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Unruly behaviour cost Texas Tiger dearly as a young horse in New Zealand where he managed just two dazzling victories from 20 starts. But the four-year-old gelding, who arrived in Western Australia just over five weeks ago, has matured into a highly-promising pacer who looks set to notch his fourth win from four starts in the State in the space of 19 days when he contests the opening event, the 2130m Australian Pacing Gold Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Texas Tiger, trained by Gary Hall Snr and to be driven by Gary Hall Jnr, will be making his Gloucester Park debut after two strong victories at Pinjarra and one at Bunbury when he worked hard in the breeze in all three events. He made a tremendous impression at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon when he started from the back line, raced without cover and went on to win by more than five lengths from Rakarover when he smashed the track 1684m record with a sizzling rate of 1.51.7. The previous record rate of 1.53 was shared by Hall-trained pacers Famous Alchemist and Northview Punter. “Texas Tiger is a really nice horse, and his record run was helped by the early war in front (when the opening quarters of the final mile were covered in 26.8sec. and 27.1sec.),” said Hall Jnr. “He is pretty versatile and can do it all. He’s done it up there on the speed and coming from behind. Even though he is starting from the outside of the back line I think he will just win again.” Champion reinsman Chris Lewis is looking forward to former Victorian performer Mirragon starting from the No. 1 barrier in the APG Graduates Pace. Mirragon, prepared by Debra Lewis, drops considerably in class after finishing tenth behind Wildwest in the Group 2 Governor’s Cup last Friday night when he started out wide at barrier eight and raced at the rear. “The race wasn’t run to suit and he was pushed wide in the back straight and wide around the final bend,” said Lewis. “I think he gets his chance to break through at his third start at Gloucester Park.” Lewis also has sound prospects of winning with the Ross Olivieri-trained Kiwi Bloke, who will start from the 20m mark in the 2503m APG Perth Online Guide Handicap. The New Zealand-bred seven-year-old is in top form, making most of the running and winning comfortably at his past two starts. “The task doesn’t get any easier, but he is in form,” said Lewis. “He doesn’t have to lead; he can sprint.” Kiwi Bloke’s chief rival looms as the Aiden de Campo-trained mare Delightfulreaction, who will start from the inside of the 10m line. “This is a good draw and she loves stands over 2503m, and she should be right into it,” said de Campo.   Ken Casellas

Classy colt Mighty Ronaldo has won at only three of his 11 starts, but champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr is optimistic about the colt’s winning prospects against outstanding colt Lavra Joe in the 2130m $50,000 Group 2 Sales Classic for three-year-old colts and geldings at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Mighty Ronaldo, trained at Boyanup by Justin Prentice, has drawn perfectly at barrier one, with Lavra Joe out wide at No. 8. Last Friday night Lavra Joe started from the No. 1 barrier in a 2130m event and was untroubled to romp to an effortless three-length victory over Talks Up A Storm, with Mighty Ronaldo a length away in third place. Mighty Ronaldo started from barrier five and after racing in fifth spot in the Indian file affair, he worked hard in the breeze over the final 1000m. “I expect Mighty Ronaldo to lead and prove pretty hard to beat,” said Hall. “I’ll definitely give Lavra Joe and the others something to chase and he is certainly capable of beating Lavra Joe, who I expect to be outside of me at some stage and putting it to me.” Lavra Joe, trained by Ray Jones, is a high-quality pacer who has won at 13 of his 24 starts. Champion reinsman Chris Lewis concedes that this race will test Lavra Joe, but he certainly refuses to concede defeat, saying: “The draw hasn’t worked in our favour but I’m confident he will fight out the finish. He has options and I will just have to sort things out when I decide to go forward.” The Murray Lindau-trained Talks Up A Storm (Dylan Egerton-Green) is racing keenly, with his past three starts producing two wins and a last-start second to Lavra Joe. This week he is favourably drawn on the inside of the back line and should enjoy an ideal trip behind the likely pacemaker Mighty Ronaldo.   Also adding interest to the race will be the Greg and Skye Bond-trained pair of Give Us A Wave (barrier two) and Squinta (three). Give Us A Wave, who won the $80,000 Westbred Classic from Mighty Ronaldo and Machnificent last June and then finished second to Mighty Ronaldo in the Golden Slipper a week later, made a splendid return to racing after a four-month absence when he finished solidly to be second to Otis over 2130m on Tuesday of last week. Squinta also gave an impressive first-up performance when he charged home from the rear to finish fourth behind Otis last week. There is very little exposed form in the $50,000 APG Sales Classic for three-year-old fillies, a 2130m event in which the least experienced runner Bettors Destroya is expected to be a short-priced favourite. Bettors Destroya, trained by Justin Prentice and to be driven by Gary Hall Jnr, has had only three starts for a win, a second and a third placing. She will start from barrier No. 4. She resumed after an absence of nine weeks when she raced without cover before wilting slightly and finishing third behind more experienced three-year-old geldings Our Shelley Beach and Robbie Rocket over 2100m at Bunbury last Saturday week.       “I tried to come out of the gate (from barrier two), but she put in a few funny ones and didn’t get out at all,” said Hall. “This week I’ll just let her flop out off the gate and then probably keep driving her forward because she can be driven quite tough.” Her main rivals appear likely to be Just For Love, Absolute Delight and Lady Jadore, with the Barry Howlett-trained Just For Love sure to prove hard to beat after starting from the No. 3 barrier with Jocelyn Young in the sulky. Just For Love, an easy second-up Albany winner two starts ago, warmed up for this week’s assignment in fine style when she trailed the pacemaker Rumour Has It and finished boldly to be a close second to that filly in the Daintys Daughter Classic last Friday night. The Linda Hamilton-trained Absolute Delight has won only once from 20 starts but will have admirers from the No. 1 barrier. She set the pace when second to Unconditional over 2242m at Narrogin last Saturday night, five days after finishing a well-beaten third behind Major Jade and Shakira Blue over 2185m at Pinjarra. The best-performed runner in Friday night’s race is the Annie Belton-trained Lady Jadore, who will be having her first start for just over ten months when fifth behind Always An Angel at Gloucester Park. That followed three Gloucester Park wins in February from her first three starts. She is capable of a bold showing, despite starting from the outside barrier (No. 9).   Ken Casellas

Capel horseman Aiden de Campo, delighted after driving Rock On Top to a brilliant all-the-way victory by six lengths in a heat of the APG Sales Classic for colts and geldings on Tuesday of last week, has opted to drive stablemate Floewriter in the $100,000 final at Gloucester Park on Friday night. His decision was influenced by the barrier draw for the 1730m classic, with Floewriter drawing the prized No. 1 barrier, and Rock On Top faring poorly at No. 9, the outside of the front line. Rock On Top will be handled by Dylan Egerton-Green. Floewriter started from barrier seven in a qualifying heat in which he enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back, before finishing solidly to be a one-length second to Whataretheodds. “Floewriter has improved a lot since his heat win, and from the draw this week he’s probably a better chance than Rock On Top,” said de Campo. “I can’t split the two horses at home, but Floewriter should be able to lead and I reckon he’ll give it a good shake.” De Campo, who trained and drove $31 chance Rock On The Beach when he sustained a strong burst from the rear to finish second to Talks Up A Storm in last year’s Sales Classic for two-year-olds, has a sentimental attachment to this event, with his father Andrew driving Son of Otara (trained by Andrew’s late father Ray) to victory in this race in 1991. Floewriter, by Sportswriter, is the second foal out of Maddy White, a mare who was trained by Andrew de Campo for her 11 wins, with Aiden in the sulky for seven of those victories. “At the sales, Floewriter was the dead-ringer for Maddy White, a big lanky type of horse who has an action exactly like his dam’s,” said Aiden de Campo, who purchased the colt for $30,000 on behalf of several stable clients. Whataretheodds, a colt by American stallion Betting Line and out of Generally Outspoken, who won the Group 3 Gold Bracelet at Gloucester Park in July 2013, was the fastest and most impressive of the three heat winners who looms as a major hope in the final despite drawing out wide at barrier eight. Baskerville trainer Ryan Bell also qualified Speedwagon for the final after the gelding’s encouraging race debut in a heat when he worked hard in the breeze and fought on to finish a close third behind the pacemaker Dunamis and the fast-finishing Soho Santorini. Speedwagon also drew out wide at barrier No. 7. “I’ll stick with Whataretheodds, mainly because he’s a bit tricky to drive,” said Bell. Speedwagon will be driven by Michael Grantham, who maintained his excellent form in the sulky with a double at Gloucester Park on Tuesday evening. “Whataretheodds surprised me in the heat,” said Bell, who drove Schinzig Buller to victory in this event in 2007. “He doesn’t give you much impression at home but each time he has got behind the mobile he has gone better and better and stronger and stronger. He was nodding off a bit towards the line last week, not because he was tired but because he was wondering what was going on. He has never felt better than he did at his work on Saturday and his pacework on Monday. “With our two horses, we’ve got no specific option apart from just letting things unfold. Hopefully, there’s a quick first quarter which will bring us into the race. “Watching the replays of the qualifying heats I consider that every horse in the final is capable of winning. Speedwagon ran a faster last half than Whataretheodds, and he has improved and I’m upbeat about his chances.” Boyanup trainer Justin Prentice, who won the classic with Major Martini in 2019, has two finalists, Dream Walker (barrier three) and Tomlous Jambo (No. 10). Cody Wallrodt will drive Dream Walker, and Gary Hall Jnr will be in the sulky behind Tomlous Jambo. Hall has won this event three times with Blissful Boy (2010), Black Aquila (2011) and Allmightyjoelouis (2016) and he is hoping to gain a perfect run behind the likely pacemaker Floewriter. Kim Prentice, who won this classic event with Fake Embrace in 2004 and Aikido Whitby in 2006, is looking for a strong performance from Soho Santorini, who charged home from the rear to finish an eye-catching second to the pacemaker Dunamis in a heat. Dunamis, the Greek word for strength, made a splendid debut when he led and won his heat for part-owner and trainer Greg Schofield and driver Mitch Miller. Dunamis is favourably drawn at barrier three. Ace trainer-reinsman Colin Brown, who won the classic with Armadon in 2002 and Its Rock And Roll in 2018, will be pinning his faith on Mister Piccolo from the No. 4 barrier.   Ken Casellas

