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Eight-time premiership harness racing trainer Ross Olivieri declares that everything is spot on for rising star Im Full of Excuses and is confident the New Zealand-bred gelding will win the $35,000 Alltools Four and Five-Year-Old Championship at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Im Full of Excuses has thrived since his outstanding performance to win the $50,000 Pinjarra Cup on Monday of last week when he was ninth at the bell and then sustained a powerful three and four-wide burst to hit the front on the home turn and race away to beat Our Jimmy Johnstone by five lengths at a 1.55.9 rate over the 2692m journey. The final quarters were covered in 28.5sec. and 27.5sec. and Olivieri agreed that this was a career-best performance by Im Full of Excuses, who has won at nine of his past 12 starts. A victory this week would give Olivieri his third success in the Four and Five-Year-Old Championship, after successes with Heros Knight in 1998 and Crombie in 2011. Chris Lewis, who has driven Im Full of Excuses in all of his 13 West Australian starts for nine wins and one placing, has won the Four and Five-Year-Old Championship a record four times. He has been successful with Village Kid (1985), Hilarion Star (1992), Heros Knight (1998) and Make The Rules (1999). Last year he drove 8/1 chance Fernleigh Rebel, who was a fast-finishing second, beaten a half-head by The Odd Lover. “He’s on track and his work this week has been terrific,” said Olivieri. “He’s drawn barrier seven in a field of seven and whatever happens, happens. Chris will work it out. “Im Full of Excuses beat some very good horses in the Pinjarra Cup, but before that a lot of his races were really two-horse affairs, without detracting from the other runners. He meets strong opposition on Friday night. There are many very promising horses in the race. “He’ll continue racing at the moment. We’ll just keep picking our way through selected races in this preparation. Somewhere along the line we’ll give him a break, but he’s not wanting it at the moment.” American Boy, who finished third in the Pinjarra Cup before an effortless all-the-way victory over Risk, rating 1.55.7 over 2130m last Friday night, will start from the No. 5 barrier on Friday night and appeals as one of the main rivals for Im Full of Excuses. American Boy is prepared by champion trainer Gary Hall sen., who has won the Four and Five-0Year-Old Championship with Love of Glory (1990), Zakara (1991), Make The Rules (1999) and Northview Punter (2014). Gary Hall jun., who was in the sulky for Northview Punter’s victory, will handle American Boy, who has an outstanding record of 29 starts for 18 wins, seven seconds and one third. Risk, who was an excellent first-up second to American Boy last week (when he finished solidly from the one-out, one-back position) will be driven by Ryan Bell from barrier four. He has won at 14 of his 40 starts and is prepared by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, who have won the race with Ohokas Bondy in 2012 and Your Good Fortune in 2013. The Mike Reed-trained Kiwi Legend will be driven by Shannon Suvaljko from the No. 3 barrier and should prove hard to catch if he is able to burst to an early lead. However, there is a strong possibility that Aiden de Campo will make a spirited bid to take full advantage of the No. 1 draw and attempt to set the pace with Blythewood trainer Gary Elson’s smart four-year-old Ideal Tyson, who has had 39 starts for 16 wins and 12 placings. The other four-year-olds in the race, New World Order and Mister Versace, are racing in wonderful style, but will need to be right at their top to beat the more mature five-year-olds. Ken Casellas

Four-year-old Sheer Rocknroll is one of the State’s most promisingharness racing mares and she is poised to make a successful return to racing after a three-month absence when she contests the $19,000 Princi Butchers Pace for mares at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Ace Byford trainer Ross Olivieri said: “She’s got to contend with a crook barrier (No. 7) and being first-up. But I think she can do it.” Sheer Rocknroll, to be handled by Chris Lewis, who chalked up his century of winners for the season when he drove stablemate Im Full of Excuses to a dazzling victory in the $50,000 Pinjarra Cup on Monday afternoon, has a superior record to those of her seven rivals. She is extremely versatile and has already amassed $177,922 in prizemoney from 17 wins and nine placings from 40 starts. “I’m not sure how she will be driven,” Olivieri said. “It might be an option to come out (fast) in a bid to take the lead. She has really pleased us in her work and I think she’s going to run a super race. There’s some handy horses in the race, but probably none have done the sort of things she has done. “She looks well placed in Friday night’s field, but the first thing I’d say is that she will improve on whatever she does. I’m sure of that.” A winner of six races in a row earlier in the season, Sheer Rocknroll has not appeared since she raced three wide early and then faded from seventh in the one-wide line at the bell to finish last behind The Parade in the $125,000 Mares Classic at Gloucester Park on December 9. A week earlier she raced without cover when a fighting third behind Ideal Alice and A Piccadilly Princess in the Parliamentarians Cup. Her major rival looms as Giuliana Rancic, who will be driven by Gary Hall jun. for his father, champion trainer Gary Hall sen. The New Zealand-bred five-year-old is ideally drawn at barrier two and will have many admirers after her solid effort when she raced wide early and then ran on gamely from the one-out, one-back position to be second to the speedy frontrunner Allthewaytothebank. Olivieri, Lewis and Sheer Rocknroll’s owner-breeder Bob Fowler have high hopes for Lord Willoughby, who started at 11/2 and overcame the No. 6 barrier to score an impressive victory over Major Pocket in a 2130m event at Gloucester Park on Tuesday afternoon. Lord Willoughby was sixth at the bell and fifth on the home bend before he surged home to win convincingly at a 1.56.9 rate. It was his third win from 15 starts. A son of Mach Three, Lord Willoughby will be set for feature events for three-year-olds, including the $200,000 Sky Racing WA Derby on April 7. “Probably his main mission will be later on in the season in the Westbred Classic,” Olivieri said. “But he won’t be out of place in the Derby. The thing about him which is particularly pleasing is that he’s improving with every start. He’s getting better and better.” Olivieri was thrilled with the win of Im Full of Excuses (4/1) in Monday’s Pinjarra Cup in which he rated 1.55.9 over the 2692m trip. Lewis brought the five-year-old with a sizzling burst of speed from ninth at the bell to hit the front on the home turn and win by five lengths from the 11/8 favourite Our Jimmy Johnstone, with the final quarters (off the front) being run in 28.5sec. and 27.5sec. “The final quarter was exceptional and Im Full of Excuses would’ve broken 27sec. out wide on the track,” Olivieri said. “Races for him in the next month could include the Four and Five-Year-Old Championship, the Harvey Cup at Bunbury and the Easter Cup.” Ken Casellas

