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Rival reinsmen Aiden de Campo (Ideal Tyson) and Kyle Harper (Bettors Fire) have a healthy respect for each other’s horse and are anticipating a spirited duel in the $25,000 GPHR Members Sprint over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The sparks are set to fly from the outset, with Ideal Tyson and Bettors Fire, as well as Galactic Star and Vultan Tin, blessed with sparkling gate speed. Ideal Tyson, trained at Coolup by Kristy Elson, will start from barrier four on the front line, with Bettors Fire at No. 6. Vultan Tin (Chris Voak) will start from No. 3 and Galactic Star (Ryan Warwick) at No. 5. De Campo made his intentions quite clear when he said: “’From gate four, we’ll be pressing forward pretty hard. I’d love to lead. We’ll work forward and hopefully be in front, or in the breeze. On his latest run, you would suggest he could win again from the breeze. However, Bettors Fire is a very good horse and can go very fast.” Harper said that Bettors Fire (who has made most of the running to win over 2536m and 2130m at his past two starts) was always a winning chance over any distance. “He’s a good sprinter who loves the mile,” he said. “It’s hard from barrier six over the short trip and I’m sure it’s not going to be easy. Vultan Tin goes well in front and Ideal Tyson went very well, first-up, sitting in the breeze and winning in 1.52.8 over 1730m. “If we go too hard early it will bring horses like Shandale and Our Jimmy Johnstone into the race from bad barriers. I’ll play it by ear, but over the sprint trip I don’t think we will be going back. “I often get asked the question whether Bettors Fire is better at a staying distance or a short trip and the answer is ‘I don’t know’. He’s very good over all distances.” Punters would be well advised to take into account Bettors Fire’s performance at his most recent outing over 1730m. That was 12 starts ago when the wonderful nine-year-old burst to the front from barrier seven and set the pace before winning the Group 2 Village Kid Sprint at Gloucester Park on December 29. He was a 55/1 outsider and won from the 7/4 on favourite Soho Tribeca, Chicago Bull, Zach Maguire and My Hard Copy, rating 1.52.6. His ten runs over 1730m have produced three wins (including a victory over Im Victorious in the Mount Eden Sprint at Gloucester Park in November 2013), two seconds, one third, two fourths, one fifth and one sixth. De Campo was overseas on holidays when Gary Hall Jnr drove Ideal Tyson to a dashing first-up victory in considerably weaker company over 1730m two Fridays ago. “He went super first-up and I’m lucky to get the drive back,” said de Campo, who has driven Ideal Tyson 26 times for six wins, seven seconds and seven thirds. Ryan Warwick, who drove Our Jimmy Johnstone to an all-the-way victory over Beaudiene Boaz in the 2017 Members Sprint, has given punters a good lead by opting to drive the Skye Bond-trained Galactic Star in preference to Our Jimmy Johnstone this week. Our Jimmy Johnstone, an impressive winner from Shandale and The Bucket List over 2130m last Friday week, will start from barrier eight on Friday night, with Dylan Egerton-Green in the sulky. Galactic Star, a noted speedster, is capable of a bold showing from barrier five at his first appearance since finishing second to Major Star in the Albany Cup on February 2. Heez On Fire also will be racing first-up for veteran trainer Bill Horn. The eight-year-old, the winner of 20 races from 51 starts, is handily drawn at barrier two. He proved his fitness with a narrow trial win over Gotta Go Chocolate in a 2550m standing-start trial at Byford last Sunday week. Ken Casellas

