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Quality harness racing five-year-old Major Reality leapt into serious calculations for the $450,000 TABtouch WA Pacing Cup when she drew the prized No. 1 barrier for the 2936m group 1 event at Gloucester Park on Friday night. But Major Reality will have to end a 45-year drought to win the big race if she is to become the first mare to win WA’s major pacing event since Les Marriott drove seven-year-old Pyramus to victory over Chief Attain and Sir Alex in the 1972 $20,000 WA Pacing Cup, rating 2.6.6 over the two miles. Among the unplaced runners were outstanding pacers Daintys Daughter, Red Vicar, Radiant Oro and Roscott. Pyramus won the inaugural WA Oaks in 1968 and she remains the only pacer to have won the Oaks and WA Pacing Cup. Pyramus is one of only five mares to have won a WA Pacing Cup in the past 70 years, the others being Winsome Bobbie (1946), Portree (1958), Color Glo (1967) and Daintys Daughter (1970). Major Reality, purchased in New Zealand as a yearling for $31,000, won the 2015 WA Oaks from stablemate Quite A Delight and she now boasts a splendid record of 17 wins and eight placings from 29 starts for earnings of $331,736. Trained and driven by Justin Prentice, the daughter of Art Major is a smart beginner and excellent frontrunner who has started from the No. 1 barrier at two of her past four starts for two wins --- when she led and beat The Parade and Hidden Bad in the 2130m Norms Daughter Classic on November 25 (with final quarters in 28sec. and 27.1sec.) and when she led for the first 700m and then sat behind Run Oneover before finishing powerfully to beat that pacer by a length in a 2536m Free-For-All on December 23. Major Reality had no luck at all when she started at 15/1 from the outside of the back line in the Fremantle Cup last Friday night. She raced in seventh position in the one-wide line and was unwinding a strong burst when she locked wheels with John of Arc on the home turn and then was hampered for room in the straight, finishing tenth behind Chicago Bull. John Wulff, who bought Major Reality as a yearling and races the mare in partnership with his father Ron and friends Ryan Hughes and Andrew Ditri, said he expected Prentice to be keen to set the pace. If that is the case there is certain to be fireworks early, with Bettors Fire and Cyamach certain to begin speedily in attempts to take up the running. Ken Casellas

The 67-year-old Hall, who has won the rich feature harness racing event a remarkable ten times in the past 15 years, will be represented by exciting four-year-old Chicago Bull, equine millionaire Beaudiene Boaz and Cyamach in the $450,000 Group 1 WA Pacing Cup event over the marathon trip of 2936m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.. Asked if the weight of expectation of a seventh straight Cup victory was a heavy burden, Hall replied that he was not concerned about the law of averages. “No, I go into these races with an open mind,” he said. “And, hopefully, we’ve got the right horses to do the right job. And I think we have.” He ranked Chicago Bull, winner of the 2536m Fremantle Cup last Friday night, as his best hope. But he said that Beaudiene Boaz was ready to run a big race. Chicago Bull, a diminutive New Zealand-bred Bettor's Delight gelding, is a rising star who has amassed $583,329 from 17 wins and eight placings from only 29 starts. He gave another sample of his class when he raced without cover for the first lap and then enjoyed the ideal one-out, one-back trail before bursting to the front 250m from home and winning by a half-length from fellow four-year-old Soho Tribeca in last week’s Fremantle Cup. Chicago Bull fared poorly in the barrier draw for this week’s big race in which he again will be handled by the trainer’s son Gary Hall jun. (who has driven the winner of the WA Pacing Cup six times). A win on Friday night would result in Hall jun. equalling the record of seven Pacing Cup wins, a feat achieved by Phil Coulson. Chicago Bull will start out wide at barrier eight on the front line. “Obviously, Chicago Bull won’t be involved in the early battle; he’ll go back and will be running home strongly,” said Hall sen. “I’m sure there will be a fair bit of action and that there will be a few people (drivers) looking over their right shoulder in the last lap. “Chicago Bull has done super since his Fremantle Cup win. He was holding Soho Tribeca quite easily on the line.” Beaudiene Boaz, who trailed the pacemaker Devendra before finishing determinedly to be third behind stablemate My Hard Copy in last year’s WA Pacing Cup, is awkwardly drawn at barrier six in this week’s Cup in which he will be driven by Clint Hall, who is aiming to become the first person to drive the winner of the WA Pacing Cup four years in a row --- after winning the past three Cups with Hokonui Ben (2014) and My Hard Copy (2015 and 2016). Beaudiene Boaz a son of Badlands Hanover had a tough run before wilting to ninth in last week’s Fremantle Cup. He paced roughly at the start after one of his hind legs struck a wheel of his sulky. He dashed forward, three wide, in the first lap and moved outside the pacemaker Franco Nelson after a lap before hitting the front 480m from home. He was still in front at the 250m mark (when Chicago Bull surged to the lead). “You can’t discount Beaudiene Boaz’s prospects and I think he’s a good each-way chance,” said Hall sen. “Cyamach a son of Mach Three will be driven by Nathan Turvey from barrier four and he will go forward early in an attempt to lead. He’s essentially a frontrunner.” Hall jun. predicted that there would be abundant early speed and that Chicago Bull would not be bustled in the early stages. “The long journey will suit him.” Greg and Skye Bond, who hold a commanding lead in the Statewide trainers’ premiership table and are the leading trainers in Australia this season, are hoping to break through for their first success in a WA Pacing Cup. They have strong each-way prospects in Our Jimmy Johnstone and Delightful Offer. Our Jimmy Johnstone, an eight-year-old to be driven by Ryan Warwick, will start from out wide at No. 7 on the front line, with five-year-old Delightful Offer (Ryan Bell) starting from barrier No. 3. Our Jimmy Johnstone was an excellent third in last week’s Fremantle Cup and Delightful Offer impressed in running home solidly from last at the bell to be fifth. Our Jimmy Johnstone began fast from barrier seven, but was trapped three wide for the first 500m before Warwick restrained him. He finished boldly from sixth at the bell into third place. “Our Jimmy Johnstone measures up to this class and 2900m is right up his alley,” said Greg Bond. “He’s probably our better chance. Delightful Offer is a developing horse on the way up and I expect him to finish this week’s race as well as most.” Trainer Michael Brennan and reinsman Michael Grantham are looking for a strong effort from seven-year-old The Bucket List from his favourable draw at No. 2 on the front line. “The distance will suit him,” said Brennan. And Grantham said: “I’ll be going out as hard as I can in an attempt to hold on to the back of the speed battle.” Ken Casellas