Valhalla Miss, the slowest, by far, of the three heat winners, is poised to fight out the finish of the $100,000 APG Sales Classic for two-year-old fillies at Gloucester Park on Friday night, according to reinsman Kyle Harper. “She had plenty up her sleeve when she won her heat,” said Harper. “She was untouched and won easily (rating a modest 1.59.9 over the 1730m). “She had her first start a week before that when second to Wonderful To Fly, who rated 1.56.7 over 1730m. “That was her second education to racing last week and I didn’t think she needed a gut buster. If she hasn’t improved, I’d be surprised. And if she can’t run out in front and rate 1.56 and change in the final, I’d be surprised. If she does, she’s going to be mighty hard to beat, and I expect her to be a good top three contender. “Looking for dangers, I have a lot of time for Extraordinary Mary, who was quite impressive in winning her heat (rating 1.58.3). Other fillies who impressed in the heats, Jay Elle and Sovrana have drawn out wide.” Valhalla Miss, bred by the Allwood Stud Farm and purchased at the APG yearling sale for $17,500 by Byford trainer Linda Hamilton and her husband Barry, is by Fly Like An Eagle and is the fifth and last foal out of Northern Luck mare Teen Queen Lombo, who also produced Allamerican Queen, whose five wins from 34 starts included the Group 1 Westbred Classic for three-year-old fillies in June 2017. Jemma Hayman is a part-owner and trainer of Extraordinary Mary, who impressed with her all-the-way win at a 1.58.3 rate in a heat. She dashed over the final 800m in 57sec. and won by three lengths from Bramante Steps. This will be Hayman’s first runner as a trainer in a group 1 pacing event. Her previous experience as a thoroughbred trainer in a group 1 feature was in the 2014 Perth Cup at Ascot when Knightlike finished fifth. Hayman and her husband Ross Olivieri are hoping to be at the fore in Friday night’s classic in which the Olivieri-trained Treacherous Tiger will be driven by Chris Voak from barrier five. Treacherous Tiger followed her second on debut behind Eagle Royalty, when she had a tough run, out wide early and then in the breeze before finishing fourth behind Jay Elle in a qualifying heat. “The fillies worked together this morning (Tuesday) and we are really happy with the way they worked,” said Hayman. “I’m not sure whether Extraordinary Mary has sufficient gate speed to lead from barrier four. I’ll discuss tactics with Shannon (Suvaljko) to see what he thinks.” Suvaljko has won this classic event with Classical Gas (1992), Jupiters Darling (2005) and Soho Interceptor (2018), while Olivieri has won the race four times with Parthenon (1994), Backin A Jiffy (2000), Hindu Sitara (2003) and Double Expresso (2019). “If Treacherous Tiger gets a nice run, she will play a big part,” declared Olivieri. Justin Prentice, who prepared Tenniele Erin for her victory in 2017, is looking for a strong performance from the Alta Christiano filly Jay Elle, who made an impressive debut when she finished powerfully from sixth at the 300m to win a heat from the pacemaker Sovrana. Jay Elle, to be driven by Gary Hall Jnr, has the ability to overcome the wide barrier. Hall, who has won this classic behind Soho Cannes in 2011 and Red Hot Roxy in 2016, said: “Jay Elle went really well at her first race start, but obviously she will have to go better to win from the wide draw. She was the only runner in the heats to come from well back,” he said. Trainer-reinsman Aiden de Campo said that he expected Sovrana to be tested from the wide draw. “She had not led before, in trackwork or trials, before she set the pace in her heat,” he said. “Barrier nine will hurt in the final. I’m very happy with her, but she is still a bit green and has a lot to learn.”   Ken Casellas

