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
Smart harness racing youngster Bettor Not Bitter should prove to be the bet of the night at Gloucester Park on Friday evening by proving the master of his 11 older and more experienced opponents in the 2130m Led Goldfields Westbred Pace. “He’s a nice horse who is being set for the $100,000 Westbred Classic for three-year-old colts and geldings the following Friday night,” said Forrestdale horseman Greg Bond, who prepares the gelding in partnership with his wife Skye. Bettor Not Bitter will be driven by Colin Brown and will start from the No. 5 barrier. He has had 15 starts for four wins and five placings and should be too smart for his rivals, who have managed just 55 wins from a combined total of 633 starts. At his most recent outing Bettor Not Bitter set the pace and finished second to It Aint Royal over 2130m at Gloucester Park on May 27. That followed wins at Narrogin and Bunbury and a fighting second to Mach Time at Gloucester Park after working hard out three wide and then in the breeze. “He’s had a couple of easy weeks and this will be his tune-up for the Westbred final,” Bond said. “To have a chance of winning that race or if you’re going to be in the cut-up you would like to think that he’s got to be hard to beat this week. “All’s good at home with him. He had a few runs as a two-year-old and you could see he was going to improve with time. And he has done that. He’s a developing horse who is going to do a nice job.” Ken Casellas
Pinjarra harness racing trainer Michael Brennan advises punters to overlook talented five-year-old Billies A Star’s seventh behind Elegant Christian last week and predicts that the New Zealand-bred gelding will be prominent in the $23,000 Schneider Electric Pace over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Billies A Star led from the No. 1 barrier last Friday night, but was challenged relentlessly by Elegant Christian in the first circuit before Elegant Christian forged clear after a lap and then set the pace and won by a nose from Waylade at a 1.54.9rate over the 2130m journey. “He just couldn’t handle that pressure in that grade,” Brennan said. “This is a bit of a drop in grade and there’s no Elegant Christian there. Last week he was crunched by Elegant Christian, who is just phenomenal. He is one of those horses who just crushes you. And last week, unfortunately, Billies A Star was the one being crushed.” At his previous outing, over 2692m at Pinjarra on June 6, Billies A Star raced three back on the pegs in fifth place before fighting on to finish third behind Phoenix Warrior and Our Jimmy Johnstone. Billies A Star will be driven by Nathan Turvey on Friday night and he should have the gelding in a forward position all the way after starting from barrier four. Brennan will also be represented by Jason Rulz, who is unfavourably drawn out wide at barrier eight. “His run first-up for five months was good when eighth behind Glenlochar last week,” Brennan said. “From his wide barrier it was impossible to get into the race. I’m very happy with him, but he’s drawn out at No. 8 again this week. He’s going to have to go back and it looks tough.” Serpentine trainer Gary Hall sen. said he expected the consistent Waylade (barrier seven) to be hard to beat. “It was a good effort to come from the rear to finish a very close second to Elegant Christian last week,” he said. “The first two beat the rest by the length of a cricket pitch.” Forrestdale trainer Greg Bond said that he expected Our Jimmy Johnstone to run a strong race from the No. 6 barrier. “He’s going good are we’re hoping he can work forward from barrier six and find a forward position,” Bond said. “I like to think he can fight out the finish. I think he’s right up there with the other horses in the field.” Ken Casellas
Brilliant New Zealand-bred five-year-old Our Sky Major, a winner of five group 1 feature events and $777,717 in stakes, will make his Gloucester Park debut when he starts from the No. 2 barrier in the Nexans Olex Pace, a C10 to C15 event in which his clash with up-and-coming star American Boy will be a feature of the ten-event harness racing program. Our Sky Major, a winner at 15 of his 53 starts, is prepared at Boyanup by Justin Prentice, who took over the preparation of the horse just over two months ago. Prentice drove Our Sky Major at his West Australian debut when he was a 10/1 on favourite in a 1609m at Bunbury on June 4 and was surprisingly beaten. After starting from barrier five, Our Sky Major raced three wide early before taking the lead at the bell. He sprinted over the third quarter of the final mile in a sizzling 26.9sec. before wilting in the final stages to finish third behind Lord Lombo and Northern Assassin. The winner rated 1.53.6 after a final quarter of 28.2sec. That was Our Sky Major’s first run since he finished sixth in a 3200m stand at Addington on March 26. Our Sky Major has had 13 starts this season for just one second and two thirds. He shone as a four-year-old, winning at four of his eight starts, including the $200,000 Chariots Of Fire at Menangle in March 2015 (recording a time of 1.51.5 over 1609m) and the Four-Year-Old Emerald at Ashburton two months later. Our Sky Major, who finished a head second to Our Maxim in the 2240m Victoria Derby at Melton in February 2014, is sure to prove a worthy opponent for American Boy, who has shown tremendous promise in winning at 11 of his 14 starts. American Boy has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier and Gary Hall jun. will be determined to set the pace. Trainer Gary Hall sen. said he was looking forward to American Boy clashing with Our Sky Major. “It’s a strong field, but American Boy is in good form,” he said. “American Boy has good gate speed and will lead and prove hard to beat. His past two runs have been outstanding.” Fields for Gloucester Park, Friday 24 June 2016 Form guide for Gloucester Park, Friday 24 June 2016 Ken Casellas