Nathans Courage, beaten into second place by Franco Rayner in a qualifying heat of The West Australian Nights of Thunder, can turn the tables on his harness racing arch rival in the $50,000 final over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. That’s the verdict reached by Michael Grantham, whose confidence was boosted after Nathans Courage, trained by Michael Brennan, drew barrier No. 4 and Franco Rayner drew out wide at No. 8. “Obviously, it’s great to draw inside Franco Rayner,” Grantham said. “I’m sure Browny (trainer Colin Brown) will tell Maddison (his daughter) to go forward as hard as they can. It looks a race in two if I get the top and Franco Rayner sits outside of me. If that’s the case I don’t think Franco Rayner can beat me. But it promises to be a great race. “I think that Nathans Courage, who has blistering speed, can cross to the front and then go all the way. Nathans Courage has matured a lot in this preparation and has a lot of bottom to him now. However, Franco Rayner also has a lot of bottom, too.” Colin Brown said that his daughter would make us of Franco Rayner’s brilliant early speed from his wide draw. “Maddison knows the horse well and, obviously, you can’t go back. “It’s a huge advantage to lead at Gloucester Park, but Franco Rayner doesn’t have to lead to be in the thick of it. I’m not saying that we’re going to win it from the breeze, but Franco Rayner has done super since his win in a heat. “All my horses are down at the beach most days now, unless there’s a howling southerly. All the horses love the beach and Franco Rayner struts around like a bantam rooster, puffing his chest out and telling everybody how good he is.” Maddison Brown certainly has built up a great rapport with Franco Rayner. She has driven him ten times for six wins. The New Zealand-bred four-year-old has already earned $137,481 from 13 wins and nine placings from 37 starts. Ace reinsman Gary Hall jun. does not agree that the Nights of Thunder will be a two-horse affair and he gives five-year-old American Boy an excellent winning chance, particularly after drawing the prized No. 1 barrier over the sprint journey. American Boy, trained by Gary Hall sen., has a wonderful 68 per cent winning record, with his 22 starts producing 15 wins and four seconds. American Boy resumed after an absence of just over four months when he raced wide early and then in the one-out, one-back position before sprinting strongly to burst to the lead on the home turn and win by almost two lengths from Char Do Neigh at a 1.54.1 rate in a heat of the Nights of Thunder last Friday night. “I’ll be trying to hold the lead,” Hall jun. said. “American Boy is good enough to win and we’ll certainly be making it tough for his rivals. I know that the other two are going really well, but I would say that American Boy is equally as good as them, if not better. He can win.” Rock Diamonds set for eight in a row Greg and Skye Bond, celebrating their century of winners this season when they landed a double at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon, repeated the dose with a double at Gloucester Park on Tuesday evening. And they should give punters a flying start by winning the opening event, the TABtouch Pace for three-year-olds at Gloucester Park on Friday night.    The Forrestdale master trainers will be pinning their hopes on Rock Diamonds, who is unbeaten at his first seven starts in Western Australia. The Bonds and reinsman Ryan Warwick are proving an all-conquering combination and they are on top of the national trainers’ and drivers’ premiership tables. An indication of the ability of Rock Diamond, a colt by Rocknroll Hanover who finished third at his only start in New Zealand, is that he has won his seven races in WA by a combined total of 64.7 metres --- an average winning margin of 9.14m. Rock Diamonds warmed up for Friday night’s assignment with an impressive victory at Pinjarra on Monday when he started from the back line, settled at the rear and then charged forward to move into the breeze before surging to the front 400m from home on his way to a four-length victory over Hindu Kumara, rating 1.58.6 over 2692m. Rock Diamonds is closely related to a former star from the Bond stables in Ohokas Bondy, who amassed $388,148 from 22 wins and nine placings from 44 starts. Among his victories were The Golden Slipper in 2010, the Caduceus Club Classic, the Western Gateway Pace and Battle of Bunbury in 2011 and the Nights of Thunder, the Four-Year-Old Classic at Pinjarra and the WA Triple Crown in 2012. Ohokas Bondy’s dam Asabella is the mother of Dancing Diamonds, the dam of Rock Diamonds. Ohokas Bondy’s half-brother Code Red won 12 races, six of them for trainer Gary Hall sen., including the 3309m Marathon Handicap at Gloucester Park in August 2012. Rock Diamonds certainly will not have things all his own way on Friday night when he will rise considerably in class, with his rivals including smart last-start winners in Im Rockaria, Maczaffair and Allmightyjoelouis and talented pacers El Barcelona and Major Pocket. Gary Hall jun. has given punters a strong lead by opting to drive the Michael Brennan-trained Im Rockaria in preference to El Barcelona, trained by his father Gary Hall sen. and the winner at four of his nine starts. “Im Rockaria can beat Rock Diamonds,” declared Hall jun., who drove Im Rockaria to an effortless all-the-way win by more than seven lengths from Bethany Aitch over 2285m at Albany on New Year’s Eve. “He led from barrier one at Albany, which is not a good draw on that track,” said Hall who was driving there for only the second time in his illustrious career. Im Rockaria, the winner of six of his ten starts, will be strongly fancied from the prized No. 1 barrier on Friday night. The Bonds and Warwick, apart from heading the national lists, hold commanding leads in the Statewide premierships. The Bonds have prepared 102 winners from 347 starters this season and lead from Gary Hall sen. (47 winners from 214 starters) and Warwick has had 245 drives for 84 winners and leads from Chris Lewis (70 wins from 393 drives) and Gary Hall jun. (66 wins from 289 starts). Ken Casellas