Wildwest defies early challenges Exciting five-year-old Wildwest provided champion reinsman Gary Hall jnr with his third victory in the $50,000 Governor’s Cup when he defied spirited early challenges for the lead from Bracken Sky and Talktomeurmattjesty in the group 2 2130m feature event at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The New Zealand-bred Wildwest, the $1.60 favourite from the prized No. 1 barrier, had to be driven hard to keep his rivals at bay before bowling along in front and winning by 2m at a 1.54.9 rate from $13 chance Miracle Moose, with Cyclone Banner ($51) running on from sixth at the bell to be third. “The fast lead time (34.6sec.) was always going to be,” said Hall. “I had to make my intentions clear. I was surprised that Bracken Sky (barrier five) was the first to have a crack for the lead. “But Wildwest was having his first try from the inside barrier in this company and I expected a few would have a go for the lead. Bracken Sky got a bit of an advantage on me, but we were able to kick through on the inside, and this (the early speed) probably helped me to hold out Talktomeurmattjesty. “Wildwest didn’t get fierce; he’s over that, but it is hanging that remains a problem. On the fence he’s obviously manageable, but out wider he is inclined to hang. He was flat at the finish, but he didn’t switch off.”  Wildwest, prepared by Gary Hall snr, will now be set for the Pinjarra Cup on Monday March 1. There is also a strong possibility that the Raging Bull gelding will be sent to race in Sydney where he is sure to be better suited on the spacious 1400m Menangle track. Wildwest, who won at his only start in New Zealand, in a 2400m stand at Winton In May 2019, has raced 14 times in Western Australia for nine wins.   Rumour Has It survives hoof fracture Promising filly Rumour Has It’s future was in the balance last year after she fractured a hind hoof when she attempted to leap over a 5ft steel gate at trainer Debra Lewis’s Hopeland property. This kept her out of action for nine months before she resumed racing --- and she enhanced her prospects of winning the rich WA Oaks on April 9 when she scored a smart all-the-way victory in the group 2 $50,000 Daintys Daughter Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Fourth favourite at $7.70 from the prized No. 1 barrier, Rumour Has It ambled through the lead time in 38.3sec. and the opening quarters in 29.8sec. and 29.9sec. before sprinting the final 400m sections in 28.2sec. and 28sec. to beat the fast-finishing pair of Just For Love ($71) and Black Jack Baby ($5.50). The $1.90 favourite Always An Angel raced three wide early and then worked hard in the breeze before wilting to finish fifth. The winner, bred, owned and trained by Debra Lewis, now has earned $74,137 from six wins and four placings from 12 starts. “Rumour Has It didn’t race too much in her two-year-old season,” said star reinsman Chris Lewis. “She jumped a steel gate, and all but cleared the gate, but got a back leg caught and fractured a back hoof. “We will now be looking for a few Westbred races for her and the 2536m of the Oaks won’t be a problem. She likes to roll and keeps cutting out (fast) quarters. Tonight, she actually travelled a little slower than I wanted. I wanted to step her up a bit but she star gazed a little bit. “She is a capable filly and is not just a frontrunner who has a few options apart from leading, which was a good option tonight.” The win gave Lewis a record fourth success in the Daintys Daughter Classic --- after wins with Five Hundred More (2005), Sheer Royalty (2009) and Double Expresso (2020). Rumour Has It is by American stallion Roll With Joe and is the eighth foal out of the Christian Cullen mare Roustabout, who had only 12 starts for four wins, two placings and $33,171. Roustabout won twice from three New Zealand starts, was unplaced at her only appearance in Victoria and had eight starts in WA in 2006 for two wins and two seconds. As a four-year-old Roustabout, trained by Noel Keiley, won the group 3 Empress Stakes from Precious Maiden and Sovereign Beejay. Rumour Has It is a half-sister to Arousing (110 starts for 11 wins, 32 placings and $119,663), Just A Horse (157 starts for ten wins, 28 placings and $77,234) and Loving You (59 starts for ten wins, 20 placings and $97,229).   Matai Geordie is a speed machine Inexperienced New Zealand-bred pacer Matai Geordie lived up to the prediction of champion reinsman Gary Hall jnr that the gelding is a speed machine when he revealed a spectacular last-lap burst on his way to a runaway victory in the 1730m APG Perth Yearling Sale Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The $1.60 favourite, prepared by Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall snr, started from the inside of the back line and Hall jnr was able to ease him out into the one-wide line on the first bend to assume a commanding position, one-out and two-back, with the polemarker Anvil Rollover ($12) setting a brisk pace. The opening quarters were run in 28.2sec. and 29.4sec. and Hall bided his time until he set Matai Geordie on fire with a three-wide burst about 600m from home. He sprinted brilliantly, surged to the front at the 380m mark and won by three and a half lengths from $91 outsider Tradie, with Anvil Rollover a length farther back in third place. The final quarters were run in 28.4sec. and 27.4sec. “It all worked out perfectly,” said Hall. “I had room to pull out whenever I wanted to. They put it on for him because of the speed. “He will keep working his way through the grades and, hopefully, he will measure up to the Cups next summer. Over in New Zealand he could only sprint, but we can toughen them up, working on the sand.” The six-year-old Matai Geordie has had only 16 starts for three wins from 12 outings in New Zealand and three wins from four starts in WA.   Hat-trick for transformed Always A Dreamer Always A Dreamer, a pacer who managed just one win from her first 18 starts, has developed into an outstanding square gaiter who took her record as a trotter to 12 wins and 12 placings from 38 starts when she outclassed her rivals in The Trots WA Trot over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Always A Dreamer, prepared at Waroona by Bob Mellsop, was the $1.40 favourite who gave her backers no concern by leading all the way and coasting to a 7m victory over $7 chance Dark Secret, who finished gamely for Morgan Woodley after racing on the pegs in fifth place for most of the way. This brought up a hat-trick of wins for Mellsop and driver Deni Roberts, who completed a double after her success with Aly Shar in the previous event. Always A Dreamer, bred and owned by Bob Fowler, is now certainly paying her way, with her 56 starts producing 13 wins and 17 placings for earnings of $77,913. Her victory completed a successful evening for Fowler, who scored all-the-way wins with Star Aspiration and Star of the Class for trainer Peter Anderson and reinsman Donald Harper at Albany. Then at Narrogin on Saturday night Make It Happen won for Fowler and Harper.   Classic at Lavra Joe’s mercy Outstanding colt Lavra Joe warmed up in grand style for next Friday night’s $50,000 Sales Classic for three-year-old colts and geldings with an effortless victory in the 2130m TABtouch Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. A red hot $1.10 favourite from barrier one, the powerful, muscular colt gave Chris Lewis an armchair drive, leading all the way and winning by three lengths from Talks Up A Storm ($12), with $16 third fancy Mighty Ronaldo a length farther back in third place. Lavra Joe coasted through the lead time in 38.3sec. and the opening quarters in 30.6sec. and 29.4sec. before dashing over the final 400m sections in 27.8sec. and 27sec. The son of American stallion Roll With Joe, Lavra Joe has earned $137,246 from his 13 wins and six placings from 24 starts. “The Sales Classic is a race I have been looking forward to,” said owner-trainer Ray Jones. “After that race next week I’ll look at the program for the horse. I’m looking forward to him running in the Country Derby and the WA Derby. The Murray Lindau-trained Talks Up A Storm trailed Lavra Joe all the way and ran home solidly, while Mighty Ronaldo wilted slightly in the home straight after racing in the breeze over the final 1000m.   Brookies Jet celebrates milestone Veteran pacer Brookies Jet, unplaced at his previous eight starts and with a losing sequence of 16, celebrated his 200TH start in a race when Emily Suvaljko drove the nine-year-old to an easy victory in the 2536m Retravision Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. A $7.80 chance from the No. 1 barrier, Brookies Jet led for the first 750m before $31 chance Mattjestic Star took up the running. Suvaljko eased Brookies Jet off the pegs 450m from home and the oldtimer hit the front 150m later before running away to beat Valbonne ($13) by two lengths at a 1.56.6 rate. Brookies Jet’s task was made easier after the $3.20 favourite Shadow Roll and $3.40 second fancy Mr Kiwi locked sulky wheels at the bell and dropped right out of contention. Brookies Jet’s 200 starts have resulted in 19 wins and 48 placings for stakes of $195,455. He recorded three seconds from five New Zealand starts and a further three seconds from four starts in Victoria before entering the Serpentine stables of Matt Scott, who has prepared the gelding for all his 192 WA starts for his 19 wins. “Brookies Jet had a mild suspensory problem last year and now he has had about eight runs back, following three to four months in the paddock,” said Scott. “That’s the only issue he has had. He has never had a joint injury or a foot abscess. He has been a very sound horse.” has never had  a joint injury or a foot abscess. I have had him for five years and he has been a very sound horse.” The win was the first leg of a training double for Scott, who was successful with Rock Me Over in the following event. Later in the night Scott travelled to Kojonup to watch his girlfriend Sarah Bonner ride Messiah in the Kojonup Cup on Saturday afternoon. “This was her first ride in a race for four years, and I talked her into it,” said Scott. “She rode about 50 winners, including a win with Dainty Tess in a $60,000 race at Ascot in January 2017. She still rides trackwork every morning for trainer Dan Morton.” Messiah finished third behind the Darryn Pateman-trained Messiah in the Kojonup Cup, and Scott continued his busy weekend by taking five pacers to compete at the Collie trots on Sunday afternoon where he landed a double with Here Comes Sharkie and Carramar Philemon. Here Comes Sharkie, driven by Shannon Suvaljko, impressed with his victory in a 2700m stand at his first start for Scott, who recently purchased the seven-year-old for a mere $3000. Here Comes Sharkie ended a losing sequence of 33, stretching back to his win at Swan Hill in December 2018.   Win relieves Oldroyd’s pain Veteran trainer John Oldroyd is still recovering from a nasty stable accident late last year, and he enjoyed a welcome boost when his five-year-old mare Aly Shar set the pace and won the 2130m Cowden The Insurance Brokers Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Aly Shar, fifth favourite at $7.50, was driven confidently by Deni Roberts and she won by a half-length from the fast-finishing Just Makemine Diamonds ($7), with $11 chance All The Bells, ninth on the pegs at the bell, flashing home out five wide to be a neck away in third place. Oldroyd and his wife Val bred and own Aly Shar, who was transferred to the stables of Greg and Skye Bond when Oldroyd was recovering from surgery to his damaged right eye. Aly Shar was having her second start for the Bond stable and was handled for the first time in a race by Roberts. Oldroyd was injured nine days before Christmas day when he was putting a halter on a yearling colt, who suddenly tossed his head sideways and struck the trainer a stinging blow on the side of the head. After a couple of days in pain, Oldroyd was admitted to hospital to undergo surgery to cure problems in his right eye. Aly Shar is by Alta Christiano and is the first foal out of the Village Jasper mare Shonteleeshar, who won nine races from 19 starts for Oldroyd. Aly Shar now has had 39 starts for ten wins, 11 placings and $63,288 in prizemoney.   Antero turns the corner Six-year-old gelding Antero, winner of six minor races on country tracks from his first 56 starts, has turned the corner with a vengeance and he has blossomed under the care of Gary Hall snr and his ten starts for the master trainer have produced five wins, three seconds, a fourth and a sixth placing, all at Gloucester Park, to take his career record to 11 wins, 24 placings and $109,212 in stakes. Antero, favourite at $2.30, set a solid pace and won the 2130m Direct Trades Supply Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night by a half-length from $41 chance Roman Art, who rattled home from ninth at the bell. Walsh ($7.50) trailed the pacemaker all the way and finished third. The victory completed a winning treble for star reinsman Gary Hall jnr, who was successful earlier in the night with Wildwest and Matai Geordie. “Antero has really found his rhythm and is flying,” said Hall jnr. “He had a really bad quarter crack abscess blow out of his heel about two months ago, and ever since has been going super. He always used to go a bit roughly for all his trainers, but now that problem has been cleared up. “Farrier Larry Boag has kept an eye on the problem hoof, and the horse now races with a bar shoe. He is probably going as good as he ever has and probably better than anyone thought he would go.” Antero, who is owned by Jodie Gray, is the first foal out of Adda My Way, who had 47 starts for seven wins, ten placings and $32,968. Antero’s maternal granddam Rich And Sassy had 56 starts for 13 wins, 20 placings and $77,521. Rich And Sassy’s full-brother Rich And Spoilt was a star performer before becoming a highly successful sire. Rich And Spoilt had 42 starts for 20 wins, 14 placings and stakes of $301,630. He won the Pearl for two-year-olds in March 1999, the Caduceus Club Classic and State Sires Series as a three-year-old as well as finishing second to Talladega in the WA Derby and second to Seelster Sam in the Australian Derby. Then, as a four-year-old, he finished a nose second to Seelster Sam in the Golden Nugget.   Grantham’s unique association Star young reinsman Michael Grantham continued his remarkable association with veteran pacer Dredlock Rockstar when he secured a freak inside run on the home turn and guided the 12-year-old to a surprise victory over Patrickthepiranha and One For Dave Andme in the 2130m Intersport Slater Gartrell Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.         The win at $21.70 improved Grantham’s perfect record behind Dredlock Rockstar to three drives in the gelding’s 162 starts for three victories.           Grantham secured the drive when Dredlock Rockstar’s part-owner and trainer Ash Markham decided to take eight drives at the meeting in Albany on Friday night. This was the first time Grantham had driven Dredlock Rockstar since the gelding started at $15.30 and covered extra ground before getting up to beat the pacemaker Tanaka Eagle at Gloucester Park on September 15, 2017. That was 68 starts ago. And twelve starts before that, at Gloucester Park on February 24, 2017, Grantham drove Dredlock Rockstar to an all-the-way victory over Vultan Tin. Howard Hughes, favourite at $1.14, set the pace and looked a certain winner until he broke into a fierce gallop approaching the home turn. Ryan Warwick quickly switched the galloping Howard Hughes inside the pegs, thus avoiding interference to the following runners. Patrickthepiranha ($15), who had raced in the breeze all the way, then took the lead, but he was unable to withstand the strong finishing burst of Dredlock Rockstar, who had trailed Howard Hughes throughout.     Dredlock Rockstar, who was under the care of Markham’s wife Tamara on Friday night, is certainly an evergreen performer who has raced 162 times for 22 wins, 47 placings and $276,852 in prizemoney. For the record, Markham’s eight drives in Albany on Friday night resulted in two seconds, two thirds, one fourth, two fifths and an eighth placing.   $6000 bargain boosts earnings to $163,718 The fairytale story of Rock Me Over continued at Gloucester Park on Friday night when the six-year-old charged home to win the 2536m Westral Pace. The WA-bred gelding certainly is proving one of the sport’s best bargain buys. Serpentine trainer Matt Scott and stable clients Tony Maguire and his son Ian outlaid $6000 to purchase Rock Me Over two years ago, and in 74 starts since then he has chalked up nine wins, 13 seconds and 12 thirds for earnings of $163,718. He is a younger half-brother of star pacer and 2017 WA Derby winner Handsandwheels, who has amassed $666,739 in stakes from 28 wins and 26 placings from 83 starts. Rock Me Over, a $12.70 chance, was driven in fine style by Shannon Suvaljko, who had the gelding handily placed in sixth position in the one-wide line while the polemarker and $19 chance Beach Skipper set the pace, with the $3.50 favourite Major Stare in the breeze. Major Stare eventually got his nose in front 350m from home, but he was swamped in the closing stages by Rock Me Over and Power And Grace. “People have been knocking Rock Me Over, but we just laughed,” said Scott. “He has paid a lot of bills.”   Ken Casellas

