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Veteran injury-plagued pacer Jason Rulz has managed just one win in moderate company at Narrogin from 19 starts in Western Australia. But at his second appearance after a 14-month absence he has the credentials to outclass his rivals in the $22,000 Chicago Bull Pace over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The Michael Brennan-trained ten-year-old has matched strides in a 79-start career with star pacers of the calibre of Adore Me, Christen Me, Tiger Tara, Border Control, Ohoka Punter, Devendra, Lennytheshark, Smolda, Beaudiene Boaz and My Hard Copy. Jason Rulz won the Group 2 Pelorus Classic at the Waterlea Raceway when he finished powerfully to defeat Christen Me in January 2013. Then, two months later, he finished sixth behind Christen Me, Smolda and Restrepo in the Chariots of Fire at Menangle. At his second WA start he finished second to Beaudiene Boaz in the Group 2 Bunbury Cup in November 2015 before contesting the Inter Dominion championship in November and December that year when his best efforts were fourths in heats behind Devendra and Lennytheshark and second to Major Crocker in a consolation of the championship. His only Australian win came in a 2636m stand at Narrogin in May 2017 when he started off the 50m mark and produced a powerful burst for young reinsman Michael Grantham to defeat Machrie and The Real Nadal. Grantham was again in the sulky when Jason Rulz reappeared after an absence of 14 months in a 2631m stand at Pinjarra on Monday of last week. He began off 50m and was last in a field of eight at the bell before battling on, out wide, to finish fifth, four and a half lengths from the winner Hillbilly Time. He is sure to have derived considerable benefit from that performance and should carry far too many guns on Friday night for the opposition which includes four other ten-year-olds and the 13-year-old Celestial Ruler. Jason Rulz, who will be driven by Corey Peterson has drawn perfectly at barrier one. His chief rivals appear to be five-year-old Bravo Tex and ten-year-old Im Lisart, each of whom is racing with admirable enthusiasm. Bravo Tex will be handled by Gary Hall Jnr for Boyanup trainer Justin Prentice and will start from the outside of the back line. He is a solid, hard-working stayer and is capable of a bold showing after placings behind Rocknroll Beachboy at Bunbury and Arthur Lowe at Gloucester Park at his past two outings. Im Lisart, trained by Terry Ferguson, will be driven by Chris Voak and should be prominent from the inside of the back line. He has a losing sequence of 15, but certainly looks capable of fighting out the finish. Ken Casellas

The $25,000 Spring Pace over 2536m at 7.24pm is the feature event Friday night and has brought together a small but talented field which will attract good betting nationwide. The barrier draw will ensure the race is packed full of interest with driver tactics certain to decide the winner. Devendra has come up with the coveted barrier 1 position and after racing Chicago Bull to half a metre over the distance four starts trainer Kristy Elson is certain to plan similar tactics on this occasion. Classy Tricky Styx, the Queen of the Avon Valley, is close to her best with two recent thirds in open company and Aiden De Campo will drive the versatile mare for trainer Jesse Moore. The Michael Brennan trained The Bucket List from barrier 3 is a fan of longer distance races and the small field suits. Runrunjimmydunn is the sole Gary Hall Snr runner in the free for all feature and the consistent performer who has drawn in barrier 4 will no doubt be working hard in the run. The powerhouse Greg & Skye Bond stable have three runners engaged and they have drawn barriers 5 to 7. Rock Diamonds known for his early brilliance will find it hard to lead but has the services of Colin Brown. Dodolicious steps up in grade in barrier 6 and the inform stable favourite Vampiro has drawn in barrier 7 with main stable driver Ryan Warwick engaged to drive.   Matt Young

8 year old journeyman Whenmechief has a chance to bounce back into the winners circle on Friday night after coming up with the coveted barrier draw. The Michael Brennan trained gelding looks to break a 13 start losing sequence in Race 4, the “Watch Sydney v GWS at GP’s Bridge Bar Pace” (2536m). The son of Stoneridge Regal has the gate speed to lead and with his last win being over the same distance back in May, he is likely to be fancied by punters to return to the winners circle. Brennan’s nephew Michael Grantham retains the drive and will look to use the former South Australian’s gate speed early to his advantage and control the race. Brennan heads from his Coolup property on Friday with three runners in, the well fancied Whenmechief as well as free for all stablemates The Bucket List and stable favourite Cut For An Ace who will be give bold performances.   Matt Young

Champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr has received an unexpected opportunity to win the Garrards Horse And Hound BOTRA Cup for a record fifth time when he drives The Bucket List, the sole backmarker off 50 metres in the 2503m feature event at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Trainer Michael Brennan engaged Hall after The Bucket List’s regular reinsman Michael Grantham was suspended for seven days for causing interference in a race last Friday night. Grantham has driven The Bucket List to victory seven times and Hall has handled the eight-year-old only twice for a second placing behind Hectorjayjay in a 2536m mobile heat of the Inter Dominion championship at Gloucester Park in December 2016 and for a ninth in a field of nine in a 2503m stand on April 20 this year. The Bucket List gave a remarkable performance when ninth, only five lengths behind the winner Rock Diamonds. He started off 40m, broke into a gallop after 75m and settled down 130m behind the pacemaker The Real Nadal. The Bucket List made up an enormous amount of ground in the final circuit. He is a capable standing-start performer, with his 16 starts in stands in Western Australia producing seven wins, five seconds, two thirds, one fourth and one ninth. He had seven starts in stands in New Zealand for three wins (over 2500m, 2700m and 3000m), a second, two thirds and a sixth. History shows that it is extremely difficult to win off back marks in stands at Gloucester Park. The BOTRA Cup has been run 38 times and only one pacer, Highest Honour in 2005, has been successful after starting off the 50m mark. Three horses (Hilton Adonis, Spirit of Shard and Albert Jaccka) have won from 40m and the two winners from 30m were Speedy Cheval (1991) and Shattering Class (2000). Hall has driven the winner of the BOTRA Cup four times, scoring with Strike A Blow (2002), Spirit of Shard (2008), Classic American (2015) and the Brennan-trained Naughty Maravau in 2016. The only other driver to have won the BOTRA Cup four times is Chris Lewis, who scored with Village Kid (1985), Elteei (1986), Mach Ruler (2009) and Tartary Gladiator (20011). Lewis will drive the Ross Olivieri-trained Motu Premier, who will start off 40m in Friday night’s Cup. Olivieri was successful with Speedy Cheval in the 1991 BOTRA Cup. Sharing the 40m mark with Motu Premier is the highly-promising four-year-old Rock Diamonds, who is trained by Greg and Skye Bond and will be driven by Ryan Warwick. Rock Diamonds notched his 15th win from 35 starts when he began off 30m in a field of eight and finished with a powerful burst from sixth at the bell to beat the pacemaker Always Arjay by a half-length, with an impressive final 800m in 56.3sec. last Friday night. Warwick and the Bonds will be hoping to go one better this year than they did 12 months ago when 10/1 chance Bettor Not Bitter dashed to the front after 600m, set a solid pace and was a neck second to the fast-finishing Sky Art. Motu Premier has the class to fight out the finish at his second outing after a spell, following his first-up ninth in a field of nine behind Galactic Star in a 1730m mobile event last Friday week when he was restrained from barrier seven at the start and raced at the rear. It is well worth remembering that at his previous outing Motu Premier ran on from seventh at the bell to finish fifth behind Soho Tribeca, Chicago Bull, The Bucket List and American Boy in the group 1 2936m WA Pacing Cup on January 19. Major Catastrophe is a tough stayer and the David Young-trained and driven gelding will have admirers even though the nine-year-old will start off 30m. His past 16 runs have been in mobiles, but keen students of form will point out that Major Catastrophe was successful at his two most recent appearances in stands, both over 2503m in February this year. His 34 starts in stands have resulted in five wins, seven seconds, four thirds and 18 unplaced efforts.   Ken Casellas

Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr has high hopes of winning the $25,000 Owners Only Past Presidents Cup for an unprecedented fifth year in a row when his son Gary drives former star juvenile Lets Chase The Dream in the 2130m event at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Hall won the second running of the Past Presidents Cup with The Falcon Strike in 2006 and has been successful in the past four years with Our Arlington, Soho Highroller, Run Oneover and Beaudiene Boaz. For good measure, Hall also achieved a rare trifecta result in 2016 when Run Oneover beat stablemates Cyamach and Crusader Banner. Five-year-old Lets Chase The Dream, awkwardly drawn at barrier No. 7 on the front line, is poised to end a losing sequence of nine after being placed at his three outings since resuming after an absence of just under six months. Lets Chase The Dream was gallant in defeat over 2130m last Friday night when a close third behind Eagle Rox and Eden Franco. Lets Chase The Dream started from the outside of the back line and settled in tenth position. In a bold move, Hall Jnr sent Lets Chase The Dream forward at the 1200m with a sizzling three-wide burst which carried him to the front with a lap to travel. Lets Chase The Dream then scorched down the back straight and recorded a dazzling 26.8sec. section before he was overhauled by Eagle Rox and Eden Franco in the final couple of strides. It was a brilliant and exciting tactic by Hall and one which certainly deserved victory. Hall and Lets Chase The Dream have a great chance to make amends for that unlucky defeat last week by proving too strong in Friday night’s Cup. In his two runs before last week’s race Lets Chase The Dream covered extra ground before finishing a head second to Eagle Rox and a 1m third behind Whozideawasthis. Looming as the only serious rival for Lets Chase The Dream is the Michael Brennan-trained The Bucket List, who will start from the outside of the back line and is sure to unwind a spirited finishing burst for reinsman Michael Grantham. The Bucket List was most unlucky when tenth behind Bettors Fire in the 2536m Winter Cup last Friday night. He raced at the rear before surging forward, three wide, to be fifth at the bell. He sustained his effort and had moved into second place before being severely checked 110m from the finish. At his previous outing, over 2130m a week earlier, The Bucket List enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back, before finishing determinedly to be a neck second to the pacemaker Bettors Fire.  That followed a fast-finishing third to Bettors Fire a week before that. Ken Casellas

