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Shannon Suvaljko, last season's leading West Australian driver, will handle the promising Art Major mare Salacious Gossip for the first time when the five-year-old starts from barrier five in the 2130m Happy Easter From Gloucester Park Pace at pacing headquarters on Thursday night. Suvaljko, who has driven 83 winners this season, will replace outstanding young reinsman Bailey McDonough, who has handled Salacious Gossip at her past 16 starts for his grandfather, Bunbury trainer Frank Bonnett. Salacious Gossip has been in fine form this season, with four wins and four seconds from 13 starts. She was rated perfectly by McDonough when she set the pace and won convincingly from Jilliby Tango and The War Nurse at a 1.58.4 rate over 2185m at Pinjarra on Monday of last week. McDonough has opted to take drives in seven events at the meeting at Wagin on Thursday night. Salacious Gossip, who has won twice at Gloucester Park, Bunbury and Pinjarra, will be seriously tested by the brilliant four-year-old Cott Beach, who has returned to racing after a nine-month absence in excellent form, with an impressive last-start victory over Mister Bushido at Gloucester Park after a second to Liam Neil and a third behind Warfare and Vincenzo Peruggia. Vincenzo Peruggia will have a big following when he starts from barrier two in the Perth Plasterboard Centre Pace over 2130m on Thursday night. The Tony Svilicich-trained five-year-old will be driven by Lindsay Harper and will clash with in-form pacers Luis Alberto, Our Alfie Romeo, The Art Form and Kimani. Vincenzo Peruggia maintained his consistent form at Gloucester Park on Tuesday night when he finished determinedly from fourth at the bell to be a close second to The Midas Touch over 1730m. He has had 22 starts for Svilicich for six wins, seven seconds and two thirds. Luis Alberto, another five-year-old who is racing with wonderful heart, is sure to prove hard to beat from the No. 1 barrier. Luis Alberto has been finishing powerfully in recent starts from unfavourable barriers for Hopeland trainer Debra Lewis, who has given the Bettors Delight gelding nine starts for five wins, one second, one third and two fourth placings. Luis Alberto possesses good gate speed and Jocelyn Young is sure to seriously contemplate taking full advantage of this from the inside draw.   Ken Casellas

Eight-year-old Soho Wonder has impressed on the past two Friday nights with fast-finishing placings over 2536m. However, the Jet Laag gelding could well be seen in a vastly different role when he starts from the prized No. 1 barrier in the 2130m Westral Pace for trainer-reinsman Brett Smith at Gloucester Park on Thursday night. He has set the pace and won nine times --- at Ballarat, Ararat (before being relegated to second after a protest), Cranbourne, Young, Echuca, Gloucester Park (twice), Pinjarra and Wagin. Soho Wonder was a 100/1 chance two starts ago when he was restrained from barrier six and was 11th at the bell before flashing home, out five wide, from ninth on the home turn to finish second to the pacemaker Debt Free Charlie. Then, last Friday night, he was restrained from barrier eight and sustained a spirited three-wide burst from last at the bell to finish third behind Mighty Flying Deal and Good Times Ahead. Smith is sure to seriously contemplate making full use of Soho Wonder's excellent gate speed in a bid to record an all-the-way victory. Veteran Three Kings (barrier two) and the promising Just Bet On Black (barrier three) possess excellent gate speed, but it is difficult to visualise either of them outgunning Soho Wonder at the start. Just Bet On Black, trained and driven by Dylan Egerton-Green, appeals as Soho Wonder's toughest rival. The six-year-old who has had 41 starts for 11 wins, nine seconds and three thirds, is in good form. He finished boldly from seventh at the bell when a last-start fourth behind Bob Wheel last Friday week and he was a strong winner from Dominate The Dojo and Mistersandman two starts before that. Champion reinsman Chris Lewis has given punters an excellent lead by opting to handle Marquisard in preference to Carte Blanche and Destined To Rule in the 2130m Cowden The Insurance Brokers Pace. Marquisard, trained by Craig Abercromby, has drawn the coveted No. 1 barrier and Lewis will be determined to use the four-year-old's natural gate speed in a bid for an all-the-way victory. Marquisard set the pace from barrier one over 2130m last Friday night and was overhauled right on the line by the fast-finishing Ideal One to go down by a half-head. Marquisard now has started from the No. 1 barrier four times from 53 starts for three all-the-way wins and last week's second placing. Lewis has been the regular driver for Destined To Rule and Carte Blanche. Deni Roberts will drive Destined To Rule from the No. 3 barrier and Jocelyn Young has been engaged for Carte Blanche, who is poorly drawn out wide at barrier eight.   Ken Casellas