Inexperienced New Zealand-bred six-year-old Matai Geordie possesses blistering pace, according to champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr, and the Washington VC gelding looks a star bet in the APG Perth Yearling Sales Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “He has got a few little niggling ways and if he didn’t have them, I reckon he would be in the top three in our stable,” Hall said. “He’s pretty good. Where he has drawn (the inside of the back line in the 1730m sprint event) makes it a bit awkward. But if he ever gets a look at them, they’ll know he’s there. He is just lightning, and he has got the top speed of any horse I have driven, barring Quinny (Im Themightyquinn).” Matai Geordie has raced only 15 times for five wins and three placings. He won three times from 12 New Zealand starts and has had three starts in WA for two runaway victories by margins of seven and a half lengths and five lengths. One of his rivals on Friday night is the Trevor Wright-trained Cordero, who has won at three of his five starts this season. He will start from the No. 5 barrier and his reinsman Chris Lewis said he expected him to be prominent. “He is a very consistent horse, and with the right run he is definitely a chance,” Lewis said. “He didn’t have any luck at all at Bunbury last Saturday when he was held up.” Cordero started from the outside of the front line in the field of 12 in the Manea Classic last Saturday night and was an unlucky seventh behind Texas Tiger. He was hopelessly blocked for a clear run in the final circuit and went to the line full of running. Hall said he expected a bold showing from Antero, who will start from barrier two in the Direct Trades Supply Pacer over 2130m. Antero has won at four of his past nine starts and he maintained his excellent form with a fighting second to Fifty Five Reborn over 2536m last Friday night when he settled down in seventh position before dashing forward to race in the breeze for the final two laps. “Antero is flying and his latest run was a career-best performance,” Hall said. “If he leads, he won’t get beaten, and he can also win from the breeze.”   Ken Casellas

Lavra Joe and Mighty Ronaldo, early fancies for the WA Derby, should set the scene for an outstanding night of pacing at Gloucester Park on Friday night when they clash in the opening event, the 2130m TABtouch Pace. The random draw resulted in the Ray Jones-trained Lavra Joe drawing the perfect barrier at No. 1, with the Justin Prentice-trained Mighty Ronaldo out at barrier five. A bullish Chris Lewis declared that Lavra Joe would take a power of beating after his superb first-up victory off 30m in a 2503m stand at Bunbury last Saturday night when the colt raced in the breeze before careering away to win by six lengths from The Stars Above after final quarters of 28.7sec. and 27.9sec. “He has come back better than ever,” enthused Lewis. “It was a really good run and he just cruised. The plan on Friday night will be to lead.” Three nights before his Bunbury win Lavra Joe met Mighty Ronaldo in a 2100m trial at Bunbury’s Donaldson Park when Mighty Ronaldo, from barrier four, set the pace and won by 2m from Lavra Joe, who started from barrier five, raced without cover early and then was restrained to the rear. Mighty Ronaldo sprinted over the final 400m in 26.7sec. and rated 1.58.1. “His trial was super,” said Gary Hall Jnr. “He has come back (after a let-up) and he felt awesome. But you wouldn’t think that he could beat Lavra Joe, who has the advantage of a much better draw. However, it promises to be a great race. “We know that Mighty Ronaldo is a good horse who won the Golden Slipper last July. He surprised me in the trial, and he has definitely come back a better horse. He went terrific and I’m looking forward to this week’s race.” This will be Mighty Ronaldo’s first run since he started from the back line and ran on from three back on the pegs to finish third behind Lavra Joe in a 2130m event at Gloucester Park on December 18. That was Mighty Ronaldo’s first appearance since he charged home from well back to win the Golden Slipper from Give Us A Wave five months earlier. Lavra Joe started from barrier eight in the Slipper when he covered extra ground and finished eighth.   Ken Casellas

Enigmatic five-year-old Wildwest, by far the least experienced runner in the $50,000 Governor’s Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night, should make the most of the coveted No. 1 barrier and win the Group 2 feature event at his second outing after a five-month absence. “The way he is working and the motor he’s got, he should just lead and win,” said champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr. Wildwest reappeared after a spell last Friday night when he finished an eye-catching fourth behind The Bird Dance in a 2536m Free-For-All. With Talktomeurmattjesty setting a brisk pace, Wildwest, from the No. 6 barrier, raced in sixth position in the Indian file affair and was blocked for a clear run in the home straight. Hall had the opportunity to ease Wildwest off the pegs in the back straight after Our Jimmy Johnstone moved into the one-wide line 600m from home. He defended his decision by saying that he felt Wildwest would have finished in the same position had he opted to travel wide over the final 500m. “To my way of thinking Wildwest looked like he was running out of room only late,” Hall explained. “If you transfer a pegs run to going four wide, I reckon he would have still finished in the same spot, considering the extra amount of ground he would have had to make up. “This week he has got the draw and will be hard to beat. He is still not quite tractable but is getting better. He got around good enough at his latest start.” Wildwest is prepared by champion trainer Gary Hall Snr, who won the Governor’s Cup with Chicago Bull in 2018. Hall Jnr has won the event twice, scoring with Chicago Bull and the Justin Prentice-trained Rocknroll Lincoln in 2019.   In what looks an even field, Wildwest, the winner at nine of his 14 starts, is expected to receive the stiffest opposition from Mirragon, Vultan Tin, Major Times and Cyclone Banner. Four-year-old Mirragon, the youngest runner in the field of 12, produced an excellent run when fourth behind Minstrel and Magnificent Storm in the Golden Nugget last Friday night. He was shuffled back to tenth at the bell before finishing strongly, covering the final 800m in 55.5sec. “Mirragon is a nice horse and I think he can figure in the finish in this week’s race,” said Lewis who won the 2010 Governor’s Cup with the Tony Svilicich-trained Has The Answers. Vultan Tin, lining up for his 173rd start, cannot be underestimated. Since finishing powerfully to win the 2936m WA Pacing Cup from Chicago Bull early in December, he has competed in fine style, with his past two runs resulting in seconds to Galactic Star over 2636m and Bletchley Park over 1730m. The hardy nine-year-old to be driven by Emily Suvaljko, will start from the outside of the back line in this week’s 2130m event and should be storming home. Major Times, a six-year-old former Victorian performer, will be making his West Australian debut for trainer Ross Olivieri. The stallion, who boasts an excellent record of 48 starts for 18 wins and 20 placings, will start from barrier No. 2 on the back line. Major Times, to be driven by last season’s leading reinsman Chris Voak, warmed up for this week’s assignment in fine style by setting the pace and winning a 2150m Byford trial on Sunday morning from Bettor Party at a 1.58 rate. The final quarters were run in 29sec. and 27.2sec. Olivieri will be looking for his second success in the Governor’s Cup after winning with Chief Thundercloud in 2016. Leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, who won the 2017 Governor’s Cup with Our Jimmy Johnstone, will be pinning their faith on that evergreen 12-year-old and Wainui Creek, the only mare in the event. Our Jimmy Johnstone (Deni Roberts) will start from the No. 4 barrier, while Wainui Creek (Ryan Warwick) will start from the inside of the back line.  Aiden de Campo, who won last year’s Governor’s Cup with the fast-finishing $9 chance Handsandwheels, has been engaged by trainer Nathan Turvey to handle the up-and-coming five-year-old Miracle Moose, who has been exciting the fans with his powerful finishing bursts in recent weeks. Miracle Moose, who faces a steep rise in class, is favourably drawn at barrier No. 2.   Ken Casellas

A dazzling track workout on Tuesday morning has left owner-trainer Shane Quadrio and his son Dylan bubbling with confidence that the filly has the brilliance to win the $50,000 Daintys Daughter Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “Dylan was over the moon with her work,” said Shane Quadrio. “He said that she worked as good as she ever has.” Black Jack Baby, the winner at nine of her 15 starts, is awkwardly drawn at barrier No. 7. But she is essentially a sit-sprinter and Chris Voak is most unlikely to get involved in early speed battles and is sure to be relying on her outstanding sprinting qualities. She started from the outside in a field of eight last Friday night and was sixth in the one-wide line at the bell before she unleashed a sparkling four-wide burst with just over 300m to travel to take a narrow lead on the home turn before finishing a neck second to Always An Angel, who raced in the one-out, one-back position for much of the way before finishing strongly. “With her speed Black Jack Baby will always be in the race,” said Quadrio Snr. “Her latest run was superb, and if you check her times, her sectionals were sensational. She has pulled up in fantastic shape.” Black Jack Baby was timed to run her final 800m in 54.37sec. and her last 400m in 26.73sec. Always An Angel fared better in the random draw and will start from the No. 3 barrier as she seeks to extend her winning sequence to seven. Her performance last Friday night, at her first appearance for 38 weeks was impressive. She will again be driven by Gary Hall Jnr, who said: “Rumour Has It, from barrier one, obviously wants to lead. I’m two draws away from being very happy, but I’m happy where we are. American Arma looks well above average and Black Jack Baby is going super.” The New Zealand-bred Always An Angel is prepared at Boyanup by Justin Prentice, who is hoping for a change of fortune in the Daintys Daughter Classic after seconds with Racketeers Girl (2011), The Parade (2014) and Quite A Delight (2015) and a ninth placing with 5/4 favourite Lady Luca in 2017. Chris Lewis gives Rumour Has It (bred, owned and trained by his wife Debra) a good chance. He advises punters to disregard the filly’s wilting sixth behind Black Jack Baby three weeks ago when she revealed good gate speed from barrier four before working hard in the breeze. Rumour Has It has plenty of ability and her 11 starts have produced five wins and four second placings. “We will hold up from barrier one,” declared Lewis. “She just had a night off at her latest run. All horses are entitled to have a night off. She’s fairly tough and can lead as well as race without cover.” Lewis and Colin Brown are the most successful drivers in the Daintys Daughter Classic, with each having won the race three times. Lewis has been successful with Five Hundred More (2005), Sheer Royalty (2009) and Double Expresso (2020) and Brown has won with Centrefold Angel (2010), Gota Good Lookadda (2-13) and Typhoon Tiff (2019). Brown has two runners from his Banjup stables engaged in this week’s classic Joelene (a half-sister to Typhoon Tiff who set the pace and won by two lengths from Arma Indie in this event two years ago) and American Arma. Brown will handle American Arma, who will start from the outside of the back line, and Dylan Egerton-Green will drive Joelene from barrier two on the back line. American Arma has had only six starts for five wins and a second to smart colt Sugar Street, and Brown is confident of a strong first-up showing from the filly who will be having her first start for eight weeks. American Arma last appeared on December 24 when she started from barrier seven, settled in sixth position, dashed forward to the breeze at the 1200m and went on to win from the pacemaker Rumour Has It, when the last 800m was covered in 57sec. “After that run American Arma had ten days off, followed by ten days swimming in our dam before she was worked up and was ready to race in the Daintys Daughter Classic two weeks ago,” Brown said. “But the meeting was abandoned. She was very fit then and since then she jogs and swims every day and is hoppled for fast work.” Brown is confident of a strong performance from American Arma and said that Joelene was far from impossible. “American Arma is a better-class filly, but if she has to do too much work Joelene is capable of surprising,” he said. “Joelene will improve on her third behind Always An Angel and Black Jack Baby last week when she led from barrier one. “Burning early is not her caper, and this week from her back-line draw she will get a great sit, and I don’t care how fast they go, she will be hitting the line strongly, providing she doesn’t do any work.”   Ken Casellas