Fortune favours the brave as they say. And that’s how best to describe the success Kiwi trainer Brad Mowbray is having in Sydney with his exciting mare Delishka. Beating the All Stars’ barn at home in NZ is hard enough and so many Kiwis now don’t even bother travelling to Aussie to try take on the best here plus the All Stars’ raiders. Mowbray took-up the challenge and with stunning results so far. Next stop is the big dance, the Group 1 Ladyship Mile at Menangle on February 24. Delishka opened her Aussie campaign with a sound but luckless seventh in the Ladyship Cup in Melbourne, but hasn’t looked back since. She backed-up a week later to win in a 1min52.8sec mile at Menangle, then went to another level courtesy of a superb Blake Fitzpatrick drive to win the Sibelia Stakes in a 1min51.1sec mile last Saturday night. Delishka beat reigning Ladyship Mile winner, the All Stars’ A Piccadilly Princess, in the process. A Piccadilly Princess was given the run of the race in the one-by-one trail by Luke McCarthy, but couldn’t match Delishka’s “ping” once Fitzpatrick got her clear of the leader’s back. It was a hotly run race with Partyon leading and copping plenty of pressure from Shane Tritton’s tough grey mare My Rona Gold, who fought on well for fourth. Partyon wilted under the pressure and finished last. ________________________________________________________________________________________ LAZARUS didn’t even need to race at Menangle last Saturday night for us to be reminded how good he is. Just a week after Tiger Tara was crushed into submission by Lazarus in the Hunter Cup, he did the same to a solid but weaker field in the free-for-all at Menangle. It was a win which ranked up with Tiger Tara’s best. He drew the outside over a mile, worked forward to sit parked and kept the pressure on throughout in a blistering 1min50.2sec mile. Classy sit-sprinter Mach Doro trailed the leader, got an inside run to draw level with Tiger Tara, but Kevin Pizzuto’s warhorse was simply too strong. His splits for the mile were 26.9, 28.0, 27.6 and 27.7sec. Next stop is another possible clash with Lazarus in one of the two Miracle Mile qualifying sprints at Menangle next Saturday night. ________________________________________________________________________________________ SHANE Tritton is planning to have four runners in the two Miracle Mile qualifying sprints at Menangle next Saturday night. Former top class Kiwi pacer Franco Nelson, who went like a jet winning at Menangle last Saturday week, looks his top seed. “We’re also going to run Yayas Hot Spot, My Alpha Rock and Anything For Love,” he said. Anything For Love made it five wins from his past six starts when he led and sparkled in a 1min50.4sec mile at Menangle last Saturday night. ________________________________________________________________________________________ IT was like the good old days for Kerryn Manning at Melton last Friday night. There was a time, when driving was basically her sole focus, when Manning would regularly dominate race meetings. She did just that, winning four of the eight races at Melton, including the fast-class race with her outstanding former Kiwi mare Our Golden Goddess. Our Golden Goddess has now won all six starts for Manning this campaign and heads to Sydney nominal favourite for the Group 1 Ladyship Mile on Saturday week. Last Friday she led from the pole and scored in a very slick 1min54.8sec mile rate for 2240m. Manning’s four driving wins came for four different trainers. While he trains Our Golden Goddess, it would have been especially pleasing to win a feature juvenile race, the Premiere Stakes, aboard Scheu Creek for her father, Peter. Scheu Creek, who led throughout and won easily in a 1min56.8sec mile rate for 1720m, provided an early and important win for his sire, former Hunter Cup and Chariots of Fire winner Caribbean Blaster. Manning’s other wins came aboard Lance Justice’s Love Ina Chevy, best known as the pacer who cheated death for many days after a snake bite, and Graham Lee’s trotter Illcryifhewinds. Just for good measure, Manning’s win all at to the growing “Teal Pants” promotion booty. She, Kate Gath and Jodi Quinlan are the Victorian representatives for the cause. Manning’s success rolled-on to Echuca last Saturday night when she won the Group 3 Echuca Cup with classy former Kiwi pacer Motu Meteor. The gelding wouldn’t have been out of place in the Chariots of Fire on the same night, but didn’t qualify. So Manning took him to Echuca instead where he led from gate two and won comfortably in a 1min59.9sec mile rate for 2560m. ________________________________________________________________________________________ KYLE Harper keeps marvelling at his classy old pacer Bettors Fire. The nine-year-old is still good enough to upstage WA’s best with the right draw, so he was a moral when he drew one and led a moderate free-for-all field at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Harper led the gelding slide along in a 1min54.7sec and burned down the back in 27.2sec before holding-off a late surge from Our Jimmy Johnstone to win well. It was back on December 29 when he led and upset Soho Tribeca and Chicago Bull in the Village Kid Sprint. Bettors Fire’s now raced 90 times for 34 wins, 20 placings and earned close to $700,000. The other Gloucester Park feature, the $50,000 Group 2 Daintys Daughter Classic (2130m), went to father-son team Gary Hall Sr and Gary Jr in an upset with Art Major filly Slick Artist. She overcame a back row draw to comfortably beat WA’s best fillies in a key indicator race for the upcoming WA Oaks. ________________________________________________________________________________________ MUCH-TRAVELLED veteran Our Jericho snared another feature win in his new home state last Saturday night. Now trained in South Australia by Les Harding, the eight-year-old narrowly but impressively won the Gawler Cup. Our Jericho started his career in NZ, had long stints in Victoria and WA before returning briefly to Victoria and now to SA. He’s now raced 73 times for 16 wins, 14 placings and earned over $220,000.   Adam Hamilton

Veteran pacer Bettors Fire fared the best in the random draw and harness racing trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper is set to attempt an all-the-way victory in the $25,000 Chinese New Year Fireworks Night Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The nine-year-old noted frontrunner is sure to start a short-priced favourite after drawing the coveted No. 1 barrier in the field of nine. Bettors Fire, who led and won the Village Kid Sprint over 1730m from Soho Tribeca and Chicago Bull four starts ago, is certain to appreciate the absence of those star performers but he will have to contend with spirited opposition from Ohoka Punter and Norvic Nightowl, who are prepared by Gary Hall Snr and are racing with commendable spirit. Gary Hall Jnr will drive Ohoka Punter from barrier four and Nathan Turvey will be in the sulky behind Norvic Nightowl, who is favourably drawn at barrier two. Leading trainer Gary Hall Snr, who will be represented by Ohoka Punter, Norvic Nightowl, American Boy (barrier five) and Zach Maguire (eight), said: “Bettors Fire looks set to lead and Ohoka Punter will put it to him late and Norvic Nightowl will have the last crack at them.” Bettors Fire was an 18/1 chance last Friday night when he began speedily from barrier three in the 2536m Lord Mayor’s Cup. He was in the breeze early before gaining a good passage in sixth position, one-out and two-back, before fighting on doggedly to finish fourth behind the brilliant Chicago Bull, Ohoka Punter and Master Jaxon. The final quarters whizzed by in 27.9sec. and 27.1sec. Ohoka Punter started from the inside barrier last week and trailed the pacemaker Chicago Bull before finishing solidly. That extended his losing sequence to 16, but he is getting close to recording an overdue victory. Forrestdale trainer Skye Bond has two runners in Friday night’s race Our Jimmy Johnstone (Ryan Warwick) and Delightful Offer (Colin Brown). However, their winning prospects diminished when they drew unfavourably at barriers six and nine, respectively. Eight-year-old Heez On Fire will start from the No. 3 barrier at his first appearance for just over three months. He has won standing-start trials at Byford and Pinjarra late last month. However, he faces a tough first-up assignment. Harper has high hopes of completing a double by driving the James Sortras-trained Mon Lillies to victory in the final event on the ten-event program, the second heat of the Book Into The Beau Rivage Pace over 2130m. Mon Lillies is ideally drawn at barrier one in a field of seven and Harper is sure to use her sparkling gate speed in a bid to set the pace and go on and record the mare’s 14th victory. Mon Lillies will need to be close to her best form to beat Better B Chevron (barrier six) and Madame Meilland (No. 3). Better B Chevron impressed with her smart all-the-way win over Runrunjimmydunn in the 1780m Village Kid Sprint at Northam last Saturday night. That was Better B Chevron’s ninth win from 12 starts in Western Australia. She has won at her past four appearances at Gloucester Park. The New South Wales-bred former Victorian performer Madame Meilland is also in splendid form, with her ten starts this season producing five wins, two seconds and two thirds. Ken Casellas  

Harness racing driver Kyle Harper can see a few scenarios which will land him his first Fremantle Pacing Cup with 9yo speedster Bettors Fire.

