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Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri predicts harness racing mare Sensational Gabby will improve on last week’s effort and has excellent prospects of winning the Empress Stakes at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Sensational Gabby registered fighting half-length second to Indomitable when first-up for a month. “That was her first run for five weeks and she will be fitter this week,” said Olivieri, who boasts three wins in the Empress Stakes. “She sat in the breeze, and probably in hindsight, you would have liked her to have put a bit more pressure on Indomitable early. But then again that might have been to our detriment.” Although he feels barrier four makes Sensational Gabby’s task harder, Olivieri’s confidence grew after Indomitable drew the outside of the front row. Indomitable led throughout from the pole last week, while Sensational Gabby worked over time in the ‘death seat’. Sensational Gabby will be driven by champion reinsman Chris Lewis, who is aiming for an incredible eighth success in the Group Two. Lewis’ previous wins were with Candy Nacray in 1988, Armbro Lucy (1992), Meggie Dear (2001), Classical Mover (2002), Shes Royalty (2007), Ima Spicey Lombo (2011) and Sensational Gabby (2014). Victory will also see Sensational Gabby join an elite sorority, with only three mares completing multiple wins in the feature’s 46-year history. Bellagena was the ground breaker in 1971 and ‘72), followed by Kiwi Cloud in ‘77 and ‘79 and Golden Goddess, which is the only triple winner thanks to her triumphs in 1997, ’98 and ‘99. KEN CASELLAS

Northview Punter is tough and durable and star harness racing driver Gary Hall junior is hoping that his decided edge in class over his rivals will carry him to victory on Friday night. Northview Punter is engaged in the Gloucester Standardbreds RWWA Cup at Gloucester Park and faces a tough task from his outside of the second row draw. Champion trainer Gary Hall also is holding out hopes the five-year-old, the youngest runner in the race, will make amends for his narrow defeat in the Cup 12 months ago when the New Zealand-bred stallion set the pace from barrier three before finishing a neck second to the fast-finishing Hokonui Ben. Northview Punter gave a sample of his class when he finished second to David Hercules in the Fremantle Cup and third to My Hard Copy and David Hercules in the WA Pacing Cup last month before he revealed great fighting qualities to work hard in the breeze and win the Lord Mayor’s Cup. Northview Punter warmed up for this assignment with a smart trial win at a 1:58 over 2150 metres at Byford last Sunday when driven by Alysha Johnston. “It was a good trial,” said Hall junior, who has driven the horse to 15 of his 22 wins. “Northview Punter sat behind the leader Zacs Nugget before pulling out down the back and winning comfortably from Ben Cartwright.” “It’s a good race on Friday night and it won’t be easy. I imagine that Northview Punter will start somewhere close to favourite, but he won’t have everything his own way from his wide draw over 2130 metres. “His best form is near the lead, and he’s not going to get near the lead early from that barrier.” KEN CASELLAS

Although he is a master at producing pacers for first-up wins, champion harness racing trainer Gary Hall has set himself a formidable challenge heading in Friday night’s Gloucester Park meeting. Hall will produce inexperienced filly Nuala fresh for the $50,000 Schweppes Dainty’s Daughter Classic. The New Zealand-bred Nuala will enter the Group Two for three-year-old fillies at her third start and at her first appearance for 172 days. In a highly unorthodox preparation, and a bold approach to a feature, Hall has not given Nuala any lead-up starts, preferring to get her ready by running her in a 2150-metre trial at Byford on each of the past three Sundays. Driven by Clint Hall, Nuala has not been extended in winning the three trials by margins of six, 45 and 30 metres. In her latest trial, in a field of five, Nuala beat Bettor Twisted by 10 lengths after dashing over the final two quarters in 28.6 and 28.4 seconds. Nuala has drawn favourably at barrier two, but the daughter of Changeover faces a stern test in the battle for early ascendancy. Drawn on her inside is Delightful Jade, a filly blessed with sparkling early speed and a noted frontrunner. Along with being first-up from a spell, Nuala is the only filly who has not raced at Gloucester Park. She has earned just $8735 as a result of two wins, while her 10 rivals have won 54 races and earned a combined total of $614,231 - a healthy average of $61,423. Hall is no stranger to success in the event, having captured last year’s edition with Majorly Foxy Styx, which led throughout with Hall’s son, Gary junior, in the cart. KEN CASELLAS

Harness racing’s man of the moment Clint Hall has opted to drive My Hard Copy in preference to four stablemates in Friday night’s Lord Mayor’s Cup at Gloucester Park. Hall has developed an affiliation with the five-year-old, which has drawn the outside of the front line in the 2130-metre feature. Fresh from his dazzling last-to-first with My Hard Copy in the WA Cup a fortnight ago and a career best four winners last Friday night, Hall warned punters the New Zealand-bred stallion was far from a certainty in the Cup. “Yes, of course he can win,” Hall said. “But the outside barrier will make it tough. I’m going to stick with him for obvious reasons. From barrier seven I wish Friday night’s race was over 2936 metres like the Pacing Cup and not 2130 metres. “This is a much harder task than the Pacing Cup, even though the calibre of horses is not as good. “I will assess my options early. I’m not trying to talk him down, but I have a feeling that he will be at odds-on which is well and truly under the odds. “He won from a much more favourable draw (barrier two on the back line) and paid $11 two starts ago, in the Fremantle Cup Consolation.” My Hard Copy was a 17/1 chance when he started from barrier seven in the Pacing Cup. Hall has chosen to drive My Hard Copy in preference to Northview Punter (barrier six), Bettor Reason (four), Some Kinda Tactics (five) and Soho Jackman (10). Hall’s father, champion trainer Gary, has a splendid record in the 48-year history of the Lord Mayor’s Cup, having won the race five times --- Tricky Bey (1994), Abit Rich (1997), Live To Reign (2007), Talk To Me Courage (2010) and Livingontheinterest (2014). KEN CASELLAS