Millionaire star pacer Beaudiene Boaz is poised to notch his twelfth win in a group feature event by proving too strong and speedy for his 11 harness racing rivals in the $60,000 Village Kid Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The brilliant New Zealand-bred five-year-old boasts the longest losing sequence (eight) of his magnificent 42-start career, but he is cherry ripe to bounce back to winning form. And his task of winning the 2130m Village Kid Pace was made significantly easier when he drew favourably at the No. 2 barrier on the front line. Gary Hall jun. should have no difficulty in sending Beaudiene Boaz straight to the front, with Shannon Suvaljko appearing certain to be content to take the trail with veteran pacer and polemarker El Machine, who has managed just one placing from his past 19 starts. Twelve months ago Beaudiene Boaz set the pace from the No. 1 barrier and won the 1730m Village Kid Sprint in convincing fashion from stablemates My Hard Copy, John of Arc and Waylade. He went on to win the Fremantle Cup before finishing third in the WA Pacing Cup at his next two starts. Now owners Beth Richardson, Glen Moore, Karen Hall, Andrew Curran, Gary Ralston and Matt Walker are looking forward confidently to Beaudiene Boaz going one better by winning the treble of the $60,000 Village Kid Pace, the $300,000 Fremantle Cup and the $450,000 WA Pacing Cup. Curiously, the Village Kid Sprint has been renamed the Village Kid Pace to be run over 2130m. The Village Kid Sprint was formerly known as the Celebrity Sprint and was renamed in 2012 to honour the former superstar pacer who died earlier that year. The first 18 runnings of this feature event were decided over 1609m in its first year (1998) and then over 1700m (six times), 1740m (twice), 1742m (twice) and 1730m (seven times). Beaudiene Boaz will be a hot odds-on favourite in Friday night’s event, a far cry from when he won the first of his six group 1 events, the $150,000 Emerald for two-year-olds at Cambridge in May 2014 when he was making his final appearance in New Zealand. Driven by Zac Butcher, Beaudiene Boaz was a $38.90 outsider when he raced three back on the pegs before charging home, four wide, to snatch a last-stride head victory from Bettor Spirits, rating 1.54, a track record for a two-year-old over 1700m. Since then Beaudiene Boaz has won another five group 1 events --- the 2014 Golden Slipper, the WA Derby, McInerney Ford Classic and Golden Nugget Championship in 2015 and the 2016 Fremantle Cup. He has also won three group 2 events and two group 3 races. Beaudiene Boaz has been freshened up since competing strongly at the TABtouch Interdominion Championship series in which he finished second to Lennytheshark, fourth to Hectorjayjay and second to Smolda in qualifying heats before finishing a splendid third behind Smolda and Hectorjayjay in the final. He holds the track record for 2130m --- a 1.52.9 rate which he set when he came from last in the middle stages to easily beat Bettors Fire in the Navy Cup last September. Beaudiene Boaz is one of four runners trained by Gary Hall sen. In Friday night’s race, the others being star four-year-old Chicago Bull, Cyamach and Ideal Alice. Chicago Bull, a winner at 16 of his 27 starts, cannot be underestimated. He gave another sample of his class two starts ago when he was 11th in the middle stages before surging home, out wide, from ninth at the bell to score an easy win over Vanquished in the group 1 McInerney Ford Classic over 2536m at a 1.54.9 rate. Then, two weeks later, Chicago Bull started out wide at barrier eight and was 11th with two laps to travel before finishing determinedly from seventh at the bell to be third behind Soho Tribeca and Nathans Courage in the 2536m group 1 Golden Nugget Championship. The final two quarters, off the front, were covered in 28.1sec. and 27.5sec. Hall has won the Village Kid Sprint (Celebrity Sprint) a record four times --- with The Falcon Strike (2003), Rakarebel (2011), Hokonui Ben (2013) and Beaudiene Boaz (12 months ago). He has also trained three second placegetters --- Franco Amon (2007), Talk To Me Courage (2009) and My Hard Copy (on January 1 this year). The State’s leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond have three runners in the Village Kid Pace, with Our Jimmy Johnstone (Ryan Warwick) their best prospect from the No. 5 barrier on the front line, ahead of Franco Nelson (Ryan Bell at barrier six) and Change Stride (Chris Lewis) facing a difficult task from the outside of the back line. Our Jimmy Johnstone is a quality performer who maintained his good form with an excellent, close-up third behind Cyamach and Ultimate Art in the 2936m Interdominion Championship Consolation three Fridays ago after racing three wide in the early stages and then in the breeze. Mynameskenny, a smart five-year-old trained at Byford by John Oldroyd, has won at 21 of his 40 starts and is handily drawn at barrier three on the front line. Reinsman Chris Voak will be hoping to gain an ideal passage, one-out and one-back with Mynameskenny, who enjoyed a similar run when he sprinted home fast to beat the pacemaker Cyamach and Waylade over 2130m last Friday week. Ken Casellas