Outstanding pacer Bettors Fire will reappear after a nine-month absence when he contests the WA Pacing Cup Fireworks Night January 19 Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night and harness racing trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper reports that the nine-year-old is fit and firmly on track for a tilt at the Fremantle Cup and WA Pacing Cup next month. “I’m really pleased with him and he should go pretty close, first-up,” Harper said. Bettors Fire, a winner of 32 races and $636,622 in prizemoney, is favourably drawn at barrier three on Friday night and he should be capable of surging to an early lead and setting the pace in the 2130m event. “Unfortunately, Bettors Fire had a setback a couple of months ago, so I decided, as hard as it was, to bypass the Inter Dominion and set him for the two big Cups,” Harper said. “With his excellent gate speed, he should find the front this week and take catching.” Bettors Fire has looked a picture in trials at Byford on the past two Sunday mornings when he was untroubled and not extended in winning against moderate opposition and without setting fast times. In both trials Bettors Fire began from the outside barrier and was restrained at the start before finishing full of running. In the first of the 2150m trials Bettors Fire rated 1:58.6 after quarters of 30.1sec., 28.9sec., 29.3sec. and 30.2sec. A week later, the early speed was extremely slow and after sections of 32.8sec. and 30.5sec., Harper sent the gelding forward with a sharp burst to take up the running at the bell before coasting over the final quarters in 28.9sec. and 28.6sec. Betters Fire won very easily from Erskine Range, rating a modest 2:00.7. “I was happy to follow them around and just let him find his fitness in the trials,” Harper said. “The first trial was good, but in the next trial they wanted to run trackwork times, so I was forced to take off a bit earlier than I would have liked. “I was happy with both trials. The first trial was the first time for about eight months that he had hopples on. I just gallop him and he’s got plenty of miles in his legs. He has been working really well at home and I can’t fault him. Whether he comes back as a racehorse now that he’s getting older is the only query. That will be the key factor. Whatever he does on Friday night, he’ll improve on. “Motu Premier is racing very well and looks the main danger. He has an advantage in race fitness. But we should be in front, and leading at Gloucester Park is a big advantage.” The Ross Olivieri-trained Motu Premier (Chris Lewis) will start from the No. 6 barrier and will have many admirers, particularly after his splendid performance last Friday night when he was eighth and last at the bell before finishing powerfully to be a head second to Vultan Tin at a 1:56.1 rate over 2536m. Adding further interest to the race will be the return of dual WA Pacing Cup winner My Hard Copy, who will be fancied from the coveted No. barrier. My Hard Copy, to be handled by Gary Hall Jnr, will be having his first start since his fading eighth behind Chicago Bull in the 1730m Mount Eden Sprint nine weeks ago. Victory would boost My Hard Copy’s earnings past the $1 million mark. Champion trainer Gary Hall Snr will also be represented by Norvic Nightowl, who will be driven by Stuart McDonald from barrier No. 5.  The eight-year-old last appeared when he covered a lot of extra ground and finished powerfully from ninth at the bell to be a desperately close third in a three-way photo behind Simply Susational and Tricky Styx in the Media Guild Cup on September 29. Olivieri holds a strong hand in Friday night’s race with Motu Premier, Costa Del Magnifico (Chris Voak) and Im Full of Excuses (Shannon Suvaljko) and Aiden de Campo has been engaged to drive star New Zealand mare A Piccadilly Princess, who will start from the outside in a field of eight. Ken Casellas

Veteran pacer Better Than Money bounced back to form with a smart all-the-way victory over 2130m last Friday night and harness racing trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper is confident the nine-year-old will give a bold showing in the $23,000 Vale Laurie Kennedy Pace over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “He’s dropping back to a mile, and a mile is his forte … where he runs his best races,” Harper said. “Yes, it is a step up in class for him, but in terms of a Free-For-All field, it’s not the strongest. He can run a very good time over a mile and I think that, if he jumps to the front, he’ll rattle off a 1.54 which would leave him somewhere in the finish. “He was very good last week. The previous week (when he led from barrier nine and faded to 11th behind Sprinter over 2130m) he needed the run. He had missed a bit of work because of sore feet, and I expected him to be better at his next start, which he was when he won (beating Quite A Delight).” Better Than Money, who will be having his 146th start, will begin from the No. 4 barrier in the field of nine and Harper is planning a fast start in a bid for the early lead. “I think he can cross Americanbootscoota (barrier one),” said Harper, who celebrated his 27th birthday with a winning double last Friday night. “I would like not to have to fire him out too much, but I think he’s got the speed to cross. We won’t be stopping to chat, either which way.” Chris Lewis, who drove Always Arjay to a thrilling victory at Gloucester Park on Tuesday night to record his 195th driving success for the season on his 62nd birthday, has a high opinion of Americanbootscoota, who has won at six of his past ten starts and is expected to be a firm favourite for Friday night’s race in which he will start from the coveted No. 1 barrier. He is a good beginner and an excellent frontrunner and Lewis is sure to jump Americanbootscoota to the front and then will weigh up his options --- whether to resist the expected challenge from Better Than Money or to take the sit behind that horse and rely on Americanbootscoota’s powerful finish. Ideal Alice, a freewheeling mare who has won 19 races and has a M11 classification, will start from the outside in the field of nine. A smart all-the-way winner from Vultan Tin over 2536m last Friday week, she faces a stern test from her wide draw. The Ross Olivieri-trained Jambiani also will need luck after starting from barrier eight. He showed a return to top form last Friday night when he was last in a field of nine at the 300m mark before charging home to snatch victory from Vultan Tin over 2536m. Olivieri said that luck would play a part in determining the result of Friday night’s race. “I didn’t think Jambiani could win last week,” he said. “But he went terrific and has done well since winning.” Ken Casellas