A meticulous plan by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond to acclimatise Mighty Conqueror to standing-start racing has excellent prospects of bearing fruit when the lightly-raced and highly talented four-year-old contests the $50,000 Easter Cup at Gloucester Park on Thursday night. With the Group 2 Easter Cup the target, the New Zealand-bred Mighty Conqueror has had a thorough education in stands, having contested stands at his past six starts, leading into this week's big race over the marathon trip of 2902m. He has not been faultless, but has shown a growing aptitude to this style of racing after his first ten starts were in mobiles --- which included a victory in the $50,000 Four-Year-Old Championship, third in the $125,000 Four-Year-Old Classic and a nose second to stablemate Ana Malak in the $200,000 Golden Nugget Championship late last year --- before beginning his well thought-out campaign in stands. These stands produced a desperately unlucky fourth in the Northam Cup (after hanging in and breaking 500m from home and going six wide on the home turn), four wins at Pinjarra (three over 2631m and one over 2116m) and a half-head second to Rocknroll Beachboy over 2631m at Pinjarra after breaking and working hard in the breeze. At his most recent appearance Mighty Conqueror started off the 20m mark and enjoyed an ideal trail in the one-out and one-back position before racing away to win by 14m from Bettor Be Lively, dashing over the final three quarters in 29.4sec., 28.7sec. and 27.9sec. and setting a track record for the distance of 1.56 last Monday week. Mighty Conqueror, the least experienced runner in Friday night's Cup, with 11 wins, two seconds and a third from just 16 starts, will start from the outside of the 20m line, which is virtually only a 10m handicap because there are no runners off the front line. He will again be driven by the State's leading reinsman Ryan Warwick, who guided the Steve Burton-trained Phar From A Fake to victory in the 2004 Easter Cup. The Bonds are following their successful plan of two years ago when they gave Assassinator three starts in stands leading into the Easter Cup. Assassinator, a 15/1 chance driven by Ryan Bell, led for the first lap before taking the sit behind the stablemate Galactic Star and then finishing fast to snatch a head victory from the 5/4 fancy. In an even field this year, several runners have winning prospects, with Mighty Conqueror's chief rivals likely to be Caviar Star, As Happy As Larry, Sarah Goody and Miss Sangrial. Caviar Star, trained by Gary Hall Snr and to be driven by Stuart McDonald, and As Happy As Larry, trained by Robbie Williams and to be driven by Chris Lewis, are in peak form and are the lone runners off the back mark of 30m. Caviar Star, an up-and-coming four-year-old, has won at 11 of his past 20 starts and was gallant in defeat last Friday night when he raced wide early and then in the breeze before finishing a close second to the pacemaker Kiwi Legend, who rated 1.54 over 1730m, with final quarters in 27.4sec. and 28.1sec. Two weeks earlier, Caviar Star was most impressive when he started off 30m and sustained a spirited three-wide burst from the 1050m to get to the front 550m from home and then race away to win by three lengths from Tuas Delight, rating 1.58.2 over 2503m. As Happy As Larry warmed up for the Cup in fine style last Friday week when he finished powerfully to win from Lady De La Renta over 2130m. Lewis is the most successful reinsman in the Easter Cup which was first run in 1912 when Golddust won at a 2.44 rate. Lewis has won the Cup with Pallaton (1980), Gold Rowan (1984), Village Kid (1987), Abmidas (1997), OK Windermere (who dead-heated with Patches in 2006) and Lovers Delight (2015). Gary Hall Jnr has won the Cup five times --- with The Falcon Strike (off the back mark of 20m) in 2003, Patches (off the back mark of 30m) in 2006, Uppy Son (10m) in 2012, Rebel Scooter (10m) in 2013, and Znana (off the front) in 2016. This year he will handle the Kevin Keys-trained mare Sarah Goody, who will start off 20m. Sarah Goody has won at 15 of her 40 starts and is in fine form, with two wins from three starts since resuming from a spell. She handled the stand well six starts ago when she finished boldly to be second to Eden Franco in the 2503m Race For Roses early in May last year. Twelve months before that Sarah Goody surged home from last at the bell to finish second to Maczaffair in the WA Oaks. Five-year-old Sarah Goody and four-year-old Miss Sangrial are the only mares in the field of 12. Party Date, trained and driven by Aiden Warwick, was the most recent Cup winner by a mare, when she beat Heez Ruthless and Faking It in 2005. Among the classy martes to have won the Easter Cup are Kola Girl (1920), Derby Fayette (1938), Portree (1959), Color Glo (1967), Miss Dundee (1971), Wee Cent (1974) and Via Valencia (1991). Miss Sangrial, to be driven by Michael Grantham for his uncle, trainer Michael Brennan, should be prominent throughout and is capable of causing a minor upset. The Colin Joss-trained Bettor Be Lively is racing keenly, particularly in stands, and reinsman Shannon Suvaljko is optimistic that the gelding will perform strongly.   Ken Casellas