Driver Lauren Jones, who ended last week’s harness racing program by winning the final event with 6/1 chance Foxy Dame, should continue in winning vein by guiding talented five-year-old American Boy to victory in the $20,000 TABtouch Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Star trainer Gary Hall sen. engaged Jones in order to use her junior claim which enabled American Boy, an M3-class pacer, to contest an event restricted to M2-class horses. And American Boy’s prospects soared after he got the prized No. 1 barrier in the random draw. American Boy, a winner at his only start in New Zealand, has had 27 starts in Western Australia for 16 wins, seven seconds and one third. He led and won at four of those outings and Jones will be anxious to set the pace on Friday night. Gary Hall jun. was full of praise for American Boy after driving him to victory over Bungalow Bill at Gloucester Park two starts ago. American Boy started from the outside barrier and settled in last position before racing three wide for much of the 2130m journey. “He’s starting to mature and has really hardened up and turned into a real racehorse,” Hall said. “He’s so versatile, which is the key to him. He can do it from the front and the back. I think he’s pretty special and if he stays fit and sound he should be ready to contest the big races next summer.” American Boy is closely related to former star pacer Another Party, who earned $888,678 from 31 wins and 42 placings from 149 starts. His dam Alesandra Ambrosio is out of Bee Gees Dream, the dam of Another Party. American Boy’s toughest rivals on Friday night are sure to be a trio of New Zealand-bred pacers, Risk, Bettor Offer and Our Regal Ideal. Risk, to be handled by Mitch Miller from barrier four, will be making his first appearance since he led and won by two lengths from Twoandahalf Tigers over 2130m on November 25. He is a classy animal with 14 wins, nine seconds and three thirds from 39 starts and is capable of a bold first-up effort. Bettor Offer (barrier three) and Our Regal Ideal (two) are in sound form and should be prominent. Ryan Bell will drive Risk and Michael Blakemore will handle Our Regal Ideal.      Ken Casellas

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

Morgan Woodley has given harness racing punters an important lead by opting to drive Argyle Red in preference to Vultan Tin in the first qualifying heat of the Westside Auto Wholesale Clarke Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Argyle Red, trained at Pinjarra by Rob MacDonald, has drawn the coveted No. 1 barrier, and Vultan Tin, trained at Coolup by Phil Costello, is favourably drawn at the No. 2 barrier. Woodley chose Argyle Red because he is impressed with the five-year-old’s frontrunning ability. He has driven Argyle Red eight times for four wins and one placings, including a stylish all-the-way victory from barrier one over 2130m two starts ago. A week before that win, Woodley was in the sulky when Argyle Red worked hard without cover before winning in convincing style from McClinchie over 1730m. Woodley has driven Vultan Tin 51 times for seven wins and 15 placings, including an all-the-way win over 2536m from barrier two five starts ago. Chris Voak has completed a term of suspension and will handle Vultan Tin on Friday night. Argyle Red and Vultan Tin will not have things all their own way, with strong opposition expected from several pacers, especially Twoandahalf Tigers, Gaz Wannabet, Char Do Neigh and Bad Round. Twoandahalf Tigers, trained by Gary Hall sen., is wonderfully consistent and can never be left out of calculations. He finished solidly along the inside when fourth behind Kiwi Legend and Bungalow Bill last Friday night. Gaz Wannabet, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, also rarely performs below par. He will be driven by Ryan Bell, who replaces regular reinsman Ryan Warwick, who was suspended for causing interference in the final race last Friday night. Gaz Wannabet raced three wide for most of the 2190m journey when an extremely close second to Must Be Nice at Northam at his latest appearance. Ken Casellas