Star pacer Bettors Fire is being set for the $40,000 Easter Cup on Thursday week and he will contest the 1730m Celebrating Melissa Renouf Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night in preparation for the Cup, a 2902m standing-start harness racing feature event. The eight-year-old New Zealand-bred gelding is a brilliant sprinter as well as being an outstanding stayer who has raced in only three standing-start events --- for three wins --- in his first 54 starts in Western Australia. Trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper is delighted at Bettors Fire’s return to racing, after an absence of 12 weeks, when he thundered home from last at the bell to win easily from the fast-finishing Bronze Seeker in a 2130m mobile event last Friday night. Bettors Fire, who has amassed $635,702 from 32 wins and 19 placings from 83 starts, will be a hot favourite when he starts from the outside barrier (No. 8) in Friday night’s race in which he will clash with in-form pacers Risk, American Boy and Bronze Seeker as well as smart six-year-old Crusader Banner, who will be having his first start for eight months. “On paper, it looks like his race to lose, but if I drive him right, it’s his race to win” Harper said. “I looked after him, first-up, last week and took him back at the start. The intentions will be to send him off the gate this week. “But there are some very quick beginners drawn inside of us and I’ll probably have to assess (the situation) early and see what the speed is like. Getting to the front would be nice. He’s the class runner in the race, but just because he’s better than the other runners doesn’t mean that he’s a good thing. There’s no such thing as a good thing. “In a short trip at Gloucester Park, if you’re not up there, it’s tough, no matter how good you are. I’ll need to get him up there at some point, whether it’s off the arm or if we make a move a bit later. That’s something that I’ll have to assess at the time. He’s got the speed to cross most of his rivals, but we don’t want to cut off our nose to spite our face. “He’s ready to run a pretty slick mile. I have freshened him up since last Friday’s win and I’m looking forward to a successful campaign.” Harper said that Bettors Fire would have a handful of starts before going out for a winter spell and then being brought back to be prepared for the Interdominion championship series at Gloucester Park in November-December and the Fremantle Cup and WA Pacing Cup. Bettors Fire won a heat of the Inters last summer (when he defeated Smolda) before finishing sixth behind Smolda in the final. He finished powerfully to be fourth behind Chicago Bull in the Fremantle Cup last January, but a hoof abscess prevented him from contesting the rich WA Pacing Cup a week later. Harper has a second string in Friday night’s sprint in the lowly-assessed Bettor Than Money, a nine-year-old M1-class pacer who will start from barrier five on the front line. The gelding will be driven by Harper’s elder brother Donald. Better Than Money, an all-the-way winner over 1730m at a 1.56.4 rate at Gloucester Park in mid-February, possesses sparkling gate speed, with Kyle Harper saying: “He runs a very good mile and leaves the arm nearly as fast as Bettors Fire. If he jumps to the front, he’ll run a very good race.” Risk, rained by Greg and Skye Bond, will be driven by Ryan Warwick from the No. 6 barrier on the front line and is capable of a bold showing at his third appearance after a spell. He has resumed in good style with placings behind American Boy and Kiwi Legend. American Boy, trained by Gary Hall sen., will start from the No. 3 barrier with Lauren Jones in the sulky. He maintained his wonderful form at Gloucester Park last Friday night when he started from the outside of the front line and finished determinedly from last in the middle stages to be second to Twoandahalf Tigers over 2130m. Maddison Brown will drive the Peter Anderson-trained Bronze Seeker for the first time and the eight-year-old is in career-best form. He was most impressive last Friday night when he was last in a field of eight with 600m to travel and was being cast back behind the tiring Firebomb. He was seventh (five wide) at the 250m mark and ran home powerfully to be second to Bettors Fire. Crusader Banner, trained by Hall sen., is an interesting runner who will be making his first appearance since finishing fast into third place behind Run Oneover and Cyamach over 2130m on June 24 last year. He has raced 41 times for 13 wins and 11 placings and will be driven by Micheal Ferguson from barrier seven. Ken Casellas

Handsome eight-year-old Bettors Fire is fit and ready to make a successful return to harness racing by proving the master of his eight rivals in the $23,000 Intersport Slater Gartrell Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He possesses the speed and brilliance to overcome the disadvantage of starting from the outside barrier in the field of nine in the 2130m event. Trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper gave him a solid hit-out in a trial at Byford last Sunday week when the gelding ran home strongly to win by a length from Rocknroll Whitby. After slow opening quarters of 32.9sec. and 31.1sec., Bettors Fire was not extended in sprinting over the final sections in 28sec. and 28.1sec. Bettors Fire has had a spell since he was the pre-post favourite for the WA Pacing Cup in mid-January, but had to be withdrawn on the day of the big race when all was not right with the star pacer who has amassed $620,522 from 31 wins and 19 placings from 82 starts. His most recent appearance was in the $300,000m Fremantle Cup on January 6 when he was most impressive in surging home from eleventh at the bell to be fourth behind Chicago Bull, Soho Tribeca and Our Jimmy Johnstone. Harper was thrilled with Bettors Fire’s performance, saying: “The barrier draw (No. 9) told against us. He was about six deep on the home bend and he got home super. I think that his run was better than that of Chicago Bull.” Harper will have plenty of options when he drives Bettors Fire on Friday night. The versatile gelding has sparkling gate speed and he also possesses a powerful finishing burst. An outstanding pacer, Bettors Fire has an M15 classification and looks a class above his rivals on Friday night. Also, reappearing after a spell is five-year-old Ima Connoisseur, who won six in a row late last year before being unplaced at four starts before trainers Greg and Skye Bond sent him out for a well-deserved spell. Ima Connoisseur, to be driven by Ryan Bell, possesses dazzling gate speed and Bell could well make a bold bid for the early lead from the No. 6 barrier. The Bond camp will also be represented by Condrieu, who will be driven by Ryan Warwick from the favourable No. 3 barrier. The seven-year-old, placed once from his past 11 starts, is getting close to returning to winning form. He trailed the pacemaker Bettor Offer and was hampered for room in the final stages when an unlucky fourth behind Ohoka Kentucky over 2130m last Friday night. That followed two sound efforts --- when he led and finished third behind Red Salute and Lisharry on March 3 and then finished gamely into fifth place behind Im Full of Excuses in the 2692m Pinjarra Cup. Red Salute (Chris Voak) has returned to his best form in recent weeks for Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri and the eight-year-old has excellent prospects of finishing in a place behind Bettors Fire. He raced without cover early and then had a good sit, one-out and one-back, before finishing strongly to be a close second to Ohoka Kentucky last Friday night. At his previous start, two weeks earlier, Red Salute began speedily and enjoyed the one-out, one-back trail before finishing fast to win from Lisharry and Condrieu. Olivieri has a second string in Friday night’s event in Tuxedo Tour, who will be driven by Chris Lewis from the pole position. Tuxedo Tour, a good frontrunner, has a losing sequence of 12 and has been unplaced at his past nine starts. Byford trainer Peter Anderson will be represented by veterans Bronze Seeker (Gary Hall jun.) and Lisharry (Shannon Suvaljko). Both pacers are capable of unwinding a spirited finishing burst. Ken Casellas

