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

Talented young trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper will gauge Franco Edward’s prospects in the $200,000 WA Derby when the colt competes over the Derby distance of 2536m in the Westral Crimsafe Doors Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Franco Edward, a dual Group 1 winner as a two-year-old last winter, has yet to race beyond 2185m in a brilliant career of eight wins and two seconds from 11 starts. “It was part of the reason why I put him in this race to see how he handles the 2500m,” Harper said. “I don’t think it will worry him at all. “From barrier four this week, I reckon he will find the front early. He hasn’t reached his peak in this current campaign (five starts for four wins) and after this week’s race I plan to run him in the Caduceus Club Classic the following Friday night as part of his preparation for the WA Derby (April 5).” Harper, who has a healthy respect for several smart three-year-olds, including Shockwave and Patrickthepiranha, singled out the Justin Prentice-trained four-year-old Sweet N Fast as Franco Edward’s most serious rival on Friday night. Sweet N Fast, who has won by big margins at Bunbury and Pinjarra at his past two starts, has an impressive record of nine wins and five placings from 22 starts. He will start from barrier five, alongside Franco Edward on Friday night. Anime (barrier one) and Mister Bushido (two) also will have admirers. Anime, trained at Coolup by Phil Costello, has a losing sequence of 15, but has been knocking on the door, with five seconds from his past six starts. He worked hard in the breeze and fought on grandly when second to Thisbeachrighthere over 2130m last Friday night. Mister Bushido, a former New Zealand performer and a newcomer to the stables of Gary Hall Snr, will pay to follow. He enjoyed a good passage in the one-out, one-back position before running home solidly into third place behind Thisbeachrighthere and Anime last Friday night. Vrai Amour, a lightly-raced seven-year-old with three wins from seven starts, will have many admirers when Jocelyn Young drives him for trainer Debra Lewis from the prized No. 1 barrier in the final event, the Westral Plantation Shutters Pace over 2130m. Vrai Amour reappeared after an absence of 19 months in a 1730m sprint last Friday night. From barrier six, he raced at the rear and was eighth, out five wide, on the home turn before charging home with a powerful burst to finish an eye-catching sixth behind Chok Chai. He will clash with the promising Our Rhythm N Blues, who faces a first-up test from the No. 8 barrier. Our Rhythm N Blues, a five-year-old trained by Gary Hall Snr, raced three times in WA last April and May after arriving from New Zealand for a first-up second to Pick My Pocket at Pinjarra and two wins over 2130m at Gloucester Park after setting the pace.   Ken Casellas

Sitting on top of Kyle Harper’s Christmas wish list right now is a scratching from tomorrow night’s Group 1 Retravision-Golden Nugget at Gloucester Park. One scratching would open up the opportunity for Harper to get a drive in the Golden Nugget with Paula Petricevich’s Bettor B Abeliever and it would also see the likely scratching of that pacer from the Better Your Bet With TABtouch Pace (2130m) on Saturday night at same venue. Should Bettor B Abeliever come out of Saturday night’s event, it will make Harper’s Golden Slipper winner Franco Edward’s job of winning second-up significantly easier. Franco Edward made a low key winning return last Saturday night at Gloucester Park, where he sat in the breeze and ran home in 57.7 to finish over the top of Ginas Ingot. The three-year-old has barrier seven this Saturday night and Harper said he expected further improvement from the pacer in what he expected to be a tougher assignment. “I’m really pleased with him, but he needed the run badly last week,” he said. “He pulled up a lot bigger than I expected him to. “He did it the tough way, but he found the line like a good horse. “I never like to be too hard on my runners first-up, but it was good last week because he showed me where he’s at. “It looks a lot harder this week…Bettor B Abeliever is a pretty slick horse and probably should’ve been in the Golden Nugget.” Harper said the Victoria Derby, to be run on Australia Day, was Franco Edward’s main aim this campaign and indicated it may only be a very light three-year-old season. “There is a bit of talk that we could go over for the Victoria Derby, but that does depend a little bit on Saturday night,” he said. “Nothing is set in stone for him. “If everything goes to plan this preparation, he might only have 10 or 12 starts.” Meanwhile, Harper said Bettor B Abeliever was capable of playing a significant part in the Golden Nugget if he gains a start in the Group 1. “With a good barrier draw, he’d be a chance,” he said. “He’d probably need a draw like barrier 10. “He’s got really good gate speed.” Greg Bond’s trio Ana Malak, Mighty Conqueror and Bettor Aim head up the TABtouch market for the Golden Nugget, while Bettor B Abeliever is rated a $34 chance. Outside of the feature event tomorrow night, Harper said he rated Debt Free Charlie from barrier two as one of his better chances on the program in the Retravision Online Christmas Gift Heat (2130m). Tim Walker