Inexperienced West Australian-bred five-year-old Papinik looks set to notch his eighth consecutive victory when he starts from the coveted No. 1 barrier in the 2130m Retravision, For All the Electrical Stuff You Love Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He resumed in style after a nine-month absence when he started from 10m and won by five lengths in a 2116m stand at Pinjarra three Mondays ago. He finished powerfully from sixth at the bell and sprinted over the final 400m in 27.4sec. That was his eighth win from ten starts. “He hasn’t started for three weeks, but he’s fine,” said confident trainer Ross Olivieri. “He is capable of leading and winning on Friday night. “He has had a nice bit of time off to recover from surgery when he had bone chips removed from a knee.” Chris Voak, WA’s leading driver last season, shares Olivieri’s confidence, saying: “He should lead and win.” Olivieri and Voak are also bullish about the prospects of Thats Perfect in the Pace and Carrera Mach in the Retravision, Your Fujitsu Air Conditioning Specialist Pace. Thats Perfect rated a sparkling 1.52.1 in winning a heat of the 1730m Nights Of Thunder two starts ago before he raced in the breeze before wilting to sixth behind Queen Shenandoah in the final three Fridays ago. “Her showed no ill-effects from his hard run in the final,” said Olivieri. “I gave him a week off after that. I swum him every day and put him in the paddock each day and by the end of the week he was on his back legs, rearing and carrying on.” Voak is looking forward to Thats Perfect returning to the winning list. “He will go better than he did at his last start when I flattened him,” he said. “He should set the pace and win.” Carrera Mach will be strongly fancied when he starts from barrier two in his 2130m event. He set the pace and was kept under pressure by Diego in the breeze for much of the way when he fought on grandly and was beaten by a head by Our Rhythm N Blues over 2130m last Friday week. “He should lead and go really well,” said Voak. “I chose to drive him ahead of Roman Art (barrier six) because of the better barrier.” Roman Art, a winner at 11 of his 24 starts for Coolup trainer Vic Bryers, will be handled by Colin Brown at his first appearance since Voak drove him to an all-the-way victory over Gran Chico over 2130m on December 4. Voak also has high hopes of ending the ten-event program on a high note by winning the Retravision, Think Smart, Shop Safe Pace with the brilliant three-year-old filly Black Jack Baby, who will start from the outside barrier in a field of eight. Black Jack Baby, prepared by Shane Quadrio, charged home from the rear when a brilliant winner over Royal Essence last Friday week. “She was incredible at her latest start when she ran home in 55.1sec.,” said an admiring Voak. Black Jack Baby, a winner at nine of her 14 starts, will clash with the highly talented Always An Angel, who will be having her first start since winning the group 1 Diamond Classic late last May. Always An Angel, trained by Justin Prentice, will be handled by her regular driver Gary Hall Jnr. She has won at her past five starts after finishing third on debut, and she is poised for a powerful first-up effort.   Ken Casellas

Brilliant but enigmatic pacer Wildwest will reappear after a five-month absence when he contests the $25,000 RAC Members Save 5% Every Day at Retravision Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The lightly-raced New Zealand-bred five-year-old has raced first-up four times in his brief career for four wins and he has excellent prospects of maintaining this outstanding record. Prepared by Gary Hall Snr and to be driven by Gary Hall Jnr, Wildwest is awkwardly drawn at barrier six in the 2536m Free-For-All. He has revealed a splendid turn of foot in winning two 2150m trials at Byford last month. “The first trial was all right, but in the second trial he did a few things wrong,” said Hall Jnr. “This is a pretty good race for him, first-up, and over 2536m I’d say that we’ll drive him with a sit. “Hopefully, the pace will be on and we can pounce on them late. Hopefully, we can drive him for his speed, which is his asset. I think he has the ability to win.” Wildwest, a winner at his only New Zealand start, a 2400m stand at Winton in May 2019, has experienced tractability problems, including negotiating his way around the 804m Gloucester Park track. However, there is no doubting his wonderful potential. Ravenswood trainer Nathan Turvey has brought Simba Bay back from a spell in fine fettle and the New Zealand-bred seven-year-old impressed at his most recent outing when he finished strongly from seventh at the bell to be second to Im Full Of Excuses over 2536m last Friday week. Simba Bay, to be driven by Chris Lewis (fresh from a treble at Gloucester Park on Tuesday evening), looks the early leader. But he is quite likely to surrender the lead to the speedy, freewheeling Talktomeurmattjesty. Talktomeurmattjesty dashed to the front after 500m and set a fast pace before fading badly to finish a distant last behind Im Full Of Excuses last Friday week. The Bird Dance, a lightly-raced New Zealand-bred five-year-old in the stables of Greg and Skye Bond, will be reappearing after a three-month absence and is capable of a bold showing from his favourable draw at barrier two. He has won first-up three times in his 28-start career of 16 wins and two placings. The Bond stable will also be represented by evergreen 12-year-old Our Jimmy Johnstone, who will be handled by Deni Roberts from barrier No. 4. Our Jimmy Johnstone has finished strongly at his past three outings for a third behind Talktomeurmattjesty, a neck second to Chicago Bull and a fourth to Im Full Of Excuses.   Ken Casellas

Champion reinsman Chris Lewis holds the record of four winners in the 40-year history of the prestigious Retravision Golden Nugget Championship and he is upbeat about his prospects in the $200,000 Group 1 classic for four-year-olds at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Lewis will drive former Victorian performer Mirragon, who will be making his first appearance at Gloucester Park after scoring an impressive victory in moderate company at his West Australian debut at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon. Mirragon, trained by Lewis’s wife Debra, has drawn favourably at the No. 2 barrier on the front line in the 2536m event and the phlegmatic master reinsman, noted for his conservative predictions, gave a strong indication of his confidence when he declared that Mirragon was capable of a bold showing. “He has gone around at Pinjarra pretty nicely and he could definitely measure up,” he said. “It’s nice to get a decent barrier, particularly with the favourite (Magnificent Storm) drawn nine. Whether that will stop him remains to be seen; he’s a very good horse.” Lewis did not bustle Mirragon from barrier five at Pinjarra and the son of Art Major settled down in last place in the field of eleven. He was tenth at the bell, seven length from the leader, before starting a three-wide move at the 800m, bursting to the front with 400m to travel and going on to win by more than four lengths at a 1.56.5 rate over 2185m. He sprinted over the final 800m in 56.8sec. This was Mirragon’s first start since he finished seventh behind Pacifico Dream in the group 1 Vicbred Sires Series classic for three-year-old colts and geldings at Melton on December 31. He gave an early indication of his class for trainer Emma Stewart when, at his fourth outing, he scored an easy victory over Withoutthetuh in the group 2 Vicbred Classic for two-year-old colts and geldings over 1720m at a 1.57 rate at Melton in May 2019. Four starts after that Mirragon raced in the breeze before finishing second to Yejele Hammer in the 2240m group 1 Vicbred Super Series at Melton. He has raced 34 times for eight wins, seven seconds and three thirds. “I didn’t attempt to use his gate speed at Pinjarra,” Lewis explained. “He has shown gate speed over east, and we will have options at the start on Friday night. He has been at our place for about six weeks and had a little time off after travelling by float from Victoria. He is a very relaxed little stallion.” Mirragon has led and won at Melton, but most of his wins have been when he has produced a strong finishing burst. For the record, Lewis has won the Golden Nugget with Vero Prince (1987), Flashing Star (1994), Saab (1998) and Dasher VC (2010). Astute Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed will be seeking his third training Nugget success, and he will be looking for an all-the-way win with Power And Grace, who will be driven by Michael Grantham from the prized No. 1 barrier. Power And Grace, the winner of nine races, impressed two starts ago when he trailed the pacemaker Al Guerrero before finishing solidly to be second to Magnificent Storm in the 2130m Four-Year-Old Championship. Reed has won the Nugget with the pacemaker Tricky Vic in 2002 and Libertybelle Midfrew, who started from barrier nine, raced in the one-out, one-back position, took the lead 475m from home and defeated the fast-finishing Waylade in 2014. Despite drawing the outside barrier (No. 9), Magnificent Storm is sure to take a power of beating and extending his winning sequence to 13. Reinsman Aldo Cortopassi was philosophical when he learnt that the rising superstar had drawn the outside, saying: “It’s what it is. Someone had to draw there and unfortunately, it’s us. “There’s a lot of speed to our inside, so there may be a spot for us to fall into early. We’ve got a fair few strings to our bow, so it’s not that we’re a one-trick pony. “We’ll come out and find a spot, and if they’re walking, we will be off early. And if they’re running, we will have to come late. It’s going to be up to the leaders; if they want to go slow, I’ll be right up there beside them. If they are rolling, they are going to make me chase them. “I’m looking forward to Friday, and this will be another test for Magnificent Storm. Winning the Nugget is on the bucket list, and we’ll see if we can tick it off this week. My only realistic chance of winning the Nugget was in 2008 when Total Defiance started from the inside of the back line. But the one horse (Can Return Fire) galloped on release and put us out of the race. Hopefully, we will have better luck this week.” Rob Tomlinson, the major part-owner of Magnificent Storm, and the pacer’s trainer Ray Williams are particularly anxious to win the big race for the first time after they had celebrated prematurely in December 2005 when 2/1 favourite Precious Dylan set the pace from barrier two and turned for home with a big lead. Precious Dylan was owned by Tomlinson and trained and driven by Williams’s son Grant. “For about five seconds I thought we had won in 2005 when Grant waved the whip,” Tomlinson said. “But Gee Whiz Fizz (driven by Ryan Warwick) flew down the extreme outside and got us to win by a nose. “Only good horses win Nuggets, and hopefully Magnificent Storm can win.” Ray Williams said that he was hoping that Magnificent Storm could maintain his winning form and help to erase the disappointment of 2005. “The Nugget is a race which means a lot to us, to the family and to Robbie’s family,” he said. “We thought we had won with Precious Dylan, but he hadn’t. We celebrated when he was a couple of lengths clear of the rest of the field and when it was announced that there would be a photo we didn’t realise that Ryan had come down the outside with Gee Whiz Fizz. “I don’t think that Grant was able to talk about the race for about three years.” Warwick will be seeking his third Nugget victory after scoring with Gee Whiz Fizz and the Greg and Skye Bond-trained Ana Malak in 2018. He will handle the brilliant Patronus Star, the winner at 11 of his 20 starts who will begin from the No. 6 barrier.  His nine wins from his past 13 starts include the 2019 WA Derby. Patronus Star hasn’t enjoyed much luck in recent starts and is capable of a bold showing. He is one of four runners from the powerful Bond stable, the other being See Ya Write (Deni Roberts), Howard Hughes (Dylan Egerton-Green) and Minstrel (Colin Brown). Champion trainer Gary Hall Snr drove the Des Parr-trained Valley Champ to victory in the 1993 Nugget and prepared The Gold Ace (2011) and Beaudiene Boaz (2015). He will be represented by Silent Major (outside of the back line) and Copy N Pace (inside of the back line). Copy N Pace will be driven by Stuart McDonald and should enjoy an ideal passage behind the likely pacemaker Power And Grace. Gary Hall Jnr will drive the New Zealand-bred and former Victorian performer Silent Major, who made a god WA debut when he enjoyed the one-out, one-back trail before finishing strongly to win comfortably from Our Burling and Millwood Gucci over 2185m at Pinjarra four Mondays ago. “He hasn’t had the ideal preparation since coming over by road from Victoria,” said Hall. “We haven’t had him for long, but he did a pretty good job at Pinjarra under the circumstances. And he has improved since that run. “I’m happy with the draw. He probably hasn’t had the racing to use him out of the gate, and he hasn’t got great gate speed anyway. It should be a truly-run 2500m and that will suit Silent Major. It’s a hard race to line them all up and I’m hoping he can finish in the top five.”   Ken Casellas