There is one constant in the TABtouch WA Pacing Cup in recent years --- and that is the appearance of grand stayer Bettors Fire, a New Zealand-bred eight-year-old by Bettor's Delight whose harness racing trainer-driver Kyle Harper has high hopes of breaking through for a win in the $450,000 group 1 event at his fourth attempt.      Bettors Fire, a winner of 31 races and $620,522 from 82 starts, will be the only pacer to have run in the big race in 2014, 2015, 2016 and this year for a fifth behind Hokonui Ben in 2014 and ninths behind My Hard Copy in the past two years. He has a record of four runs in the Fremantle Cup for a second to Im Victorious, fourth to David Hercules, third to Beaudiene Boaz and an excellent eye-catching fourth behind Chicago Bull last Friday night when he surged home from eleventh at the bell. And his form before last week’s effort was good, including victory over Smolda in a 2130m heat of the recent Interdominion championship and a solid sixth behind Smolda in the 2936m final. Bettors Fire will start from the No. 5 barrier on the front line in Friday night’s 2936m Cup and Harper is considering using the gelding’s sparkling gate speed in a bid to burst to an early lead. “We’d certainly like to lead,” Harper said. “But you’ve always got to be a bit careful over the 2900m. I suppose a lot will depend on the speed shown by the four runners drawn on our inside. However, I think we’ve got the speed to cross to the front. But on the other hand, over the long journey the big question is whether you really want to open the floodgates and burn that fuel early. “I think that if he can lead without changing too many gears he will be very hard to beat. These races are not easy to win whether you have a good barrier or not. And you’ve got to respect Major Reality’s gate speed and her ability, and I also rate Soho Tribeca and Delightful Offer as major dangers. “Looking at last week’s Fremantle Cup, the winner Chicago Bull went good, but Bettors Fire went even better. I was really happy with his run. The barrier draw (No. 9) got us. Bettors Fire was about six deep on the home bend and he got home super. No horse likes being six deep on the bend and he probably lost just that quarter of a length turning for home. He was hitting the line just as good as any runner in the race.” Harper agreed that Bettors Fire was finally due to win a big cup. He still has fond memories of his first drive in a WA Pacing Cup on January 21, 2011 when he was in the sulky behind 16/1 chance Mysta Magical Mach, who set the pace and finished a half-length second to superstar Im Themightyquinn. Harper managed to set a dawdling pace with opening quarters of the final mile in 32.7sec. and 31.1sec. before final sections of 27.6sec. and 27.9sec. If Bettors Fire manages to get to an early lead on Friday night Harper certainly will not enjoy the benefit of getting away with such leisurely sectionals. Gloucester Park

Stewards today questioned harness racing driver Mr K Harper (BETTORS FIRE) in relation to comments made on TAB Radio on Sunday 27th November 2016 in relation to his intentions with respect to Heat 2 of the Inter Dominion Series being run at Bunbury tomorrow.   Mr Harper explained that although his choice of words may have been misinterpreted by some listeners, all he meant by his comments were that he believed it would be very hard to beat short price favourite, HECTORJAYJAY because of the barrier draw in Tuesday night’s second heat at Bunbury. As a result of the draw it would be tactically necessary to drive BETTORS FIRE in a more conservative manner to afford it the best opportunity in the race as the horse would have been better suited if drawn more favourably.    The Stewards issued Mr Harper with a reprimand in relation to his comments that left open to question his intentions.   Mr Harper was also reminded of his obligations under the Rules, in particular that the Stewards would be expecting him to demonstrate through his actions, that he was taking all reasonable and permissible measures during the course of a race to ensure that the horse was given full opportunity to win or obtain the best possible placing in the field.    Any failure to comply with this rule would be dealt with accordingly.