For the second consecutive year, pint-sized pacer CHICAGO BULL NZ has taken out the Western Australian Harness Horse of the Year, announced at the 2018 Harness Horse of the Year Awards function held at Optus Stadium on Sunday, 21 October. Trained by Gary Hall Snr, the impressive Bettors Delight USA gelding earned WA harness racing’s top honour after completing the 2017/18 racing season with 15 wins and 7 places from 23 starts and accruing over $660,000 in stakes money. SOHO INTERCEPTOR was awarded 2YO Filly of the Year with Group One wins in the Fillies WestBred Classic and the Fillies Sales Classic Final. Impressive dual Group One wins for FRANCO EDWARD NZ helped him to beat out other contenders to claim honours as the 2YO Colt or Gelding of the Year having won the Golden Slipper and the Pearl Classic Final. OUR MAJOR MAMA NZ was crowned 3YO Filly of the Year after winning the Group One WA Oaks, while KING OF SWING NZ was awarded 3YO Colt or Gelding of the Year after five wins from 10 starts including the Group One SKY Racing WA Derby. Gary Hall Snr was awarded Trainer of the Year (566 races for 153 wins and $2.7m stakes), Shannon Suvaljko took home Driver of the Year (1,249 races for 179 wins and $1.8m in stakes), while Aged Mare of the Year went to IDEAL ALICE NZ and the Trotters Cup winner ITSGETTINGCALDER was crowned Trotter of the Year. Kyle Harper won the Young Achiever of the Year award after recently notching up his 500th win. Kyle has trained and driven three Group One winners, amassing over $5m in stakes on horses he has driven and a further $1.3m on horses he has trained. The RWWA Service to Industry Award was presented to Craig Murphy for his outstanding contribution to the harness racing industry demonstrated by his incredible efforts at the Byford Training Club  as a respected and valued club man, volunteer, Committee member and President.  Media Personality of the Year went to Gareth Hall, a talented sports journalist with some of the nation’s leading media outlets, Gareth has increased the coverage of WA Harness Racing in the media since moving to Perth a few years ago. Scott Hamilton Media won Best Feature Story with ‘Junior Achiever’, an engaging story on the winner of the RWWA Junior Achiever Award for the 2017 season. Scott Hamilton ventured down to the Boyanup stables of Justin Prentice to film this documentary style video. Full list of award winners: • Young Achiever of the Year – Kyle Harper • RWWA Service to Industry Award – Craig Murphy • Trainer of the Year – Gary Hall Snr • Driver of the Year – Shannon Suvaljko • Best Harness Racing Feature Story – Scott Hamilton Media  for ‘Junior Achiever’ • Best Harness Racing Media Personality – Gareth Hall • 2YO Filly of the Year – Soho Interceptor • 2YO Colt or Gelding of the Year – Franco Edward NZ • 3YO Filly of the Year – Our Major Mama NZ • 3YO Colt or Gelding of the Year – King of Swing NZ • Aged Mare of the Year – Ideal Alice NZ • Trotter of the Year – Itsgettingcalder • WA Harness Horse of the Year – Chicago Bull NZ RWWA

Bettors Fire’s racing days in Western Australia appear numbered, after a deal was struck to see him race in the United States. The 10-year-old hasn’t started since finishing fourth to My Hard Copy on August 17 at Gloucester Park. Trainer Kyle Harper said it was a difficult decision to see his stable star leave to go overseas, but the offer was too good to refuse. “Sadly, he’s off to the US to have a US campaign,” he said. “It’s very sad to see him go, but at the same time it’s a business and offers were made. “I know he’s going to a good place and he’s going to do very well over there.” A winner at 40 of his 106 starts, Bettors Fire has built an impressive list of feature race wins including two Bunbury Cups, an Inter Dominion Heat in 2016 and last year’s Village Kid Sprint.   Tim Walker