Busselton tree lopping contractor Barry Howlett’s dream run of successes looks set to continue when he starts Bettor Be Supreme in the $25,000 final of the Coulson Pace for harness racing mares at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The big, powerful lightly-raced five-year-old has drawn ideally at the No. 2 barrier on the front line in the 2130m event and Chris Lewis will be aiming for an all-the-way victory. Howlett trains Bettor Be Supreme and races her in partnership with his wife Lyn and their son Jim. He is riding high and has a remarkable strike rate this season, with his first 64 starters producing 25 wins, ten seconds and three thirds to have him in fourth place in the Statewide trainers’ premiership table, behind Greg and Skye Bond (93 winners from 308 starters), Gary Hall sen. (42 winners from 196 starters) and Courtney Burch (26 wins from 166 starters). Howlett purchased Bettor Be Supreme in New Zealand as a yearling and the filly won at her debut when Tony Herlihy drove the Brent Mangos-trained pacer to victory at 7/1 at a 2.0.2 rate over 1700m at Alexandra Park on March 21, 2014. She raced behind the pacemaker before finishing strongly along the sprint lane to win by a half neck after sprinting the final 400m in 27.9sec. She finished third behind Joanne’s Delight in the group 1 Sires Stakes Championship at Alexandra Park and was 3rd behind Katy Perry in another classic event for two-year-old fillies. Her six New Zealand starts produced one win, three placings and $45,499 and she travelled to Western Australia in November 2014. Howlett gave the filly plenty of time to mature and she raced only twice as a three-year-old --- for wins at Pinjarra and Bunbury in August 2015. Seven wins from nine WA starts have boosted her career figures to $85,929 from just 15 starts. Bettor Be Supreme warmed up for this week’s assignment with a smart all-the-way victory over the fast-finishing Jungle Jewel, rating 1.58.4 over the 2185m journey at Pinjarra last Monday week when she dashed over the final 400m in 27.2sec. Howlett will also be represented in this week’s event by Fay Darling, another New Zealand-bred five-year-old who has had 20 starts for five wins and seven placings. However, Fay Darling, a last-start third behind Giuliana Rancic at Pinjarra, will be at liberal odds after drawing out wide at barrier eight on the front line. Bettor Be Supreme is a versatile pacer, who has won races by leading and has also impressed with some powerful finishing bursts. Eastwood Crystal (barrier one) and My Samantha Jane (three) also possess excellent gate speed and excel as pacemakers. Therefore, there should be a keen tussle for the early lead. The Justin Prentice-trained Quite A Delight, to be handled by Tom Buchanan, has a losing sequence of ten and is awkwardly drawn at barrier five. However, she is a talented mare who has won at nine of her 25 starts and is capable of causing an upset. Blacknsweet Adda and Forever Remembered are racing with commendable verve and also cannot be discounted. Bettors Gem, trained and driven by Shane Young, has had no luck in recent starts and should be prominent from the inside of the back line. Howlett also has sound prospects with Major Stare in the $14,999 TABtouch New Year’s Eve Cup over 2100m at Bunbury on Saturday night. Major Stare, who has had seven starts in WA for five wins and two seconds, will clash with Master Jaxon (a winner at each of his past four starts), the Gary Elson-trained pair of Sprinter and Scoobys Delight and last-start Gloucester Park winner Mister Daytona. Ken Casellas

Prominent breeder and successful harness racing owner Robbie Tomlinson has no regrets at his decision to outlay $17,000 to purchase a Rich And Spoilt colt at the 2014 Gloucester Standardbred yearling sale. Now a four-year-old by the name of New World Order is developing into an extremely smart pacer and he looks a star bet on the ten-event program at Gloucester Park on Friday night, despite drawing the outside barrier on the back line in the 2130m Follow Gloucester Park On Facebook Pace. New World Order has already earned $102,365 from seven wins and four seconds from 17 starts. Tomlinson, Mt Helena trainer Ray Williams and reinsman Nathan Turvey were delighted at New World’s remarkable victory at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week. New World Order was a 7/4 on favourite from out wide at barrier seven in the 1730m event. Turvey restrained the gelding at the start and New World Order settled in last place in the field of eight. He was tightened for room after 300m and broke into a fierce gallop, losing about 40 metres. However, Turvey did not give up hope and New World Order made up much of his lost ground, but was still last at the bell, about seven lengths behind the pacemaker. New World Order was still last on the pegs with 300m to travel before Turvey angled him four wide on the home turn. He charged home and got up to score a dramatic victory in the final stride. The opposition was not strong, but New World Order’s performance was outstanding. He faces a much tougher test on Friday night against five recent winners Mister Versace, Fanci A Dance, Rich Yankee, Fergies Son and Bellerkerrin. Fanci A Dance, trained at Busselton by Barry Howlett, will be driven by Maddison Brown with the mare’s regular driver Kiara Davies under suspension. Fanci A Dance has worked hard in the breeze before winning at his past three starts on South-West tracks. He is perfectly drawn at barrier one. The Jesse Moore-trained Rich Yankee has resumed after a 16-month injury-enforced absence in good style with two wins and two second placings. Aiden de Campo will drive him from the favourable No. 2 barrier. Mister Versace looks the chief danger to New World Order. He will start from barrier five with Kim Prentice in the sulky. He has returned after a spell in fine style and was most impressive when he set the pace and beat Soho Wall Street by two lengths at his latest appearance, over 2130m at Gloucester Park on December 16. Ken Casellas