Harness racing driver Clint Hall, on a high after partnering outsider My Hard Copy to victory in last week’s WA Pacing Cup, looks set to continue his rich vein of form. Hall will replace his brother, Gary junior, behind talented pacer Classic American in Friday night’s San Simeon Classic at Gloucester Park. Junior drove Classic American to an impressive heat victory, but will miss the decider through suspension. Gary received a two-week ban for causing interference in the Pacing Cup. Generally regarded as a sit-sprinter, Classic American showed his versatility in his qualifier when leading throughout from barrier four, rating 1:57 over 2130 metres. The other heat winners - Ultimate Major (1.58.3), Jasper Freeway (1.56.3) and Erskine Range (1.59.3) - all set the pace and won convincingly. After drawing the pole, however, Classic American has been installed an odds-on favourite to continue his winning ways. Trainer Gary Hall is confident the son of American Ideal will prove too slick in the Group Two. “He’s going to lead and prove hard to beat,” Hall said. “Judging by the way he went last week you would think he’ll be hard to beat. “He is not just a sit-sprinter; he can roll, and I think he can roll a quick time.” KEN CASELLAS

Champion harness racing trainer Gary Hall’s prospects of winning Friday night’s Western Australia Cup for the ninth time soared when Northview Punter drew the prized pole. A noted frontrunner, Northview Punter will be driven by young reinsman Justin Prentice, who is aiming to join his father Kim on the Grand Circuit event’s honour roll. Kim boasts two victories in the Group One, firstly with Baltic Eagle in 2003 and then Im Themightyquinn in 2011. The only other father and son to have driven a WA Cup winner in the feature’s 101-year history are Fred Kersley and Fred junior. Junior scored with Beau Travis (1961), Local Product (1974) and Justaboyden (1995), with his father successful behind James Eden in 1973. Ace reinsman Gary Hall junionr, who has won the Cup six times, was extremely anxious to drive Northview Punter, but Hall stuck to his promise that Justin would retain the drive regardless of where the gelding drew. Hall was full of praise for Prentice’s handling of Northview Punter when he brought the gelding home with a strong burst to finish second behind David Hercules in last week’s Fremantle Cup. “It was a masterful drive and I told Justin that he could keep the drive no matter where he drew in the Pacing Cup,” Hall said. “It was also a phenomenal drive by Justin the previous week when he came from ninth on the pegs at the bell to finish third behind Toretto at Northview Punter’s first start for two months. “Five week ago I didn’t expect Northview Punter to be contesting the big Cups after he had suffered from a bad virus in November. I thought he would be pushing it to reach this level so quickly.” Hall has five of the 12 Cup runner, with Northview Punter to be joined by Toretto, My Hard Copy, Soho Highroller and Soho Jackman. “Northview Punter has very good gate speed and is an excellent frontrunner,” Hall said. “I haven’t made any plans how we’re going to drive any of them yet. “Northview Punter is versatile and he can lead or sit. He doesn’t go well off the track, but from one, he’s not going to be off the track at any stage.” KEN CASELLAS

David Hercules, a $15,000 yearling in 2008, is poised to become harness racing’s latest millionaire. Engaged at Gloucester Park tomorrow night, David Hercules is expected to prove too good in the Fremantle Cup, which will see the pacer pass the magical million barrier. Trainer David Thompson declared the eight-year-old was “spot on” and that he “couldn’t be happier with his preparation” ahead the 2536-metre Group One. Reinsman Morgan Woodley echoed Thompson’s sentiment when he said: “We’re brimming with confidence and it’s his time to shine.” David Hercules, which has amassed $936,044 as a result of 35 wins and 31 placings from 95 starts, drew favourably at barrier three - after having no luck 12 months ago when he started from the outside of the back line in the Cup. David Hercules also drew along the back line in the Western Australia Pacing Cup. “He was gallant in both those big cups, finishing third to Im Victorious and Bettors Fire in the Fremantle Cup and fourth behind Hokonui Ben, Toretto and This Time Dylan in the Pacing Cup,” Woodley said. “He finished less than two lengths from the winner in both events. “I’m exceptionally happy with the way the horse has been racing. He couldn’t have come back in any better fashion than he has. “He has been doing it with ease and I understand his training since his last run has been exceptional.” While David Hercules has been installed a firm favourite, there is no lack of confidence from rival trainers, particularly Kevin Keys, who prepares Tuxedo Tour, and Rod Oliver, trainer of Heez On Fire. Ace reinsman Chris Lewis and Gary Hall junior gave punters a ‘heads up’ by opting to drive Tuxedo Tour and Heez On Fire. Lewis and Hall share the record of six Fremantle Cup wins, with Lewis scoring behind Black Irish (1983), Village Kid (1988 and 1989), John Albert (1995), Sandy Bay (2005) and Dasher VC (2013). Hall was successful with The Falcon Strike (2002 and 2004), Im Themightyquinn (2010, 2011 and 2012) and Im Victorious (2014). Lewis will drive the inexperienced and lowly-assessed Tuxedo Tour in preference to the brilliant mare Sensational Gabby, which he drove to a dashing all-the-way victory over Hokonui Ben and Tuxedo Tour last week. Champion trainer Gary Hall has three Cup runners, Toretto, Northview Punter and Soho Jackman, but Junior has opted to stick with Tuxedo Tour. Keys laid down the gauntlet to the rest of the field by stating Tuxedo Tour is capable of leading throughout. “My instructions to Gary will be to lead from barrier two,” he said. “There will be only one instruction and that is to lead. “Tuxedo Tour is a better horse on the pole and he’s one of those horses who is better rolling than being held up. “I’ve left no stone unturned…he’s had plenty of work and plenty of swimming.” KEN CASELLAS