Promising four-year-old Marquisard has been unplaced from unfavourable barriers at his past 11 starts, but he gets a great chance to break his recent run of outs by winning the Direct Trades Supply Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Part on Friday night. Marquisard, trained at West Swan by Craig Abercromby, has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier and Chris Lewis looks set to attempt an all-the-way victory. The Mach Three gelding has started from the inside barrier only three times from his 52 starts and has led and won over 2190m at Northam on each occasion. He has also won when leading at Narrogin and twice at Pinjarra, as well as scoring three times after working hard without cover. He had no luck at all last Friday night when he started from the back line and raced in eighth position before starting a three-wide move approaching the bell. He moved to sixth with a lap to travel, but continued to be forced to race wide before wilting to finish tenth behind outsider Bob Wheel. Marquisard’s chief rivals appear to be the David Thompson-trained pair of Liam Neil and Jasmin Amal and Ideal One, who is trained by Gary Hall Snr. Ideal One, to be driven by Gary Hall Jnr, is the only runner off the back line and is capable of gaining a perfect trail behind Marquisard, the likely pacemaker. Two starts ago, Ideal One raced three back on the pegs before finishing solidly to win from Presidentmach at a 1.56.5 rate over 2130m. Then he was restrained from the No. 9 barrier and raced in 12th position before finishing gamely to be an encouraging sixth behind stablemate Liberty Rose. Dylan Egerton-Green has given punters a good lead by electing to drive Liam Neil in preference to Jasmin Amal. Liam Neil is a promising four-year-old who will start from barrier four, with Jasmin Amal, a six-year-old mare to be driven by Michael Grantham, starting from the No. 5 barrier. Egerton-Green has driven Jasmin Amal at nine of her past ten starts for three wins and five placings. He has been in the sulky for nine of Liam Neil’s 11 victories. Jasmin Amal trailed the pacemaker Our Major Mama before finishing strongly to be third behind Rosies Ideal and Miss Sangrial over 2130m last Friday night at her first appearance after an absence of just over three months. Liam Neil gave a strong performance last week when he raced wide early, burst to the front after 450m and fought on grandly to finish a close third behind Liberty Rose and Heez Manly. At his previous start, over 2185m at Pinjarra, he trailed the pacemaker Our Perkins before finishing fast along the sprint lane to win easily from the fast-finishing Cott Beach.   Ken Casellas