Harness racing Punters who burnt their fingers when the heavily-supported Ultimate Major finished second to This Time Dylan in the Mount Eden-No Dill Christmas Handicap last Friday night should forgive the six-year-old for his defeat and support him to win the Entertainment With Horsepower Handicap, a stand over 2503m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Ultimate Major, favourite at 9/4, ruined his chances when he broke into a gallop at the start of last week’s race. He was eighth at the bell before unwinding a spirited burst to finish second, just one metre behind This Time Dylan. There were excuses for Ultimate Major’s poor start. Like some of his rivals, he was edgy when the race got under way at the second attempt --- after a malfunction with the tapes caused a false start to be called. A week earlier Ultimate Major, trained at Capel by Andrew de Campo and driven by his son Aiden, impressed with a powerful burst to finish third behind Galactic Star and Straight Thru Blue. The Dylan Egerton-Green-trained Waltzing With Cullen is the lone backmarker off 20m and he looks the main danger to Ultimate Major. Waltzing With Cullen started off 20m last Friday night and he gave a strong performance to run home boldly, out wide, from last in a field of 12 at the bell to be a very close third behind This Time Dylan and Ultimate Major.      Waltzing With Cullen is a seasoned veteran of 106 starts for 20 wins and 46 placings. The eight-year-old has resumed after a spell in grand style, with his seven starts this season producing two wins, two seconds and three thirds. Ken Casellas

The Christmas Gift is one of the very few feature harness racing events that has eluded Chris Lewis and at Gloucester Park on Friday night he will have an excellent opportunity to right that wrong by winning the $35,000 group 3 race with rising star Im Full of Excuses. Im Full of Excuses, a lightly-raced New Zealand-bred five-year-old trained by Ross Olivieri, has captured the imagination of harness racing fans with superb victories at each of his past seven starts. However, he faces a serious moment of truth on Friday night when he starts out wide at the No. 8 barrier on the front line in the 2130m event and clashes with another up-and-coming star in Rub of the Green, who has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier. Lewis, who is riding on the crest of a wave with three winners at Gloucester Park last Saturday night, four at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon and two at Gloucester Park on Tuesday evening, has driven in more than 30 Christmas Gift finals without success. He has finished in second place five times --- behind Nippy Rendina (1990), Downtown Boy (1992), Regunya Boy (1993), Michael Leslie (1998) and Heez On Fire (2014). He has driven six Olivieri-trained pacers in a Christmas Gift without success --- Grand Canyon (third in 1995), Chequered Flag (fifth in 1996), Our Dream Scene (fourth in 2007), Few Good Men (fifth in 2010), Mon Gee (fourth in 2011) and Sensational Gabby (seventh in 2013). Lewis, who is on the doorstep of notching his 5000th winner, is excited at the potential of Im Full of Excuses, declaring the Jeremes Jet gelding is still on a learning curve, but has a high cruising speed, an asset he revealed in a qualifying heat last Friday night when he set the pace and sped over the final quarters in 27.9sec. and 27.8sec. and rated 1.55.6. Rub of the Green was equally impressive in winning his heat, rating 1.55.3, and trainer Michael Brennan said at the time: “If we draw to lead in the final and Im Full of Excuses had to sit outside of us, I don’t think he could beat Rub of the Green.” Gary Hall jun. again will be in the sulky behind Rub of the Green and has a high opinion of the New Zealand-bred Mach Three five-year-old who has a splendid record of 28 starts for 16 wins, six seconds and one third. Rub of the Green started from the outside barrier in his heat and raced at the rear before Hall sent him forward, three wide, approaching the bell. Rub of the Green quickly dashed into second place at the 500m mark and he sustained his effort to hit the front 100m from the post and win by a metre from the pacemaker Bronze Seeker. “I was a little bit worried on the home bend,” Hall explained. “He’s a bit lazy and didn’t really knuckle down until I really got up him. I went from thinking I was in trouble on the home turn to knowing ‘we’re good’ within a stride. And that’s the good thing about him.” Hall has already won the Christmas Gift twice, scoring with Livingontheinterest in 2012 and Tuxedo Tour in 2014. A win to Im Full of Excuses would give Olivieri his third Christmas Gift after scoring with Savette (driven by Gary Lilleyman) in 1992 and Im A Peregrine (Stuart McDonald) last year. Gary Hall sen. Is pinning his hopes on a sixth Christmas Gift on four-year-old King Lebron, who will be driven by his elder son Clint from the favourable No. 2 barrier. King Lebron won for the tenth time from 27 starts when he trailed the pacemaker Padabing Stride and finished powerfully to win a qualifying heat from Bounty Eyre last Friday night. Hall sen. Has won the Christmas Gift with Nixons Creed (1993), Allioop (2004), McRaes Mate (2007), Livingontheinterest (2012) and Toretto (2013). Livura, one of nine New Zealand-bred pacers in this week’s final, is in top form for trainer-reinsman Nathan Turvey. But his prospects diminished when he drew out wide at barrier seven. He gave a bold frontrunning performance to win his heat by four lengths from Rusty Rockets. But this week Turvey will be looking to give the five-year-old a soft run before relying on a strong finishing burst. Ken Casellas  