Star reinsman Gary Hall jun. says that Red Hot Roxy is now far more tractable than she was as a precocious and free-spirited two-year-old last season and is confident she has the ability to overcome an awkward barrier at No. 7 and win the $25,000 Clipsal and Schneider Electric WA Sales Classic for harness racing three-year-old fillies at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “Every time she saw the gate as a two-year-old all she wanted to do was whizz out,” Hall said. “But now she is more mature and composed.” Red Hot Roxy, trained at Byford by Katja Warwick, won at four of her seven starts as a two-year-old and she made a splendid start to her three-year-old season with a commanding win over Salacious Gossip and Milliondollarhanova over 2185m at Pinjarra on Monday of last week. That was her first appearance since she began from the back line and raced three wide early and then in the breeze before getting to the front 500m from home and finishing a head second to Doalittlerocknroll in the group 1 Westbred Fillies Classic early last July. “Her latest run was super,” Hall said. “The leader (Milliondallarhanova) fired up, so I didn’t want to go up because Red Hot Roxy can fire up, too.” Hall was quite content to let Red Hot Roxy race without cover, but back in fourth position, some three lengths off the leader. Red Hot Roxy cruised to the front 90m from the line and won by more than two lengths, with a final quarter in 27.9sec. “That run was really good for a lot of reasons --- one was that she settled really well in the breeze and, two, she had push button speed when I wanted it,” Hall said. “She’ll be improved by that run and, hopefully, the way she went is an indication that we’ll get a good campaign out of her. “She is really fast, point to point, and moving forward, hopefully, that’s her main weapon.” Twelve months ago, Red Hot Roxy started from the outside (No. 9) in the group 1 Sales Classic for two-year-old fillies. Hall fired her out of the gate, and after racing four wide in the early stages, she burst to the front, set a brisk pace and won by almost two lengths from Beach Goddess. “All she had ever been taught, really, was to run the gate and she had so much gate speed that we just rolled the dice. Now she settles much better and does not have to be driven exclusively as a frontrunner,” Hall said. “On Friday night I’ll go forward at the start, just steady, and hold out the runners on our outside. I’ll then possibly slide forward (in a bid for the lead). But I don’t really have to and I could slot in. I reckon she goes better when she’s sat up.” Red Hot Roxy, by American stallion Somebeachsomewhere, is out of unraced mare Gabrielle Rocks, whose dam At Melrose Place (by Sokys Atom) produced prolific winners Fletcher Christian, Forty Two Grand and Grinjaro, who, between them, won 43 races. Hall won eight races with Fletcher Christian, three with Forty Two Grand and ten with Grinjaro. Red Hot Roxy was sold for $24,000 at the 2015 Gloucester Standardbred yearling sale and a win on Friday night would boost her earnings to $112,050. Beach Goddess, a $23,000 yearling who finished second to Red Hot Roxy in the Sales Classic for two-year-olds in April of last year, has drawn out wide at barrier eight in Friday night’s event in which she will be handled by Colin Brown. Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed declared that Beach Goddess would “go good.” She notched her fifth win two starts ago when she led from the No. 1 barrier and beat geldings Allmightyjeolouis and Whoswhointhezoo, with a final 800m in 56sec. “I trialled her at Byford on Sunday and she led for the first lap, but got a flat tyre and had to be pulled up,” Reed said. “She’s definitely a stronger filly than she was 12 months ago and she’s got a chance of beating Red Hot Roxy.” Betshes Precious, trained at Boyanup by Justin Prentice, has won four races and should be prominent from the No. 1 barrier. A severe check in the final lap cost her victory in a race at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week. She did well to recover and finish fourth behind Dontch Remember. Ken Casellas