Trainer Michael Brennan and reinsman Michael Grantham are delighted at the way veteran pacer The Bucket List is performing and they are full of hope that the New Zealand-bred gelding will make amends for his desperately close second to Tricky Styx in the Winter Cup 12 months ago by winning the $25,000 feature event over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The Bucket List is racing keenly and notched his fourth consecutive placing when he raced in the one-out and one-back position before finishing determinedly to be a neck second to Bettors Fire over 2130m last Friday night. In last year’s Winter Cup The Bucket List was favourite at 2/1 and after starting from barrier six he ran home strongly from the one-out, one-back position to finish a half-head behind Tricky Styx. He will start from the No. 6 barrier on Friday night and gets a good chance to turn the tables on outstanding nine-year-old Bettors Fire, who boasts a splendid record of 100 starts for 39 wins and 22 placings for stakes of $787,142. The Bucket List (21 wins and 39 placings from 97 starts) has been placed behind Bettors Fire at each of his past three starts. Friday night’s Cup appears quite an open affair, with the likely pacemaker Maczaffair, Tommy Be Good, Whozideawasthis, Major Catastrophe, Galactic Star and Our Jimmy Johnstone all having each-way prospects. Whozideawasthis impressed last Friday night when he thundered home from tenth at the bell to win a 2536m event at a 1.55.8 rate from Major Catastrophe and Lets Chase The Dream. Champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr said that Whozideawasthis faced a stern test and a rise in class, but he said that the gelding was definitely an each-way chance from barrier three on the front line. “It’s a tough race and he will need a soft run off the speed,” he said. Hall has driven the winner of the Winter Cup eight times scoring with The Falcon Strike (2003), Lookslikelightning (2005), Washakie (2008), Im Themightyquinn (2009), Davy Maguire (2012), Im Themightyquinn (2013), Machtu (2015) and Run Oneover (2016) and his father, Gary Hall Snr, has won the Winter nine times as a trainer with Kaydee (1994), The Falcon Strike, Iontheball (2006), Washakie, Im Themightyquinn (twice), Davy Maguire, Machtu and Run Oneover. Nine-year-old Major Catastrophe rises in class, but he is a tough stayer, capable of a bold showing. He worked hard in the breeze for almost two laps before taking the lead 500m from home and finishing a head second to Whozideawasthis last Friday night. Aiden de Campo, who drives Tommy Be Good for part-owner and trainer Katja Warwick, said that the six-year-old was getting close to returning to the winning list. Tommy Be Good trailed the pacemaker Bettors Fire in a 2130m event last Friday night and fought on gamely when third to that pacer. He is favourably drawn at the No. 2 barrier on the front line this week. “Tommy Be Good is flying and isn’t far off from winning,” said de Campo. “Two starts ago he carted Bettors Fire into the race and finished a half-length second to him.” Ken Casellas

Highly promising four-year-old Im Rockaria looks set to make a successful return to harness racing after impressive victories in recent trials at Pinjarra. The Michael Brennan-trained gelding will be driven by Michael Grantham from the 10-metre mark in a 2503m stand, the Alltools Gift Vouchers Handicap, at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Im Rockaria, who will be having his first start for four months, performed stylishly on a heavy track in a 2185m mobile trial at Pinjarra last Sunday week. After settling down in third place in the five-horse trial, Im Rockaria dashed to the front after 500m and relished his pacemaking role as he sped over the final quarters in 28.5sec. and 28sec. to beat Ideal Tyson by two and a half lengths at a 1.57.5 rate. In a 2185m trial a week earlier, Im Rockaria led early and then sat behind the pacemaker Well Enough Said before finishing determinedly to beat that pacer by a head, rating 1.59.8. The New South Wales-bred Im Rockaria, who has amassed $200,293 from 15 wins and four placings from 32 starts, has raced only once in a stand when he was successful over 2503m at Gloucester Park two starts ago, on January 12 when he started from 10m and raced in seventh position before starting a three-wide move (with cover) 1100m from home. He took the lead at the 250m mark and won from Idealindiamonds and Importer Exporter. Im Rockaria certainly is unlikely to have things all his own way in an event in which he will clash with talented standing-start performers Lord Willoughby, Better Scoot, Importer Exporter and Tommy Be Good. The Ross Olivieri-trained Lord Willoughby will have many admirers after drawing the pole position on the front line. Confident reinsman Shannon Suvaljko said that planned an all-the-way victory with the ultra-consistent four-year-old who has raced 18 times this season for seven wins, seven seconds and four thirds. Better Scoot is an extremely promising six-year-old in the Forrestdale stables of Skye Bond. He has not raced since finishing second to Master Jaxon in a 1823m mobile event at Narrogin in October 2016. Two starts before that Better Scoot finished second to Im Full of Excuses in the Kalgoorlie Cup, a stand over 2518m. Importer Exporter and Tommy Be Good share the back mark of 20m and are sure to be prominent. They are experienced standing-start performers who are racing in fine form. Ken Casellas