With six of his 11 wins in stands, Ultimate Major is a standing-start harness racing specialist who looks a major hope off the front in the $25,000 Mount Eden-No Dill Christmas Handicap over 2503m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Trained at Capel by Andrew de Campo, Ultimate Major will be driven by his son Aiden, who said that the New Zealand-bred six-year-old would be far better suited in a stand this week than he was when a sound third behind Galactic Star in a mobile event last Friday night. “His run last week probably wasn’t his best run,” Aiden de Campo said. “He was hanging real badly when he was off the track in the last lap. He’ll be better suited back to a stand and off the front. “He definitely can be competitive against the better-performed runners on Friday night. He’s got a good stand record and if he does happen to lead I reckon he’ll be amongst the money, for sure. “Being in front at Gloucester Park is a huge plus. He’s a great leader who has won two of his last four by leading. Being in front is his ideal position. ”He’s a temperamental horse who is getting better and better. The run in a mobile last week has conditioned him up well for this week’s race.” Last week Ultimate Major, a winner of three races (two in stands from four starts as a three-year-old in New Zealand), performed strongly to run home determinedly, out wide, from eighth at the bell to finish third behind the runaway winner Galactic Star. At Bunbury the previous Saturday night he started from 10m and dashed to the front after 600m before setting a solid pace and winning from Waltzing With Cullen and Sky Art over 2503m. Waltzing With Cullen, the sole runner off 20m on Friday night, and the 30m co-backmarkers This Time Dylan and Shardons Rocket appear the main dangers to Ultimate Major. Waltzing With Cullen, a standing-start specialist trained by Dylan Egerton-Green, will be driven by Madison Brown. The eight-year-old is in sparkling form, with his six starts in his current preparation producing two wins, two seconds and two thirds. “Waltzing With Cullen is a gutsy horse who should perform well,” said Egerton-Green. “He beat This Time Dylan when he won at Pinjarra four starts ago and at his latest start he was third to Ultimate Major after sitting parked outside of him.” Veterans This Time Dylan and Shardons Rocket are favourably handicapped off 30m and are capable of bold efforts. Ken Casellas

Seventeen years ago Pinjarra harness racing horseman Kim Young was working at the Alcoa refinery when he convinced workmates Kevin and Tim Egerton-Green and Cole Smith to buy a Victorian mare Waranga Scooter. The Egerton-Green brothers and Smith agreed and Waranga Scooter gave them their first interest in harness racing. It is a decision they have not regretted. Waranga Scooter made a successful West Australian debut when Young drove her to victory in a 2272m stand at Williams on February 13, 2000. Waranga Scooter had 32 starts for her new owners for eight wins and two placings (all in 2000) before being retired to stud. Her five foals have all been winners and, to date, they have won a total of 37 races for stakes of $266,392. Her final foal Sheez Edgy, bred and raced by the Egerton-Green brothers and Smith, is trained and driven by Kevin Egerton-Green’s son Dylan and she looks set for a bright career after her first 18 starts have produced seven wins and four seconds for $43,436 in stakes. Sheez Edgy has bright prospects in the Seminars at Gloucester Park Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night when she will start from the favourable No. 2 barrier on the front line. “She’s been out of the top five only twice in her career,” said Dylan Egerton-Green. “I think we have placed her pretty well, in Westbred and races for mares and also using the junior concession. And that’s all made it a bit easier. “She’s consistent and has been good enough to get the job done most of the time. I was quite surprised with her effort last Friday night (when second to Foxy Dame). I thought it was a real step up in grade and I probably didn’t drive her the best, and she made me look better than I was. “This is still a step-up this week. I’ll be trying to find the top and hold the lead if possible. She runs well in front. Mon Lillies and Bettors Gem have drawn out wide, but they possess very good gate speed and there will definitely be some speed on early. We’ll have to assess things when the gate goes back.” In what should be a good betting race, Foxy Dame, a smart all-the-way winner last week, will have many admirers, even from barrier eight. And a good case can be made for most of the 12 runners, including Shes Artful, a New Zealand-bred four-year-old who has won at seven of her 24 starts, including wins at her past two outings, over 1780m at Northam and over 2150m in Kalgoorlie. Shes Artful, trained by Greg and Skye Bond and to be driven by Ryan Warwick, is favourably drawn at the No. 3 barrier on the front line. For the record, Dylan Egerton-Green has driven all five of Waranga Scooter’s foals in races. Dilinger Magic raced 136 times for seven wins, 25 placings and $54,938 in prizemoney, Maximum Demand raced 99 times for 13 wins, 23 placings and $106,608, Fifty Hertz has had 84 starts for six wins, 21 placings and $40,831 and Heez Down To Earth has had 20 starts for four wins, seven placings and $20,579. Ken Casellas