Well-performed New South Wales-bred six-year-old Bebrave, a winner of six races in Queensland this season, will make his first appearance in Western Australia when he contests the $18,000 Australian Marine Complex Pace over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The Presidential Ball gelding has a formidable record of 17 wins and 16 placings from 68 starts for stakes of $172,156. However, he faces a stern task at his WA debut. Under the preferential barrier draw conditions he will start from the outside (No. 9) over the sprint journey and will clash with several in-form pacers, including American Boy, Sky Art and Holy Grail. Bebrave will be driven by Stuart McDonald for Busselton trainer Jamie Howlett, who claimed the gelding for $9000 in a 2138m event at Brisbane’s Albion Park on April 19 on behalf of Kelly Simmonds and Peter Bamess. In that race Bebrave was driven by Shane Graham and was first out from barrier five before sitting behind the pacemaker and running home strongly along the sprint lane to win by just over a length from Tallyho Bromac at a 1.55.7 rate. Bebrave, described by Howlett as a “nice horse,” has been in WA for six weeks. His early preparation in Busselton was hampered by wet weather which led to Howlett’s private 800m track being quite muddy. “I had the track resurfaced two weeks ago and it has changed everything,” Howlett said. “The track is beautiful and the horses have been able to work properly in the past fortnight. “Behave will be tested from the outside barrier over the short trip and we will be able to assess his ability when he races against several good pacers in this week’s race.” American Boy, a smart New Zealand-bred four-year-old in the stables of leading trainer Gary Hall sen., will start out wide at barrier seven and will be fancied to maintain his superb form. He has raced only 13 times for ten wins, one second and two fifths. American Boy enjoyed an ideal trip in the one-out, one-back position before sprinting home strongly in a final quarter of 27.8sec. to get up in the final stride to dead-heat for first with the pacemaker Burning, rating 1.55.3 over 2130m last Friday night. He charged home from ninth in the middle stages to win easily from Unsinkable Boxer over 2130m a week earlier. Sky Art, trained at Capel by Andrew de Campo, comes to town after stylish wins at Bunbury at his past two outings. Aiden de Campo will drive him from barrier eight. Holy Grail, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, will start from the No. 6 barrier and is sure to be storming home. He has been placed at his past eight starts after covering extra ground and winning at Northam on March 31. Ken Casellas
WA-bred five-year-old Importer Exporter is one of the State’s most improved harness racing pacers and he has bright prospects of maintaining his grand form by proving the master of his opposition in the $19,000 Homestyle Salad Makers Handicap over 2503m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The Artesian gelding is a standing-start expert and a noted frontrunner and Chris Lewis will be anxious that he begins smoothly from barrier two on the front line in a bid to set the pace. Importer Exporter, bred, part-owned and trained by Chris Winston, has relished the role of pacemaker and standing-start racing, with his past seven starts producing five wins and two seconds. He was untroubled to lead from barrier two on Tuesday of last week and he gave his rivals virtually no hope when he sprinted over the final 400m in 28sec. He covered the final quarter in 27.2sec. when he won from Our Jericho over 2500m at Bunbury two starts before that. However, Importer Exporter will have to be at his best to defy strong opposition from in-form performers Bashful Compton, Pelusiac, Change Gear and Naughty Maravu. Eight-year-old Bashful Compton, trained at Collie by David Hunter, is a noted frontrunner who is favourably drawn at No. 3 on the front line. He revealed his versatility at his latest appearance, when he started off the 50m mark in a 2503m event at Bunbury last Saturday week. He was 11th at the bell and finished powerfully, out wide, to get up and win from Waltzing With Cullen and Perfect Mach. The Ross Olivieri-trained Pelusiac also will have many admirers from barrier five on the front line. The Washington VC five-year-old is in excellent form, with his past four starts producing three wins and a second. At his most recent outing, he started off 20m and burst to the front after 950m before going on to win, untouched, from Firth of Forth after final quarters in 27.8sec. and 29.1sec. Ken Casellas