Experiments with gear have enabled smart harness racing filly Miss Sangrial to recapture her sparkling gate speed, leaving her trainer Michael Brennan confident that she will be a major player in the $50,000 Daintys Daughter Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “We consider that Miss Sangrial is one of the best fillies in the State, and from barrier six the daughter of Art Major is going to have to show that she is as good as we think she is,” said Brennan. Miss Sangrial, to be driven by Michael Grantham, has had a somewhat unusual lead-up to the Group 2 classic for three-year-old fillies, contesting a heat and final of a C0-C4-class event for fillies and mares in Albany late last month. She began speedily from barrier three, set the pace and won both a heat and the final to improve her record to ten wins, seven placings and stakes of $103,406 from 21 starts. “At this early stage, I’d imagine we’ll go forward at the start,” Brennan said. “How hard we’ll go forward will depend on what happens underneath her and also from the outside. The good thing with my filly is that she seems to have found her gate speed again. At her latest two runs in Albany she was really good off the arm. We tried a few things and they seemed to have worked.” “While it would be nice to be able to lead on Friday night, she doesn’t need to lead to win. She’s got a great sit-sprint capacity. However, she’s up against some very good fillies, including Lady De La Renta and Cott Beach.” Lady De La Renta and Cott Beach warmed up for this week’s assignment with strong last-start victories. Lady De La Renta, trained by Annie Belton, raced without cover before winning from colts Bechers Brook and Speed Man at Gloucester Park last Friday night and Cott Beach, trained by Kristy Elson, overcame a bad start to dash to an early lead and win effortlessly at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon. Cott Beach was placed outside the draw after galloping at the start of a race the 2185m event at Pinjarra. “Hopefully (galloping) was just a one-off thing,” said reinsman Nathan Turvey. “I’d say that there is every chance that she’ll be coming out (in a bid for the lead) on Friday,” Cott Beach won by just under five lengths on Monday when she impressed in speeding over the final quarters in 28.8sec. and 27.6sec. She has already amassed $180,932 in prizemoney from her ten wins and five placings from 17 starts. Turvey has high hopes that she will win the Daintys Daughter Classic to make amends for his runner Chevrons Champion’s second placing, beaten a head by Dodolicious in the classic two years ago. Chris Voak is upbeat about the prospects of Lady De La Renta (barrier five) after driving her for the first time when she was successful last Friday night after racing in the breeze. “It wasn’t the plan to sit in the breeze, but with the pedestrian early speed, we just landed there,” Voak said. “However, it didn’t seem to worry her and her final three quarters were solid. Obviously, we had a bit of luck when the favourite Speed Man galloped. But I wouldn’t have missed the first three. If we had drawn to lead this week, I think Lady De La Renta would be nearly unbeatable.” Boyanup trainer Justin Prentice is hoping for a change of luck after having trained the runner-up three times in the Daintys Daughter Classic. His seconds have been with Racketeers Girl (2011), The Parade (2014) and Quite A Delight (2015). Prentice will be represented by Beaudiene Beach Babe (Tom Buchanan) and Our Major Mama (Chris Lewis). Beaudiene Beach Babe will start from the No. 3 barrier on the front line, with Our Major Mama out wide at No. 8. “They’re both working super and Beaudiene Beach Babe is the better prospect because of the better barrier,” Prentice said before leaving for New Zealand on Wednesday to attend yearling sales in Auckland next Monday and Christchurch two days later. “We’re going to do everything we can to try to punch through (and take the lead) with Beaudiene Beach Babe. If Our Major Mama had got a (favourable) draw, she would have been a big chance as well. But I’m not saying that she can’t win. She’ll need luck from that barrier, but she is working well enough to be a definite place chance and even a winning chance.” Leading trainer Gary Hall Snr, who has won the classic with Majorly Foxy Styx (2014) and Nuala (2015), considers his runner Slick Artist as just a rough place chance. Slick Artist, who will start from barrier two on the back line, set the pace and held on to win by a half-head from Lady De La Renta at Gloucester Park last Saturday week. That followed Slick Artist’s close second to Infinite Symbol at Northam four nights earlier. Infinite Symbol, to be handled by Wayne Reid for Wanneroo trainer Julie O’Neill, has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier. She is a speedy beginner and strong frontrunner and Reid is expected to make a bold bid to set the pace. Ken Casellas

Talented three-year-old Miss Sangrial produced a superb harness racing performance to win the $10,000 Camtrans Albany Fillies And Mares Final (2258m) at Harold Reid Paceway last Friday night. After winning a qualifying heat earlier this month, the Michael Brennan-trained Miss Sangrial was a raging $1.04 favourite in the field of 10 runners and duly saluted after a peach of a drive from reinsman Michael Grantham. Grantham fired the Art Major filly out of gate three on the front line to lead and he allowed Four Legged Frenzy to lead mid-race on his outside before hitting top gear on the final lap. Miss Sangrial proved her quality as she outsprinted the field for Grantham to win by 7.5m over a brave Four Legged Frenzy, while heat 1 winner Ladys Are Ideal came from well back in the field to run home third beaten by 15.2m. It was the 10th victory in 21 career starts for Miss Sangrial and also her third in succession, the result taking her stake earnings to more than $100,000. Grantham scored a driving double on the bumper nine-race program after guiding $2.20 favourite Mistersandman to victory in race one for trainer Kat Warwick. Albany-based trainer Matthew Saw tasted success in the Marshall Mowers Pace (2258m), with Im Zuleika ($39 chance) prevailing by a head over the Brennan-trained favourite Kasey John while Athabascan, also trained by Saw, ran third in the race. It was a strong night for the Saw stable as Four Legged Frenzy and Chevrons Champion placed as he shot to the lead in the Albany Harness Racing Club trainers’ premiership. Saw leads the standings with 28 points, while Charlie Draper (25 points) and Nathan Turvey (19) close behind. Crimson Floyd gave Draped victory in the Peter & Yvonne Page Conditioned Handicap Pace (2242m), while Turvey won the Albany Truck & Car Hire Pace (2258m) with short-priced favourite Carter Michael. By Cameron Newbold Reprinted with permission of the Albany Advertiser