Star trotter Cardigan Boko, a shock failure in the group 2 Trotters Cup last Friday week, is poised to bounce back to winning form, according to harness racing  trainer Clive Dalton. “He’s spot on and I’m confident he will win the New Year’s Eve event at Gloucester Park on Friday night,” Dalton said. “And he’s primed and ready to tackle the best in the $300,000 Great Southern Stars at Melton on February 4.” Cardigan Boko, bred in Sweden, was favourite at 6/4 on in the Trotters Cup in which he came from sixth, three wide, at the bell to surge into third place 250m from home when, most uncharacteristically, he broke into a gallop and dropped back to finish eighth behind Sunnys Little Whiz. “Breaking was quite out of character,” Dalton said. “If he hadn’t broken he was certain to win the race. He is now right on target for the Great Southern Stars and the Bendigo Mile the following week.” Cardigan Boko has returned to racing after a life-threatening injury and illness late in 2015 and he has won four times and finished second once in six starts since reappearing after an 11-month absence. The eight-year-old Cardigan Boko has had 31 starts for 230 wins, five seconds and $123,852 in stakes. He was bought on a whim as a weanling by WA businessman Neven Botica, who was in Sweden in 2009 to watch his champion trotter Sundons Gift compete in the famous Elitlopp event for trotters. Sundons Gift finished sixth in a heat and failed to qualify for the $1 million final. He retired after earning $1,275,264 from 41 wins and 17 placings from 86 starts. Before his unplaced run in the Trotters Cup Cardigan Boko had scored effortless victories at his four previous outings, winning by an average margin of seven lengths. Ken Casellas

Five-year-old mare Major Reality is ready for her most serious test in a wonderful harness racing career when she clashes with some of the State’s best pacers, including Bettors Fire, Run Oneover, Delightful Offer, David Hercules and Waylade, in the 2536m Functions At Gloucester Park Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Boyanup trainer-driver Justin Prentice declared that Major Reality’s second to stablemate The Parade last Friday week was the best run of her career. “Now I think she can take the next step up, particularly from the No. 1 barrier,” Prentice said. “The plan will be to lead. The others will need to get the right run; we’ve got the draw advantage on them. “The 2536m will be no trouble for Major Reality or for The Parade. I give both mares a realistic winning chance.” Major Reality, by Art Major winner of the WA Oaks over 2536m two seasons ago, was purchased as a yearling in New Zealand for $31,000 and she has already earned $313,556 for owners John and Ron Wulff, Andrew Ditri and Ryan Hughes. She has had 27 starts for 16 wins, five seconds and three thirds. The Parade, who will be driven by Tom Buchanan, is handily drawn at barrier three on Friday night and she should be in a prominent position throughout. The Parade won for the 21st time from 52 starts when she trailed the pacemaker Dodolicious before sprinting home fast to beat Major Reality by just under three lengths. Major Reality had no luck whatsoever after starting from barrier two. She was badly inconvenienced when the pace slackened in the first lap and was shuffled back to tenth in the middle stages before sustaining a strong three-wide burst from seventh at the bell. Chris Lewis gave punters a significant lead when he opted to drive Flaming Flutter in preference to Our Jericho. The Ross Olivieri-trained pacers are handily drawn at barrier two and four, respectively. Flaming Flutter raced three back on the pegs and met with interference on the home turn before finishing strongly, out wide, to be fourth behind Cyamach in the Interdominion Consolation last Friday week. His most recent success was in the South Australian Cup at Globe Derby Park last January, but he will pay to follow. Our Jericho, a winner at nine of his past 26 starts, will be handled by Chris Voak. It is well worth considering that he finished second to star pacer Hectorjayjay in an Inters heat at Bunbury three starts ago. Run Oneover, Bettors Fire and Delightful Offer are top-flight performers who will start from the back line and are all capable of winning. Ken Casellas

A ninth and a tenth at his past two starts is hardly a strong recommendation for a harness racing pacer starting out wide at barrier eight in a race at Gloucester Park. But Galactic Star looks set to bounce back to winning form in race nine, an $18,500 M0 event on Friday night, when he should enjoy a dramatic drop in class.   The New Zealand-bred four-year-old trained by Greg and Skye Bond did not threaten danger when ninth behind Chicago Bull in the group 1 McInerney Ford Classic on November 25 and then was always well back before being blocked for a clear passage in the closing stages when tenth behind Soho Tribeca in the group 1 Golden Nugget Championship last Friday night. He appears to have a considerable edge in class over his eight rivals on Friday night and Ryan Warwick is likely to drive the Bettor's Delight gelding aggressively as the best horse in the race. Galactic Star has built up an impressive record of 11 wins and eight placings from only 24 starts and has a bright future. His chief rivals on Friday night could be Ultimate Major and Americanbootscoota. Ultimate Major, trained at Capel by Andrew de Campo, was an impressive winner in a 2503m stand at Bunbury on Saturday night. He settled in sixth position before dashing to the front after about 700m and he sped over the final quarters in 27.5sec. and 28.5sec. to win in good style from stablemate Sky Art. That was his 11th win from 39 starts. He is certainly a realistic hope on Friday night, despite starting from the outside barrier in a field of nine. Americanbootscoota, a four-year-old to be driven by Brayden Green for Boyanup trainer Dennis Roche, has been unplaced at his past three starts. But he is a stylish, freewheeling frontrunner who could set a brisk pace and take plenty of catching. He started from barrier four on the back line and settled at the rear in the Williams Cup on Sunday before he dashed forward, three wide, to be third at the bell. However, he faded and finished eighth, ten lengths behind the winner Scoobys Delight.   Ken Casellas  