A smart track workout at Gloucester Park last Saturday morning --- combined with a favourable barrier --- are strong pointers that The Beachcomber will prove hard to beat in the $25,000 Clipsal and Schneider Electric Sales Classic final for harness racing three-year-old colts and geldings at pacing’s headquarters on Friday night. Trainer Mike Reed declared that he was optimistic about the gelding’s prospects after he dashed over the final 800m in the workout in 57.2sec. Driven by Mark Reed, The Beachcomber sat behind five-year-old Challenging before sprinting strongly to defeat the in-form gelding who followed two successive wins with a strong-finishing effort to be second to Your Excused at Gloucester Park on Tuesday night. The Beachcomber by Somebeachsomewhere, a $33,000 yearling who has won once from ten starts, will begin from the No. 2 barrier on the front line on Friday night with Colin Brown in the sulky.          “I’ve been really happy with him and his work has been good since his latest start (when fifth behind Bob Wheel at Gloucester Park on January 31),” Mike Reed said. “I haven’t started him for a while. He’s had a niggling injury and I’ve been working on curing it.” Bob Wheel, trained and driven by Ryan Bell, is likely to be favourite and looks very hard to beat. The Allamerican Ingot gelding will start from the No. 4 barrier and is sure to be prominent throughout. He notched his third win from 19 starts when he raced without cover before dashing over the final 400m in 27.8sec. to win from Doc Ryan over 2190m at Northam on Thursday of last week. Bob Wheel also raced without cover before winning from All The Whispers at Gloucester Park two starts before that. The Michael Brennan-trained Kasey John (Michael Grantham) cannot be left out of calculations after winning a 2180m trial at Pinjarra in dashing style on Monday afternoon. He led early and then sat behind the pacemaker Bouchee before sprinting the final 400m in 27.7sec. and winning by six lengths from Bouchee at a 2.0.9 rate. However, he faces a stern test from the outside barrier (No. 9). He was automatically drawn on the outside after breaking badly soon after the start and then racing at the rear of the field at his latest outing, at Gloucester Park last Friday week. Kasey John has won at three of his six starts this season. Ken Casellas  

“He worked beautifully at Byford this morning (Tuesday) and is a big chance in the first at Gloucester Park on Friday night,” declared eight-time WA premiership harness racing trainer Ross Olivieri when assessing Military Master’s prospects in the first heat of the 2130m Clipsal By Schneider Electric Westbred Pace. The five-year-old Bettor's Delight stallion, who has had 21 starts for six wins, seven seconds and a third, will begin from barrier two on the back line and is sure to meet stiff opposition, particularly from Mister Versace, Rich Yankee and Hindu Kumara. “He’s still waiting to get clear,” said Olivieri when referring to Military Master’s unlucky fifth behind Superimposed last Friday night when he started from the inside of the back line and raced three back on the pegs in sixth position. At his previous outing, a fortnight earlier, Military Master began speedily from barrier seven, burst to the front after 250m and went on to win by a length from Mister Versace, who began from barrier eight and settled in last position before sustaining a powerful three-wide burst. “Drawing two on the back line is better than one on the back line,” Olivieri said. “However, it won’t be a walk in the park against some good horses.” Military Master will again be driven by Chris Lewis, fresh from a treble at Gloucester Park on Tuesday night. It is significant that Lewis has chosen to drive Military Master ahead of the speedy Americanbootscoota, who is now being prepared by Lewis’s wife Debra. Americanbootscoota, a four-year-old who has won seven races, led and scored an easy 2185m trial win over Nicnak Paddy Wak at Pinjarra last Sunday week. The final quarters in the six-horse trial were 28.1sec. and 27.6sec. The gelding will be driven on Friday night by Clint Hall.  Mister Versace, a four-year-old by Bettors Delight and trained by Annie Belton, will be driven by Kim Prentice. The gelding ran on solidly from four back on the pegs at the bell to finish fourth behind Bettor Reward in the Manea Classic at Bunbury last Saturday week. He is in the best form of his fledgling career. Rich Yankee, to be driven from barrier six by Dylan Egerton-Green for Northam trainer Jesse Moore, will have many admirers after his dazzling performance over 2190m at Northam on Thursday of last week when he charged forward from eighth at the bell to race away to a six-length victory over Saleahs Command, rating 1.57.6. His 20 starts have produced nine wins, six seconds and one third placing. Byford trainer-reinsman Joe Suvaljko has five-year-old Hindu Kumara firing and stylish wins at his past two starts indicate more wins in store for the gelding. Ken Casellas

Enigmatic harness racing pacer Condrieu, unplaced at his past eight starts, gets his chance to break through for a win when he starts from the favourable No. 2 barrier in the Clipsal and Schneider Electric Life Is On Us Pace over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The New Zealand-bred seven-year-old is a noted frontrunner, having won at 11 of his 16 Australian victories after setting the pace. Therefore, there is little doubt that Ryan Warwick will attempt to steal a vital march on the opposition by charging to the front when the mobile barrier releases the field. Condrieu is a smart sprinter, having won twice over 1609m (in 1.51.5 and 1.52.4) at Menangle last year. The Bettor's Delight gelding  was a 50/1 chance when he was restrained at the start from barrier seven and fought on from ninth at the bell to finish seventh behind Our Jimmy Johnstone in the 2130m Governor’s Cup last Friday night.  The Colin Joss-trained Lagoon Stride has a losing sequence of 20 and has dropped back to an M1 classification. From the prized No. 1 barrier he gets an ideal chance to prove his worth. Red Salute, who trailed the pacemaking Our Jimmy Johnstone and ran home solidly to finish second to that pacer last week, has drawn out wide at barrier eight. However, trainer Ross Olivieri is quietly confident the eight-year-old will perform strongly. “Maybe the wheel is turning for him, but barrier eight is not great,” Olivieri said. “He’s on the improve after I changed his training around a bit. He might be known as a frontrunner, but he’s quite quick and can come from behind. There’s hardly a horse at Byford who can beat him on the track.” Lauren Jones is expected to send veteran Shardons Rocket forward from barrier seven in the early stages and the oldstager should be in the firing line all the way over the sprint trip. Ken Casellas