Evergreen pacer Bettors Fire is on target to win the August Cup for the third time in a fortnight’s time and trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper said the nine-year-old was fit and well and ready to run a big race in the Sunrise On Seven Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “He was unlucky when a last-start fourth behind Chicago Bull,” said Harper, who added: “He’s working well and should be hard to beat.” However, Harper has a healthy respect for the opposition, particularly Galactic Star, who followed two successive wins at Gloucester Park with two excellent third placings behind Chicago Bull at his next two outings. Galactic Star, a New Zealand-bred five-year-old to be driven by Ryan Warwick for trainers Greg and Skye Bond, will start from the No. 7 barrier in Friday night’s 2130m event. A winner at 22 of his 52 starts, he is in sparkling form. Bettors Fire, a winner of 40 races from 104 starts, will start from barrier six. “Galactic Star is definitely the one to beat,” said Harper. “However, I’ve got the barrier draw on him and that gives us some hope. Like usual, I’ll play it by ear. When the green light goes on we’ll assess our options and go from there.” Bettors Fire possesses outstanding gate speed and one option for Harper will be to attempt to fire the handsome gelding to an early lead and then dictate terms in front. At his most recent outing Bettors Fire began speedily from barrier three but was unable to cross the polemarker Chicago Bull. After racing without cover early Bettors Fire then enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back, following Galactic Star, who moved to the breeze after about 550m. Chicago Bull won easily from stablemate Runrunjimmydunn, with Galactic Star in third place, a nose ahead of Bettors Fire, who fought on determinedly, out four wide. Millionaire pacer Beaudiene Boaz will start out wide at barrier No. 8 at his fourth appearance after a ten-month absence and is ready for a strong forward showing after a solid last-start fourth behind Chicago Bull. He will again be handled by Micheal Ferguson, with Gary Hall Jnr to drive trainer Michael Brennan’s top-flight eight-year-old The Bucket List from barrier four. Hall drove The Bucket List to a brilliant fast-finishing victory in the 2503m BOTRA Cup two starts ago. The Bond stable have an excellent second-string runner in Friday night’s race in four-year-old Rock Diamonds, who will start from barrier five with Chris Lewis in the sulky. Rock Diamonds finished strongly to win a 2503m stand two starts ago. The Kristy Elson-trained Ideal Tyson will have admirers after his dashing victorying weaker company last Friday night when he charged home from seventh at the bell to win narrowly from Vampiro and Motu Premier. Ideal Tyson will start from barrier three and Turvey will be anxious to get a flying start in a bid to take up the running. “His best attribute is rolling along and either leading or being in the breeze would be nice,” Turvey said. “Bettors Fire and Galactic Star might have a bit on us, but if we are able to lead we could beat them.” Ken Casellas

“He can do it again,” declared trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper when assessing the prospects of Saleahs Comand in the $25,000 Kerry Clarke Westbred final for four and five-year-olds at Gloucester Park on Friday night. That was Harper’s verdict when queried whether Saleahs Comand was capable of defeating the better-performed Lord Willoughby in the 2130m event. Saleahs Comand was a 40-1 outsider when he began speedily from barrier four and sped to the front after 120m before setting a solid pace and winning a qualifying heat from Kasey John, Tradie and Lord Willoughby last Saturday week. Lord Willoughby, a 10-9 chance, started from the No. 2 barrier and was unable to match Saleahs Comand’s early speed. He worked hard in the breeze and finished five lengths from Saleahs Comand. Saleahs Comand entered Harper’s East Martin stables just over five months ago and the five-year-old has thrived under Harper’s care, winning at three of his five starts for him. Lord Willoughby, to be driven by Shannon Suvaljko for Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri, will start from the No. 4 barrier on the front line in Friday night’s race, with Saleahs Comand at barrier six. “Saleahs Comand beat Lord Willoughby the last time we met,” said Harper. “We crossed him and won and I guess he can do it again. Saleahs Comand is at his best when leading, but he can also sit and kick and has won races after sitting. He’s my best chance on Friday night, with stablemate Thereugo starting from the outside of the back line.” Thereugo, who is a brilliant frontrunner, faces a tough task from the back line. A winner at 15 of his 36 starts, Thereugo will be driven by Harper’s elder brother Donald. Olivieri is confident that Lord Willoughby can turn the tables on Saleahs Comand and return to the winning list. The four-year-old was having his first start for a month when a last-start fourth behind Saleahs Comand. He has been wonderfully consistent this season, with his 24 starts producing nine wins, nine seconds and four thirds. Lord Willoughby is an M3-class performer with a superior record over his 11 rivals. Kasey John has an M2 assessment and Kerrin Joseph is an M1-class pacer, with the remainder of the field all on an M0 mark. Chris Voak gave punters a valuable lead when he chose to drive Kasey John in preference to Anvil Rollover and Rocknroll Beachboy. Voak was impressed with Kasey John’s strong finishing effort when a head second to Saleahs Comand last Saturday week. Kasey John, an all-the-way winner over New World Order and Always Arjay two starts ago, will start from barrier two on the back line and is capable of fighting out the finish. Anvil Rollover, trained at Pinjarra by Russell Eddy, has been driven by Voak at five of his seven wins. The grey gelding is perfectly drawn at the No. 1 barrier on the front line and will be driven by Colin Brown. Rocknroll Beachboy, trained by Terry Ferguson, was driven by Voak when he worked hard in the breeze and won from Bravo Tex over 2100m at Bunbury two starts ago, will be handled from barrier two by master reinsman Chris Lewis. Kasey John is prepared by Michael Brennan, who will also be represented by The Kings Assassin, who will be driven by Gary Hall Jnr from out wide at barrier eight. The Kings Assassin has won in good style at Bunbury at his past two outings and will have plenty of admirers. Ken Casellas

Champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr celebrates his 36th birthday today (Thursday) and is poised to bring up his century of metropolitan winners this season when he drives in seven of the ten events at Gloucester Park on Friday night. For Hall, who has notched 99 city wins as well as 64 seconds and 48 thirds from 402 drives, his best winning prospect is superstar Chicago Bull in the In Memory of Leo Walton Pace. The best of his other drives are likely to be Speed Man in race three and Lets Chase The Dream in race four. Chicago Bull has won easily at his two outings since resuming from a spell and he looks unbeatable from the No. 1 barrier, with his chief rival, Bettors Fire, drawn at barrier three and to be handled by his trainer and in-form reinsman Kyle Harper from the No. 3 barrier in the 2130m event. Harper, who turns 28 on Saturday, is enjoying his best season, with his 515 drives on all tracks producing 74 wins and 110 placings. He is sure to give plenty of thought to using Bettors Fire’s sparkling gate speed in a bid to wrestle the early lead from Chicago Bull. Bettors Fire, a winner of 40 races and $810,624 in prizemoney, led from barrier two in a 2536m event last Friday night before Harper conceded the lead after 400m to Chicago Bull, who had revealed good gate speed from barrier four. Chicago Bull sped over the final quarters in 27.9sec. and 27sec. and won comfortably by a length and a half from Bettors Fire, who ran home gamely after trailing his arch rival. Galactic Star trained by Greg and Skye Bond will start from the No. 5 barrier and should be prominent. He has struck top form and showed plenty of spirit to fight on and finish third behind Chicago Bull and Bettors Fire last week after racing without cover. That followed strong wins over 2130m and 1730m at his two previous outings. Ryan Warwick, who will drive Galactic Star, looks set to give punters a flying start to the meeting by driving the Bond-trained The Freedom Fighter to victory in the opening event, the In Memory of Alan Woodworth Pace. The Freedom Fighter has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier and should lead all the way. He has set the pace and won twice at Pinjarra and has also worked forward to take up the running for wins at Gloucester Park and Pinjarra. The Freedom Fighter is in all-conquering form, having won at each of his past five starts. After two wins and five placings from 11 New Zealand starts The Freedom Fighter has raced 15 times in WA for seven wins and five seconds. The Bonds and Warwick will also have a strong following with other leading prospects on the ten-event program, including El Jacko, Courage Tells, Lincs Tiger and Waimac Attack. Ken Casellas

Kyler Harper believes a favourable barrier draw has dramatically improved Soho Thunderstruck's prospects in the Group 1 Golden Slipper (2130m) at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Harper says Soho Thunderstruck has raced without luck in his two Perth starts, but is confident from barrier one the former Victorian will exert a major presence in the $125,000 feature. “Without sounding too confident I think the barrier has set up the race for him,” says Harper. “He hasn’t had much luck punching the breeze against some handy horses in Perth. “He is drawn to lead and I think he is going to take some beating.” Soho Thunderstruck, previously handled in Victoria by Michael Stanley, has recorded one win and seven placings from his 10 career starts. The son of Art Major ran third to Bletchley Park at his Perth debut and fourth to the same horse in a Slipper prelude at Gloucester Park last week. Soho Thunderstruck shed his maiden status at Bathurst in a heat of the Bathurst Gold Crown last March, rating 1.55.9 over 1730m. In a mixed draw for Harper, Franco Edward, one of his two starters in the Golden Slipper and a winner of the Pearl Classic (2130m), will step from barrier 11. The Pearl Classic capped a winning hatrick for Franco Edward, who had his colours lowered in last week’s Slipper Prelude when runner-up to Bletchley Park. “I am going to have to play it by ear from that position,” Harper said. “There looks like there will be a bit of speed early. “He might have to settle and work into the race. “You have to take what you’re given, but it could have been worse. “Bletchley Park could have drawn barrier one.” 1-Soho Thunderstruck 2-Soho Interceptor 3-Dracarys 4-Bettor Be Oscar 5-The Lightning Strike 6-To Fast To Serious 7-Shockwave 8-Babyface Adda 9-Valbonne 10-Bletchley Park 11-Franco Edward 12-Its Rock And Roll 13-Robbie Easton.   Julio Santarelli