Blythewood harness racing trainer Michael Brennan and his 22-year-old nephew, star reinsman Michael Grantham, are brimming with confidence that veteran Aces N Sevens pacer Cut For An Ace will make full use of his brilliant natural speed to outpace his eight rivals in the $50,000 The West Australian Nights of Thunder at Gloucester Park on Saturday night. The evergreen Victorian-bred ten-year-old has overcome setbacks since he arrived in Western Australia in mid-2015 when a suspensory ligament injury kept him out of action for 18 months and in recent years hoof problems have prevented Grantham from working the gelding on the track. “It’s simply a matter of keeping him sound and his feet issues under control,” Brennan explained. “I can’t give him any trackwork, and his training is confined to Michael (Grantham) galloping him in the heavy sand. “He’s a happy horse and loves to be spoilt. All credit must go to my wife Lara, who looks after the horse. He’s her pet project.” Cut For An Ace, the fastest of the three heat winners last Friday night, was untroubled to set the pace from the No. 1 barrier. He sped over the four quarters of the final mile in 27.8sec., 28.3sec., 27.7sec. and 28.4sec. to record a sizzling mile rate of 1.51.8, which is the second fastest recorded over 1730m at Gloucester Park. The track record for 1730m is 1.51.6, set by champion five-year-old Chicago Bull when he stormed home to win by a head from Soho Tribeca in the Mount Eden Sprint last October. “He’s flying at the moment,” Brennan said. “You saw how good he was last week. Obviously, after drawing barrier two, the aim is to lead. We will just see what happens at the start. If he doesn’t lead, I think he is still good enough to win from the breeze or from the one-out, one-back position.” Brennan and Grantham are planning the same tactics that proved highly successful for them 12 months ago when Grantham drove the Brennan-trained four-year-old Nathans Courage to a superb all-the-way victory in the Nights of Thunder. Nathans Courage, second favourite at 2/1, burst straight to the front from barrier four and won by a length and a half from the evens favourite American Boy. Drawn inside Cut For An Ace on Saturday night in the coveted No. 1 position is speedy beginner and noted frontrunner Fernleigh Rebel. Trainer Clint Hall is expected to make use of Fernleigh Rebel’s excellent gate speed in a bid to set the pace with the seven-year-old, whose most recent victory was eight starts ago when he led from barrier four and beat Don’t Wanadie and Im Lisart over 2130m. Hall has a good record in the Nights of Thunder, having been successful with Soho Lennon (who led from barrier one in 2015) and Mohegan Sun (who started from the No. 2 barrier and enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back, before finishing strongly to beat Ti Amo Franco in 2016). Six-year-olds Talktomeurmattjesty and Argyle Red loom large as the main dangers to Cut For An Ace after they gave outstanding performances in the first qualifying heat last Friday night. Talktomeurmattjesty, trained in Busselton by Barry Howlett, will start from the No. 6 barrier on the front line, with Argyle Red, trained at Pinjarra by Rob MacDonald, at barrier five. Talktomeurmattjesty (Chris Lewis) revealed wonderful fighting qualities when he worked hard outside the flying pacemaker Shes Artful before getting to the front 450m from home and holding on to defeat Argyle Red (Morgan Woodley) by a half-head, rating 1.52.6. The opening quarter was run in a blistering 26.8sec., with the following sections in 28.4sec., 28.7sec. and 29sec. “I didn’t quite expect that we had to go that time to win,” said Lewis. “But I wasn’t terribly worried by being in the breeze.” Talktomeurmattjesty had three starts in New Zealand, all as a four-year-old, for two wins and a head second. He has impressed greatly in Western Australia where his 18 starts have produced nine wins and six placings. He is the ninth foal out of Falcon Seelster mare Talk To Me Later and is a half-brother to noted speedy sprinter Talk To Me Courage, who raced in WA between 2006 and 2011 when he finished a close third behind Aikido Whitby in the 2006 Golden Slipper, won the Lord Mayor’s Cup in 2010 and was a close second to Our Malabar in the 1730m Celebrity Sprint in 2009.    Talk To Me Courage finished fourth behind Davisons Destiny in the 2009 Nights of Thunder and two months earlier he was a neck second to Sneaky Down Under in the 1780m Village Kid Sprint at Northam. Talk To Me Courage won six races in Victoria, 11 in WA and 29 in America before retiring with earnings of $646,669. Lewis has a high opinion of Talktomeurmattjesty and is hoping that the gelding will give him his second success in the Nights of Thunder after his thrilling victory with the Ross Olivieri-trained 9/1 chance Davisons Destiny, who was seventh at the bell and flew home to snatch victory from the 7/4 favourite and pacemaker Indian Giver. Cut For An Ace is proving an excellent investment for Sam Godino and James Michell, who claimed the gelding for about $8000 in a race at Melton in September 2013. Since then the gelding has had 68 starts for six wins, 19 placings and stakes of $138,982. There have been hiccups along the way, but Cut For An Ace has never raced better. Ken Casellas