Sheez Our Hope’s perfect record Inexperienced mare Sheez Our Hope continued her rise to prominence when she outclassed her rivals in the $10,000 Dave And Barb Pace at Northam on Saturday night.  The five-year-old has yet to taste defeat --- winning at each of her four appearances in trials last year and winning at her first three race starts. Starting favourite at $1.50 from the No. 1 barrier in Saturday night’s 2190m event the daughter of Alta Christiano was driven confidently by Kyle Harper for part-owner and trainer Michael Cornwall. She was smartest to begin and was able to dawdle through the opening quarter of the final mile in 33sec. before coasting through the next three sections in 30.6sec., 28.3sec. and 29.5sec. She was kept honest for most of the journey by the $3.90 second fancy Livy Jay, who raced keenly in the breeze before fading to finish seventh. Sheez Our Hope went to the line full of running, beating Run For Mercy by almost four lengths at a 2.2.6 rate on the rain-affected track. Phar From Kalahari ran on from seventh at the bell to be third, just ahead of Jill Mach. The win gave Harper the second leg of a double before the final six events on the program were abandoned due to the heavy track and inclement weather. Harper had won the opening event with Firstjoy. Sheez Our Hope has inherited much of the ability of her dam Easton Swift, who earned $123,391 from 52 starts that produced 13 wins and 12 placings. A winner at one of her five starts in New Zealand, Easton Swift was purchased by West Australian trainer-reinsman Aldo Cortopassi, who drove her to victory at her Australian debut, at Northam in October 2010. Her first 11 starts for Cortopassi produced seven wins, three seconds and a third. She was retired after winning at her final start, at Gloucester Park in February 2013.   Texas Tara bred to be a star New Zealand-bred four-year-old Texas Tara notched his third win from seven starts when he gave a strong staying performance to beat Libba Racy and Sono Abruzzese in the 2190m Helen Grafton Pace at Northam on Saturday night. Favourite at $1.30 from barrier two, Texas Tara was beaten for early speed by Libba Racy and Salingo Bay, who dashed to an early lead and set the pace, with Isaac Edwards content to allow Texas Tara plenty of time to settle and then rate him in the breeze. Texas Tara got to the front about 250m from home and went on to win by just under a length. A gelding by American stallion Hes Watching, Texas Tara is certainly bred to be a good winner. He is the second foal out of unraced Bettors Delight mare Tara Delight, whose first foal Tango Tara has had 28 starts in New Zealand for six wins, eight seconds and three thirds for stakes of $87,975. Tara Delight is a half-sister to brilliant pacers Power Of Tara (102 starts for 22 wins, 24 placings and $747,248) and A G’s White Socks (58 starts for 12 wins and 23 placings for $528,037). A G’s White Socks victories include the group 1 Easter Cup, a 3200m stand at Addington in March 2018, and the group 1 1700m Taylor Mile at Alexandra Park in April 2018. A G’s White Socks was also successful at her Australian debut when he set the pace and beat Self Assured and Chase Auckland in the group 1 2700m Ballarat Cup in January 2020.   It’s all the way for Firstjoy Kyle Harper celebrated his first drive behind seven-year-old mare Firstjoy by guiding her to an all-the-way victory in the opening event, the 2190m Wally Grafton Memorial, at Northam on Saturday night. Harper became the 19TH driver to handle the New Zealand-bred Firstjoy --- at her 61ST start, with her win taking her record to six wins and ten placings. Firstjoy, trained by Russell Matthews, was a $5 chance and Harper took full advantage of the No. 1 barrier by dictating the tempo of the race out in front with final sectionals of 31.7sec., 30.2sec., 29.3sec. and 29.4sec. Firstjoy, who ended a losing sequence of nine, rated 1.59.9 and won by a half-length from Flynscotsman ($4.20) and The Party Boy ($12). Benesari Lane, the $2.35 favourite, worked hard in the breeze before wilting to finish fifth. Firstjoy, by Bettors Delight, had 11 starts in New Zealand for one win --- at her final appearance there, at Timaru on May 13, 2018.   Ken Casellas

