reckon that Major Trojan is the best horse in Friday night’s race and whatever beats him will win,” he said. “Regarding his strengths, he is fast and he can stay but it won’t be easy to beat Patrickthepiranha, who should get an uncontested time in front and I expect Major Trojan will be playing cat and mouse with Franco Edward. “However, Major Trojan doesn’t need a lot of luck; he can make his own luck. I think he’s the real deal. He had only nine weeks in work before last Friday night’s race and he should be starting to get close to top fitness. He should be at his peak on Derby night.” Major Trojan, who will again be handled this week by champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr, has plenty to live up to. The wonderful father-and-son combination has landed the winner of four of the past six Derbies, scoring with Alta Christiano (2013), Beaudiene Boaz (2015), Chicago Bull (2016) and King of Swing (2018).    Major Trojan gave a sample of his class last Friday night when he finished an unlucky second in a 2130m Derby prelude, a nose behind stablemate Eloquent Mach. He started from the inside of the back line and was three back on the pegs in fifth place at the bell, with Eloquent Mach setting a brisk pace. The final quarters then were covered in 27.7sec. and 28.4sec., with Major Trojan being held up for a clear run before he finished with a powerful burst on the inside to fail by the narrowest of margins. Six nights earlier, Major Trojan had his first start for four months when he enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back in the 2100m Battle of Bunbury at Donaldson Park. He vacated that position 420m from home and sustained a spirited burst to finish a neck second to the pacemaker Eloquent Mach, with final quarters in 27.7sec. and 27.8sec. Eloquent Mach, again with Stuart McDonald in the sulky, will start from barrier two on the back line in Friday night’s race and should be prominent. The Hall stable’s third runner Robbie Easton (Micheal Ferguson) is awkwardly drawn at barrier five. “Eloquent Mach is getting better with every run and Robbie Easton is going well, but is underrated,” said Hall Snr. Patrickthepiranha, like most of his rivals this week, will be having his first start over the Derby distance of 2536m. With a marvellous record of 12 starts for nine wins, he has given every indication that the longer trip will pose no problems. He is also a splendid frontrunner, having set the pace in six of his nine victories. Dylan Egerton-Green, fresh from driving Patrickthepiranha to victory in last Friday night’s $50,000 Sales Classic, has handled the gelding in all of his 12 starts and he has high hopes of winning the Western Gateway Classic for the second year in a row after bringing the Mike Reed-trained Bechers Brook home with a dazzling burst from ninth at the bell to beat Cott Beach by a neck in last year’s classic. “It’s a great draw (No. 1) and hopefully we can take full advantage of it,” he said. “He has shown that he can roll the gate, but I don’t expect it to be an easy run for the horse. He has pulled up well after winning the Sales Classic and this will be a good test. The Derby, that’s the aim.” Trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper has spaced Franco Edward’s runs in the lead up to the Derby and the American Ideal colt looms as a major player in this week’s classic as well as the Derby. Franco Edward notched his ninth win from 14 starts when he raced in the breeze for much of the journey and was inclined to overrace before finishing strongly to win a Derby prelude over 2130m three weeks ago, beating the pacemaker Eloquent Mach and Galante, who enjoyed a good run behind the pacemaker. Franco Edward has the ability to overcome the disadvantage of starting from the outside barrier (No. 9) on Friday night and he will have a legion of admirers. He gave a tremendous indication of his great talent in a 2150m trial at Byford on Sunday morning when he settled down in last place in a field of five, ten lengths from the early leader, before Harper sent him forward with a sparkling turn of speed 1100m from home. He charged to the front within 100m and careered away to win, unextended, by 27 lengths from unraced three-year-old Cordero. Ken Casellas