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

Outstanding young mare Our Angel of Harlem is fit and ready for a strong first-up effort in the $22,000 Retravision Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Ace trainer Mike Reed was pleased with her impressive performance in a 2550m standing-start trial at Byford on Sunday morning when she began brilliantly, strode out boldly as she set the pace and sprinted over the final quarters in 28.1sec. and 28.5sec. “She has now qualified to contest standing-start events and her main mission now is the Race For Roses, a stand over 2503m on May 3,” Reed said. “She flew the stand in her trial and ran home in 56.6sec. It’s a big ask for her to win, first-up, but she is sure to go well this week, judged by the way she trialled. She pulled up a bit big and will improve on whatever she does.” Mark Reed will have a few options when he drives Our Angel of Harlem from the No. 6 barrier in Friday night’s mobile event. The New Zealand-bred four-year-old is a dashing frontrunner and she led and won from favourable barriers at her two most recent runs, both over 2130m at Gloucester Park last December. At her latest start she was untroubled to win by just over two lengths from Our Major Mama and Innocent Affair in the group 3 Coulson final on December 28. That improved her record to 30 starts for ten wins and nine placings for earnings of $192,154. Several runners, including Our Angel of Harlem, will be solidly supported in Friday night’s event. New Zealand-bred mares Our Alfie Romeo and Eden Franco look set to fight out the finish, despite starting out wide at barriers eight and nine, respectively. And Rosies Ideal (barrier No. 4) and Lady De La Renta (No. 6) are in excellent form and have strong claims. Four-year-old Our Alfie Romeo has won at 12 of her past 19 starts and is in splendid form. She started out wide at barrier eight in the 2536m Empress Stakes last Friday week when she raced wide early and then in the breeze before taking a narrow lead 400m from home and finishing a grand second, a head behind the fast-finishing Miss Sangrial, with a final quarter of 27.6sec. Four days before that, Our Alfie Romeo dashed to an early lead, set the pace and finished second to Sarah Goody in the 1684m Golden Girls Mile at Pinjarra. Our Alfie Romeo won at two her eight starts in New Zealand and has a marvellous record of 15 starts for ten wins and two seconds in Western Australia for leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond and leading reinsman Ryan Warwick. Eden Franco, trained and driven by Colin Brown, cannot be underestimated, even from the outside barrier. She has had 35 starts for 14 wins, 11 seconds and four thirds. She is poised to bounce back to her best form at her third outing after a spell. She was a hot favourite from barrier two in the Empress Stakes when she raced in the breeze for the first 550m before assuming the role of pacemaker. She battled on gamely when a close-up fourth behind Miss Sangrial. Rosies Ideal and Lady De La Renta are in peak form, with the Shane Young trained and driven four-year-old Rosies Ideal notching her tenth victory from 23 starts when she settled in fifth position before dashing forward into the breeze after a lap and taking the lead on the home turn and winning from Miss Sangrial and Jasmin Amal over 2130m last Friday night. The Annie Belton-trained Lady De La Renta, a winner at 12 of her 33 starts, impressed last Friday night when she settled down in ninth position and sustained a powerful three-wide burst to finish a neck second to As Happy As Larry. Ken Casellas

“It’s a big class rise from Collie to Gloucester Park, but barrier one at Gloucester Park is worth three lengths,” said Serpentine trainer Matt Scott when assessing Cut Above’s prospects in the final event, the Skyracing.com.au Pace on Friday night. Cut Above, a four-year-old New Zealand-bred mare, took her record this season to five wins and three seconds from nine starts when she gave a bold frontrunning display to score a runaway victory in the Collie Cup, a stand over 2700m last Sunday week. “She ran them ragged and since then she has worked well,” said Scott. “Twelve days between runs will suit her because she’s not a very big-framed horse. She’s ready to run a good race. I’d say Shannon (Suvaljko) will want to lead. “She won’t have to go 27.4sec. for the opening quarter (of the final mile) like she did at her run over 1730m at Gloucester Park at her previous start. If we had our time again, we probably wouldn’t have pressed on as long as we did (working hard three wide and then in the breeze before getting to the front after 400m). “She was beaten by only two lengths (finishing seventh behind the winner Halle Rage, who rated 1.55.6) and I thought she performed well.” Cut Above is proving a good buy for Tim Blee, who purchased the Gotta Go Cullen mare from New Zealand for $25,000. Cut Above, who raced twice in New Zealand for a win and a second in stands, has earned $32,756 from her six wins and five placings from 18 starts in Western Australia. Scott will also be represented in Friday night’s race by 148-start veteran Charlie El, who will be driven by Kyle Harper from barrier No. 5. “Charlie El is one-dimensional and will be driven back in the field,” Scott said. “He had no luck last week (when seventh behind Kerrin Joseph). He was pushed wide at the bell and didn’t get much room at the end.” Charlie El impressed four starts before that when he charged home from the rear to snatch victory from Liberty Rose over 2130m. Harper said that he had high hopes of victory with another veteran, eight-year-old Debt Free Charlie in the 2536m Follow @Skyracing.au On Twitter Pace. Debt Free Charlie has drawn favourably at barrier two on the front line and Harper is planning to set the pace with the speedy pacer and noted frontrunner who has a losing sequence of 12. His latest success was over 2130m on December 8 when he led and beat Ohoka Darcy and Micheal Joseph. Harper declared that the 2536m journey would suit Debt Free Charlie perfectly, with the gelding leading and winning over that distance in successive starts at Gloucester Park early last year.   Ken Casellas