Classy harness racing gelding Our Jimmy Johnstone has drawn awkwardly tonight’s $50,000 The West Australian Nights of Thunder at Gloucester Park. Despite receiving barrier six, co-trainer Greg Bond remains confident of success, stating “the barrier draw hurts a bit, but I still think that he’s in the race right up to his eyeballs.” Such is the belief in Our Jimmy Johnstone, Ryan Warwick, foreman for Greg and Skye Bond, leapt at the opportunity to drive him when the stable’s number one reinsman Colin Brown was committed to handle his own nomination, rank outsider Erskine Range. Our Jimmy Johnstone, a lightly-raced six-year-old, has not been extended in winning his first two Australian starts and appears to be a Cup contender in the making. Bettor Offer, also trained by the Bonds, set a track record over 1730 metres when he rated 1.53 in his all-the-way victory over rising star Machtu last Friday night, but his prospects in the Final deteriorated when he drew eight. He will be handled by the up-and-coming reinsman, Dylan Egerton-Green. Leading trainer Gary Hall has three runners in the feature, four-year-olds Soho Lennon (barrier one), Classic American (two) and Machtu (seven). A talented front runner, Soho Lennon he looks certain to set a fast pace based on his latest effort when untroubled to lead from the pole in which he dashed over the final 800 metres in 55.7 seconds to rate 1.53.8. Bond was typically philosophical when commenting on the wide draws of his two runners, saying: “You’ve got to do the best you can with what you’ve got. “Our Jimmy Johnstone, for sure, is our best chance. I expect Soho Lennon to lead, Classic American and Nicnak Paddy Wak (barrier three) to take a trail and Im Riddick (four) likely to work into the breeze. “We’ve got Machtu outside of us and, on paper, he’s our main danger. We’ll hold our space and go forward with Our Jimmy Johnstone and then see what happens. “Ryan will be aiming to keep in front of Machtu. If the barriers were reversed they would be aiming to do exactly that. If this brings us undone, so be it.” Bond and his No. 1 stable client Rob Gartrell bought Our Jimmy Johnstone last October, with his New Zealand trainer John Hay, some New Zealand friends and some of the gelding’s original owners taking minor shares in the son of P Forty Seven. “We decided to race him in some of the lead-up races and in the New Zealand Cup at Addington in a bid to earn some decent money,” Bond said. “He was going to be racing against Terror To Love, Christen Me, Franco Ledger and Adore Me and other good ones and I thought he probably wouldn’t be winning.” KEN CASELLAS

The first appearance at Gloucester Park of richly talented harness racing performer Our Jimmy Johnstone will be a highlight of the 10-event program on Friday night. The former Kiwi will start from barrier six in the second heat of The West Australian Nights of Thunder and his clash with classy pacers Classic American and Im Riddick is sure to provide plenty of fireworks. Our Jimmy Johnstone is a noted stayer and standing-start performer, but he certainly cannot be underestimated in the mobile event over the 1730-metre sprint. Trained at Forrestdale by Greg and Skye Bond, Our Jimmy Johnstone warmed up with an impressive trial win at Byford last Sunday morning when led from barrier four in 1:57 over 2150 metres. The six-year-old has raced 29 times for 10 wins, seven seconds and three thirds for $145,934 in prizemoney. He has contested five mobile events for two wins, a second, a third and an eighth. He made an auspicious Australian debut when he started from a 20-metre, quickly worked to the lead and outclassed his rivals over 2631 metres. That was his first appearance since finishing seventh behind champion mare Adore Me in the $714,000 New Zealand Cup at Addington five weeks earlier. KEN CASELLAS

Outstanding harness racing prospect Machtu has recovered from a debilitating virus and will resume racing in the first heat of The West Australian Nights of Thunder at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Trainer Gary Hall has entered the four-year-old in the series in a bid to make an ‘eleventh-hour’ claim for a start in the $400,000 TABtouch WA Pacing Cup on January 16. “He’s over the virus and is going very well,” Hall said. “His preparation is a bit rushed, but he worked extremely well on Saturday morning and I’m quite happy with him. I’m hoping he can force his way into the Pacing Cup.” Machtu will begin wide at barrier five in Friday night’s 1730-metre sprint and will need to be close to his top to win against quality opposition, most notably the richly-talented Bettor Offer, which is ideally drawn at barrier three. The pace is destined to be a ‘cracker’, with Apache Kid (barrier one), All Bettor (two) and Bettor Offer all blessed with abundant gate speed. Bettor Offer makes tremendous appeal as he is a superb frontrunner which has also shown wonderful tenacity when forced to work hard in the breeze. Two starts ago he raced three-wide early and then without cover before fighting on determinedly to finish second to Waylade in the 2536-metre McInerney Ford Classic. A week earlier he raced three-wide for much of the journey when a great third behind Waylade and Vc Manoeuvre in the 2130-metre Four-Year-Old Championship. That followed all-the-way wins at Pinjarra, Northam and Gloucester Park at his three previous outings. KEN CASELLAS