Kyle Harper says he will be taking a patient approach with his outstanding juvenile Franco Edward. The gun two-year-old underlined his class with an all the way win in the $100,000 Pearl Classic (2130m) on Friday, the bay colt’s third win from four starts. Harper, who trains and drives Franco Edward, has ruled out a trip east and says his budding star will round out his campaign in Perth to target a second Group 1 victory. “He will go into one of the heats of the Slipper and then into the Slipper (Final) and that will probably see him out,” Harper told Tabradio. “We will probably look after him and tip him out to the paddock. “I will talk to Robert (Watson) about it, but that seems to be the plan. “Two more starts into the paddock, so hopefully we can make them a couple of good ones. “He is a little bit immature and it’s amazing what he is doing. “He is not a 110 per cent the horse and as most two-year-olds are he has a few little niggles. “He needs to grow and mature into himself a little. “He seems faultless, but is not quite. “What he is doing is quite amazing. “We want to look after him and make sure we don’t push the envelope too far with him too soon.” While Franco Edward is Harper’s two-year-old flag bearer and nominal favourite for the Group 1 Golden Slipper on July 13, he believes Soho Thunderstruck presents his team with a strong two-pronged attack. The former Victorian, previously under the care of Michael Stanley, caught the eye in a Byford trial before running third to the Mike Reed-trained Bletchley Park in his Perth debut at Gloucester Park on June 8. “He is working on really well and coming in leaps and bounds,” Harper said. “Franco Edward has that specialness about him, but this bloke is not that far behind. “He is going to be a very nice horse and is on the same plan to the Golden Slipper.  “We should have two very nice horse heading into the Slipper. “I’m pretty happy with him at this stage. “I think if he jumped to the front at Gloucester Park he will be very hard to run down.”   Julio Santarelli 

Rival reinsmen Kyle Harper (Franco Edward) and Shannon Suvaljko (Bletchley Park) are excited at the sheer brilliance of their colts who look set to make the sparks fly in the $100,000 Princi Smallgoods Pearl Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The New Zealand-bred Franco Edward earned favouritism after drawing the prized No. 1 barrier in the 2130m Group 1 classic for two-year-old colts and geldings but Bletchley Park has drawn favourably at barrier three on the front line and will have a legion of admirers, particularly after he rated a sizzling 1.53.6 when he gave a dazzling frontrunning display to beat Euphoric Moment by four lengths over 1730m at Gloucester Park last Friday night. The Victorian-bred Bletchley Park was not extended in speeding over the quarters of the final mile in 28.5sec., 28.9sec., 28.2sec. and 28.5sec. and his rate smashed the 1730m track record for two-year-olds, the 1:55.0 rate set by El Barcelona in May 2016. Franco Edward and Bletchley Park are by American stallion American Ideal and will be meeting in a race for the first time, with Harper upbeat about his colt’s prospects in the Pearl, declaring after driving him to a superb victory in a qualifying heat on Tuesday of last week that “I think that he’s a bit special.” Franco Edward, who had set the pace and won easily at a 1.54.2 rate (with final quarters of 28sec. and 27.2sec.) over 1684m at Pinjarra at his previous start, was surprisingly beaten out from barrier one in the qualifying heat but there was a particular reason for that: The colt was racing with a splash sheet on for the first time and he became scared when the sheet touched him on the rump in the mobile score-up. “So, I had to nurse him out of the gate and this allowed him to be crossed,” said Harper. “And then when we got to the first corner I had to ease him when the sheet touched him again. He ran out with a little bit of fright and then when we got to the breeze he over raced a bit. To his credit, all these things went wrong and he still won and did a fantastic job.” Franco Edward’s gross time in the 2130m heat was 2min. 35.1sec. which was considerably faster than the time recorded by Bletchley Park (2min. 38sec.) and quicker than the other heat winner, Shockwave (2min. 35.3sec.). However, Suvaljko was full of praise for Bletchley Park’s heat win and then with the colt’s superb performance over 1730m last Friday night when he was unextended and scored with ridiculous ease. “Bletchley Park is probably the best two-year-old I’ve driven, better than Jumbo Operator,” said Suvaljko. “I didn’t pull the plugs and he had plenty left and was still going strong on the line. He’s a versatile horse who is suited by rolling along in front, but he can also come from behind as he showed when he came from second-last to win his heat.” The WA-bred Jumbo Operator was unbeaten at two starts as a two-year-old in August 2008 before having ten starts as a three-year-old for seven wins, two seconds and a most unlucky fifth in the WA Derby. He was retired with earnings of $313,175 from 24 wins, eight seconds and one third from 43 starts. Bletchley Park is trained by Mike Reed, who has won the Pearl twice with Rich And Spoilt in 1999 and Willowleaf Boy in 2003. Shockwave, a Mach Three colt trained and driven by Ryan Bell, notched his third win from seven starts when he began from out wide at barrier eight and raced in seventh position before starting a three-wide burst approaching the bell in his qualifying heat. He dashed over the final 400m in 28sec. and beat the talented Its Rock And Roll by almost a length. Shockwave has the ability to overcome his wide draw (No. 7) in the final. Its Rock And Roll, trained and driven by Colin Brown, has impressed with his three wins and three seconds from six starts. He is speedy and tough, but has fared poorly in the random draw and will need all the breaks to overcome the disadvantage of the outside barrier (No. 9) on the front line. Brown drove the David Thompson-trained Isaiah Artois to victory in the 2014 Pearl. Bitcoin, to be driven by Ryan Warwick for trainers Greg and Skye Bond, is racing keenly, with two wins and two seconds from five starts and, from barrier four, will have friends. Three starts ago, Bitcoin finished powerfully to win from the Barry Howlett-trained colt Smart Fortune over 1609m at Bunbury. Smart Fortune, a winner at Alexandra Park in December, faces a stern test from barrier eight, but cannot be underestimated with Chris Lewis in the sulky. Lewis has won the Pearl four times with Lombo Laredo (1994), Mitemptation (1995), Argent Treasure (2007) and Jack Mac (2017). Ken Casellas