Im Rockaria, on target to contest a rich classic event in the Eastern States in the winter, is a superb frontrunner who should lead his 11 harness racing rivals on a merry dance in the $25,000 International Animal Health Products Im Themightyquinn Final over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Saturday night. “Win, lose or draw, he will go for a spell after this week’s race,” said trainer Michael Brennan. “And then he will come back later to be prepared for either the Vicbred Super Sires Series for four-year-olds at Melton or the New South Wales Breeders Challenge at Menangle. These races will be run either late in June or early in July and Im Rockaria is eligible for both.” Im Rockaria is an outstanding frontrunner who is sure to prove hard to beat after drawing the prized No. 1 barrier. He has started from the number one barrier six times in his 31-start career for five all-the-way wins. His only defeat from No. 1 was when he set the pace and finished fourth behind Handsandwheels in the 2536m WA Derby in April 2017. He has also won five other times after dashing to the front in the first circuit or in the middle stages. “It will be a case of leading at all costs,” said a confident Grantham. “He’s got the speed to hold up and we’ll be aiming to take full advantage of the barrier and his gate speed. Maczaffair will have to be at her best to sit outside Im Rockaria and beat him.” Im Rockaria started out wide from barrier seven when he raced in the breeze outside the pacemaking Maczaffair before wilting to fourth behind that brilliant mare in a qualifying heat three Fridays ago. Im Rockaria then contested a standing-start event over 2503m at Gloucester Park a week later and he sustained a spirited three-wide burst (with cover) from the 1100m mark to hit the front 250m from home and win from Idealindiamonds. Brennan said that he had started Im Rockaria in a stand to add another string to the Rocknroll Hanover gelding’s bow and to take the succession of wide draws in mobiles out of the equation. Maczaffair and Im Rockaria, at four years of age, are the youngest runners in the field of 12 and look set to dominate the event. Maczaffair, trained by Mike Reed, has won at 16 of her 34 starts and has not been extended in winning easily at her past three starts. Maczaffair will again be driven by Shannon Suvaljko, fresh from driving four winners at Northam on Tuesday night and a clear leader in the State drivers’ premiership. The New Zealand-bred mare is a speedy beginner and excellent frontrunner. However, she also is a stout-hearted performer who can never be underestimated. At her latest appearance, Maczaffair revealed dazzling early speed when she was fastest to begin from the outside barrier (No. 9) last Friday week. She raced five wide in the early stages, but was unable to cross to the lead. She then gained an ideal trail, one-out and one-back, before starting a three-wide move at the bell on her way to winning by more than five lengths from Ayana at a 1.58.3 rate over 2536m. Livura and Bronze Seeker look the best of the opposition and should fight out the finish for third place. Livura is a model of consistency for trainer-reinsman Nathan Turvey and he was most unlucky at his latest appearance when he was hopelessly blocked for a run in the home straight when fifth behind Abraxas Blues last Friday week. Bronze Seeker, to be driven by Chris Lewis for Byford trainer Peter Anderson, has finished solidly when placed at two of his past three starts and he should enjoy a perfect passage behind the likely pacemaker Im Rockaria after drawing the inside of the back line. Ken Casellas

Ten-year-old gelding Cut For An Ace is racing with youthful enthusiasm for Blythewood harness racing trainer Michael Brennan, and his nephew Michael Grantham predicts that the old-timer has excellent prospects of turning the tables on top-flight pacer Heez On Fire when they clash in the 2503m TABtouch Inter Dominion Barrier Draw Luncheon Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Heez On Fire, trained by Bill Horn, unwound a sizzling late burst of speed to win narrowly from Cut For An Ace in a 2503m stand last Friday week. This week Heez On Fire will start from the back mark of 40m, with Cut For An Ace handicapped off 20m. This means that Cut For An Ace will meet Heez On Fire on 10m better terms. “Cut For An Ace was super impressive last start,” said Grantham. “He led up the three-wide train, with Heez On Fire on his back. Heez On Fire had the advantage of the cart-up and he was able to get over the top of Cut For An Ace in the closing stages. This week Cut For An Ace can definitely beat Heez On Fire.” Aldo Cortopassi, who has driven Heez On Fire at his past 11 starts for four wins for veteran trainer Bill Horn, will be in Kalgoorlie on Friday night where he has ten runners on the six-event program. Colin Brown has been engaged to handle the eight-year-old Heez On Fire, reuniting with the gelding he drove five times for three wins as a two-year-old in 2012. Adding considerable interest to Friday night’s race will be the appearance of The Odd Lover for Oldbury trainer-reinsman Kim Prentice. The Odd Lover, a six-year-old with an imposing record of 20 starts for 11 wins and seven seconds, will start from the 10m line at his first outing since winning at Gloucester Park 14 months ago. He has recovered from a suspensory injury and has had a thorough preparation. Ken Casellas