Aldo Cortopassi will become the 22nd harness racing driver to handle Allthewaytothebank in a race when the six-year-old contests the $18,000 Schneider Ecoxpert Mares Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Allthewaytothebank, trained at Byford by Brendan Abbott, warmed up for her engagement in terrific style with a dashing victory in a 2130m event on Tuesday night. She will start from the No. 3 barrier on the front line and has good prospects. Sixteen-year-old Corey Peterson got Allthewaytothebank away to a flying start from barrier five and she burst to the front after 200m before bowling along to score by almost two lengths from Donovan Bromac. After a fast lead time of 35.3sec. The Rich And Spoilt mare  dashed over the final four quarters in 30sec., 30.1sec., 30.3sec. and 29.2sec. Abbott has a good second string in Friday night’s race in Artistic Lilly, whose past four starts on country tracks have produced a win at Narrogin, a second at Wagin and thirds at Williams and Bridgetown. The mare will be driven by Michael Grantham, but faces a tough assignment from the outside barrier (No. 9). Pinjarra breeder-owner-trainer Graham Cox has Honey And Lime in top form and she looks the testing material from the coveted No. 1 barrier, with Dylan Egerton-Green in the sulky. Honey And Lime covered a good deal of extra ground when she ran on from the rear to finish third behind Artistic Lilly at Narrogin on February 16 and since then she has finished second in trials at Pinjarra and Byford. Honey And Lime was successful at her two previous starts, finishing strongly to beat Simondou Su at Bridgetown and overcoming a bad start behind the mobile to score from Kissmecougar at Bunbury. Ken Casellas

Harness racing driver Ryan Warwick, the leading reinsman in Western Australia this season, is planning to get Our Jimmy Johnstone away to a flying start in a bid to win the $50,000 Governor’s Cup over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Our Jimmy Johnstone, prepared by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, is awkwardly drawn at barrier six on the front line in the group 2 event and his chief rival Im Full of Excuses is more favourably drawn at barrier four. “At this stage, I’ll probably adopt similar tactics as I used when Our Jimmy Johnstone won the RWWA Cup (2536m) last Friday night,” Warwick said. Our Jimmy Johnstone began brilliantly from the No. 8 barrier last week and sped to the front after 80m. Im Full of Excuses was restrained back to last from the outside barrier (No. 9) before he finished solidly from ninth at the bell to be fourth, three lengths behind Our Jimmy Johnstone. “I’ll probably come out as hard as we can,” Warwick said. “My initial thought was if we come out, we’ve got to come out full bore to be able to cross Im Full of Excuses. He’s the horse to beat. If we cross (to the front) we should win. You can’t afford to give him (Im Full of Excuses) a head start. He gave us a head start last week and we beat him. “The thing in our favour is that this week’s race is over 2130m and if we come out and don’t get to the front it’s not the end of the world. If it was a race over 2536m and to burn early would cost you a bit of petrol. Our Jimmy Johnstone has won from the breeze.” There is little doubt that Chris Lewis will make a bold bid to send the Ross Olivieri-trained Im Full of Excuses to an early lead. Drawn inside of Im Full of Excuses are Ohoka Kentucky, Shardons Rocket and Red Salute, all of whom possess good gate speed and have won races after setting the pace. A victory by Im Full of Excuses would give Olivieri, owner Merv Butterworth and Lewis their second success in a Governor’s Cup. The Butterworth-owned and Olivieri-trained Chief Thundercloud started from the No. 1 barrier when Stuart McDonald drove him to an all-the-way win over Dredlock Rockstar and Cyamach in last year’s Governor’s Cup. Lewis was successful behind the Tony Svilicich-trained Has The Answers in 2010. The Peter Anderson-trained Bronze Seeker is in top form and should be running home strongly in the final stages. He will be handled by Michael Grantham, with stablemate Lisharry, awkwardly drawn at barrier five, to be driven by Gary Hall jun. Bronze Seeker maintained his excellent form when he started out wide at barrier seven and was eighth at the bell before charging home late, out five wide, to be second to Our Jimmy Johnstone last Friday night. Ryan Bell will drive Our Jimmy Johnstone’s stablemate Condrieu (barrier seven) and Dylan Egerton-Green will be the new driver for the Mike Reed-trained Kiwi Legend (No. 8). Each pacer faces a tough task from an unfavourable barrier. Ken Casellas