Champion harness racing reinsman Chris Lewis will drive brilliant last-start winner The Spinster in the $18,000 Team Trolio Spearwood Pace for three-year-old fillies at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He will replace Kim Prentice, who will be in South Australia taking part in an Invitation Drivers’ series at Port Pirie on Friday night. Millendon trainer and part-owner Sonia Zucchiatti is delighted with The Spinster’s form (wins at Northam and Gloucester Park at her past two outings), but said that the American Ideal filly probably would struggle to beat star filly Dodolicious. “The Spinster has met Dodolicious four times and Dodolicious has finished in front of her every time,” Zucchiatti said. The Spinster revealed blistering gate speed from barrier six when she gave a dashing frontrunning display to win easily from Im Zuleika and Maia Maguire at a 1.55.4 rate over 1730m at Gloucester Park last Friday week. She sped over the final quarters in 27.9sec. and 28.9sec. The Spinster will start from the No. 7 barrier in the field of eight on Friday night, with Dodolicious (Colin Brown) in the outside barrier. Four of The Spinster’s five wins (from 11 starts) have been when she has set the pace, but Zucchiatti said she had not yet determined tactics for Friday night’s event. Dodolicious is trained by Greg and Skye Bond, who will also be represented by newcomer Shes Artful, a winner at one of her nine starts in New Zealand. Shes Artful will start from barrier two with Ryan Bell in the sulky. Zucchiatti said she planned to study Shes Artful’s style of racing before determining the tactics for The Spinster. Sheer Rocknroll, a talented filly in the stables of Ross Olivieri, has won at eight of her 21 starts and is an excellent frontrunner who will be suited by the No. 1 barrier. She warmed up for this week’s race with an impressive win in a 2150m trial at Byford on Sunday morning when she dashed over the final quarter in 27.8sec. and beat El Barcelona by 2m at a 1.58.7 rate. However, Dodolicious has been almost invincible in races restricted to fillies in this State and she is certain to be at short odds to win and improve her record to 13 wins from 20 starts. Ken Casellas
Young Hopeland Harness Racing trainer Courtney Burch, fresh from a double at Northam on Tuesday night, has bright prospects of maintaining her winning form with promising two-year-old Sergeant Oats in the $25,000 Gloucester Motel and Restaurant Pace for Westsired colts and geldings at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Sergeant Oats, to be driven by Morgan Woodley, has the ability to overcome the disadvantage of starting from the outside barrier in a field of nine in the 2130m event. The Rich And Spoilt gelding has won in good style at Narrogin (1823m) and Bunbury (in 1.56.8 over 1609m) at his past two starts. Purchased for $9000 at the 2015 Gloucester Standardbred yearling sale, Sergeant Oats has earned $23,495 from his two wins and four seconds from eight starts. He is a full-brother to four-year-old Captain Oats, a $6500 yearling who has raced 28 times for eight wins and ten placings for earnings of $84,241. Sergeant Oats began speedily from the No. 4 barrier when he set the pace and won from Back To The Beach at Narrogin on April 30 and then he started from the back line and finished strongly to win by a neck from Heza Head Honcho at Bunbury on May 7. Since then he contested a two-horse trial over 2100m at Bunbury on Wednesday of last week when he set the pace and rated 1.579 in winning by 40 lengths from Iam The Real Thing, with final quarters in 29sec. and 29.3sec. The only other winner in Friday night’s race is the Robbie Williams-trained Itz Dynamo, who was an all-the-way winner at his debut at Northam in early March. He was placed once from his only other three starts, finishing a close and encouraging second to The Beachcomber over 1730m at Gloucester Park. Then he finished gamely when a sound fourth behind Allmightyjoelouis in the group 1 Sales Classic on April 22. He will start out wide at barrier seven on Friday night. Woodley gave punters a good lead when he opted to drive Sergeant Oats in preference to the John Graham-trained pair of Combat Crusade and Enemy Lines. He has driven Combat Crusade in each of his two starts for a first-up third behind Im Rockaria at Narrogin and ninth behind Adda Courage at Bunbury. He has been in the sulky for Enemy Lines’ three unplaced efforts at Pinjarra. Combat Crusade, who finished a 4m second to Luvthecuz in a 2100m trial at Bunbury on June 1, will be driven by Nathan Turvey and Chris Lewis has been engaged for Enemy Lines. The 27-year-old Burch is enjoying another successful season and is in third place on the Statewide trainers’ premiership table with 69 winners and 104 placings from 375 starters. She had four runners at Northam on Tuesday night this week when she won with Blacknsweet Adda and Where Dreams Grow and finished second with Vincenzo Peruggia and Im Despicable. Gary Hall sen. leads the trainers’ list with 161 winners and 134 placings from 551 starters, with Greg and Skye Bond in second place with 159 winners and 216 placings from 772 starters. Ken Casellas
Crack reinsman Chris Voak has high hopes of bringing up his century of winners for the season by guiding Miss Twiggy Whitby to victory in the $25,000 R. H. Trotter and Co. Pace for Westsired two-year-old fillies at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Miss Twiggy Whitby is trained at Meelon by her breeder and part-owner Ed Dewar and Voak would dearly love to land the Rich And Spoilt filly a winner this week. He made a difficult choice a week ago when he opted to drive Im Rockaraia for trainer Michael Brennan in the group 1 $100,000 Pearl Classic in preference to Dewar’s smart colt Our Zak Whitby. Im Rockaria won the classic, with Our Zack Whitby an unlucky, fast-finishing fourth after he was badly inconvenienced by a tiring runner in the back straight in the final circuit. Voak has had 817 drives this season for 99 wins, 116 seconds and 83 thirds and is in fourth place on the reinsmen’s premiership table, behind Chris Lewis (131 wins), Gary Hall jun. (120) and Nathan Turvey (113). Miss Twiggy Whitby will start from the No. 4 barrier in the field of six runners and has excellent prospects. She is one of only two winners in the field, the other being the Kevin Keys-trained Sarah Goody, who will be driven by Matt White from the No. 2 barrier. Miss Twiggy