Evergreen pacer Bettors Fire looks a certainty to celebrate his 100th start in style by proving too fast and strong for his seven rivals in the $25,000 Princi Smallgoods Free Range Salami Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He drew the No. 1 barrier and trainer Kyle Harper looks certain to make use of the nine-year-old’s sparkling gate speed and attempt an all-the-way victory. Owner Frank Ranaldi declared after Bettors Fire’s stylish come-from-behind win over 2536m last Friday night that the New Zealand-bred gelding was the best horse he has raced. And that was high praise indeed, considering that Ranaldi raced wonderful pacers Classic Garry and Admiral’s Avenue. Classic Garry and Admiral’s Avenue were successful in Group 1 feature events, whereas Bettors Fire has not been able to record a victory in a Group 1 feature event. Classic Garry’s 16 West Australian wins (14 at Gloucester Park) included the 1983 Group 1 Golden Nugget (beating Wondai’s Mate and Preux Chevalier) and the 1983 Mount Eden Mile when he defeated Sinn Fein and Garry John in 1.56.6, a race record. Classic Garry also became Australia’s first sub-1.55 performer when, as a four-year-old in March 1983, he sped over a mile in 1.54.9. In the late 80s Ranaldi campaigned with Classic Garry in America where the stallion won races and contested a World Cup series at the Meadowlands. Admiral’s Avenue earned $439,482 from 32 wins and 30 placings from 130 starts. He won the group 1 WA Pacing Cup in January 2000, beating The Accelerator and Saab, and a month later won a 2540m heat of the Inter Dominion championship at Moonee Valley. The level of prizemoney has risen substantially since then and Bettors Fire boasts a splendid record of 99 starts for 38 wins and 22 placings for stakes of $772,029. He was sold to Ranaldi after winning at 11 of his 30 New Zealand starts for his breeders Jim and Susan Wakefield. Bettors Fire’s 69 starts for Ranaldi and Harper in Western Australia have produced 27 wins and 15 placings. The gelding has not been successful in a Group 1 event, but has been wonderfully consistent and his wins include five in Group 2 events and three in Group 3 races. In last Friday night’s 2536m event, Harper restrained Bettors Fire from the No. 6 barrier and the gelding raced in seventh position for almost two laps before being sent forward, three wide, at the bell. Bettors Fire burst to the front with 500m to travel and he covered the final quarters in 27.5sec. and 28.5sec. to win by a metre from the strong-finishing Tommy Be Good, with The Bucket List running on from fifth (on the pegs) at the bell to be third. This week Bettors Fire appears certain to set the pace, with none of his rivals able to seriously challenge him for the early lead. Tommy Be Good, placed at five of his past six starts, should enjoy a perfect passage behind the pacemaker and looks a strong place prospect, with Shandale, Galactic Star and The Bucket List fighting it out for a minor placing. Ken Casellas