Star harness racing performer David Hercules is poised to make the Village Kid Sprint a one-act affair after drawing ideally in the Group Two at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The West Australian-bred pacer will be at very short odds to go one better than his second behind the front running Hokonui Ben in last season’s edition of the feature From barrier three driver Morgan Woodley will be aiming to burst to the front and set a fast pace with David Hercules, which resumed from a 15-week absence with a superb victory a fortnight ago. Produced in grand shape by trainer David Thompson for his first-up triumph, David Hercules has the natural speed and brilliance to threaten the track record of 1.53.1 set by Livingontheinterest in June 14, 2013. David Hercules finished third on that occasion. As it stands, David Hercules holds the track record for 1700 metres (1.52.8) and 2130 metres (1.53.6). The son of American stallion Artesian, David Hercules has been an outstanding bargain for David Botha and Jeneen Johnson, with his 94 starts producing 34 wins, 31 placings and stakes of $896,444. As for dangers in the $60,000 dash, brilliant mare Sensational Gabby shapes as the ‘most likely’ from barrier four. Despite her lacklustre sixth last week, Sensational Gabby’s form has been first rate this preparation, with her victories including the Members’ Sprint, Stratton Cup, Mount Eden Sprint and Norms Daughter Classic. KEN CASELLAS

Six-year-old Tuxedo Tour went within a whisker of causing a major upset last Friday night when he ran home with great determination to finish a head second to 5/1 on favourite Heez On Fire and he gets a chance to turn the tables on his brilliant rival when he meets him on better terms in the $35,000 Kennards Hire Christmas Gift final at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Tuxedo Tour, trained at Herne Hill by Kevin Keys, started from barrier three on the back line and settled down in ninth position before he surged forward to move to the breeze on the outside of the pacemaking Heez On Fire with 1200m to travel in a heat of the Gift last week. Heez On Fire, who was untroubled to lead from the prized No. 1 barrier, fought on grimly to stave off the late challenge from Tuxedo Tour, with the final two quarters being covered in 28.9sec. and 27.6sec. This week Tuxedo Tour will start from the No. 3 barrier on the front line, with Heez On Fire out at barrier five. Noted frontrunner Dashing Christian is likely to lead from the No. 1 barrier and there is a strong possibility that Tuxedo Tour will again have to work hard in the breeze. All Bettor (barrier two) and Ti Amo Franco (four) possess good natural gate speed and Chris Lewis will be anxious to slot Heez On Fire into a commanding position in the one-wide line. Heez On Fire is extremely versatile and is capable of unwinding a dazzling finishing burst, like he revealed when he thundered home from the rear to win from Medley Moose two starts ago. Despite his awkward draw, Heez On Fire is likely to start a short-priced favourite in his quest to extend his winning sequence to six and improve his record to 15 wins and four placings from only 27 starts. The WA-bred five-year-old was purchased as a four-month-old weanling by Cardup trainer Rod Oliver for $15,000 and has already amassed $178,005 in prizemoney for Oliver, his mother Doreen, brother Perry and friends Andrew Walker, Geoff Ramm, Darrell Dwyer and Kieren Eiffler. Tuxedo Tour has earned $122,876 from 11 wins and 18 placings from 41 starts after being purchased for $18,000 at the 2010 Gloucester Standardbred yearling sale by Tom Marsden, who races the stallion in partnership with his son Rod and Martin, Colin and Stephen Campbell. The Christmas Gift is one of the very few feature events in WA that has not been won by Lewis, who is in devastating form in the sulky. Champion trainer Gary Hall sen. is hoping that Dashing Christian can go one better than he did in a qualifying heat last Friday night when he set the pace and was overhauled in the final stride and was beaten by a head by the fast-finishing Mosquito Buzzin. Hall won the Christmas Gift for the fifth time when Kim Prentice drove the polemarker and 6/4 on favourite Toretto to a comfortable all-the-way victory over Our Major Mark and Red Salute 12 months ago. This followed wins with Nixons Creed (1993), Allioop (2004), McRaes Mate (2007) and Livingontheinterest (2012). Ti Amo Franco, trained in Collie by Dale Jackson, will have admirers from barrier four on the front line. He began brilliantly from the No. 5 barrier in a heat last week, but was unable to cross Dashing Christian. He then obtained a good sit, one-out and one-back, and moved to second on the home turn before wilting to fourth behind Mosquito Buzzin. He won in good style at two of his three previous starts. Matt White will resume as Mosquito Buzzin's driver this week after Aiden De Campo handled the six-year-old last week. De Campo will replace Chris Voak behind Mosquito Buzzin, with Voak on the sidelines serving a 19-day suspension after causing interference in a race last Friday night. Mosquito Buzzin has drawn ideally on the inside of the back line and should enjoy a perfect sit behind the likely pacemaker Dashing Christian. Woodley to drive This Time Dylan Outstanding young reinsman Morgan Woodley has been engaged to drive strong stayer This Time Dylan in the $22,500 Mount Eden-No Dill Christmas Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night and the nine-year-old looks capable of fighting out the finish of the 2503m stand at his fourth appearance after a spell. Woodley, who will be driving This Time Dylan for the first time, replaces Justin Prentice, who was in the sulky last Friday night when the gelding was prominent throughout and sustained a solid three-wide run to finish third behind Lisharry and Some Kinda Tactics in a 1730m sprint, with the final 800m being covered in a sparkling 55.6sec. Prentice was committed to driving Dardys Delight, a five-year-old he trains at Boyanup. Dardys Delight, who will share the front line with the Ross Olivieri-trained Chief Thundercloud, rises considerably in class, but is in sound form, with his past six starts (all in stands) producing two wins, two seconds and two thirds. Before that he had contested only one stand in 348 starts. He is closely related to Winter Strike, who earned $416,693 from 33 wins and 50 placings from 143 starts. He was a winner of eight stands, six at Gloucester Park and two at Pinjarra. This Time Dylan, trained at Pinjarra by Michael Brennan, will start off the 40m mark, but is capable of a bold showing. He has a losing sequence of 13, dating back to last May when he won a 2503m event off 30m at Gloucester Park. Four months earlier he finished a splendid third behind Hokonui Ben and Toretto in the 2936m WA Pacing Cup. He won four times (all off 10m) over 2503m in September-October 2013 and he impressed when he started off 40m and finished second to Rocket Reign in the 3309m Marathon Handicap in August this year. Some Kinda Tactics will share the 40m handicap with This Time Dylan on Friday night and should also prove hard to beat. He is racing consistently, with his 12 starts this season producing three wins, four seconds and three thirds. Chief Thundercloud, a lightly-raced New Zealand-bred seven-year-old, will be one of the main fancies after having four starts in WA for a win in a 2503m stand and three second placings. He raced without cover for the final two laps when a sound second to the frontrunning Avalon Bromac in a 2536m mobile at Gloucester Park last Saturday night. Olivieri will also be represented by veteran pacers Pembrook Henry and To Transcend and Wanneroo trainer Debbie Padberg will be looking for a stout-hearted effort from 11-year-old mare Salliwood, who will start off 20m and will be handled by Mark Reed,. Salliwood has finished second in the past two Christmas Handicaps. She was driven by Shannon Suvaljko when she finished strongly into second place behind Uncle Kracker in 2012 and then was awarded the race after the winner was disqualified. In last year's race Salliwood set the pace and was defeated by a half-head by the fast-finishing J Walker. It all points to Sensational Gabby Brilliant mare Sensational Gabby looks set to complete her preparation for the $60,000 Village Kid Sprint on Friday week in fine style by proving too speedy for her 11 male rivals in the 2130m Merry Xmas Del Basso Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Her prospects soared when she was dealt the No. 3 marble in the random barrier draw and Chris Lewis is likely to make a bold bid to dash her straight to the front. Drawn inside her are Soho Highroller and Go West U Terror, geldings with good gate speed, but susceptible to an early challenge from Sensational Gabby, who can begin with dazzling speed. In the event of Soho Highroller holding up and leading, Lewis would be anxious to gain a good sit in the one-wide line before asking Sensational Gabby to unleash her renowned sizzling finishing burst. She was seventh (on the pegs) at the bell before finishing fast to be third behind David Hercules and Soho Highroller over 1730m last Friday night. Soho Highroller certainly looks the pick of the four runners from the all-conquering Gary Hall sen. stable. He notched his third successive second placing last Friday night when he finished strongly from sixth at the bell to beat all but David Hercules. The prospects of seven-year-old Lisharry completing a winning hat-trick diminished when he drew poorly at No. 5 on the front line. He set the pace for easy victories over 2503m and 1730m on the past two Friday nights. Unbeaten youngsters to clash The clash between highly-promising unbeaten three-year-olds Ima Connoisseur and Zennart in the 1730m Kennards Hire Pace should be a highlight of the ten-event program at Gloucester Park on Friday night. In the blue corner will be Ima Connoisseur, a gelding trained by Greg and Skye Bond who has not tasted defeat in four starts, and in the blue and gold corner is Zennart, a colt trained by Gary Hall sen. who has been most impressive in winning at his only two starts in New Zealand. Ima Connoisseur won by ten and a half lengths at his debut, over 2200m at Alexandra Park in June this year, and then was untroubled to win at Pinjarra at his first three Australian starts, scoring twice over 1684m and once over 2185m. He sprinted the final 400m in 27.3sec. in both his sprint wins and was timed at 27.5sec. when he won over 2185m. Zennart led from barrier three and set the pace when he won easily on debut, scoring by four and a half lengths and rating 1.59.9 over 2200m at Alexandra park on July 25 this year. He sprinted the final 800m in 57.2sec., with the final 400m taking 27.8sec. At his next start Zennart started from the outside in a field of six and was restrained to last (eight lengths from the leader) before moving to fourth at the bell and coming from third (three wide) on the home turn to hit the front 30m from the post to win by a half-length at a 1.59.9 rate. He dashed over the final 400m in 27.9sec. Hall has not produced Zennart at public trials, but the Art Major colt is sure to be strongly supported, particularly when he drew inside of Ima Connoisseur. Zennart will start from barrier five on the front line, with Ima Connoisseur at No. 6. Zennart is a half-brother to Zenas Art, who raced 51 times for 14 wins (four in New Zealand, two in Victoria and eight in New South Wales) for stakes of $100,298. Zennart and Ima Connoisseur look set to fight out the finish and each should develop into a worthy contender for the WA Derby next year. Colin Brown, who will drive Ima Connoisseur in the first event on the program, also has excellent prospects in the second event, the third heat of the Free Entry Boxing Day the Coulson Pace for mares, in which he will drive Harriet Elisabeth for Byford trainer David Thompson. Harriet Elisabeth, a winner at nine of her 25 starts, is ideally drawn at barrier two on the front line in the 2130m event in which she will clash with in-form mares Rivers of Babylon and Washington Express. by Ken Casellas  