A favourable barrier draw at No. 3 has thrust eight-year-old Bettors Fire into the limelight and gives the Kyle Harper-trained harness racing gelding a strong winning chance in the second qualifying heat of the $75,000 TABtouch Inter dominion Championship at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Bettors Fire possesses sparkling gate speed and Harper appears certain to get the handsome New Zealand-bred gelding past his inside runners Phoenix Warrior and Our Blackbird and straight to the front. Bettors Fire has rarely been beaten after leading and he should prove hard to beat, particularly if he is able to run through the lead time and the opening section of the final mile at a moderate pace. Ohoka Punter, drawn as the sole runner off the back line, is suffering from a lung infection and has been scratched from the series. Coming in to replace Ohoka Punter is the speedy Ima Connoisseur. Smolda (outside of the front line) has drawn poorly, but is a class performer who appears one of the chief dangers to Bettors Fire. Trainer Gary Hall sen. said that Ohoka Punter had made a sound recovery from an attack of colic which laid the seven-year-old low early last week, but was now affected by a lung infection. Champion New Zealand trainer-reinsman Mark Purdon said that eight-year-old Smolda was in top shape and ready for a strong performance. “He’s great, the old fellow,” Purdon said. “He has settled in well at Gary Elson’s property. Not much worries him and he doesn’t take anything extra out of himself. He is just a lovely horse and his work has been good. “He gives you nothing to get excited about, but he looks good, his blood is good and I’m sure he’s ready to go well.” Smolda warmed up for the series with a sound fourth behind brilliant stablemate Lazarus in the 3200m New Zealand Cup at Addington on November 8. He worked hard before getting to the front after 600m and then relinquished the lead 600m later. At his previous start he settled in sixth position before working hard without cover and fighting on to finish second to the pacemaker Franco Nelson in the 2400m Kaikoura Cup. A fortnight earlier he started from 30m and settled in ninth place before moving to the breeze at the bell and talking the lead with 1000m to travel and winning easily from Seel The Deal in the Methven Cup, a 3000m group 3 event on a grass track. John of Arc, trained at Herron by Clive Dalton, will have supporters despite his awkward draw at barrier five. The lightly-raced, injury-plagued seven-year-old is likely to race in the breeze and should fight out the finish. He has done a good share of work before winning stylishly at his past two starts over 2130m at Gloucester Park. Ken Casellas  

Star pacer Bettors Fire is on the verge of creating harness racing history by becoming the first pacer to win the time-honoured Navy Cup for the second time, according to the eight-year-old’s trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper. Harper has the New Zealand-bred gelding in tip-top condition for $35,000 Navy Cup over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The group 3 feature event has been run 45 times and no pacer has been successful twice. Harper trained and drove Bettors Fire to an all-the-way victory over Ima Rocket Star in the 2536m Navy Cup in October 2013. That was Bettors Fire’s first win in a metropolitan-class race. Bettors Fire has set the pace and won at each of his past three starts, over 2536m and 2130m (twice) at Gloucester Park. However, the son of Bettor's Delight is awkwardly drawn at barrier seven on the front line on Friday night. And several of his rivals have sparkling gate speed. “This is a very nice field, containing several very nice horses,” Harper said. “I’m hoping Bettors Fire can get across and find the top again. However, I’ll be keeping my options open. There is no plan to cut the ribbons and come out guns ablazing. “But he’s got that natural gate speed that enables him to roll forward and make some ground pretty quickly. Whether horses on his inside will hand up is open to question. “The great thing about my horse is that he’s so versatile and has so many strings to his bow. We can leave our options open; we can roll forward and we can go back and sit him up. He’s not a one-trick pony and can win from any position. It would be nice to win another Navy Cup, a race my Dad (Lindsay) won behind Digger of Fortune in 2003.” Harper said that Bettors Fire had thrived since winning the Spring Pace from Copagrin and Libertybelle Midfrew last Friday week. “He did it easily and got a nice cheap run before hitting the line strongly after a final quarter in 27.2sec.” he said. “Touch wood, everything is going really well with him. Thankfully, things have gone really smoothly and he’s had some pretty easy runs with some very cheap early sectionals. “I’d say that his best run in four starts in this campaign was his first-up effort when he finished powerfully from well back to be a nose second to Cyamach in fast time over 1730m.” Harper is realistic enough to concede that Friday night’s race will be no walk in the park for Bettors Fire, a winner of 30 races and $527,152 in prizemoney.  The gelding will need to be close to his peak to defeat the brilliant Elegant Christian and the highly-regarded Beaudiene Boaz. Clive Dalton, trainer of Elegant Christian, declared the lightly-raced six-year-old would go forward from his outside barrier (No. 9 on the front line) and was ready to run a super race. “He’s a genuine winning chance,” Dalton said. “There is a bit of speed on his inside, but we’ll definitely go forward. It’s no good going back over 2130m which is his pet distance.” Elegant Christian, a winner at 19 of his 35 starts, was a heavily backed 3/1 on favourite from barrier one when he reappeared after an eleven-week absence last Friday week. But Elegant Christian galloped badly at the start before making up a great deal of lost ground to finish seventh, just over four lengths behind the winner Bettors Fire. Clint Hall did not knock Elegant Christian about and the pacer went to the line without Hall releasing the ear plugs. “It was a disaster, but it was a great run,” said Dalton. “He pulled up super and his work has been good.” Beaudiene Boaz, trained by Gary Hall sen., will start out wide at barrier eight on Friday night and the five-year-old’s many admirers will be looking forward to the stallion returning to top form after disappointing unplaced efforts at his past three outings. Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri said that the Cup was far from a foregone conclusion and he said that ideal barriers would suit his runners Red Salute and Our Blackbird. Red Salute (Chris Voak) will start from the No. 1 barrier, with Our Blackbird at No. 2. Red Salute has a losing sequence of 20 and Our Blackbird’s losing run stands at 18. “I consider Our Blackbird has more of a winning chance than Red Salute,” Olivieri said. “They both get out quickly and are capable of leading. Red Salute led and beat Our Blackbird on the track this morning (Tuesday), but I still think Our Blackbird is the better of my two runners. “Our Blackbird couldn’t get clear when an unlucky fifth behind Bettors Fire last Friday week and he had no luck when fifth behind Phoenix Warrior at his previous start.” Ken Casellas