A sparkling track workout on Tuesday morning has Major Reality in peak form for her attempt at Gloucester Park to become only the fourth harness racing mare to win the $50,000 Empress Stakes two years in a row in the 48-year history of the Group 2 feature event. Driven by Tom Buchanan, Major Reality set the pace and gave a powerful display to defeat her talented stablemate The Parade in the workout and astute Boyanup horseman Justin Prentice is full of confidence the five-year-old will make a successful defence of her crown. Prentice is due to return to Perth on Thursday after a ten-day trip to New Zealand and is looking forward to driving the Art Major mare, whose winning prospects soared when she drew the coveted No. 1 barrier in the 2536m event. Prentice was in New Zealand on a buying mission 12 months ago, when he had three runners in the 2016 Empress Stakes in which Major Reality made the most of starting from the No. 1 barrier when she started at 5/4 on and, with Brayden Green in the sulky, she scored a stylish all-the-way victory over Tricky Styx. Major Reality warmed up for Friday night’s big race with a stylish workout on Tuesday morning. “She worked very well with The Parade and I believe that if she is able to hold the front she will be extremely hard to beat on Friday night,” Buchanan said. “Major Reality led up (in the workout) and The Parade (Bailey McDonough) sat on her back, and they got home really good. Major Reality was doing it very easy on the line and won by about a neck.” Buchanan said that Prentice had been somewhat disappointed with Major Reality’s performance in the WA Pacing Cup three starts ago when she led from barrier one before fading to eighth behind Chicago Bull. “She had been backed up from her unplaced run in the Fremantle Cup a week earlier,” Buchanan said. “She seems to perform better when she is raced fortnightly. She won the Empress prelude a fortnight ago and her work since has been really good.” Major Reality, one of six New Zealand-bred mares in Friday night’s field of eight (after the scratching of Ideal Alice), has won at 19 of her 32 starts and has earned $366,596. The only mares to have won the Empress Stakes two years in a row have been Bellagena (1971-72), Golden Goddess (three in a row in 1997-98-99) and Sensational Gabby (2014-15). Kiwi Cloud won the event in 1977 and 1979. The six-year-old The Parade will be contesting the Empress Stakes for the third time. She finished third in 2015 and seventh last year. The Parade, who has earned $392,999 from 21 wins and 15 placings from 53 starts, was most impressive in winning a 2100m trial at a 1.57.2 rate at Bunbury’s Donaldson Park track on Wednesday of last week, is awkwardly drawn out wide at barrier seven on Friday night. “It was a very pleasing performance,” said Buchanan, who drove the mare in the trial. “She rolled to the front after 300 to 400m, led up and got home in 55.5sec. with the plugs still in. The 2536m on Friday night will suit her down to the ground. But she will definitely need a lot of luck from out there, with Major Reality and Bettor Be Supreme drawn inside of her. If she had drawn barrier one she would have been hard to beat.” The Parade will be driven for the first time by Gary Hall jun., who drove Aussie Made Lombo to victory in the 2013 Empress Stakes. Bettor Be Supreme, a winner at 12 of her 20 starts and trained at Busselton by Barry Howlett, is favourably drawn at barrier three on Friday night and will have many admirers. She is a splendid frontrunner and Chris Lewis, who has won the Empress Stakes a record eight times, could well make a spirited bid for the early lead. Bettor Be Supreme’s winning sequence of five was broken when she failed in the 2100m Manea Classic at Bunbury last Saturday night. She revealed dazzling speed from barrier seven to burst to the front after 50m and after opening quarters of the final mile in 30.2sec. and 29sec. she sped over the third quarter in 27.7sec. before wilting to finish seventh, five lengths behind Bettor Reward, with a final section of 27.8sec. Leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond are seeking their first win in an Empress Stakes and will be pinning their hopes with consistent six-year-old Jungle Jewel, who sat behind the pacemaker Major Reality and finished fourth behind her in last year’s Empress Stakes. Jungle Jewel, a winner of 16 races, has also chalked up 29 minor placings. She has a losing sequence of 26, but has been placed at six of her past seven starts. She will start from the No. 4 barrier and reinsman Ryan Warwick said that she was ready to perform strongly after several solid recent efforts. “She is going really well, but has lost that little bit of brilliance she had when she was at her best,” he said. “She just hasn’t got that 200m devastating run anymore and she’s now more one-dimensional. But she can figure in the placings.” Ken Casellas