It’s a classic case of tearing out your hair and then curling the mo. That’s the rollercoaster ride of Oldbury horseman Donald Harper with pint-sized gelding Thereugo, the first pacer he has bred. Four-year-old Thereugo, a handful as a two-year-old, has blossomed recently, revealing dazzling gate speed and winning at five of his past six starts and at Gloucester Park on Friday night he faces a moment of truth when he clashes with the brilliant Nathans Courage in the third qualifying heat of the Schrader Pace. Thereugo is raced by Harper’s octogenarian grandfather Don Harper, who played 11 league matches for Claremont in 1952 and 1953 as a hard-nut half-forward flanker and rover. He went on to become a successful trainer-reinsman, whose successes included winning the 1959 Country Derby and WA Derby at Gloucester Park with Pauls Gift. Thereugo, by American-bred sire McArdle, is out of the New Zealand-bred mare Janice Franco, who had 110 starts for eight wins, 19 placings and stakes of $76,782. “I was driving for Tracey Reed about seven or eight years ago and she was training Janice Franco,” Donald Harper said. “Janice Franco then came up for sale and I bought her for $10,000 and won a couple of races with her. Her first foal was Thereugo, who gave me quite a few problems as a youngster. I was pulling my hair out a bit with him; he was just pulling so hard. He was running good times on the track, but I couldn’t get him to sit up and kick home.” It was then that Harper decided to give Thereugo to his younger brother Kyle to train in a hope that he could cure the pacer’s problems. “I had a few in work and giving him to Kyle seemed an easy option at the time. “He’s inherited his speed from McArdle and he’s definitely toughened up as he’s got older. He still doesn’t look like a four-year-old; he looks more like a three-year-old. The whole way through he’s been six months behind; as a two-year-old he was smaller than all the others. “He has drawn barrier five on Friday night and I think he’ll probably find the front. If he does, I think he can win. I know he can rate around 1.56 over 2130m.” Thereugo improved his record to ten wins and two thirds from 24 starts for earnings of $55,790 when he started from the outside barrier (No. 9) and raced three and four wide early before bursting to the front after 500m and setting a brisk pace and winning easily from Debt Free Charlie and Abraxas Blues over 2130m last Friday night. That followed all-the-way wins from barriers five and seven at his two previous outings. The appearance of Nathans Courage, who will be driven by Michael Grantham from barrier seven, will be one of the highlights of the ten-event program. The four-year-old, who has won at 11 of his 25 starts, has not raced since he led from the No. 4 barrier and won the 1730m Nights of Thunder from American Boy and Bettor Offer at a 1.53.4 rate at Gloucester Park on January 13 this year. He had given a sample of his class and wonderful potential in December when second to Mr Mojito in the Four-Year-Old Championship and second to Soho Tribeca in the Golden Nugget. Trainer Michael Brennan is looking forward to another exciting and successful campaign from Nathans Courage and he said that he is confident of a strong first-pup performance after the gelding had led and finished a half-head second to Smokey The Bandit in a 2185m trial at Pinjarra last Sunday week, rating 1.57 after final quarters of 27.3sec. and 28sec. Gary Hall jun. has given punters a good lead in this event by choosing to drive Overboard Again in preference to stablemates Ideal Justice and Campora, who will be handled by Clint Hall and Lauren Jones, respectively. Overboard Again, a winner at nine of his 23 starts, will start out wide at barrier eight, but is capable of a bold showing. Ken Casellas

Chris Voak has given punters a valuable lead by opting to drive veiled Secret in preference to Captured Delight in the Choices Flooring Pace for two-year-old fillies at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He has driven both fillies to victory at their most recent outing, scoring with the Ross Olivieri-trained Veiled Secret at Pinjarra on July 31 when the Tinted Cloud filly raced wide early and then without cover before beating Orphan Reactor at a 1.57.4 rate over 1684m. That was Veiled Secret’s first win from six starts. She will begin from barrier three on the back line on Friday night. Voak drove the Terry Ferguson-trained Captured Delight when she raced wide early from barrier four, took the lead after 300m and won by a head from Rosies Ideal at a 1.58.9 rate over 2130m at Gloucester Park last Friday week. Captured Delight won at her previous start when driven by Michael Grantham --- when she raced without cover before beating Ella Gant Player and All Over Tan over 2130m at Gloucester Park. Ferguson has engaged Dylan Egerton-Green for the filly on Friday night when she will start out wide at barrier eight on the front line. Grantham will drive the polemarker Muffins, and trainer Michael Brennan is confident she will improve on her encouraging fourth behind Havarti over 1684m at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon. Havarti, trained by Rob MacDonald at Pinjarra, revealed excellent gate speed from barrier four when she led all the way on Monday and beat Orphan Reactor by just under three lengths when having her first start for two months. Havarti will start from the No. 5 barrier, with another fast beginner and excellent frontrunner All Over Tan at barrier four. All Over Tan, trained at Byford by Peter Anderson, will be driven by Chris Lewis and will take a power of beating if she is able to burst to an early lead. Banjup trainer-reinsman Colin Brown was impressed with Fortunate Adda’s win on debut at Northam on Tuesday of last week and is looking for another strong showing from barrier six on Friday night.    Fortunate Adda raced outside the pacemaker Wilkins Medinahall before beating that filly after final quarters in 29.6sec. and 28.9sec. “What I know from the track is that she can run a 27sec. quarter,” Brown said. “What I don’t know is how many (27sec. quarters) she’s got. She’s probably got only one. She’s got gate speed and high speed at the end of her race … so who knows? Hopefully, I can put her in the race at some stage. “She’s a nice filly, has been well educated and has been in work for a long time. She has been well schooled. Two-year-olds don’t normally win first-up, especially against the experienced ones. I don’t know how tough she is. At Northam, she faced the breeze and we were lucky enough to be able to rate back, and the leader let us get a 31.4sec. and 32.4sec. for the first two quarters. She really only had to go the last 600m.” The best-performed filly in the race is Rosies Ideal, who has had eight starts for Pinjarra trainer-reinsman Shane Young for three wins and two placings. Rosies Ideal will be seriously tested from the outside (No. 9) on the front line, but she has the spirit and strength to overcome that distinct disadvantage. Ken Casellas