Brilliant pacer Bettors Fire is one of the most versatile performers in Western Australia, which has harness racing trainer Kyle Harper bubbling with confidence ahead of Friday night’s Fred Doy Memorial at Gloucester Park. Bettors Fire can switch from stand to mobile and from staying events to sprints without turning a hair and that’s why Harper believes the son of Bettors Delight can win despite awkwardly in barrier five. Bettors Fire’s clash with dashing sprinter David Hercules promises to be the highlight of the 10-event program, with Bettors Fire gaining an early advantage by drawing inside of David Hercules, which will start from six at his first appearance for three-and-a-half months. Bettors Fire won stands over 2503 metres in October and November and then mustered tremendous early speed before setting the pace and winning the Group Three Parliamentarians Cup over 2536 metre at Gloucester Park and the Group Two Bunbury Cup over 2569 metres at Donaldson Park last Saturday night. “I thought I could zap them in the Bunbury Cup and I did and he had a pretty happy trip in front,” Harper said. “In Friday night’s race there is a fair bit of speed inside him, but I’d say they would all would want to be taking a sit. However, you never know. “My plan is to go forward at the start and I’ll be moving forward beneath David Hercules. Hopefully, Bettors Fire will be able to find the front and he should take some beating. But you can never discredit David Hercules, who is a very good horse. “After the race Bettors Fire will have a couple of weeks off before he starts in the Village Kid Sprint over 1730 metres. Then he will contest the Fremantle Cup (2536 metres) and WA Pacing Cup (2936 metres). “It’s hard to say whether he is a better stayer or sprinter because he does everything so well. I think he’s a better stayer, but there’s not many at the moment who can run as quick a mile as he can.” Harper has nominated Bettors Fire for the Inter Dominion, with the Final to be run at Menangle on March 1. “Whether we go to Sydney will depend on how he performs in the Cups,” Harper said. “I don’t like to get too far ahead of myself. “I would have to say that Bettors Fire is the best horse I have driven. I have been fortunate to have driven some very nice horses like Has The Answers and Mysta Magical Mach and I think he is better than those two, which is a big call. “I rarely hopple Bettors Fire and he’s had just one hoppled run in this preparation. The rest has been gallop work on the beach and at home in the heavy sand. He also does plenty of wading at the beach.” Bettors Fire has raced superbly in Western Australia where his 21 starts have produced 13 wins and three placings. He won at 11 of his 30 starts in New Zealand and has earned $336,252 in prizemoney. KEN CASELLAS