For American Boy to achieve a winning strike rate of 62 per cent is an outstanding harness racing performance and he possesses the speed and strength to overcome a wide barrier and win the $25,000 Westside Auto Wholesale Lewis final over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The New Zealand-bred five-year-old, prepared by champion trainer Gary Hall sen. and to be driven by his son Gary, gets his chance to make amends for his shock defeat at 10/1 on in a 2536m event last Friday week. He started from the outside barrier (No. 9) and had a torrid run when beaten a half-length by 75/1 outsider Foxy Dame. He was trapped three wide for the first 700m and then was forced to work in the breeze before getting to the front 520m from home. A week earlier, he raced without cover before winning convincingly from Our Regal Ideal over 2130m. This week American Boy, who has raced 26 times for 16 wins and seven seconds, will start out wide at barrier eight and will need to be at his top to win from the Greg and Skye Bond-trained in-form trio of Bettor Offer, Our Regal Ideal and Bungalow Bill. Bettor Offer, to be driven by Ryan Warwick from the No. 6 barrier, makes strong appeal. He began speedily from barrier six to lead after 100m in a qualifying heat last Friday night. He rated 1.57.1 over the 2130m and was untroubled to win by just under two lengths from Commander Chapel, who fought on gamely after racing without cover. Warwick said that with fast beginners, particularly Kimba Bay, on his inside that Bettor Offer was unlikely to be able to lead this week. But he commended Bettor Offer for his wonderful turn of foot and predicted that the gelding would be able to unwind a powerful burst and prove hard to beat. Bungalow Bill, who challenged unsuccessfully for the early lead in a 2130m event last Friday night, will start from barrier seven and will be driven by Ryan Bell, who drove Our Regal Ideal when he set the pace and held on to win by a head from Twoandahalf Tigers in another 2130m event last week. Our Regal Ideal will be driven by Mitch Miller from the prized No. 1 barrier and Bell said he was impressed with the five-year-old’s win last week. “He was pretty tenacious,” Bell said. “He was taken on in a fast lead time and he is definitely a top three chance this week. The draw has made it a good race in which Bettor Offer is probably the class horse. “I was quite happy with the way Our Regal Ideal kicked on last week. At the 200m I thought I was gonzo, but he actually kept coming the more they came at him. I think he should be able to hold up this week. He held up easily last week when I just gave him a flick at the start and he held up quite comfortably.” Ken Casellas

Ryan Bell will replace Aiden de Campo as Sky Art’s harness racing driver when the New Zealand-bred five-year-old contests the Retravision Handicap, a stand over 2503m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Capel trainer Andrew de Campo engaged Bell after his son Aiden received a 21-day suspension for a driving infringement at Bunbury last Saturday night. Aiden de Campo drove Sky Art to an impressive victory at 5/1 in a 2536m mobile event at Gloucester Park last Friday night when the gelding was sixth, three back on the pegs at the bell, before easing off the pegs in the back straight and then charging home, five wide, to hit the front 75m from home and racing away to score by 5m from Eastwood Factor. That was the gelding’s tenth win from 57 starts and ended a losing sequence of 13. Sky Art returns to a standing-start event this week and will begin from barrier two on the front line. “I sat behind him at his previous start, in a stand at Pinjarra,” Bell said. “And he gave me quite a good feel. The race was run slowly up front and Sky Art sprinted home quite good in a slick (27sec.) final quarter.” Sky Art raced in fourth position in an Indian-file affair. Bell said that he did not expect Sky Art to be able to jump to the front at the start, with noted frontrunner Importer Exporter drawn ideally at barrier one. “Sky Art begins nice and safely and he’s the type of horse you don’t have to worry about too much at the start. You just let him settle and save him for his speed at the end.” The Chris Winston-trained Importer Exporter will be handled by Kyle Harper and makes strong appeal. He has had only 33 starts for eight wins, ten seconds and two thirds. He raced three back on the pegs and ran home solidly when third behind Cut For An Ace over 2503m last Friday week. Bell was a late replacement for the suspended Aiden de Campo behind Handsandwheels in a 2130m Westbred Pace at Gloucester Park on Tuesday afternoon and the Mach Three gelding gave a bold frontrunning display to win in good style from Tiza Wish and Bettor Be Lively. Ken Casellas

Ross Waddell’s Pacing WA and Trotsynd Pty Ltd, Gloucester Park Harness Racing’s licenced syndication arm, have entered into an exciting new partnership. Over the past two years, Ross Waddell has bought horses at the Perth yearling sales and set up partnerships. These included the Group One winners Red Hot Roxy and The Real Ideal. While Trotsynd had ten syndications for the Western Australian Trotting Association, which featured purchases of yearlings as well as tried horses from New Zealand, the best performers were Group One winner Hail The Judge and open class pacer Franco Amon. The two organisations have come to an agreement which will see the partnership buy and syndicate horses from the 2017 Perth yearling sales on Sunday 5 March, held at Belmont race track. “I cannot be happier with our new partnership” said Waddell “Pacing WA has had a lot of success with introducing new owners to harness racing through our partnerships, however having the ability to syndicate with Trotsynd should help take it to another level” The horses that are purchased will be syndicated into twenty shares each. “It’s an exciting opportunity” said Trotsynd Secretary Michael Radley “We have looked at what Ross has done over the past two years and think we can help grow the ownership base through our syndication licence. “Our discussions have been around how we can improve the owner experience and the syndicate members will receive regular newsletters and video updates from when the horse is bought, through to breaking-in, trialling, and hopefully racing and winning. There will also be social functions” said Radley. Chairman of Trotsynd, Chris Pye echoed Radley’s comments. “I’m delighted that Trotsynd has been reinvigorated and I’m looking forward to an exciting partnership with Ross and Pacing WA”. Once the horses have been secured by Pacing WA and Trotsynd a prospectus will be available on specific horses offered for syndication on the Gloucester Park website and expressions of interest can be made through Fields for Gloucester Park, Friday 24 February 2017 Form guide for Gloucester Park, Friday 24 February 2017