Magnificent Storm reigns supreme Rising superstar Magnificent Storm smashed the race record when he romped to victory in the $125,000 Simmonds Steel Four-Year-Old Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night and he is poised to extend his winning sequence to 13 when he contests the $200,000 Retravision Golden Nugget Championship next Friday week. The comparatively inexperienced New Zealand-bred gelding treated his rivals with contempt as he stormed to victory by four and a half lengths from Minstrel, rating 1.53 for the 2130m and eclipsing the race record of 1.53.6 set by Sangue Reale when he won on protest from Shockwave in November 2019. He is showing all the signs of developing into a champion pacer, along similar lines to many of the star performers who have won the Four-Year-Old Championship which was first run in 1977. The list of champions who have won this event is mind boggling. It includes San Simeon, Classic Garry, Village Kid, Whitbys Miss Penny. Salinger, Saab, The Falcon Strike, Lombo La Fe Fe, Lombo Pocket Watch, Im Themightyquinn, Beaudiene Boaz, Chicago Bull and Ultimate Machete. Trainer Ray Williams admitted that he was nervous before Magnificent Storm’s biggest test on Friday night, but said: “He’s a horse who really doesn’t make you feel nervous. He is so calm and laid-back. “He will have Saturday and Sunday off, as usual, before some light work on Monday --- and then we’ll head towards getting ready for the Golden Nugget. He will be my first Nugget contender.” Magnificent Storm, favourite at $1.80 from the No. 2 barrier one the back line, began speedily and settled down in sixth position, with the polemarker Longreach Bay setting the pace, with the lead time a sparkling 34.3sec. Patronus Star, the WA Derby winner last April and second fancy at $5.50, raced four wide early from barrier six and moved to third after 450m before he clipped a wheel of Henrik Larsson’s sulky and broke into a gallop, losing three lengths. Magnificent Storm was racing on the inside of Patronus Star at the time and did not turn a hair when his rival was galloping. Magnificent Storm was then left in the breeze and Aldo Cortopassi urged him forward to burst to the front 700m after the start. Minstrel, the $6.50 third favourite and a stablemate of Patronus Star, then was left in the breeze, and despite a flat sulky tyre, he fought on determinedly to finish second, with Longreach Bay ($31) finishing a most creditable third, ahead of Al Guerrero, Howard Hughes and Patronus Star. Magnificent Storm now has had 13 starts for 12 consecutive wins and earnings of $164,934. Williams said that he and Cortopassi had no specific plans leading into Friday night’s race. “Aldo has been around for a long time,” said Williams. “He knows what to do, and I’m not the one to tell drivers how to drive a horse.” Williams said that Magnificent Storm would not travel to Sydney for the rich Chariots of Fire at Menangle next month. “After the Nugget he will go for a break,” he said. “He will have a god spell before coming back and getting ready for the summer carnival. If he’s that good, he’ll go to Melbourne for some feature events next year.”   Gardys Legacy earns a Nugget start Smart WA-bred gelding Gardys Legacy earned a start in the $200,000 Retravision Golden Nugget Championship next Friday week with an impressive all-the-way victory in the Simmonds Steel Architectural Steel Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Favourite at $1.20, Gardys Legacy, driven confidently by Gary Hall jnr, sped over the final quarters in 28.2sec. and 27.8sec. to score by 5m from $9 second fancy See Ya Write, who fought on doggedly after racing wide early and then without cover.  This was Gardys Legacy’s ninth win from 20 starts and boosted his earnings to $106,516. It was his first appearance for 36 days --- since he led and finished fourth behind Magnificent Storm in a 2130m event on December 24 when the winner rated 1.54 after final quarters of 27.8sec., 28sec., 28.2sec. and 29.7sec. in a race run in searing heat at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. “I didn’t nominate Gardys Legacy for tonight’s Four-Year-Old Championship,” said trainer Justin Prentice. “He didn’t recover from that race in the heat. So, he has had a bit of a freshen up and has taken a bit longer to get back. “He was coming off a let-up and I didn’t want to give him a gut buster against the good four-year-olds. I now want to run him in the Nugget, for sure. I think he has earned a start. He set the pace when fourth to Magnificent Storm at his previous start, and he also finished second to Magnificent Storm in early June when he ran the final 800m in 55sec. “Tonight, he did just what he has to do when he is in front.”        Im Full Of Excuses set for Pinjarra Cup Cups specialist Im Full Of Excuses will be set for the Pinjarra Cup on March 1 after he returned to form with a stirring victory in the 2536m Simmonds Steel Decorative Screens Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Th sprightly New Zealand-bred nine-year-old, sixth fancy at $8.10, was seventh in the middle stages and fifth in the one-wide line at the bell before he sprinted to take the lead with 250m to travel on his way to a one and a half length victory over Simba Bromac. He rated 1.55.5 in an up-tempo event with the final three 400m sections whizzing by in 28.5sec., 28.4sec. and 28sec. Talktomeurmattjesty ($5.50) dashed to the front after 500m before wilting in the final stages to finish last in the field of nine. Simba Bromac looks a coming winner after his strong effort to finish solidly from seventh at the bell. Im Full Of Excuses, who ended a losing sequence of nine, has won six country up events --- the Kalgoorlie, York and Northam Cups in 2016, the Pinjarra Cup and Harvey Cup in 2017 and the Narrogin Cup in 2020. He also finished second in the 2017 Narrogin Cup, third in the 2019 Narrogin Cup and second to Vampiro in the 2020 Pinjarra Cup. He was a dominant winner of the 2017 Pinjarra Cup when he beat Our Jimmy Johnstone by five lengths. “He doesn’t know he’s old,” said trainer Ross Olivieri. “His previous run (when third to Chicago Bull and Our Jimmy Johnstone) indicated that he was getting back to form. Judged by his heart rate tonight, he’s got further improvement. “The plan with him is to race him with his runs a fortnight apart, and that’s when he does his best.” If the Governor’s Cup at Gloucester Park on February 19 fits in with Olivieri’s scheduled for the pacer, he will contest that $50,000 event before running in the Pinjarra Cup. Im Full Of Excuses, owned by Merv Butterworth, won seven times in New Zealand before his 74 starts in WA for Olivieri produced 15 wins and 13 placings to boost his earnings to $368,419.   Black Jack Baby tunes up for classic Speedy filly Black Jack Baby overcame a wide barrier (No. 7) to score an effortless victory in the 2130m Etch Coating Industrial Spray Painting Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. It was an excellent trial for the $50,000 Daintys Daughter Classic for three-year-old fillies next Friday night.        Black Jack Baby, having her fourth start after a spell for breeder-owner-trainer Shane Quadrio, was driven with supreme confidence by Chris Voak. She rated 1.57.5 after sparkling final quarters of 28.5sec. and 27.4sec. She raced three wide early, but when she was unable to slot into the one-wide line, Voak had no hesitation in restraining her back to the rear while the polemarker and $2.20 favourite Royal Essence was setting a solid pace from $2.80 second fancy Rumour Has It (breeze), $9 chance Joelene (behind the leader) and $21 chance Simply Shaz in the one-out, one-back position. Black Jack Baby was eighth in the field of nine 450m from home before she sprouted wings and won by three and a half lengths from Royal Essence, with Joelene third and Simply Shaz in fourth place. “At Pinjarra at her previous start she ran home in 54.4sec. when second to Savvy Bromac,” said Voak. “How many three-year-old fillies can run that time, and she did it three and four wide. She has run 55.2sec. tonight and I think she will improve. She has the speed to get herself out of a jam and is getting fitter with racing.” Quadrio has moved from his Henley Brook training establishment to stables in Byford recently purchased by his son Dylan. This was Shane Quadrio’s first winner from the new stables. Black Jack Baby, a winner at eight of her 11 starts as a two-year-old, now has earned $122,926 from nine wins and two seconds from 14 starts. “She suffered a bit of a virus and we treated her and have been bringing her back slowly,” said her trainer. “She put in a mighty run at Pinjarra last week. We intended to sit her back tonight and let her sprint home. She should be pretty well spot on for next week’s classic.”   A winning combination Deni Roberts maintained her perfect record in the sulky behind Divinia Bellezza when she brought the New Zealand-bred mare home with a strong last-to-first burst to record an easy victory over Queen Shenandoah and Sheza Bromac in the 2130m Etch Coatings Mobile Sandblasting Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Roberts has now driven Divinia Bellezza three times for leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond for three wins --- at odds of $25.60 on Friday night after previous wins at $34 and $9. Divinia Bellezza started from the outside in the field of six in which her stablemate Wainui Creek was the $1.50 favourite from the No. 2 barrier. Wainui Creek began speedily but was unable to cross the polemarker and $2.65 second favourite Queen Shenandoah, who went on to set a reasonably modest pace, with Wainui Creek in the breeze. Divinia Bellezza was still last 300m from home when Roberts sent her forward, three wide. The mare switched four wide on the home turn and flew out four wide to win by a length and a half from Queen Shenandoah, with Wainui Creek fading to fifth. Divinia Bellezza, a winner of five races in New Zealand, has had 16 starts for the Bond stable for four wins and five placings. This was her second win in the space of four days --- following her last-stride victory over the $1.50 favourite and pacemaker Our Mista Kalle over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Tuesday afternoon after she had worked hard in the breeze.   First-up win for Our Rhythm N Blues Our Rhythm N Blues, described by trainer Gary Hall snr as “a bit of a non-trier,” made a successful return to racing when he unwound a powerful late burst to snatch a last-stride victory in the 2130m Simmonds Steel Balustrade And Handrails Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Racing first-up after an absence of five months, the New Zealand-bred seven-year-old was a $10.60 chance from the inside of the back line. Stuart McDonald was content to trail the pacemaker and $2 favourite Carrera Mach before getting Our Rhythm N Blues off the pegs approaching the home turn. Carrera Mach had then shrugged off a spirited challenge from the breeze horse Diego, but he was unable to hold out the fast-finishing Our Rhythm N Blues, who was making his first appearance since he dead-heated for first with Our Perkins at Gloucester Park last August. A winner of five races in New Zealand, Our Rhythm N Blues has now won at seven of his 39 WA starts for a career record of 77 starts for 12 wins, 27 placings and $160,547 in stakes. “He is not a bad horse but is a bit of a non-trier,” said Hall. “However, he has been working well and I thought he was a good winning chance.”   De Campo seizes his opportunity Star Capel reinsman Aiden de Campo made the most of a chance drive when he guided $39.70 outsider Caruba to victory in the 2130m Simmonds Steel Precision Laser Cutting Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. De Campo was offered the drive after Caruba’s trainer Peter Tilbrook decided to drive at the Northam meeting and regular reinsman Shannon Suvaljko opted to handle the polemarker Mattjestic Star, the $3.20 favourite. Suvaljko drove Caruba, the $1.30 favourite, to an easy all-the-way victory over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Tuesday afternoon, but punters overlooked the mare’s claims four nights later when she started from the No. 3 barrier in stronger company. De Campo, who had driven Caruba only once before, 24 starts ago when she finished a well-beaten third behind McArdles Gem at Gloucester Park last August, settled Caruba in the one-out, three-back position while Mattjestic Star was setting a fast pace. Caruba, a noted frontrunner who had set the pace at ten of her 12 wins before Friday night’s event, revealed a different side of her normal racing pattern when she finished with a spirited burst to hit the front 25m from the post before winning in good style from Twentynine Twelve and Mattjestic Star. By Caribbean Blaster, Caruba is the sixth (and last) foal out of the Safely kept mare Spirit Away, who raced 64 times for nine wins, 19 placings and $71,250 in stakes. Caruba is related to Magic Flute, winner of the Easter Cup at Gloucester Park in 1957 and 1958, the South Australian pacer Modulation, who was unplaced in the final of the Interdominion championship in Perth in 1957, and Bellagena and Papagena, quality mares in Perth in the 1960s.   Antero exceeds expectations Champion trainer Gary Hall snr is pleasantly surprised at the wonderful form of Antero since the Auckland Reactor six-year-old entered his stables a few months ago. Antero rated 1.55.2 when he set the pace and won easily from Bettor Be Oscar in the 2130m Simmonds Steel Fencing And Gates Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Favourite at $1.30 from barrier one, Antero zipped over the final 400m sections in 28.2sec. and 27.5sec. to take his record for Hall (the fifth person to train the gelding) to four wins and two seconds from eight starts. He now boasts a record of 64 starts for ten wins, 23 placings and $94,546 in stakes. “I took over the training as a favour and now Antero has exceeded expectations,” said Hall. Antero, owned by Jodie Gray, is out of Adda My Way, who earned $32,968 from seven wins and ten placings from 47 starts. Adda My Way is related to former top-flight pacer Rich And Spoilt, who had 42 starts for 20 wins and 14 placings. Rich And Spoilt, a successful stallion, won the Pearl Classic in March 1999, was second to Talladega in the WA Derby in April 2000, second to Seelster Sam in the Australian Derby at Gloucester Park and a nose second to Seelster Sam in the Golden Nugget in December 2000.   Miracle Moose excites with flying finishes Miracle Moose, a cheap purchase from New Zealand where he won at two of his 15 starts, is providing great enjoyment for his band of 13 owners. Trained at Ravenswood by Nathan Turvey and driven by Emily Suvaljko, Miracle Moose is an excitement machine who delights his owners and his fans with his dazzling finishing bursts. He started from the outside in a field of seven in the 2130m Etch Coatings Sandblasting Specialists Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night and was still in last place 500m from home. He was then following Walsh’s three-wide burst before being switched four wide at the 300m and taking the lead on the home turn and winning by just over two lengths from Major Stare, who fought on gamely after racing in the breeze outside the pacemaker Ideal Investment. This followed his fast-finishing, last to second behind Babyface Adda the previous Friday night. Miracle Moose, a five-year-old by Mach Three, has now had 20 starts in Western Australia for eight wins and eight placings. He is out of the Bettors Delight mare Minnie Moose, who had 55 starts for eight wins, 21 placings and $140,958 in prizemoney. Minnie Moose also produced Funatthebeach, who earned $156,995 from 12 wins and ten placings from 44 starts.   Kiwi Bloke is a stand specialist New Zealand-bred seven-year-old Kiwi Bloke made an excellent return to racing when he began brilliantly, set a fast pace and scored an easy victory in the Etch Coatings Professional Powder Coating Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He was produced in splendid condition by trainer Ross Olivieri for his first start for 18 weeks and was second favourite at $4.50, behind his stablemate Run For Mercy, a $2.70 chance from the inside barrier off the front in the 2503m standing-start event. Chris Lewis got Kiwi Bloke away like a flash from barrier four and the Courage Under Fire gelding peeled off final quarters of 29.7sec., 28.9sec., 28.7sec. and 28.2sec. to win by two lengths from $10 chance Manoftthepeople, who trailed the pacemaker throughout. “Standing starts are his go,” said Olivieri. “Tonight, he ran terrific sections, and I’ll keep his runs spaced and concentrate on stands.” Kiwi Bloke, who had 22 starts in New Zealand for two wins --- in stands over 2600m and 2700m --- has raced 19 times in WA for six wins and seven placings. Five of those wins were in stands.   Ken Casellas