Outstanding young Boyanup trainer Justin Prentice is forming a wonderful association with champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr and this combination looks set to continue its great recent record at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Hall has excellent prospects with four Prentice-trained pacers in Sweet N Fast (race two), Our Major Mama (race four), Dracarys (race seven) and Our Corelli (race ten). Dracarys is the standout of that quartet and only bad luck will prevent her from winning the $18,000 #Inthegig Oaks prelude over 2130m in which she is somewhat awkwardly drawn at barrier five. In the past month Hall has driven Prentice-prepared pacers in 20 events for 11 wins, three seconds, three thirds, one fourth and two sixth placings. Hall is lavish in his praise of Dracarys, a New Zealand-bred filly who has had 14 starts for nine wins and three seconds for earnings of $89,841.   “Dracarys has to be right up there as one of the best fillies I’ve driven,” he said. “She’s more like a colt; she’s got it all and she’s strong and fast. She can come out of the gate and put the race away in the first 100m if she needs to. And her closing speed is so good that you’re not too scared to be back in the field.” Dracarys was awesome at her latest appearance, over 2130m last Friday week, when she started from barrier five, burst to the front after 450m and was not extended in sprinting over the final quarters in 28sec. and 27.9sec. to win by five lengths from stablemate Majorpride, rating 1.57.3.  Another decisive victory this week will further strengthen her claims of winning the $150,000 WA Oaks over 2536m on May 3. Majorpride, to be driven by Nathan Turvey from barrier two, should notch her fourth placing from four starts as a three-year-old after winning three races and being placed six times from 11 starts as a two-year-old. The Annie Belton-trained La Roue De Lamour, a $57,000 yearling, should be prominent throughout from the No. 1 barrier. She broke through for her first win at her tenth start when she worked hard in the breeze before beating She Said Diamonds over 1609m in 1.56.5 at Bunbury last Saturday night. Hall gives Our Corelli a good chance in the final event, the Skyracing.com.au Pace over 2130m in which he is handily drawn at barrier three on the front line. And he said that Sweet N Fast and Our Major Mama had sound prospects. Ken Casellas