Champion reinsman Gary Hall jun. is not fazed at Waylade’s awkward barrier at No. 6 on the front line and has full confidence that the lightly-raced, inexperienced four-year-old will give him his 39th victory in a group 1 event by proving the master of his 11 rivals in the $175,000 Retravision Golden Nugget Championship at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The 32-year-old Hall, who has also driven the winners of 26 group 2 events and 40 group 3 races, is refusing to become flustered at the wide draw and he declared that the Nugget was “just another race for us.” However, he conceded that barrier six presented a great challenge for the immature New Zealand-bred gelding who has had only nine starts. But the Hall stable is used to confronting challenges head-on and overcoming them with monotonous regularity. “We’ll probably find out a lot about him,” Hall said. “And we’ll probably have to come from behind.” Waylade, prepared by master trainer Gary Hall sen., is well on truly on target of bringing up the third leg of the prestigious Triple Crown for four-year-olds, after his superb victories in the $50,000 Four-year-Old Championship and $125,000 McInerney Ford Classic in the past three weeks. Waylade has bright prospects of becoming the seventh pacer to complete the McInerney Ford Classic-Golden Nugget double in 19 years since the McInerney Ford Classic was first run. The double has been achieved by Salinger (1997), Saab (1998), Gee Whiz Fizz (2005), Mr Yankee (2006), Lombo Pocket Watch (2007) and Bonavista Bay (2009).   Sixty-five-year-old Hall sen. had no hesitation in declaring that Waylade was the best of his six runners in the Golden Nugget. He said that the initial plans were for Waylade to go back from his wide barrier and then hope for a bit of luck. “He will be as good as he was when he won the McInerney Ford Classic,” he said. “He hasn’t been extended in his past three wins and I’m sure he’s the one to beat. If it is a truly-run race, as I’m sure it will be, he will be very hard to beat.” At his most recent start, in the 2536m McInerney Ford Classic last Friday week, Waylade was smartest into stride from the No. 2 barrier before setting a solid pace and strolling to victory by just under  four lengths from Bettor Offer, who fought on doggedly after working hard in the breeze for most of the journey. A week earlier Waylade started from barrier four on the front line and raced without cover before winning the 2130m Four-Year-Old Championship from VC Manoeuvre and Bettor Offer. And a week before that Waylade raced in the breeze and won a Nugget Prelude over 2536m from Classic American and Soho Lennon. The Hall camp’s other five runners are Majorly Foxy Styx (No. 2 barrier on the front line), Soho Lennon (No. 3), A Boy Named Rosie (No. 7), VC Manoeuvre (inside of the back line) and Classic American (outside of the back line). Majorly Foxy Styx, a brilliant all-the-way winner of the group 1 Mares Classic at a 1.56.3 rate over 2130m last Friday night, will be driven for the first time by champion reinsman Chris Lewis and looks certain to be a freewheeling pacemaker. “Much depends on how she settles, but she should be there at the finish,” Hall sen. said. “Soho Lennon worked in great style this morning and he should gain the one-out, one-back position. He will be an improver.” Soho Lennon will be driven by Hall’s elder son Clint, with Kim Prentice engaged for A Boy Named Rosie, Nathan Turvey for VC Manoeuvre and Lauren Jones for Classic American. Hall sen. discounted A Boy Named Rosie’s chances from the outside barrier, but said that VC Manoeuvre and Classic American were capable of winning. “VC Manoeuvre should race three back on the pegs and he’s a definite blowout chance,” he said. “Classic American will be driven quietly and will be looking to follow through behind VC Manoeuvre. He’s flying and 2536m will be right up his alley.” Majorly Foxy Styx and the Mike Reed-trained Libertybelle Midfrew are the only mares in the 12-horse field and each will have admirers, even though only one mare, the frontrunning Countess Kala, in 1999, has been successful in the 34-year history of the Nugget. Reed, who trained Tricky Vic for his Nugget win in 2002, predicted that Libertybelle Midfrew would run a big race, saying: “Barrier two on the back line is a really good draw for her, particularly being behind such a quick beginner as Majorly Foxy Styx. Libertybelle Midfrew has won over 2536m and she’ll be doing nothing on Friday night, while the others will be doing all the work. She’s a great each-way chance.” Michael Brennan, who prepared Im Victorious for his Nugget win two years ago, will be represented by Billies A Star, who has just arrived in Western Australia after having ten starts in New Zealand for four wins and three placings. His best and most impressive effort was at his most recent appearance, when he was successful at a 1.57.9 rate in a 2600m mobile at Addington on November 14. He settled in tenth position , started a three-wide move at the 1500m mark before gaining a one-out, one-back sit and bursting to the front 200m from home and winning by just over two lengths. Billies A Star has drawn the coveted No. 1 barrier and Luke McCarthy is generally expected to take the trail behind the free-running Majorly Foxy Styx. Trainers Greg and Skye Bond are hoping for a change of fortune with Bettor Offer after the gelding’s third and second placings behind Waylade at his latest starts. Bettor Offer has not drawn well at No. 5 on the front line. “He has trained on in great style after his second in the McInerney Ford after racing in the breeze,” Greg Bond said. “We’ll be rolling forward and this might work for us or it might work against us. This horse has a bright future and he goes well in big races.” Colin Brown will again be in the sulky behind Bettor Offer and he will be drawing confidence on the fact that Bettor Offer set the pace and won by more than two lengths from Waylade over 2130m at Gloucester Park on October 31. Boyanup trainer Justin Prentice is confident that Mista Rush will be prominent after starting from barrier four on the back line. Mista Rush has won at eight of his 17 starts. “If he runs up to his ability he will be right there,” the 26-year-old Prentice said. “I really like the horse and I think he is right up there with the best four-year-olds in the State. His work yesterday was as good as it has ever been.” Kade Howson, who has driven Mr Yankee (2006) and Schinzig Buller (2008) to victory in the Nugget, trains the promising Ohoka Cooper, who will be driven by Chris Voak from barrier four on the front line. “It’s a tricky draw and we will need to find a nice spot,” Howson said. “He’ll run out the 2536m and that’s in his favour.” Three Blind Mice, the WA Derby winner last season, will start from barrier three on the back line and trainer-reinsman Matt White said that he would be relying on a good tempo in the race. “That will help him to ruin on solidly late,” he said. The latest market: 7/4 Waylade, 7/2 Bettor Offer, 5 Libertybelle Midfrew, 6 Majorly Foxy Styx, 7 Billies A Star, 25 Soho Lennon, Classic American, 40 VC Manoeuvre, 66 Ohoka Cooper, 100 Three Blind Mice, Mista Rush. Tricky Styx will be hard to catch Brilliant filly Tricky Styx, who is noted for her devastating finishing bursts, looks set to be seen in the role of pacemaker when she contests the 2130m Retravision Air Conditioning Pace for three-year-olds at Gloucester Park on Friday night. She has drawn perfectly at barrier one on the front line and reinsman Aiden de Campo said he expected her to set the pace and prove hard to run down. Tricky Styx, a winner of five races as a two-year-old, has resumed this season in grand form for Northam trainer Jesse Moore and looks set to be a leading contender for the WA Oaks early next year. At her first two starts as a three-year-old Tricky Styx has scored runaway wins (by a combined margin of 64.8 metres) over 2190m and 1780m at Northam last month. She has won at seven of her 11 starts and her clash on Friday night with unbeaten fillies Nuala and Im Justforyou will be a highlight of the meeting. The fillies will be opposed by three colts and one gelding. “I’ll speak to Jesse regarding tactics,” de Campo said. “We’ve always wanted to see if she can lead. She did lead from barrier two and easily won a heat of the Diamond Classic last May. She has come back in this preparation a lot more relaxed and in my opinion I’ll be trying to hold the front, not wanting to give the others a head start. “Her final 800m is really dazzling and I think that she can produce a similar sprint after bowling along in front. She’s quite a big, tough filly and I can’t see toughness being a problem for her. The opposition is pretty good and the three fillies are probably the best horses in the race, even though the other runners are pretty smart. Jesse said that Tricky Styx probably would have four or five starts before giving her a spell and then getting her primed for the Oaks.” Nuala, to be driven by Clint Hall for his father, leading trainer Gary Hall sen., will be making her first appearance since she made an auspicious Australian debut, winning easily over 2185m at Pinjarra on August 25 after racing wide early and then setting the pace. She also won easily at her only start in New Zealand, over 2000m at Oamaru in mid-May. “Nuala is a high-class filly and will go well,” said Hall sen. “She will need the run, but is still a winning chance. She has a tricky draw and this is a tough race.” Im Justforyou (who will be driven by Chris Lewis from barrier three) has not been seriously challenged at her three starts, winning in New Zealand in September and at Pinjarra in October and November. “She has won at both her WA starts pretty impressively and I think she is a genuine Oaks filly,” said trainer Clive Dalton. “She’s got a bit of depth about her and I expect her to run a good race on Friday night. “She’s got a bit of class and rated 1.57.5 in each of her wins over 1684m at Pinjarra. In the first of those runs she started from barrier seven and came from well back and ran the final 400m in 27.1sec. At her next start, her first run for five weeks, she breezed and fought it out very well. “Tricky Styx has the draw in her favour and will be hard to beat. Im Justforyou will be running on whatever happens.” Opposing the fillies will are three pacers (Red Hot Major, Mister Ardee and Arturus) trained by Gary Elson and the Callan Suvaljko-trained Blacklist. Mister Ardee is extremely consistent, with his 21 starts producing four wins, nine seconds, six thirds, a fourth and a seventh placing. Olivieri likes Earl Or Nothing Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri is proud of Earl Or Nothing’s consistency and he has high hopes that the Queensland-bred eight-year-old will keep up the good work by winning the 2503m Hisense Trotters Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Earl Or Nothing, to be driven by Chris Lewis, is ideally drawn in the stand at No. 1 on the front line and he meets many of his rivals on better terms than he has in recent months. “He has been consistent and compared with some of the races he’s been in lately he gets a really good pull on the handicaps,” Olivieri said. “He’s given these horses starts or has been on the same mark as them. “He’s off the front and I’m happy about that. He’s versatile and has won after leading. I reckon he’s a shade better coming from behind, but I’ll leave the tactics up to Chris. It won’t be easy on Friday night and of all the barriers No. 1 off the front is not my favourite draw. But I suppose I shouldn’t complain; I don’t get No. 1 very often.” Earl Or Nothing started off 60m over 2631m at Pinjarra on Monday of last week and finished a creditable fourth behind Enjoy A Coldie, who started off the 30m mark. Enjoy A Coldie, trained and driven by Nathan Turvey, will start off 10m on Friday night, meaning that Earl Or Nothing will meet Enjoy A Coldie on 40m better terms.      Earl Or Nothing has had eight starts in Western Australia for five wins, two seconds and a fourth. Looming as some of the main dangers to Earl Or Nothing are Retained and Enjoy A Malabu. The nine-year-old Retained (10m) should figure in the finish. He has been driven in all of his 18 WA starts by his trainer Clive Dalton for five wins and three placings. He raced wide early and then had a tough run in the breeze before finishing a head second to Enjoy A Malabu over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week. “That was a big run and I have put Luke McCarthy on him this week. I’ll tell Luke to go forward to the breeze.” Enjoy A Malabu (20m) is in splendid for Wundowie trainer Bruce Stanley and has won at three of his past six starts. He unwound a typical strong finishing burst to win from Retained at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week. by Ken Casellas