Emerging star Im Full of Excuses is a Cups specialist and he should maintain his unbeaten record in Cup events by proving the master of his eight harness racing rivals in the $50,000 RWWA Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Owned by Merv Butterworth and to be driven by Chris Lewis for Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri, the lightly-raced New Zealand-bred five-year-old has the class to overcome the disadvantage of starting from the outside barrier (No. 9). After winning at seven of his 21 starts in New Zealand, Im Full of Excuses has been a revelation in Western Australia, winning at eight of his ten starts in this State. His WA wins included effortless victories at his three appearances in group 3 Cup events --- the Kalgoorlie Cup in September, the York Cup in November and the Northam Cup in January. He has been freshened up since his most impressive triumph in the 2560m Northam Cup in which he started off the 30m mark and raced in tenth position before storming home with a brilliant three-wide burst from ninth at the bell to hit the front at the 350m mark and race away to defeat This Time Dylan by 10m at a 1.58.1 rate, with final quarters of 27.1sec. and 28.6sec. He is a grand stayer and will be ideally suited over the 2536m of Friday night’s group 2 feature event. His final sections in 28.8sec. and 27.5sec. when he scored an easy win in the 2970m York Cup simply gave the opposition no hope of figuring in the finish. Im Full of Excuses, a son of American stallion Jeremes Jet, has already been successful in a group 2 event, having won the Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes over 2700m at Invercargill in April 2015. His maternal granddam Happy Hazel won two group 1 races in New Zealand, including the Great Northern Oaks by six lengths in April 1989, and she also won the group 2 Ladyship Stakes at Alexandra Park in May 1989. Our Jimmy Johnstone, a New Zealand-bred eight-year-old in the stables of Greg and Skye Bond, looms as the main danger to Im Full of Excuses. He will start from barrier eight with Ryan Warwick in the sulky. He will be making his first appearance for five weeks --- since he failed in the WA Pacing Cup, wilting from seventh (three wide) at the bell to eleventh behind Chicago Bull. But his form before that was excellent, finishing third behind Chicago Bull and Soho Tribeca in the Fremantle Cup and third behind Beaudiene Boaz and Chicago Bull in the 2130m Village Kid Pace after racing without cover for most of the journey. His most recent success was in the 2569m Bunbury Cup when he rated 1.55.4 in beating Mynameskenny and Rub of the Green in November. The Debbie Padberg-trained El Machine will be attempting to win the RWWA Cup for the second year in succession. He was a 35/1 outsider when he started from the inside of the back line and Michael Tenardi brought him from three back on the pegs with a well-timed burst to win easily from Cyamach and Ti Amo Franco 12 months ago. Since then the WA-bred eight-year-old has raced 25 times without success. However, he caught the eye last Friday night when he trailed the pacemaker Red Salute and finished strongly to be second, just a neck behind the winner Major Reality in a 2130m event at Gloucester Park. Chris Voak has been engaged to drive El Machine, replacing Shannon Suvaljko, who is under suspension. Voak drove El Machine when he won the Village Kid Sprint by a half-head from Uppy Son at Northam in January 2015. Shardons Rocket, an evergreen 12-year-old will start from barrier four and Lauren Jones is expected to be in search of getting to the front in the early stages. This will be the gelding’s 296th start. He was favourite at 5/2 on in a moderate field over 1730m at Gloucester Park mon Tuesday evening when he paced roughly at the start, worked hard in the breeze, took a narrow lead 120m from home and finished second to fast-finishing outsider Canyouseeme. Byford trainer Peter Anderson will be represented by Bronze Seeker and Lisharry, sprightly veterans who are racing with wonderful enthusiasm. Bronze Seeker is awkwardly drawn out wide at barrier seven. But he will be driven conservatively and should be able to unwind a typical powerful finishing burst. He will be driven by Gary Hall jun., who replaces Lewis, who has opted for Im Full of Excuses. Hall has handled Bronze Seeker only twice in his 156-start career for a fourth at Gloucester Park in February 2015 and a fourth at Bunbury in May 2015. Bronze Seeker, who has won at two of his past five starts, was most impressive last Friday night when he was last in the field of nine with 300m to travel before flooding home, out wide, to finish third behind Major Reality and El Machine. Lisharry (Nathan Turvey) came home strongly from seventh at the bell to be fifth in the same race. He will start from the No. 5 barrier this week and Anderson is hoping the nine-year-old will improve on his unplaced efforts in the past two RWWA Cups. Lisharry was an unlucky tenth behind Pacific Warrior in the 2015 RWWA Cup when he was hampered by a punctured tyre on his sulky and then was badly blocked for a clear passage in the final circuit behind the tiring Uppy Son. In last year’s Cup he started from barrier seven, was eleventh at the bell and was blocked for a run in the final stages when seventh behind El Machine. Ken Casellas

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