A LIFE ban and possible criminal charges await a lunatic who threw his shoe at the field in the feature race at Gloucester Park last Friday night. As the runners in the $50,000 Group 2 Sales’ Classic neared the winning post with a lap to go, a young man threw a shoe at the leader, Shockwave, but miraculously the field was not disrupted. It could so easily have caused a fall and harm to horses and drivers. Gloucester Park Operations Manager Tony Williamson said two shoes were throw onto the track and one hit the sulky of a horse. “We called the police, they’ve taken their details and they are fairly well know young guys here in Perth who play footy. The stewards are taking it from here,” he said. “One of the young men will be banned. What he did was ridiculous and dangerous.” The race was won by emerging star Patrickthepiranha, who had a lovely sit on a hot speed and just scored by a head. It wasn’t the only big three-year-old race on the night. The other saw Gary Hall Sr’s pair Eloquent Mach just stave-off boom Kiwi import Major Trojan by a nose in a 1min55.5sec mile rate for 2130m. They both look serious WA Derby players. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ GARY Hall Sr can’t hide his excitement, Not only is his sidelined champion Chicago Bull back in work, but the hopples went on this week. “So far so good. He’s back quicker than we thought, but it was a guess. They hadn’t seem injuries like his,” he said. “You don’t get many like this guy and his season came to an end so abruptly. It’s great to have him back. “There’s no rush from here. Just a long, steady build-up to get his fitness and confidence then back to races.” Chicago Bull had a freakish reaction to an injection, flipped and badly damaged his back the day after an Alexandra Park win took him into NZ Cup favourite last October. Chicago Bull’s arch-rival, Soho Tribeca, is also back in rehab work, but a long way off racing. “He looks great, but has just started some slow pace work. Hopefully he makes it back when he’s ready,” trainer-driver Mick Stanley said. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ INTERESTING to see Golden Nugget winner and highly-rated former Kiwi pacer Ana Malak switch stables, albeit briefly. The young star won the Nugget for Greg and Skye Bond, but is back in work with Dean Braun for a campaign. “It’s just for this campaign to see what he can do over there,” Bond said. “He’s a free-for-all horse now in Perth or just a M2/C7 in Victoria so there’s more opportunities for him over there.” Ana Malak finished a soft third in a Geelong trial on March 4, indicating he was still a way away from racing. The entire has raced just nine times for seven wins, two placings and $237,499. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ FORMER classy Kiwi pacer Cash N Flow is gradually finding his mojo for the Craig Cross/McCarthy team. The six-year-old former All Stars’ gelding made the most of a lovely Luke McCarthy drive to win the Menangle free-for-all in a slick 1min53.9sec mile rate for 2300m last Friday night. Cash N Flow worked to the front, but McCarthy was content to take a sit on his brother, Todd, aboard race favourite Majordan. Cash N Flow then took an inside run to score by 2.7m over the talented Ellmers Image with Majordan another five metres away in third spot. Menangle’s other feature, the $50,000 Group 2 Tatlow 2YO, produced a stirring finish with favourite Mistery Road, a son of Mr Feelgood, snatching a half-head win over Krafty Bart in a 1min54.4sec mile. Mistery Road’s driver Anthony Frisby teamed with much-improved mare Major Occasion for arguably the win of the night in race three. The four-year-old ran right up to her huge second to Our Dream About Me in the Group 1 Ladyship Mile when she did all the worked and won in a 1min50.6sec mile last Friday. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ THE good babies are starting to emerge in Australia. At Bendigo last Thursday, Marg Lee unleashed nicely-bred colt Jilliby Nitro, a daughter of Bettors Delight out of Safely Kept mare Kiewa Valley. Kiewa Valley, a winner of seven races, has just the one foal to race, Rockmemama (21 starts, seven wins and $148,860), including the NSW Breeders Challenge 3YO fillies’ final. Off the back of a sharp Geelong trial win, Jilliby Nitro packed too much speed for his rivals to win by 2.2m in a 1min56.2sec mile rate for 1650m. At Horsham last Monday, Emma Stewart unleashed her highly-rated colt Be Happy Mach for an impressive win from off the speed. Chris Alford had to dodge traffic and come deep in the last lap, but Be Happy Mach still clocked a private 56.2sec last half out deep to win by 3.4m in a 1min57.5sec mile rate for 1700m. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ STILL on babies and I’m honoured to have a superbly-bred one named after me having its first run at Terang on Tuesday. Soho Hamilton, a brother to Soho Tribeca and half to Carlas Pixel and Soho Nolita, is trained and driven by Mick Stanley and owned and bred by Rob Watson. “Hopefully he does you proud,” Stanley said. “His stable name is Adam. He’s showing plenty of talent, but I can’t help but think whatever he does this year he’ll be a better three-year-old.” Watson said: “Mate we only name the good ones after good people. I think this bloke goes nearly as good as you.” ______________________________________________________________________________________________ AUSTRALIA has so many iconic country cups and Broken Hill’s version is certainly one of them. About as remote a venue as you can get, a big crowd packed Broken Hill and watched respected SA horseman Greg Norman’s gelding The Deal thrash his rivals in the $14,000 feature last Friday night.   Adam Hamilton

Lightly-raced five-year-old Herrick Roosevelt has made a full recovery from leg surgery and champion trainer Gary Hall Snr is confident the New Zealand-bred gelding can make a successful return to racing after an absence of 421 days by winning the $50,000 RWWA Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night. This will be Herrick Roosevelt’s first start since he led and held on grimly to win the $50,000 Christmas Gift by a short half-head from Walkinshaw in December 2017 and his first-up prospects have been enhanced by drawing the prized No. 1 barrier in this week’s Group 2 feature event over 2130m. The Christian Cullen pacer has not appeared in recent trials, but Hall said he was fit and ready to run a big race. “His work in this preparation has been the best of his career and he’s a quick beginner and smart frontrunner,” he said. Herrick Roosevelt, to be driven by Gary Hall Jnr, underwent surgery after winning the Christmas Gift when he developed a cyst in a stifle joint in a back leg. He has raced only 18 times (all in Western Australia) for ten wins and six placings for stakes of $138,206. The Halls are seeking to win the RWWA Cup for the second year in succession. They were successful last year when Chicago Bull, favourite at 10/1 on, raced four wide early, took the lead after 650m and defeated stablemate Ohoka Punter by four lengths. Herrick Roosevelt is likely to be tested seriously by dependable iron horse Vultan Tin, who is in grand form for Coolup trainer Phil Costello and reinsman Chris Voak. Vultan Tin will start from barrier four and Voak is expected to make full use of the hardy seven-year-old’s good gate speed. “The worst case scenario will be working in the breeze,” Voak said. Vultan Tin maintained his excellent form when he was first out from the No. 4 barrier, but was unable to cross the polemarker Mr Mojito and then raced without cover before taking a narrow lead in the final stages and being beaten by a head by the fast-finishing Mitch Maguire over 2130m last Friday night. The final quarters were run in 28.2sec. and 27.7sec. A week earlier, Vultan Tin led from barrier two and gave a bold frontrunning display to win the Group 2 2536m City of Perth Cup by just under two lengths from the flying El Jacko. The final sections were run in 28.2sec. and 27.8sec. Talented reinsman Aiden de Campo warned punters not to underestimate Handsandwheels, who is awkwardly drawn at barrier No. 6. “He raced four back on the pegs and didn’t get a clear run in the last lap when sixth behind Mitch Maguire last week,” de Campo said. “He was unlucky and if he’d got a run he would’ve gone close to winning. He’s got another tricky draw this week and I haven’t yet decided on my tactics.” Mitch Maguire, prepared by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, is a brilliant sit-sprinter who is capable of overcoming his wide barrier at No. 7. He won for the ninth time from his past 15 starts and for the 23rd time from just 38 starts when he was sixth at the bell and finished powerfully to beat Vultan Tin last week. Shannon Suvaljko said that he was expecting the lone back-line runner Always Arjay to gain a perfect run behind the likely pacemaker Herrick Roosevelt and then figure in the finish. The Nathan Turvey-trained and driven Simba Bromac will reappear after a month’s absence, but the gelding faces a stern test from the outside barrier (No. 9). Simba Bromac warmed up for the race with a stylish all-the-way victory in a 2185m trial at Pinjarra on Sunday morning when he was unextended in dashing over the final 400m in 26.9sec. in beating Chelsea Royale by 19 metres.   Ken Casellas

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