The stage is set for another enthralling harness racing tussle between Sensational Gabby and Libertybelle Midfrew when they clash at Gloucester Park tomorrow night. The two top performers are engaged in the $100,000 Del Basso Smallgoods Mares Classic, with rival reinsmen Chris Lewis and Mark Reed poised for an intriguing cat-and-mouse duel. Lewis won the battle of tactics last week when he guided Sensational Gabby to a superb victory over Libertybelle Midfrew in the Norms Daughter Classic. Sensational Gabby, from the back line, settled midfield, two lengths in front of Libertybelle Midfrew, which was eased back to the rear after starting from the outside of the front line. Approaching the bell, with Deluxe Edition setting a fast pace, Lewis had Sensational Gabby ready to strike. He bided his time until Reed sent Libertybelle Midfrew forward three-wide at the 950-metre mark when he angled Sensational Gabby into a trail. Libertybelle Midfrew sustained her powerful burst to hit the front turning for home, but couldn’t hold out Sensational Gabby, which swept to the lead to rate rating a slick 1.54.4. This time Sensational Gabby has drawn awkwardly in barrier five, with Libertybelle Midfrew directly on her outside. Polemarker Bettor Dreams possesses good gate speed, but appears likely trail Dontdoubtme or Majorly Foxy Styx. There is a strong chance Dontdoubtme will get to an early lead before handing up to the speedy Majorly Foxy Styx. This surely will leave Lewis and Reed weighing up their options, whether to press forward or to restrain to the rear. Adding further interest will be Victorian mare Bellas Delight, which is unfavourably drawn on the back line. Driver Greg Sugars could wait until the bell before sending Bellas Delight forward with a three-wide burst. This could provide Sensational Gabby with a perfect trail. Much of this is pure conjecture in an event in which tactics are sure to play a significant part in the outcome. KEN CASELLAS