Ryan Warwick has given punters a massive lead by opting to drive the lightly raced Bettor Not Bitter in preference to standing start specialist Assassinator in the $23,000 Garrard’s Horse & Hound BOTRA Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Five year old Assassinator’s past seven wins have been in stands, with Warwick in the sulky for five of those victories. Assassinator, who boasts a record of 18 wins and 29 placings from 94 starts, and four-year-old Bettor Not Bitter are trained by Greg and Skye Bond, who are seeking their first win in a BOTRA Cup. Bettor Not Bitter has won at seven of his 26 starts and faces a considerable rise in class in Friday night’s Cup, a stand over 2503m, in which he will start off the front, with Assassinator, to be driven by Ryan Bell, on the 10m mark. Bettor Not Bitter made his first appearance in a stand when he began smoothly off 20m and mustered great early pace to burst to the front after 550m before bowling along and winning easily by more than four lengths in modest C0 company over 2503m at Gloucester Park last Saturday night, rating 2:1.3 on a very heavy track. He charged home from the rear to win narrowly from Cest Lheure in a 2185m mobile event at Pinjarra the previous Monday.  Assassinator warmed up for this week’s event with a sound third behind Motu Premier and Always Arjay in a mobile event at Gloucester Park on July 1. Blythewood trainer Michael Brennan, who was successful in last year’s BOTRA Cup with 5/1 chance Naughty Maravu, holds a strong hand in Friday night’s race with three runners - Im Master Charlie, Jason Rulz and Cut For An Ace. Michael Grantham had the choice of these three pacers and he has opted to drive Jason Rulz, who has been unplaced at four starts since finishing strongly to win a 2636m stand at Narrogin on May 9. Chris Voak will handle Im Master Charlie and Gary Hall Jnr (who drove Naughty Maravu to victory in last year’s BOTRA Cup) will drive Cut For An Ace. Im Master Charlie is in good form, with solid placings at his past three starts and he makes good appeal off the front. Chris Voak drove Im Master Charlie when he led for the first 650m and then trailed the pacemaker Naughty Maravu running third to his stablemate in last year’s BOTRA Cup. Im Master Charlie won two stands in New Zealand and has won four stands in WA, with Voak in the sulky for the first two of those wins, in May 2016. Nine-year-old Cut For An Ace will start off 10m and he impressed last Friday night when he finished determinedly from sixth at the bell to be a close third behind Zach Maguire and Motu Premier. Five-year-olds Tommy Be Good (20m) and Rycroft (10m) will also be fancied in a very open affair. The Katja Warwick-trained Tommy Be Good is capable of producing a strong finishing burst and many keen students of form will declare him the winner after discovering that his past six runs in stands have produced five wins and a third placing. He will be driven by Stuart McDonald, with Aiden de Campo opting to drive frontmarker and consistent performer Sky Art, who is prepared in Capel by de Campo’s father Andrew. Ken Casellas

Regally bred two-year-old filly Miss Sangrial has improved since her last-start win and Blythewood trainer Michael Brennan expects her to lead all the way in Friday night's Group 1 harness racing $100,000 2YO Diamond Classic (2130m) at Gloucester Park. The Art Major-Christisimo filly, whose name in old French means "royal blood", recorded a hat-trick of wins when she easily accounted for her rivals late last month in a heat of the Diamond Classic. Reinsman Michael Grantham, Brennan's nephew, sent Miss Sangrial straight to the front from gate two and she was never fully extended to defeat De La Tourbie and Captured Delight. Prior to her heat win, Miss Sangrial accounted for classy filly Cott Beach, who won the $50,000 Champagne Classic at headquarters in April and, according to Brennan - a member of the Australian men's hockey team that won gold at the Athens Olympics in 2004 - Miss Sangrial is right on target for her biggest payday. "She's pretty much spot on for the Diamond," Brennan said. "She's improved again since her win in the heat and from the pole I think she can go all the way. I don't think there's a filly in the race that can cross her from her good draw. I couldn't be happier with her." Miss Sangrial has really hit her straps recently with four wins from her past five starts. She was always going to start favourite in the Diamond Classic regardless of where she drew, but once she drew the pole then it was a matter of how deep in the red she'll start. "I bought Miss Sangrial from my best mate, Daniel Jack in Melbourne," Brennan said. "She had three starts in Victoria before she came across to WA. She won once over there, but since she's been here she's only been out of the money once. We syndicated Miss Sangrial and she's owned by the Naughty syndicate - the guys who own Naughty Maravu - and a few others, including my wife Lara. The Naughty Maravu guys are all in Sydney, but I think three or four of them are coming over for Friday night's race." Brennan said he would wait until after the Diamond Classic to see what he'll do with Miss Sangrial going forward. "We'll see how she pulls up after Friday night's race," he said. "The Slipper could be on the cards if she comes through OK. Otherwise we'll tip her out and give her a break before getting her ready for the Oaks next season." FOOTNOTE: Brennan gave punters a great lead when he suggested Naughty Maravu would be hard to beat in Friday night's Westral Pace (2536m). "He's been knocking on the door and he's a brilliant frontrunner," he said. "He's drawn gate two and he'll be hard to get over if he finds the top. The 2536 metres won't worry him at all." Wayne Currall

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