Exciting colt Franco Edward is proving to be one of the best bargains in recent times and he will boost his earnings to $325,541 if he justifies the confidence of his young trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper and wins the $200,000 Sky Racing WA Derby at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Kim Prentice bought Franco Edward for just $17,500 at the 2017 Auckland yearling sales on behalf of prominent WA owner Rob Watson and the brilliant pacer has already amassed $197,541 from nine wins and four seconds from 15 starts. Franco Edward has certainly exceeded early expectations and to illustrate claims that he is a marvellous bargain is that two of the most expensive purchases at the 2017 Auckland sales Kokomo Beach and Franco Stallone have not set the world on fire. Kokomo Beach was sold for $187,500 and Franco Stallone was sold for $190,000. Kokomo Beach, renamed Typhoon Stride, has been unplaced at two country starts in Victoria for stakes of $490 and Franco Stallone, renamed Puntarno Stride, has earned $1750 from a second at Horsham and a third at Maryborough. Franco Edward, by American stallion American Ideal, is the first foal out of the unraced Changeover mare Edinburgh Franco, whose dam Elisit Franco raced 16 times for three wins and three placings for stakes of $10,750 before being retired to stud where she has produced five winners, including star WA mare Eden Franco (35 starts for 14 wins, 15 placings and $189,465) and Franco Emirate (33 starts for 14 wins, 11 placings and $332,830). Elisit Franco’s dam Emily Franco managed one win and one placing for $3800 from ten starts, but she produced Franco Enforce, who had 70 starts for 28 wins, 19 placings and $593,738. Franco Edward warmed up for Friday night’s Derby in fine style with an effortless victory in 2150m Byford trial on Sunday morning when driven by Lindsay Harper. He revealed his superb gate speed to set a dawdling early pace before scorching over the third 400m section of the final mile in 26.3sec. and then was not extended in coasting over the final quarter in 28.7sec. Whether Kyle Harper, who will contesting a WA Derby for the first time, rolls the dice and makes a spirited bid from the No. 4 barrier for the early lead is problematical. There is abundant speed on his inside in the polemarker Bletchley Park and Its Rock And Roll (barrier three). Harper predicted that Colin Brown would make full use of Its Rock And Roll’s dazzling early pace and would quickly assume the role of pacemaker. Expanding on his theory, Harper said that if Its Rock And Roll got to the front and Major Trojan (from barrier five) surged forward to race in the breeze that he could be fortunate to take the sit in the one-out, one-back position behind Major Trojan. He added that this was purely theoretical and that if Bletchley Park or Major Trojan got to the early lead and set the pace it would completely change the complexity of the 2536m race. “It’s exciting times,” Harper said. “Franco Edward’s point-to-point speed is exceptional. His final half in the Byford trial was very impressive as was his last-start second to Eloquent Mach last Friday week when he unwound a great finishing burst.” That close second to Eloquent Mach in the Group 2 Western Gateway Classic came after Franco Edward was restrained at the start from the outside barrier (No. 9) and was last in the field of 12 at the bell before charging home when the final two 400m sections (off the front) were covered in 28.3sec. and 28.5sec. The New Zealand-bred Major Trojan, who was sold to clients of champion trainer Gary Hall Snr for what was reported to be a substantial amount, is sure to prove extremely hard to beat on Friday night. The big colt has improved steadily since arriving in WA. He followed three successive placings behind smart stablemate Eloquent Mach with a commanding display to set the pace and win, unextended by three and a half lengths from Gee Jay Kay in a Derby prelude over 2130m last Friday night. Major Trojan will start from barrier five and star reinsman Gary Hall Jnr said that he expected a powerful showing from the colt. “He’s got a motor and I’ll have a few options,” he said. “We’ve got the right horse able to make a few runs in the race. I’m more happy with him going into the race than I was with King of Swing last year (when he raced in the breeze and beat the fast-finishing Bechers Brook by a head).” The powerful combination of Hall Snr and Hall Jnr have dominated the WA Derby in recent years, winning the classic four times over the past six years, scoring with Alta Christiano, Beaudiene Boaz, Chicago Bull and King of Swing. Hall Jnr said that he had served a tough apprenticeship in the Derby, with three second placings before his recent run of successes. He drove Ivory Trader for trainer Ross Olivieri in the 2002 WA Derby when the gelding finished a neck second to Tricky Vic and then finished a nose second with Ulrich behind Global Force in 2004 and was second with Macraider to Argent Treasure in 2008. Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed said he expected a strong showing from Bletchley Park from the coveted No. 1 barrier and that his son Mark had the opportunity to set the pace with the black colt who has led and won three times in a career of 12 starts for seven wins and two placings. Mike Reed, who has prepared WA Derby winners with Tricky Vic in 2002 and Ace of Spades in 2003 (both driven by his son), said that Bletchley Park was working strongly and he hoped he would go one better than stablemate Bechers Brook, who was 11th on the home turn and charged home, six wide, to finish a head second to King of Swing in the 2018 Derby. “At Bletchley Park’s final run as a two-year-old he finished a nose second to Franco Edward in the Pearl Classic and I believe that there’s not much between Franco Edward and my bloke. And we’ve got the good draw.” Apart from Major Trojan, the Hall stable will be represented in Friday night’s big race with Robbie Easton and Eloquent Mach. Robbie Easton (Micheal Ferguson) will be an outsider after drawing the outside barrier (No. 9), but Eloquent Mach (Stuart McDonald) will have admirers from barrier two on the back line. Eloquent Mach has won in fine style at each of his past three starts and cannot be underestimated. Veteran Banjup trainer Colin Brown, who drove the Greg Bond-trained Richard Henry in the 2005 WA Derby, is hoping for an all-the-way win with the speedy Its Rock And Roll, who is racing keenly and this season after excelling as a two-year-old with victories in the Group 1 Sales Classic and Group 2 Champagne Classic. Brown’s other Derby runner is Patrickthepiranha, who will be handled by Dylan Egerton-Green from the outside of the back line. Patrickthepiranha has won at nine of his 13 starts and is capable of surprising.   Ken Casellas