There isn’t a lot prominent harness racing owner Robert Watson hasn’t achieved in the sport, but this weekend he, and two of his star pacers, have quite a mountain to climb this weekend. On Friday night, Watson’s up-and-coming two-year-old Franco Edward will look to secure his first Group 1 win in the Pearl Classic Final (2130m) at Gloucester Park. On Saturday night, Soho Tribeca begins his campaign aimed towards the Len Smith Mile and Blacks A Fake Championship in the Italian Cup (2240m) at Melton. After the races are run and won, Watson boards a flight to South Africa for a fortnight where he will climb Mount Kilimanjaro. “I like challenging myself,” Watson said of his reasoning behind climbing the 5,895m mountain. “It’s an eight day trek up the mountain, and it’s minus 20 at the top of the mountain. “I’ll then explore Tanzania for another four days.” Watson’s trip to South Africa means he will miss Soho Tribeca’s run in the Len Smith Mile on July 1, while he has the chance to be crowned the Grand Circuit Champion if he wins the Blacks A Fake Championship on July 21. The WA Pacing Cup champion will be seen on the track for the first time since March 24 on Saturday night, where he starts from the outside of the second row in the $20,000 Italian Cup. Watson said he expected Soho Tribeca, now under the care of Mick Stanley, to win on Saturday night, and also expected him to be very competitive in Queensland. “He’s back, he’s really good,” he said. “He won’t be at his top, but we do expect him to win. “We want him to peak in Queensland.” Although the three start campaign in Queensland is at the front of Watson’s mind for Soho Tribeca, plans for a trip to the New Zealand Cup in November are well and truly underway. Soho Tribeca took part in a standing start trial earlier this week, as he looks to qualify for the New Zealand Cup, with Watson looking to win a Group 1 in New Zealand with the pacer to boost his stallion credentials. On the other side of the Nullarbor, Watson’s hopes of winning the Pearl Classic on Friday night at Gloucester Park received a significant boost when Franco Edward drew barrier one for the two-year-old feature. Franco Edward was, arguably, the most impressive of the three heat winners for the Pearl Classic last Tuesday night. Franco Edward has been installed as a $1.50 TABtouch favourite for the $100,000 event, ahead of the two other heat winners from last Tuesday night Bletchley Park ($3.20) and Shockwave ($10). Watson said while he did think Franco Edward would feature prominently in the finish, he was full of praise for this year’s group of two-year-olds. “It’s the best crop of two-year-olds I’ve seen race at Gloucester Park,” he said. “I’ve been in the Pearl before, and generally there’s only one smart horse in there. “This year there’s Its Rock And Roll, Smart Fortune, Shockwave, The Embezzler, Bitcoin, Bletchley Park and Franco Edward. “Those seven on the front line are all extremely good.” Watson said he hoped trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper would be able to hold up with Franco Edward from gate one. “Leading is half of the battle at Gloucester Park,” he said. “Hopefully we will hold up from the one. “He has got a lot of diversity though, he can race tough or on the speed.” Watson also has star two-year-old filly Soho Nolita, a sister to Soho Tribeca engaged in heats of the Vicbred series next week. The Pearl Classic Final gets underway at 7.20pm on Friday night.   Tim Walker

Astute Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed has Bletchley Park at the top of his game and is confident the stylish black colt will set the pace and win the $18,000 Quayside Transport Pace over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He has high expectations that the Victorian-bred Bletchley Park will maintain his excellent form and win the $100,000 Princi Butchers Pearl Classic the following Friday night. Bletchley Park, purchased for $95,000 by West Australian businessman Albert Walmsley at the 2017 APG yearling sale in Melbourne, warmed up for Friday night’s event with a most impressive victory in a 2130m event at Gloucester Park on Tuesday evening when he finished powerfully from seventh at the bell to hit the front 300m from home and beat the pacemaker Babyface Adda by a length, with final quarters of 29sec. and 28.4sec. Reed considers that Bletchley Park faces no problem in having three starts in the space of 11 days, culminating with his appearance in the Pearl Classic. “He’s a good doer and the 2130m of the Pearl will suit him down to the ground,” said Reed, who admitted that he was pleasantly surprised at the ease of the colt’s win on Tuesday evening. Mark Reed restrained Bletchley Park from the No. 6 barrier and was content to keep him at the rear before sending him forward 700m from home. “They didn’t go that hard early (with a slow lead time of 39.1sec. and an opening quarter in 31.1sec.) and I thought we might have been in a bit of pain,” said Mike Reed. “I think that Bletchley Park is at his best when driven as a sit-and-kick horse, but on Friday night he has drawn barrier one over the short journey of 1730m and Shannon Suvaljko will be out to take advantage of the perfect draw by setting the pace.” Bletchley Park, who has won at three of his four starts, is unlikely to have an easy time because he will clash with Soho Thunderstruck, an Art Major colt blessed with great ability. Soho Thunderstruck, bred and owned by Rob Watson, will be making his first appearance in Western Australia after having had eight starts in Victoria for trainer-reinsman Michael Stanley for one win and six placings. Soho Thunderstruck will be driven by his new trainer Kyle Harper from the No. 3 barrier and will have many admirers after a brilliant performance in scoring an effortless victory in a 2150m trial at Byford on Sunday morning. Handled by former leading reinsman Lindsay Harper, Soho Thunderstruck began from barrier five and surged to the front after 100m and after an opening quarter of 30.8sec., he reeled of his next three sections in 28.7sec., 28.7sec. and 29.6sec. to win untouched and unextended by just under seven lengths from Robbie Easton. Soho Thunderstruck’s most recent appearance was in the group 3 consolation of the APG Classic for two-year-old colts and geldings over 1720m at Melton on May 5 when he was a 10/1 chance from the outside (No. 7) of the front line. He was not bustled early and raced three wide for the first 300m before moving to the breeze. He then burst to the front about 450m from home and opened up a four-length lead on the home turn before being overhauled in the final couple of strides by the fast-finishing Arggghhh, who rated 1.55.1. Kyle Harper said that he was very pleased with Soho Thunderstruck’s trial on Sunday and was looking forward keenly to the colt contesting the Pearl Classic and the Golden Slipper on July 13. “He likes to roll along, so over the mile this week I’ll probably drive him pretty confidently,” he said. Soho Thunderstruck is by Art Major and is out of the New Zealand-bred mare Hear No Secret, who had 113 starts for 11 wins, 33 placings and $96,464 in prizemoney. Hear No Secret won once at Gloucester Park, four times at Northam and twice at Narrogin, Pinjarra and Kellerberrin. Bletchley Park is by American Ideal and is out of the unraced Caprock mare Alldatglittersisgold, the dam of seven winners, including Bling It On (85 starts for 45 wins, 20 placings and $1,656,056) and Baby Bling (55 starts for 21 wins, ten placings and $854,490). Ken Casellas