Whitby’s only win from nine starts was when she led from barrier four and defeated Tell Me More over 1730m at Gloucester Park in January. At her most recent appearance she was first out from the No. 1 barrier before Voak decided to take the sit behind brilliant filly Angel Bromac. Angel Bromac sped over the final 800m in 57.3sec. and won by three lengths from Miss Twiggy Whitby. Friday night’s event appears quite an open affair, with the Justin Prentice-trained Allamerican Queen sure to be prominent after drawing the prized No. 1 barrier. Allamerican Queen was a 112/1 outsider in the WA Oaks last Friday week when she finished solidly from tenth at the bell to be sixth, five and a half lengths behind the winner, her stablemate Lady Luca. Sarah Goody was a winner at Bunbury four starts ago when she led from barrier one and beat Rich Maiden by a neck, rating 1.58.8 over 1609m. She was a fighting second to Maczaffair at Bunbury two starts ago. The Royal Lady, trained at Harvey by Kevin Egerton-Green, will start from barrier five and will be driven by Kim Young. She will have admirers. She trailed the pacemaker Red Hot Roxy and finished third behind her in the group 1 Sales Classic three starts ago. Before that she finished a sound second to Betshes Precious, with Miss Twiggy Whitby in third place. Sweet Gina, a filly by Legacy of Power and trained at Oldbury by Kim Prentice will start from the outside in her race debut. She will be driven by Gary Hall jun. She warmed up for her first assignment in fine style, winning a 2150m trial at Byford on Sunday morning by three lengths from Flying Phoebe. That followed an easy trial win over 1750m the previous Sunday. Ken Casellas
New Zealand-bred four-year-old Classic American is a brilliant harness racing frontrunner who has not been beaten when he has set the pace and the classy stallion should maintain that record when he contests the $50,000 group 2 Channel Nine Binshaw Classic over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He has made the running in four of his 26 starts and has won those four races by margins of 22.5m, 9.3m, 13.7m and 12.2m --- an average winning margin of just under five lengths. He has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier for only the second time in a burgeoning career of 12 wins and five placings for stakes of $150,000 and Clint Hall should have little difficulty in dashing him straight to the front and dictating the terms of the race. Two of the first three winners of the Binshaw Classic have started from the No. 1 barrier and at odds-on before setting the pace and winning comfortably. Please Release Me (Chris Brew) started at 5/4 on and defeated Greyhawk in the 2012 Binshaw Classic before Red Salute (Chris Voak) was favourite at 2/1 on from barrier one and led and won from Western Cullen a year later. Twelve months ago Shnappy was favourite at 3/1 from the No. 1 barrier when he set the pace before wilting to fourth behind 46/1 outsider Marooned (Voak), who stormed home from ninth at the 400m mark to win by a length from Northern Assassin. Classic American is one of four runners from the all-conquering stables of Gary Hall sen. who will be contesting Friday night's Binshaw Classic, the others being Westernator (barrier six), Authorized (seven) and The Court Jester (outside of the back line). Classic American notched his third win in a row when he started out wide at barrier six in a heat of the Binshaw Classic last Friday night and raced three wide early and then in the breeze outside Authorized before getting the upper hand in the final couple of strides and winning by a head at a 1.57.3 rate, with the final 400m being covered in a sparkling 57.5sec. Authorized will be at liberal odds from the outside of the front line this week, as will the consistent Westernator from barrier six. The Court Jester, a stylish first-up winner last Friday week, was a sound fourth behind Erskine Range last week. But his prospects appear slim from the outside of the back line. Looming as the chief rival to Classic American this week is five-year-old Erskine Range, who gave a bold frontrunning display and sprinted over the final quarter in 27.3sec. to win easily from Rockyourbaby at a 1.57.5 rate last Friday night. That was his 17th win from 51 starts and trainer-reinsman Colin Brown will be aiming to take full advantage of the inside of the back line by following Classic American every inch of the way before hoping to gain a clear passage in the final stages. Walter James, trained at Forrestdale by Brad Lynn, rated 1.57.8 when he led from barrier one in a qualifying heat last week. He is favourably drawn in the final at No. 2 on the front line, but he is most unlikely to be able to cross Classic American in the early contest for the lead. Mark Reed to resume after injury Ace reinsman Mark Reed has high hopes of returning to action after an injury on a successful note when he handles promising young mare My Samantha Jane in the first heat of the gloucesterpark.com.au Lewis Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. A fractured scaphoid bone in his right hand prevented Reed from driving at last Friday night's meeting. My Samantha Jane, a New Zealand-bred four-year-old, will start from barrier three on the front line and trainer Mike Reed said that his son would be the making a bold bid to dash the mare to an early lead and to dictate terms in front in the 2130m event. Mark Reed was injured last Saturday week when a horse at his father's stables became caught in a box and lashed out at him, striking him a painful blow on the right hand. A plaster cast was fitted to protect the thumb and then was removed and replaced with a