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

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

Keen interest surrounds the debut of the extremely well bred two-year-old Valentines Brook in the $25,000 Intersport Slater Gartrell Western Crown Classic for colts and geldings at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Valentines Brook, trained by Mike Reed and driven by his son Mark, will begin from barrier three and is capable of a solid first-up effort. He is a half-brother to Bechers Brook, who flew home to win the Western Gateway Classic 12 months ago and then finished a head second to King of Swing in the WA Derby. Bechers Brook, also from the Reed stable, has had 21 starts for ten wins and eight placings for stakes of $152,763. Valentines Brook is also a half-brother to star pacer Our Waikiki Beach, who has earned $957,479 from 28 wins and 12 placings from 56 starts. Those pacers also are closely related to former star performers Chandon, Bollinger and Salinger. Valentines Brook, bred in Victoria, is by American stallion Rock N Roll Heaven out of the Bettors Delight mare Cyclone Betty, raced 63 times for nine wins, 18 placings and $68,186 in prizemoney. He was bought for $52,500 at the APG yearling sale in Melbourne last year by Bechers Brook’s owner Albert Walmsley. Bechers Brook is named after hugely challenging and famous fence in the English Grand National Steeplechase, held annually at Aintree. Valentines Brook is also a testing fence at Aintree, but somewhat less severe than Bechers Brook. Valentines Brook warmed up for his debut with a sound trial at Byford on Sunday morning when he was not bustled at the mobile dispatch and settled in fourth place in a field of five. After modest quarters of 32.4sec., 32.2sec. and 31.2.2sec., Valentines Brook ran home solidly and was not extended in finishing second, a half-head behind unraced two-year-old gelding The Stars Above, with a final quarter in 29sec. Reed Snr said that Valentines Brook possessed high speed but had still a lot to learn about racing. “He’s not without a chance on Friday night and he’ll improve on whatever he does,” he said. Marcotti, a son of Sportwriter, is sure to be a hot favourite, particularly after drawing the prized No. 1 barrier for Blythewood trainer Michael Brennan and talented reinsman Michael Grantham. Marcotti made a perfect debut when he set the pace from the No. 1 barrier and won from Keptain Courageous over 1609m in 1min. 57.9sec. at Bunbury three Sundays ago. He impressed in dashing over the final 400m in 27.6sec. Marcotti is well bred and is related to former top-flight pacer Another Party, who earned $888,678 from 31 wins and 42 placings from 149 starts. Another Party’s wins included the Bathurst Gold Crown for two-year-olds in March 1997, the Celebrity Mile at Gloucester Park on New Year’s Eve in 2000, the Fremantle Cup the following month and the Hunter Cup at Moonee Valley a few weeks later.   Ken Casellas

Talented young reinsman Bailey McDonough will be anxious to take full advantage of Clarenden Hustler’s sparkling gate speed when he drives the six-year-old from the prized No. 1 barrier in the $20,000 Intersport Slater Gartrell Pace over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. In-form trainer Matt Scott engaged McDonough to drive Clarenden Hustler for the first time to gain a junior driver’s concession and a start in an event which has enabled the chestnut to drop significantly in class. Shannon Suvaljko has driven Clarenden Hustler, a former South Australian performer, in all his nine starts in Western Australia for two wins and two seconds. Clarenden Hustler started from the inside of the back line and trailed the pacemaker Handsandwheels in the group 2 Four and Five-Year-Old Championship over 2130m last Friday night before wilting to finish eighth behind Handsandwheels. But he will certainly appreciate racing in inferior company this week when his main dangers include Just Bet On Black, Smoldering Ashes, Luis Alberto and Aliman. Just Bet On Black, trained and driven by Dylan Egerton-Green, is in top form, but is not perfectly drawn at No. 4 on the front line. However, he has the ability to overcome this draw and prove hard to beat. He started from the No. 6 barrier when an impressive last-start winner, over 2536m last Friday week. He raced three wide early and then worked hard in the breeze before getting to the front and fighting on gamely to defeat the pacemaker Dominate The Dojo by a half-neck at a 1.58.5 rate, with final quarters in 27.7sec. and 29.3sec. Two weeks before that Just Bet On Black raced in fifth position, three back on the pegs before finishing powerfully to be a neck second to James Butt at a 1.54.4 rate over 1730m, with final quarters of 28.1sec. and 28.6sec. “He’s in somewhere near career-best form,” Egerton-Green said. “It’s been a long process and, touch wood, we’ve got him right and hopefully able to string a few nice runs together.”   Ken Casellas