Brilliant New Zealand-bred five-year-old Im Full of Excuses will be a strong contender in the harness racing Inter Dominion Championship at the end of 2017, according to his reinsman Chris Lewis. And Lewis should enjoy an armchair drive when the Ross Olivieri-trained Im Full of Excuses begins from the favourable barrier No. 2 in the first qualifying heat of the Christmas Gift at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Im Full of Excuses has not been fully extended in winning at each of his past five starts and the Jeremes Jet gelding will be at an extremely short quote on Friday night. Lewis was lavish in his praise after driving the gelding to an easy victory over Courage Tells and Mighty Flying Thomas last Friday week when he rated 1.55.6 after sprinting over the final 800m in 55.6sec. That followed effortless wins in the Kalgoorlie Cup and York Cup at Northam at his two previous outings. The Andrew de Campo-trained Sky Art looks a good place bet from the prized No. 1 barrier. He should enjoy a perfect sit behind Im Full of Excuses. Rub of the Green has a 56 per cent winning strike rate and he should notch his 16th win from 28 starts when he begins from the outside in the field of eight in the second heat of the Christmas Gift. Rub of the Green was not extended when he led and won from Ohoka Kentucky and Major Catastrophe at a 1.55.4 rate over 2130m last Friday night. Bronze Seeker, a winner of a Christmas Gift qualifying heat 12 months ago, should appreciate starting from the No. 1 barrier after a series of wide draws have made life tough for him. King Lebron and Livura are racing keenly and will be strongly fancied to win the third and fourth heats, respectively, of the Christmas Gift. Ken Casellas

Memories of the first American harness racing reinsman to drive a winner in Western Australia --- just over 40 years ago --- came flooding back when Shaun Vallee succeeded at his first appearance in the State at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon. Vallee, from Jackson in New Jersey, was in the sulky behind the disappointing New Zealand-bred mare Giuliana Rancic in a 2185m event at Pinjarra. Giuliana Rancic was a 9/2 chance in a field of six and Vallee trailed the pacemaker and 7/4 on favourite My Samantha Jane before he darted his mare through along the sprint lane to hit the front in the final 50m to beat My Samantha Jane by 2.2m at a 1.57.8 rate.    He emulated the feat of New Yorker Pat Iovine, who made a flying trip to Perth early in May 1976 in search of a fast pacer to take back to America. Iovine, then 50, selected four-year-old South Australian-bred Main Morris and purchased him for $50,000. A few hours later Iovine drove Main Morris in a 1609m event at Gloucester Park and Main Morris, hot favourite at 4/1 on, surged to the front in the first lap and was not extended in winning from Oakland Dollar and Farmer Elect in 2.1.7. That was Iovine’s only drive in a race in Australia and Main Morris won many races for him at the Meadowlands and Yonkers.       Champion WA trainer Gary Hall sen. gave Vallee the drive behind Giuliana Rancic at Pinjarra in an event in which he had three of the six starters, with his sons Clint driving Ladys Are Ideal and Gary jun. driving Harriet Price, who finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Vallee has had plenty of success as a driver in America with the former Hall-trained pacer Heez Orl Black, prepared by his (Vallee’s) wife Anita. Heez Orl Black won nine races for the Hall stable in 2013-14 and a few of his part-owners, including Max Grynberg and Bill Paterson, are part-owners of Giuliana Rancic, who a 14-month drought and a losing sequence of 24 with her victory on Monday. Apart from Iovine and Vallee, the only American I can recall driving --- and winning --- in WA is Tim Tetrick, who drove at Gloucester Park, Pinjarra and Northam in December 2015. Tetrick had 11 drives at Gloucester Park and the closest he got to winning was three second placings, two behind Raesawinner (beaten a neck by Borntobeanartist and beaten a half-head by Three Blind Mice) and Machtu (second to Machtu). However, Tetrick shone on country tracks, where in the space of two days he drove five winners --- a double with Invasive at Pinjarra and Our Jerry Lee and a treble with Nike Franco, Soho Wolverine and Indomitable Force at Northam. Ken Casellas

Mister Versace started a rank outsider as a $93.90 chance at his latest harness racing appearance when a sound fifth behind star New Zealand mare A Piccadilly Princess last Friday week. But he will be at a much shorter quote when he starts from the prized No. 1 barrier in the Westbred Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Trained at Banjup by Annie Belton, Mister Versace warmed up for this week’s assignment with a dashing win in a nine-horse trial at Byford on Sunday morning when he sprinted over the final quarter in 28.2sec. and beat Snowball Mackenzie by eight lengths. At his most recent outing the four-year-old, with Kim Prentice in the sulky, raced four back on the pegs in seventh position before finishing solidly into fifth place. A week earlier he trailed the pacemaker Trustytrev and ran home powerfully to finish second, a half-head from Trustytrev, with final quarters of 28.6sec. and 27.7sec. That followed his fast-finishing victory by a head over Chelsea Royale four days earlier. Eight-year-old Trustytrev again looms as one of Mister Versace’s main rivals. Trustytrev, a winner at ten of his 89 starts, is trained at Byford by Chris Feast and will be driven by Nathan Turvey. He will start from the No. 5 barrier. Trustytrev followed his recent Gloucester Park win with a solid performance in the 2277m Williams Cup on Sunday afternoon when he set the pace and finished second to Scoobys Delight. Soho Wall Street, Mako Shadow and Argyle Red are in sound form and will have admirers. Soho Wall Street, trained by Glenn Elliott, has resumed after a spell in good shape, with two thirds and a fourth from, four starts, while the Clint Kimes-trained Mako Shadow and Argyle Red, trained at Pinjarra by Robert MacDonald, will pay to follow. Ken Casellas

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