Bettors Fire was a warm 9/4 favourite when he finished a close third in the Howard Porter Memorial 13 months ago. But he is in better form now and should make amends for that defeat by proving too fast and strong for his harness racing rivals in the $35,000 Porter Memorial over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The New Zealand-bred eight-year-old by Bettor's Delight showed that he would be one of Western Australia’s major hopes in the TABtouch interdominion championship in December when he revealed sparkling gate speed from barrier four and then set a fast pace to win the August Cup, rating 1.57.4 over 2536m last Friday week. Bettors Fire will again start from the No. 4 barrier this week and trainer Kyle Harper is likely to make use of the gelding’s early brilliance. Victory would take the gelding’s earning past the $500,000 mark. A win would give Frank Ranaldi’s strikingly handsome brown pacer’s seventh success in a group feature event. He has won three group 2 events, the 2013 Mount Eden Sprint and the 2014 and 2015 Bunbury Cups, and three group 3 features, the 2013 Navy Cup, the 2014 Parliamentarians Cup and the 2016 August Cup.    Bettors Fire will need to be at his best to beat stylish last-start winners Tricky Styx and Phoenix Warrior. But he should be up to the task. Phoenix Warrior, to be driven by Ryan Warwick for leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, will start from the prized No. 1 barrier. However, it is problematical whether Phoenix Warrior is capable of mustering sufficient speed to prevent Bettors Fire dashing to an early lead. Phoenix Warrior was restrained to the rear from the outside barrier (No. 9) in last Friday night’s 2130m New Season Pace before he moved to sixth, three wide, at the bell and took the lead on the home turn on his way to easily defeating El Machine and Change Gear. A week earlier he charged home from tenth at the bell to be an eye-catching fourth behind Bettors Fire in the August Cup. In 38 starts in WA, the New Zealand-bred Phoenix Warrior has started from the No. 1 barrier only once. That was in the final of the 1730m $50,000 Nights of Thunder last January when he was favourite at 2/1 and was easily beaten out by Better Than Money. He raced three back on the pegs before moving to the one-wide line at the bell. He moved up to be fifth at the 400m and was four wide 250m from home when he was inconvenienced and broke into a gallop, dropping back to finish last, 31 lengths behind the winner Mohegan Sun. Tricky Styx, the only mare and youngest runner in Friday night’s race, will be the only runner off the back line in the field of ten. The Jesse Moore-trained five-year-old will be driven by Nathan Turvey and she can never be underestimated. She notched her 18th win from 40 starts when she proved far too strong for moderate opposition in heavy rain over 2536m last Friday week. Tricky Styx can unwind a brilliant finishing burst and Turvey is likely to rely on this wonderful attribute this week. The Michael Brennan-trained The Bucket List is favourably drawn at barrier two and Michael Grantham should have the seven-year-old in a prominent position throughout. The Bucket List has come from behind and finished full of running to win at his past two starts. He charged home from tenth at the bell to win by a half-head from Our Ideal Act over 2692m at Pinjarra on August 1 and then 18 nights later he started from 20m and sustained a powerful burst, three wide without cover, to hit the front on the home turn and go mon and win by a length from Flyalong Falcon over 2503m. Brennan will also be represented by Naughty Maravu, who has been racing keenly and most consistently in stands. Naughty Maravu (Gary Hall jun.) will start from barrier three and will be at liberal odds as the least successful of the ten runners. Our Sky Major, trained and driven by Justin Prentice, is racing with commendable heart and is capable of a strong showing from barrier six.  Ken Casellas

Brilliant seven-year-old Bettors Fire has returned to harness racing as good as ever and he looks set to become only the fourth pacer in the 66-year-history of the August Cup to be a multiple winner of the group 3 event by proving too strong for his rivals in the $35,000 Westralian August Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The winner of $465,000 Bettors Fire, trained and driven by Kyle Harper, overcame a wide draw to score an effortless last-to-first victory in the 2015 August Cup. This week he is much more favourably drawn at barrier No. 4 on the front line in the 2536m event. Harper produced Bettors Fire in great shape for a 1730m sprint at Gloucester Park last Friday week and the New Zealand-bred gelding was most impressive at his first appearance since finishing second to Cyamach in the Lord Mayor’s Cup on January 29. In his return to racing the Bettor's Delight gelding started from the outside barrier and raced in last position in the field of nine until Harper gave him his head with 250m to travel. The gelding was taken five wide on the home turn before he finished with a devastating burst to be second, a half-head behind Cyamach, rating 1.54.3. In last year’s August Cup, Bettors Fire was a 5/4 on favourite from out wide at barrier eight. Harper restrained him to the rear and he was still 12th and last with two laps to travel. Harper switched him three wide at the 1000m mark and Bettors Fire dashed into sixth position, three wide with cover, at the bell, before he took the lead on the home turn and coasted to an easy victory over the pacemaker Tuxedo Tour. The only other pacers to have won the August Cup more than once have been Tavis (1975 and 1976), Zakara (1991-92-93-94) and Shattering Class (1998 and 1999). Shattering Class was driven by Harper’s father Lindsay, who also won the August Cup with Ghost (2001) and Digger of Fortune (2003). Champion trainer Gary Hall sen., who prepared Zakara for his final three August Cup victories, has also been successful with Im Themightyquinn (2010) and Northview Punter (2014). He has three runners this year --- Cyamach (barrier six), Waylade (nine) and Run Oneover (No. 3 on the back line). Run Oneover, to be driven by Clint Hall, trailed the pacemaker Northern Assassin in a 2130m event last Friday night before he got off the pegs 500m from home and dashed forward to take a narrow lead 40m from the post. But he was beaten by a half-head by the fast-finishing Copagrin. Cyamach finished fifth and Waylade was 11th across the line. “Run Oneover is my best chance,” said Hall sen. “He got a flat tyre in the late stages and that didn’t help, while the other two were a bit disappointing.” Copagrin has returned to racing after a spell in fine fettle for owner-trainer John Guagliardo and reinsman Morgan Woodley. The WA-bred seven-year-old was seventh with 450m to travel before he flew home from fifth at the 100m to snatch victory from Run Oneover last week. He will start from barrier five on Friday night and will have many admirers. Five-year-old Libertybelle Midfrew, a winner of 16 races and $567,147, has the distinct advantage of starting from the No. 1 barrier as the only mare in the race under the preferential barrier draw. She has been unplaced at her past five starts, including her first-up tenth behind Ideal Justice over 2130m last week when she was restrained from a wide barrier and was always well back. Trained by Mike Reed, Libertybelle Midfrew will be driven by Mark Reed, who won the August Cup with Another Party in 2000 and Tricky Vic in 2005. Mike Reed trained and drove Manageable for his win in the 1989 August Cup. The in-form Phoenix Warrior, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, fared poorly in the draw and will start out wide at barrier eight. He will be driven for the first time by champion reinsman Chris Lewis, whose only success in the August Cup was behind the Andrew de Campo-trained Dasher VC, the 2/1 favourite who defeated Cromac Johnny and Sneakyn Down Under in 2012. Ken Casellas