Franco Edward has stamped himself as the one to beat for next Friday night’s Group 1 Pearl Classic for the two-year-olds, following his outstanding win in the last of the heats at Gloucester Park last night. The son of American Ideal, who started from barrier one, was heavily supported into a $1.16 favourite on TABtouch, but things didn’t go to script early. Trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper had his hands full with Franco Edward, who was away slowly, and then veered out and almost galloped as The Embezzler and Bitcoin crossed to be the leading pair. The trio went out in a lead time of 36.2, and established a sizeable break on the rest of the field. Franco Edward hit the front on the final lap as Bitcoin and The Embezzler tried to stick on, but the colt was too powerful in the home straight, coming away to win by 13m, with Bitcoin finishing a distant second. Meanwhile, in the opening heat of the night, Shockwave turned the tables on Its Rock And Roll from April’s Champagne Classic, sustaining a three wide run on the final lap to wear down his rival. Its Rock And Roll defeated Shockwave in the Sales Classic Final in March as well, but the Ryan Bell-trained and driven colt was too strong from barrier eight last night. In the second of the heats for the night, the Mike Reed-trained Bletchley Park made it back-to-back wins, holding off Babyface Adda and Major Survivor. Driven by Mark Reed for the first time, after Shannon Suvaljko elected to stick with Babyface Adda, Bletchley Park was driven quietly at the rear of the field from barrier six. Reed then made his move around the outside of the field on the back straight on the final lap to join Babyface Adda in the lead on the home turn. The American Ideal colt held off both Babyface Adda and Major Survivor in the home straight to win by 2.8m in a time of 1.59.4, the slowest of the three heats. The top four from each of the three heats advance to the final next Friday night. Meanwhile, star three-year-old Jack Mac maintained his unbeaten record in Australia, with a commanding 35m win, the biggest win of his career to date. Jack Mac started a $1.04 TABtouch favourite, and never looked like being beaten, as driver Chris Lewis was able to cruise around the field from barrier 10 and find the front past the winning post the first time. From there, Jack Mac was able to dictate terms in front and had the race comfortably under control over the final two laps.    Tim Walker

Trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper is excited by a couple of promising two-year-olds in his stable, but refuses to get too far ahead of himself and put the cart before the horse. After impressive performances from Franco Edward and newcomer Soho Thunderstruck, Harper can look ahead to upcoming feature juvenile races with confidence. After much pre-race hype, Franco Edward bounced back from his first-start defeat with a stylish Pinjarra maiden win over 1684m on May 28. Soho Thunderstruck, previously with Michael Stanley in Melbourne, gave a glimpse of what could lay ahead when he trounced his rivals in a Byford trial on Sunday. Harper has plans to unveil the son of Art Major, who has one win and six placings from eight starts, at Gloucester Park next week. Franco Edward gets another opportunity to strut his wares when he contests a heat of the Pearl Classic (2130m) at Gloucester Park tonight. The bay colt looks hard to beat after drawing the coveted pole position. Harper, who takes the drive, says Franco Edward might have above average ability. “He worked at home like a nice little horse, but not showing anything of super star quality,” Harper told Tabradio. “But he certainly showed a glimpse of that at Pinjarra and he was just a different horse behind the mobile like most good horses are. “He was sort of underdone going into that race and I said to Rob Watson (owner) he is probably going to need the run. “To come out and do what he did I don’t know if he was closer than I thought or better than what I thought. “His heart rate came in pretty high so I say he did need the run, but he certainly did it well within himself. “It was quite impressive for a horse of his age and there are big raps on him.” Harper believes very little separates Franco Edward and Soho Thunderstruck. “I don’t know which one is the better horse at this point,” Harper said. “He (Soho Thunderstruck) trialled very well and has more experience with the racing on the board.  “He didn’t do much wrong in the Byford trial on Monday and will be another promising one. “He is not eligible for the Pearl but there is the Slipper coming up and other races. “The plan is to head to the Slipper with both horses after the Pearl. “But obviously two-year-olds are here one week and can off the next. “One step at the time, but that’s the plan.” The $125,000 Group 1 Golden Slipper will be run at Gloucester Park on July 13.   Julio Santarelli

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