fibreglass guard. "Mark will be able to drive okay," said Mike Reed. "But the whip action is going to be a problem and he said that he would use the whip in his left hand." Mike Reed said that My Samantha Jane, a winner at each of her past three starts after racing without cover at Northam twice and at Bunbury, possessed good gate speed and was a tough performer. "If she leads on Friday night, she will be rolling and will be very hard to beat," he said. The Reed stable has a handy second string in Friday night's event in five-year-old mare Mon Lamour, who will be handled by Clint Kimes from an unfavourable barrier at No. 4 on the back line. Kimes drove Mon Lamour from the No. 1 barrier to a smart all-the-way victory over 2130m last Friday night. The main dangers to My Samantha Jane (a winner at eight of her 28 starts) appear to be Dardy Delight, Murano Mystery, Im A Peregrine and Better Than Money. Dardy Delight, to be driven by his trainer Justin Prentice from barrier two on the back line, is racing consistently, with his past 16 starts producing four wins, four seconds, three thirds and three fourths. He fought on doggedly when a last-start second to Classic American in the $50,000 San Simeon Classic last Friday week. Murano Mystery, a last-start second to The Black Lord at Northam, looks sure to be prominent from the inside of the back line and Im A Peregrine, with four wins and five placings from his past 12 starts, is capable from a strong effort from barrier six on the front line. Better Than Money, a New Zealand-bred seven-year-old, will be making his West Australian debut for Oldbury trainer-reinsman Donald Harper. He will start from barrier four on the back line at his first appearance since he set the pace and won over 1660m at a 1.55.7 rate at Albion Park on November 15. Better Than Money has raced 93 times for 13 wins, 32 placings and stakes of $93,038. He won five times in New Zealand before winning eight races in Queensland. High Courage looks a star bet New Zealand-bred four-year-old High Courage is a noted frontrunner and from the No. 1 barrier on the front line he looks a star bet in the 2130m Nine News Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The stallion, prepared by leading trainer Gary Hall sen., will be driven by 19-year-old Lauren Jones and he should set the pace and win. He has set the pace eight times in his 29-start career for seven wins and a second placing. At his most recent appearance he started from barrier five and worked hard without cover for much of the 2692m journey before winning from Black N Bettor at Pinjarra last Monday week. High Courage is likely to receive the most serious opposition from Chief Thundercloud, Ti Amo Franco, Courage Tells and Mighty Flying Thomas. Chief Thundercloud, to be driven by Stuart McDonald, has been a model of consistency for Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri, with his nine starts this season producing four wins, four seconds and a fourth placing. Ti Amo Franco also is in grand form and has the ability to figure prominently in the finish. A new experience for Max Meridius Five-year-old Max Meridius is one of the State's most promising sit-sprinters in restricted company and he will be strongly fancied in the 2130m Channel Nine Westbred Pathway Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night when he will start from the prized No. 1 barrier on the front line for the first time in his career. Trained at Jandabup by Glenn Stampalia, Max Meridius will be handled by Brad Stampalia, who has been in the sulky for all of the gelding's 18 starts for four wins and nine placings. Brad Stampalia had no hesitation in taking the drive behind Max Meridius ahead of Tyler Diamond, a redoubtable veteran he has driven at 22 of his past 24 starts. Tyler Diamond, who has been driven to victory five times by Stampalia, will start from barrier four on the back line with Colin Brown in the sulky. Max Meridius covered a lot of extra ground when fifth behind My Samantha Jane at Northam on Thursday of last week. He enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back, before finishing fast to win from Villa Couture over 1609m at Bunbury five nights earlier. Max Meridius showed reasonably good gate speed early in his career when he was placed at Gloucester Park and Northam after working hard in the breeze. It is debatable whether Stampalia will make a serious bid to set the pace on Friday night or prefer to take a sit behind speedy beginner Fully Zapped, who is favourably drawn at No. 2. The Ross Olivieri-trained Out Back Joe is sure to be strongly fancied, even from barrier six. The five-year-old has finished determinedly at his past four starts for a win at Northam, a second at Pinjarra and a third and second placing at Gloucester Park. Shardons Rocket looking for unusual treble Veteran pacer Shardons Rocket has bright prospects of completing a rare treble by overcoming the back mark of 20 metres and winning the 2503m The Block Triple Threat Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The Tony Svilicich-trained ten-year-old, a hardy veteran of 193 starts, has been successful on the corresponding program featuring the Binshaw Classic in the past two years. Driven by Chris Lewis, he started from 20m and finished strongly from the rear to beat Dalvey Gold in February 2013 and a year ago he set the pace and beat the fast-finishing Rojen Cruz in an $8000 claimer. In February 2012, on Binshaw Classic night, Shardons Rocket, driven by Aldo Cortopassi, sustained a powerful finishing burst to be second to outsider Rigatoni. This week Shardons Rocket will be driven by Colin Brown, who is certain to make a forward move