Harness racing drivers Lewis and Harper are certainly not about to concede defeat in the Cup. “Lovers Delight (trained in Bunbury by Stephen Reed) is going super and his second to Lennytheshark in the interdominion championship final was simply brilliant,” Lewis said. “Barrier five is the big question. It’s somewhat of an awkward draw and I’d say, without speaking to Stephen or the owners, we’ll probably get a forward position. We’ll come out and have a look and getting to the front would be perfect. But the front mightn’t be on offer. However, you never know. “If we end up racing in the breeze it wouldn’t be a problem. He’s tough and is better on the pace. He’s definitely a player in the race. He can put himself into a race, so we will be using those attributes.” Lovers Delight, who set the pace when second in the Inters final, gave a sample of his sparkling gate speed in a 2536m heat of the Inters when he began fast from the No. 7 barrier and crossed to the front after 450m before going on to set the pace and sprint over the final 800m in 54.5sec. to beat Lennytheshark. Lewis has won the Fremantle Cup six times --- with Black Irish (1983), Village Kid (1988 and 1989), John Albert (1995), Sandy Bay (2005) and Dasher VC (2013). Harper said he was hoping it would be a case of third time lucky with Bettors Fire, who led and finished second to Im Victorious in the 2014 Cup and then was fourth behind David Hercules last year. “I’m very happy with the draw and we’ll be leading from barrier one,” he declared. “Bettors Fire has the gate speed to hold up quite comfortably. The 2536m shouldn’t worry him first-up. He’s a lot further forward than he was in the first set of interdominion heats in November when his fifth behind Philadelphia Man was quite impressive, considering the power of work he did early. “He shouldn’t have to do that much work this time and he should be further forward than he was for his first-up Inters run. He should run a nice bold race. “Things haven’t been ideal in the lead-up. He had setbacks a month ago. He had a lot of soundness issues going into the first Inters heat which we couldn’t pick. He missed a bit of work due to lameness, but he came good before the first heat. “After his run in the second set of heats (ninth behind My Hard Copy in Bunbury)he pulled up a bit sore behind and wasn’t quite himself. His run was disappointing. Then three days later quite a large abscess burst in his nearside hind, which pretty much explained everything. “I then scratched him from the rest of the championship series and after a week off he’s had plenty of work. He’s forward enough to run an honest race and whatever he does he will improve on. I think he will be about 90 per cent this week and 100 per cent the following week for the WA Pacing Cup.” Bettors Fire, a winner of 27 races from 65 starts and $428,332 in prizemoney, worked impressively in a 2150m mobile trial at Byford last Sunday week when he rated 1.56.4 in finishing strongly to win from Formyeyesonly. The final quarters were covered in 303sec., 28.9sec., 28.9sec. and 28.1sec. “He’s had plenty of beach work and galloping since then and if we don’t cop a lot of unnecessary pressure early I think he will run a very good race, with Devendra, sitting on my back, the main danger,”” Harper said. “Beaudiene Boaz is a class animal and he might be just too good on the night.” Devendra, trained and driven by James Rattray, showed his class with wins in Inters heats over 2130m and 2536m, is now being prepared at Pinjarra by Gary Elson. Rattray will travel from Sydney to drive the six-year-old on Friday night. In the first market available on Tuesday night Devendra was favourite at $2.90, ahead of Beaudiene Boaz ($3), Waylade ($8), Bettors Fire and Lovers Delight ($9), My Hard Copy ($10) and John of Arc and Run Oneover ($18).  GPTV has interviews with connections for both Lovers Delight and Bettors fire... by Ken Casellas VIDEO: Lovers Delight ready to go one better. VIDEO: Harper to tighten screws on Bettors Fire Fields for Gloucester Park, Friday 08 January 2016 Form guide for Gloucester Park, Friday 08 January 2016

The official barrier draw for the $300,000 RETRAVISION Fremantle Cup to be held at Gloucester Park, was held at RWWA HQ in Perth today, with speedy pacer Bettors Fire claiming the coveted number 1 saddle cloth. Harness racing trainer/driver Kyle Harper is expected to try and lead all the way in the Group 1 event, after having to withdraw the horse from the Inter Dominion series in December. “It was very disappointing but it could have been worse, we still have a horse… He is pacing better than ever at the moment” said Kyle to GPTV in a recent interview. “He had an abscess in his foot which came out during the series… We could have sent him around but it wouldn’t have been fair on the horse” Village Kid Sprint winner Beaudine Boaz has drawn in the 4 hole and is also expected to be sent forward early. Stablemates Waylade and John of Arc, an impressive last start placegetter, have drawn inside Beaudine Boaz in gates two and three respectively. Hall’s other three runners have drawn unfavourably – with Run Oneover and Classic American drawing six and seven, and My Hard Copy lining up from the outside barrier of 9. NSW pacer Devendra will get a good run through on the marker pegs as it comes out from barrier 10 (bl1) behind Bettors Fire. The other two runners joining Devendra on the backline is top WA mare Libertybelle Midfrew, and the Ross Olivieri trained Our Blackbird. Inter Dominion runner-up Lovers Delight will have a tricky run ahead of him after drawing post position 5. A known fast beginner, the son of Bettors Delight could be a challenger for the lead if master reinsman Chris Lewis decides to fire him out of the mobile. The official barrier draw can be viewed HERE. FINAL FIELD HERE by Scott Hamilton Race programme for Gloucester Park, Friday 08 January 2016

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