Up-and-coming harness racing star Waylade is poised to complete a hat-trick in the space of 15 days by proving too slick in the $125,000 McInerney Ford Classic at Gloucester Park tomorrow night. Champion trainer Gary Hall is highly optimistic, particularly after the inexperienced New Zealand-bred gelding drew favourably at barrier two over 2536 metres. “He will definitely go better this week,” Hall said. “He’s getting better with every run and hasn’t reached his peak yet. “By Friday night I reckon he’ll be at his peak, and he should maintain peak form for the Golden Nugget a fortnight later.” Waylade has been most impressive in winning a Nugget prelude and the $40,000 Four-Year-Old Championship durign the past two weeks and he is firmly on target to complete a clean sweep of the rich age-restricted features by winning the McInerney Ford and the Nugget. “He has always shown a bit of ability, but until now he hasn’t revealed that sort of depth,” Hall said. “He’s got fitter and a bit more mature --- and he’s shown a lot more depth. “He’s certainly got the speed…his 27.7-second quarter down the back last week proved that.” Waylade has started from barrier four at his past two starts and has been untroubled to score after racing without cover in both events. From two this week, driver Gary Hall junior is likely to make a bold bid for the lead. Drawn on his inside is classy stablemate Soho Lennon, a winner at eight of his 24 starts. He is a versatile pacer which should be prominent throughout. Hall advised punters to disregard Soho Lennon’s 11th in the Four-Year-Old Championship last Friday night when the gelding started from barrier five and was restrained to the rear by Lauren Jones. Soho Lennon was at the tail of the field at the bell and was forced wide during the final circuit before a wheel of his sulky became locked with a wheel of stablemate Classic American’s sulky on the home turn. “Soho Lennon was off the track in the final lap and even though he wasn’t going to run anywhere before locking wheels, I’d recommend that you forget that he even raced,” Hall said. “I’d say he’ll be an improver.” Hall also has A Boy Named Rosie, Classic American and Vc Manoeuvre in the feature, with each a chance of playing a role in the finish. KEN CASELLAS

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