early in the race to sit outside the pacemaker, or even to take the lead. Shardons Rocket set the pace in the 2130m Lord Mayor's Cup last Friday night and was overhauled in the final stages to finish a head second to Northview Punter. This followed a second to Bettor Reason at Pinjarra and a nose second to Northview Punter over 2536m at Gloucester Park. To win Shardons Rocket, who has raced 193 times for 32 wins and 65 placings, is likely to have to overcome spirited opposition from the Ross Olivieri-trained Dynamite Dude and Finbar Abbey, impressive last-start winner Thumpem, Soho Jackman and Braemoor. Majorly Foxy Styx to run at Melton Talented four-year-old Majorly Foxy Styx, winner of the group 1 $100,000 Mares Classic at Gloucester Park in December for champion trainer Gary Hall sen., will contest the group 3 Ladyship Cup at Melton on Saturday night for Victorian trainer Michael Stanley. Majorly Foxy Styx, owned by West Australian businessman Robert Watson, will start from the inside of the back line, immediately behind stablemate Blucolla Tigerpie. Majorly Foxy Styx, who has earned $177,365 from ten wins and five placings from 22 starts, set the pace and defeated Victorian mare Bellas Delight in the Mares Classic. Bellas Delight is favourably drawn at barrier two on the front line in Saturday night's $30,275 event. Blucollar Tigerpie, a seven-year-old on an M7 mark, has a losing sequence of 19. She won the group 1 Tasmania Oaks in Hobart in March 2011 and has earned $212,277 from 19 wins and 15 placings from 66 starts. One of the main fancies on Saturday night will be the Victorian-bred six-year-old Beauty Secret, who will be driven by Gavin Lang for trainer Emma Stewart. Beauty Secret, a winner at five of her past six starts, has earned $388,366 from 24 wins and 12 placings from 52 starts. Bettors Fire fancied in Narrogin Cup New Zealand-bred six-year-old Bettors Fire should appreciate a drop in class and win the $30,000 Narrogin Cup on Thursday night. Bettors Fire, trained and driven by Kyle Harper, will start from barrier three on the back line in the 2662m mobile cup in which his rivals include 2014 WA Pacing Cup winner Hokonui Ben and Pacific Warrior, who finished a sound sixth behind Northview Punter in the Lord Mayor's Cup at Gloucester Park last Friday night after his unlucky close-up fifth behind My Hard Copy in the 2936m WA Pacing Cup at his previous start. Bettors Fire, a winner at 24 of his 54 starts, was a fading ninth in the WA Pacing Cup last month, a week after his excellent fourth behind David Hercules in the Fremantle Cup. by Ken Casellas
Six-year-old Tuxedo Tour went within a whisker of causing a major upset last Friday night when he ran home with great determination to finish a head second to 5/1 on favourite Heez On Fire and he gets a chance to turn the tables on his brilliant rival when he meets him on better terms in the $35,000 Kennards Hire Christmas Gift final at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Tuxedo Tour, trained at Herne Hill by Kevin Keys, started from barrier three on the back line and settled down in ninth position before he surged forward to move to the breeze on the outside of the pacemaking Heez On Fire with 1200m to travel in a heat of the Gift last week. Heez On Fire, who was untroubled to lead from the prized No. 1 barrier, fought on grimly to stave off the late challenge from Tuxedo Tour, with the final two quarters being covered in 28.9sec. and 27.6sec. This week Tuxedo Tour will start from the No. 3 barrier on the front line, with Heez On Fire out at barrier five. Noted frontrunner Dashing Christian is likely to lead from the No. 1 barrier and there is a strong possibility that Tuxedo Tour will again have to work hard in the breeze. All Bettor (barrier two) and Ti Amo Franco (four) possess good natural gate speed and Chris Lewis will be anxious to slot Heez On Fire into a commanding position in the one-wide line. Heez On Fire is extremely versatile and is capable of unwinding a dazzling finishing burst, like he revealed when he thundered home from the rear to win from Medley Moose two starts ago. Despite his awkward draw, Heez On Fire is likely to start a short-priced favourite in his quest to extend his winning sequence to six and improve his record to 15 wins and four placings from only 27 starts. The WA-bred five-year-old was purchased as a four-month-old weanling by Cardup trainer Rod Oliver for $15,000 and has already amassed $178,005 in prizemoney for Oliver, his mother Doreen, brother Perry and friends Andrew Walker, Geoff Ramm, Darrell Dwyer and Kieren Eiffler. Tuxedo Tour has earned $122,876 from 11 wins and 18 placings from 41 starts after being purchased for $18,000 at the 2010 Gloucester Standardbred yearling sale by Tom Marsden, who races the stallion in partnership with his son Rod and Martin, Colin and Stephen Campbell. The Christmas Gift is one of the very few feature events in WA that has not been won by Lewis, who is in devastating form in the sulky. Champion trainer Gary Hall sen. is hoping that Dashing Christian can go one better than he did in a qualifying heat last Friday night when he set the pace and was overhauled in the final stride and was beaten by a head by the fast-finishing Mosquito Buzzin. Hall won the Christmas Gift for the fifth time when Kim Prentice drove the polemarker and 6/4 on favourite Toretto to a comfortable all-the-way victory over Our Major Mark and Red Salute 12 months ago. This followed wins with Nixons Creed (1993), Allioop (2004), McRaes Mate (2007) and Livingontheinterest (2012). Ti Amo Franco, trained in Collie by Dale Jackson, will have admirers from barrier four on the front line. He