Evergreen pacer Our Jimmy Johnstone will take his stake-earnings past the $800,000 mark at Gloucester Park on Friday night wherever he finishes in the field of nine in the 2536m Simmonds Steel Decorative Screens Pace. The seemingly indestructible and indefatigable 12-year-old is a credit to the care of leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond and if he maintains his recent form of improving by one placing he will emerge triumphant after his past seven starts have produced placings of eight, seven, six, five, four, three and two. This will be his 154th start in a wonderful career of 32 wins, 29 seconds and 26 thirds for stakes of $799,989.  He will start from the No. 6 barrier and will be driven by Deni Roberts, who will be anxious for the old New Zealand-bred gelding to end a losing sequence of 14. He certainly put the writing on the wall for another success when he was sixth on the home turn and ran home fast to be a half-neck second to champion Chicago Bull over 2130m last Friday week. Our Jimmy Johnstone is certainly the best-performed stayer in this week’s event in which most of his rivals have had difficulty in winning over 2536m. He has raced 34 times over 2536m for six wins and eight placings, and it is significant that he has won over 3200m, 3000m, twice over 2700m, twice over 2600m, three times over 2631m, twice over 2503m and once each over 2569m and 2683m. Noted frontrunner Chiaroscuro will start from barrier No. 1 and is likely to be strongly supported. But his past two runs over 2536m have resulted in a tenth and twelfth placing. He has raced over that distance ten times for one win (when he raced in the one-out, one-back position in October 2018). He also has finished second once and third twice. Chiaroscuro has not been prominent at his past two starts in top-class company after scoring an all-the-way victory over As Happy As Larry and Bracken Sky in weaker company in the 2130m Parliamentarians Cup early in December. Nine-year-old Talktomeurmattjesty was a brilliant all-the-way from Whozideawasthis and Our Jimmy Johnstone over 2130m two starts ago and will have admirers, even though he is poorly drawn on the outside in the field of nine. Talktomeurmattjesty possesses blistering gate speed and Kyle Harper could well attempt to take full advantage of this attribute in a bid for the early lead. He has led and won over 2536m twice in March 2017 and January 2020 but his latest three attempts over that journey have produced disappointing finishes of twelfth, tenth and eleventh. The Ross Olivieri-trained Im Full Of Excuses has claims from barrier seven. He showed a welcome glimpse of form last Friday week when he ran on from sixth on the pegs at the bell to move to second on the home turn before wilting to finish third behind Chicago Bull and Our Jimmy Johnstone. Ten-year-old Whozideawasthis is favourably drawn at barrier two and he should enjoy a soft passage before finishing gamely to fight out the finish. Simba Bromac, Bracken Sky, Roman Aviator and Cyclone Banner are in sound form and cannot be written off in a very open field.   Ken Casellas

Prominent owner Rob Tomlinson has enjoyed considerable success over the past 20 years with many star performers, including Precious Dylan, Pacific Warrior and Shardons Aflyin, and now he has no hesitation in declaring the inexperienced but highly talented Magnificent Storm is the best pacer he has owned. Tomlinson, as chief of Oz-West Pacing, is the major shareholder of Magnificent Storm, and he and co-owners Peter Morris, Damian Keating, Phillip Eaton, Clint Hunter, Campbell Hunter, Barbara Nicholls, Peter Richards and Lee Bunney are looking forward with great expectation to the New Zealand-bred gelding extending his winning sequence to twelve when he contests the $125,000 Simmonds Steel Four-Year-Old Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night. They are taking nothing for granted, but have good reason to feel confident after Magnificent Storm’s superb victories at his first 11 starts in Western Australia for astute Mt Helena trainer Ray Williams and star reinsman Aldo Cortopassi. This sequence of wins followed Magnificent Storm’s only start in New Zealand, when he raced at the rear before finishing solidly into ninth place, five lengths from the winner, Alpine Delight, in a 1609m event at Alexandra Park on October 25, 2019. After that, it was touch and go whether Magnificent Storm would ever be seen in Western Australia, with Tomlinson disclosing that he had turned down the opportunity to buy the gelding. “He looked like a quite nice animal, but we actually knocked him back first-up,” he said. “They had a very high opinion of him and they wanted so much money for him that we said we considered the price was a bit too high.         “We then said we would give you this much, and they thought about it for a couple of weeks before coming back to us and accepting our offer. It was a reasonable amount and the horse cost about $80,000 landed in WA. “Magnificent Storm was part-owned by his trainer-driver Todd Macfarlane and among pacers he had previously sold to us were Millview Sienna and Pacific Warrior.” Millview Sienna won the Group 1 Westral Classic in December 2018 and earned $157,330 from her 12 wins and four placings. Pacific Warrior amassed $343,419 in stakes from 28 wins and 21 placings from 89 starts. His victories included the Higgins Memorial in July 2013, the 2014 and 2015 Governor’s Cup and the RWWA Cup in February 2015. “I’ve had some lovely horses who have won Group 1 events, but Magnificent Storm is the best horse I’ve had,” Tomlinson said. “He’s got the X factor; he’s got speed and stamina and is very laid back. Nothing worries him. He is a casual customer, not very big, but he has a very wide chest and has a big motor there.” Tomlinson’s learned opinion is high praise indeed, with him ranking Magnificent Storm, the winner of 11 of his 12 starts for stakes of $84,934, ahead of Shardons Aflyin (61 starts for 21 wins, 16 placings and $500,651), Precious Dylan (67 starts for 27 wins, 14 placings and $349,588) and Pacific Warrior. Shardons Aflyin won at 11 of his first 12 starts for Tomlinson and his victories included the Marathon Handicap and Pinjarra Cup in 2006 and the Fremantle Cup and the Australian Pacing Championship in March 2007; Precious Dylan won at 17 of his first 20 starts in Western Australia and his victories included the Group 3 Four And Five-Year-Old Championship in February 2006 and the 2010 Pinjarra Cup; and Pacific Warrior won at his first six WA starts and at 12 of his first 18 appearances in the State. Those three pacers were trained and driven by Grant Williams, whose father Ray prepares Magnificent Storm, who continued his remarkable rise to fame when he worked hard in the breeze before winning the $50,000 Group 2 Four-Year-Old Championship at Gloucester Park last Friday week. He was not fully extended in beating Power And Grace and the pacemaker Al Guerrero.          The quality field of 12 runners in this week’s Group 1 classic have won a combined total of 98 races and Magnificent Storm is facing the biggest test in his fabulous career. He will start from the No. 2 barrier on the back line and Cortopassi will determine his tactics as the race unfolds.  Looming large as the Magnificent Storm’s main rivals are the three richly-talented New Zealand-bred geldings from the all-conquering stables of champion trainers Greg and Skye Bond Minstrel (barrier four), Howard Hughes (five) and Patronus Star (six). Between them, the three pacers have won 30 races from 51 starts and all are destined for big things in harness racing. Ryan Warwick will drive Patronus Star, Colin Brown has been engaged for Minstrel and Deni Roberts will be in the sulky behind Howard Hughes.  Patronus Star is sure to prove hard to beat. He completed his preparation for this week’s race with an effortless all-the-way victory over Bracken Sky and Stroke Of Luck in the 2536m Ray Duffy Memorial last Friday night when he sped over the final 400m sections in 27.9sec. and 26.8sec. Minstrel overcame the disadvantage of the outside barrier (No. 9) before scoring an easy win over 2130m last Friday night, with final quarters of 28.6sec. and 26.9sec. He is undoubtably a young pacer on the rise. He began speedily and worked hard in the breeze before surging to the front on the home turn and beating his stablemate and pacemaker See Ya Write by a length at a 1.56.1 rate. Howard Hughes raced wide early and then in the breeze before breaking into a gallop about 230m from home and dropping back to be distanced behind Patronus Star last Friday night. Two starts before that he raced three back on the pegs and finished fast along the sprint lane to win from Patronus Star over 2185m at Pinjarra. Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed has Power And Grace racing in fine form, and Michael Grantham should have the stallion in a commanding position all the way after starting from the No. 3 barrier. Power And Grace sat behind the pacemaker Al Guerrero before finishing solidly when second to Magnificent Storm two Fridays ago. Gary Hall Snr has Copy N Pace racing keenly and the American Ideal gelding is capable of a bold showing. He will start from the inside of the back line for driver Stuart McDonald and should be doing his best work in the closing stages of the race.   Ken Casellas

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