Busselton horseman Aaron Beckett has been rewarded for his outstanding form for owner-trainer Barry Howlett at the recent Albany carnival by gaining the drive behind the bold-striding Talktomeurmattjesty in the $25,000 Intersport Slater Gartrell Free-For-All at Gloucester Park on Friday night. This will be the first time the 36-year-old Beckett has driven the New Zealand-bred seven-year-old, who has bright prospects of winning his 13th race at his 36th start. Talktomeurmattjesty is a smart frontrunner who is sure to appreciate the distinct advantage of starting from the coveted No. 1 barrier in the 2130m event. Talktomeurmattjesty has begun from the No. 1 barrier five times over 2130m at Gloucester Park for three all-the-way victories, a second to Chicago Bull in the Stratton Cup last October and fifth behind Rocknroll Lincoln when he raced with a trail on both occasions. Beckett is hoping for a similar result this week to what he achieved when he was offered the chance to drive Dredlock Rockstar for the first time after regular reinsman Ash Markham was under suspension. That was in the Parliamentarians Cup in November 2013 when Beckett drove Dredlock Rockstar to an all-the-way win. Howlett had little hesitation in engaging Beckett this week after Beckett had landed seven winners for him at Albany last month scoring with Shadow Magic, Another Mouse and Dancing With Mach on February 1, Smart Fortune, Another Mouse and Rock Dance on February 8 and Smart Fortune on February 15. Talktomeurmattjesty, who led and won from Benhope Rulz and Naval Aviator three starts ago when he gave his rivals little chance by sprinting over the final quarters in 28.5sec. and 27.2sec., will clash with four last-start winners in Handsandwheels, Vincenzo Peruggia, Major Catastrophe and Caviar Star, as well as Always Arjay, who followed a strong Gloucester Park win over Our Jimmy Johnstone and Vultan Tin with an excellent effort when a last-start second to El Jacko in the Pinjarra Cup after working hard, out three wide and then in the breeze. The Andrew de Campo-trained Handsandwheels is in top form but is not ideally drawn at No. 2 on the back line. He is a noted frontrunner, but he is also capable of sitting back in the field before unwinding a spirited finishing burst. An indication of the consistency of Handsandwheels is that he has finished out of the top four only twice from his past 29 starts. The five-year-old was not extended is leading all the way from barrier one and winning easily from Vincenzo Peruggia and Lord Willoughby in easier company last Friday night. Ten-year-old Major Catastrophe bounced back to form and ended a losing sequence of 19 when he worked hard without cover before getting up to snatch victory from hot favourite Im Soxy over 2536m last Friday night. Again, he appears most likely to do most of the bullocking work in this week’s race. Caviar Star looms as a very strong winning chance after the four-year-old trained by Gary Hall Snr has raced eight times this season for five wins and three seconds. He is favourably drawn at barrier three and should fight out the finish. Hall said that this would be a testing time for Caviar Star. “He’s up in class and is unlikely to be able to get the lead from Talktomeurmattjesty,” he said. “However, he is going well and is really strong.” Hall will also be represented by Overboard Again and Whozideawasthis, who impressed at his second outing after an absence of nine months when he finished strongly from tenth at the bell to be an eye-catching second to The Bucket List last Friday night. Vincenzo Peruggia is racing in grand style for veteran Byford trainer Tony Svilicich, with his past nine starts producing four wins and four seconds. The five-year-old warmed up for Friday night’s assignment in good style at Gloucester park on Tuesday night when he worked hard in the breeze before winning from the fast-finishing Valbonne.   Ken Casellas

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

Remarkably, New Zealand-bred seven-year-old Livura has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier only once in his first 63 starts in mobile events in Western Australia. The Nathan Turvey trained and driven gelding will enjoy starting from barrier one for just the second time when he contests the opening event, the DTS Farmlock Fencing Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night and he should give punters a flying start by setting the pace and winning the 2130m event. The previous time Livura started from barrier one was three starts ago, at Gloucester Park on December 7 last year when he set the pace and finished third behind Saying Grace and Carter Micheal. He resumed racing last Friday night after a three-month absence and had no luck at all, finishing last in a field of seven behind Mattjestic Star. A 12/1 chance, he raced three back on the pegs in fifth position before he hung out slightly 500m from home and lost ground when he locked wheels with the sulky of Lord Willoughby. And then he was blocked for a clear passage in the final stages. Livura makes strong appeal as the pacemaker in this week’s race. He has set the pace in five of his 16 wins in this State. One of his dangers appears to be Kimani, who will start from the outside (barrier three) on the back line. Kimani reappeared last Friday night after a two-month absence when he started from the inside of the back line and trailed the pacemaker Bronze Seeker. He was blocked for a clear run throughout the final circuit and finished second to Bronze Seeker. Gary Hall Jnr, who drove Bronze Seeker to victory last week, has opted to handle Kimani this week, with the drive on Bronze Seeker going to Michael Grantham. Bronze Seeker, who will be competing in his 227th race, is awkwardly drawn at barrier seven and will need luck to figure in the finish. One of the best bets on the program should be Im Soxy in race two in which he will be driven by Ryan Warwick from the favourable No. 2 barrier. Im Soxy, a WA-bred gelding trained in Bunbury by Brian Clemens, caught the eye last Friday night when he raced three back on the pegs in fifth position before finishing with a powerful burst to be a close-up third behind Caviar Star and Herrick Roosevelt, with the final quarter whizzing by in 27.2sec.   Ken Casellas

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