began brilliantly from the No. 5 barrier in a heat last week, but was unable to cross Dashing Christian. He then obtained a good sit, one-out and one-back, and moved to second on the home turn before wilting to fourth behind Mosquito Buzzin. He won in good style at two of his three previous starts. Matt White will resume as Mosquito Buzzin's driver this week after Aiden De Campo handled the six-year-old last week. De Campo will replace Chris Voak behind Mosquito Buzzin, with Voak on the sidelines serving a 19-day suspension after causing interference in a race last Friday night. Mosquito Buzzin has drawn ideally on the inside of the back line and should enjoy a perfect sit behind the likely pacemaker Dashing Christian. Woodley to drive This Time Dylan Outstanding young reinsman Morgan Woodley has been engaged to drive strong stayer This Time Dylan in the $22,500 Mount Eden-No Dill Christmas Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night and the nine-year-old looks capable of fighting out the finish of the 2503m stand at his fourth appearance after a spell. Woodley, who will be driving This Time Dylan for the first time, replaces Justin Prentice, who was in the sulky last Friday night when the gelding was prominent throughout and sustained a solid three-wide run to finish third behind Lisharry and Some Kinda Tactics in a 1730m sprint, with the final 800m being covered in a sparkling 55.6sec. Prentice was committed to driving Dardys Delight, a five-year-old he trains at Boyanup. Dardys Delight, who will share the front line with the Ross Olivieri-trained Chief Thundercloud, rises considerably in class, but is in sound form, with his past six starts (all in stands) producing two wins, two seconds and two thirds. Before that he had contested only one stand in 348 starts. He is closely related to Winter Strike, who earned $416,693 from 33 wins and 50 placings from 143 starts. He was a winner of eight stands, six at Gloucester Park and two at Pinjarra. This Time Dylan, trained at Pinjarra by Michael Brennan, will start off the 40m mark, but is capable of a bold showing. He has a losing sequence of 13, dating back to last May when he won a 2503m event off 30m at Gloucester Park. Four months earlier he finished a splendid third behind Hokonui Ben and Toretto in the 2936m WA Pacing Cup. He won four times (all off 10m) over 2503m in September-October 2013 and he impressed when he started off 40m and finished second to Rocket Reign in the 3309m Marathon Handicap in August this year. Some Kinda Tactics will share the 40m handicap with This Time Dylan on Friday night and should also prove hard to beat. He is racing consistently, with his 12 starts this season producing three wins, four seconds and three thirds. Chief Thundercloud, a lightly-raced New Zealand-bred seven-year-old, will be one of the main fancies after having four starts in WA for a win in a 2503m stand and three second placings. He raced without cover for the final two laps when a sound second to the frontrunning Avalon Bromac in a 2536m mobile at Gloucester Park last Saturday night. Olivieri will also be represented by veteran pacers Pembrook Henry and To Transcend and Wanneroo trainer Debbie Padberg will be looking for a stout-hearted effort from 11-year-old mare Salliwood, who will start off 20m and will be handled by Mark Reed,. Salliwood has finished second in the past two Christmas Handicaps. She was driven by Shannon Suvaljko when she finished strongly into second place behind Uncle Kracker in 2012 and then was awarded the race after the winner was disqualified. In last year's race Salliwood set the pace and was defeated by a half-head by the fast-finishing J Walker. It all points to Sensational Gabby Brilliant mare Sensational Gabby looks set to complete her preparation for the $60,000 Village Kid Sprint on Friday week in fine style by proving too speedy for her 11 male rivals in the 2130m Merry Xmas Del Basso Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Her prospects soared when she was dealt the No. 3 marble in the random barrier draw and Chris Lewis is likely to make a bold bid to dash her straight to the front. Drawn inside her are Soho Highroller and Go West U Terror, geldings with good gate speed, but susceptible to an early challenge from Sensational Gabby, who can begin with dazzling speed. In the event of Soho Highroller holding up and leading, Lewis would be anxious to gain a good sit in the one-wide line before asking Sensational Gabby to unleash her renowned sizzling finishing burst. She was seventh (on the pegs) at the bell before finishing fast to be third behind David Hercules and Soho Highroller over 1730m last Friday night. Soho Highroller certainly looks the pick of the four runners from the all-conquering Gary Hall sen. stable. He notched his third successive second placing last Friday night when he finished strongly from sixth at the bell to beat all but David Hercules. The prospects of seven-year-old Lisharry completing a winning hat-trick diminished when he drew poorly at No. 5 on the front line. He set the pace for easy victories over 2503m and 1730m on the past two Friday nights. Unbeaten youngsters to clash The clash between highly-promising unbeaten three-year-olds Ima Connoisseur and Zennart in the 1730m Kennards Hire Pace should be a highlight of the ten-event program at Gloucester Park on Friday night. In the blue corner will be Ima Connoisseur, a gelding trained by Greg and Skye Bond who has not tasted defeat in four starts, and in the blue and gold corner is Zennart, a colt trained by Gary Hall sen. who has been most impressive in winning at his only two starts in New Zealand. Ima Connoisseur won by ten and a half lengths at his debut, over 2200m at Alexandra Park in June this year, and then was untroubled to win at Pinjarra at his first three Australian starts, scoring twice over 1684m and once over 2185m. He sprinted the final 400m in 27.3sec. in both his sprint wins and was timed at 27.5sec. when he won over 2185m. Zennart led from barrier three and set the pace when he won easily on debut, scoring by four and a half lengths and rating 1.59.9 over 2200m at Alexandra park on July 25 this year. He sprinted the final 800m in 57.2sec., with the final 400m taking 27.8sec. At his next start Zennart started from the outside in a field of six and was restrained to last (eight lengths from the leader) before moving to fourth at the bell and coming from third (three wide) on the home turn to hit the front 30m from the post to win by a half-length at a 1.59.9 rate. He dashed over the final 400m in 27.9sec. Hall has not produced Zennart at public trials, but the Art Major colt is sure to be strongly supported, particularly when he drew inside of Ima Connoisseur. Zennart will start from barrier five on the front line, with Ima Connoisseur at No. 6. Zennart is a half-brother to Zenas Art, who raced 51 times for 14 wins (four in New Zealand, two in Victoria and eight in New South Wales) for stakes of $100,298. Zennart and Ima Connoisseur look set to fight out the finish and each should develop into a worthy contender for the WA Derby next year. Colin Brown, who will drive Ima Connoisseur in the first event on the program, also has excellent prospects in the second event, the third heat of the Free Entry Boxing Day the Coulson Pace for mares, in which he will drive Harriet Elisabeth for Byford trainer David Thompson. Harriet Elisabeth, a winner at nine of her 25 starts, is ideally drawn at barrier two on the front line in the 2130m event in which she will clash with in-form mares Rivers of Babylon and Washington Express. by Ken Casellas
Bunbury trainer Steve Burton has good prospects of landing his first winner at Gloucester Park for more than four years when Mosquito Buzzin contests the Suzuki Way of Life Pathway Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Burton has had only a handful of starters in the city since Ryan Warwick drove General Naseem to an all-the-way victory over Black Saint in a C0-class 2503m stand at Gloucester Park on April 4, 2009. He produced six-year-old Mosquito Buzzin in fine fettle at Bunbury last Saturday night when the gelding gave a wonderful performance to win over 1609m in 1.56.7. Mosquito Buzzin raced three wide without cover before getting to the front in the final 30m and winning narrowly from The Oyster Bar. Mosquito Buzzin, who broke a losing sequence of 17, is favourably drawn at barrier three on the front line in Friday night’s 2130m event and he should be prominent throughout. Mosquito Buzzin has had only one start at Gloucester Park over the past 27 months, and that was last January when he raced in the one-out, one-back position and fought on gamely to finish a close fourth behind Governor Johnny. He was trained by Kate Hawkins and was driven by Tommy Sheehy when he set the pace and won a C0 2100m mobile event at Gloucester Park in March 2011. Now A Christian, Asian Courage, Sparkling Seelster, Mojave Desert and What God Knows appeal as the chief dangers to Mosquito Buzzin. Now A Christian, trained by Clint Kimes, gave a spirited performance in a stand at Bunbury last Saturday week when he galloped at the start before finishing strongly from the rear to be fourth behind Braemoor. He was an easy all-the-way winner from Soho Aintree and Johnny Be in a 2503m stand at Gloucester Park at his previous outing, and that followed an excellent second to the classy Heez Orl Black. Asian Courage has been unplaced at five starts since winning at Pinjarra in May, but he is capable of considerable improvement and must be considered from barrier two on the back line. Four-year-old Mojave Desert is the least experienced runner in the field, with two wins from 17 starts, but he will have friends. He will start from the prized No.1 barrier and Kim Prentice will be keen to set the pace. Mojave Desert started from the No. 1 barrier when he led and dashed over the final 800m in 57.3sec. when he won over 2185m at Pinjarra in January. by Ken Casellas
Champion harness racing trainer Gary Hall sen. has mapped out an ambitious program of rich feature events for freak pacer Im Themightyquinn and declared after his magnificent first-up victory in the $35,000 Channel Nine Winter Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night that the eight-year-old was better than ever.
Record-breaking reinsman Gary Hall jun., who has just become the first West Australian driver to have earned more than $3 million in prizemoney in one season, is poised to win the Channel 9 Winter Cup for the sixth time when he handles superstar Im Themightyquinn in the $35,000 feature at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Harness racing owners Aldo Cortopassi and Francesca Minniti are more than happy that a recent deal to sell Franco Renegade to American interests for $35,000 fell through and now they are looking forward to the New Zealand-bred gelding winning further feature events after he had unwound a powerful finishing burst to score an upset victory in the $25,000 Retravision Past Presidents Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Brilliant five-year-old Livingontheinterest looks set to notch a winning hat-trick by proving too fast for his ten older and more experienced rivals in the $25,000 Retravision Past Presidents Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night.