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HECTORJAYJAY’S comeback headlines an array of the sport’s biggest name strutting their stuff across Australia this weekend. The multiple Group 1 winner and 2016 Perth Inter Dominion runner-up returns from almost two years out in a free-for-all named after him at Albion Park on Saturday night. It’s not an easy task from the outside draw (gate seven), given he’ll almost certainly be snagged back to last over 1660m against some fit and in-form horses around Albion Park. But it’s so great and, in many unexpected, to see Hectorjayjay embarking on another comeback as a nine-year-old for trainer Jack Butler. Over in Perth, another comeback star Chicago Bull, steps out for his third run in as many weeks in a 2130m free-for-all. Like Hectorjayjay, Chicago Bull won’t have it easy from an outside (gate nine) draw. Sure he’ll be fitter for two runs back and it’s a drop in grade, but he’ll have to do plenty of work from that alley against some fit and handy horses like As Happy As Larry (gate three), El Jacko (seven) and Im Full Of Excuses (eight). Chicago Bull did most of the work and probably just ran out of condition a bit late when a fantastic third to giant-killer Ocean Ridge and young star Shockwave at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Just a few minutes before Chicago Bull lines up, arguably Australia’s most exciting pacer, Lochinvar Art, steps out again in a moderate fast-class race at Shepparton. Victoria’s zoned racing means Lochinvar Art can’t race at Melton, so he’s a league above the horses he will face at Shepparton. Hopefully the zoned racing ends soon so we can see him against the likes of Poster Boy in Melton free-for-alls before too long. Poster Boy is zoned to Melton (and Ballarat) so we get to see him race again in the fast-class race at Melton on Saturday night. The former Chariots Of Fire winner and Miracle Mile placegetter beat a moderate bunch, but smashed the clock doing so at his first run for almost a year at Melton last week. Greg Sugars dropped Poster Boy out to last and came with one big run around the field from the 1000m, running his own last 800m in 53.4sec to win without being extended. He’s up in grade a tad this week, but is drawn gate four and should be too good again.   Adam Hamilton

Ken Casellas reviews the harness racing action from Gloucester Park on the 24th April 2020 Ocean Ridge upsets stars Champion trainers Greg and Skye Bond have always been great admirers of There’s A Dancer, a modest performer on the racetrack in New Zealand, and their judgment and faith in her as a broodmare was further vindicated when Ocean Ridge stormed home to beat star pacers Shockwave and Chicago Bull in the Perth Plasterboard Centre Memorial Day Stakes at Gloucester Park on Friday night. They train and own in partnership with Rob and Anne Gartrell, Ocean Ridge, a highly-promising New Zealand-bred gelding who has won at ten of his 25 starts in Western Australia. Ocean Ridge is the third foal out of the Falcon Seelster mare There’s A Dancer (who managed just four wins from 32 starts) and he has the potential to figure prominently in the rich Fremantle Cup and WA Pacing Cup early next year. Watch the video replay here. The Bonds also purchased There’s A Dancer’s first two foals, Bracken Ridge and McClinchie. Bracken Ridge won at three of his 12 starts in WA in 2015 and 2016, scoring at Kellerberrin, Gloucester Park and Narrogin, and McClinchie had 26 starts for the Bonds for ten wins and eight placings before being sold to America.   A masterly drive by leading reinsman Ryan Warwick paved the way for Ocean Ridge’s surprise victory at $20.30 over Shockwave ($2.50) and Chicago Bull ($2.05), brilliant pacers who were widely predicted to fight out the finish of the 2536m event. Ocean Ridge started from the inside of the back line and Warwick drove him patiently, three back on the inside, behind pegs runners Talktomeurmattjesty and Our Jimmy Johnstone. Halfway down the back straight in the final circuit Ocean Ridge was hopelessly hemmed in, seemingly with nowhere to go. But Warwick, almost miraculously was able to ease the gelding off the pegs 470m from home to follow Chicago Bull, who was charging forward. Chicago Bull got to the front with about 300m to travel before being overtaken on the home turn by Shockwave, who then had Ocean Ridge on his back. Ocean Ridge responded grandly to Warwick’s urgings and he got up in the final couple of strides to beat Shockwave by a head, rating 1.55.4, with the final 400m being covered in a slick 27.7sec. Our Jimmy Johnstone fought on to finish fourth. He led for the first 700m before Kyle Harper sent the freewheeling Talktomeurmattjesty to the front. Chicago Bull, from barrier seven, was trapped three wide in the early stages before Gary Hall jnr restrained him to last in the field of twelve, 50 metres from the leaders. Chicago Bull dashed forward, three wide, at the 1400m, a move which flushed out Shockwave, who got to the breeze before Chicago Bull passed him at the bell, giving him the one-out, one-back trail. Hall bided his time in the breeze before sending Chicago Bull to the front with 300m to travel. Shockwave then gained the upper hand on the home turn and held his rival at bay in the home straight before being overhauled by the flying Ocean Ridge on the line. An untimely injury forced Ocean Ridge to miss the rich classics for four-year-olds, including the 2018 Golden Nugget, and he was out of action for 14 months. He has made a full recovery and this season his 19 starts have produced six wins, four seconds and a third placing. He showed abundant early promise in New Zealand, finishing third at each of his first three starts as a two-year-old before finishing strongly from last to finish an eye-catching fifth behind Mach Shard and Spankem in the group 1 Young Guns Cardigan Bay Stakes at Alexandra Park.     Lavra Joe poised for stardom Stylish colt Lavra Joe looks set for stardom after outclassing his rivals in the $40,000 Champagne Classic for two-year-olds at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Favourite at $1.30 from the No. barrier, Lavra Joe gave champion horseman Chris Lewis an armchair drive as he was untroubled to set the pace and career away from his rivals with a final quarter of 27.2sec. to beat Overjoyed by three and a half lengths at a 1.58.8 rate over 2130m. Trained by Greenbushes cattle farmer Ray Jones, Lavra Joe will contest three group 1 events over the next three months, providing he maintains his fitness and form. At this stage he looks the testing material in the Pearl on June 12, the Westbred Classic on June 26 and the Golden Slipper on July 10. Jones, who has always had a good eye for a young horse, was highly impressed when he watched Lavra Joe as a yearling prancing around in a paddock at breeder Kevin Charles’ property last year. The colt was passed in at the 2019 WA yearling sale when he failed to reach his reserve price of $25,000 and then Jones was able to negotiate with Charles and buy the colt by American stallion Roll With Joe for $22,500. Already Lavra Joe, who is raced by Jones and his partner Sayjai Sakaew, has earned $47,070 from four wins and two third placings from eight starts. His easy victory gave Lewis a record eighth success in the Champagne Classic, following wins with Pardon Me Boys (1987), Talladega (1999), Wirrpunda (2001), All Four Firing (2002), Slick Operator (2003), David Hercules (2009) and Mister Jadore (2013).   The Buckeye Bullet completes a Bond treble Leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond completed a winning treble at Gloucester Park on Friday night when The Buckeye Bullet overcame a scratchy start at the stand to score an easy victory in the 2503m Catalano Truck And Equipment Handicap. The Bonds had earlier been successful with Kingslayer and Ocean Ridge and they now hold an unassailable lead on the WA trainers’ premiership table with 131 wins, well ahead of Ross Olivieri (73), Gary Hall snr (63), Justin Prentice (54) and Aiden de Campo (53). The Buckeye Bullet, favourite at $2.80 and driven by Dylan Egerton-Green, galloped for three or five strides and lost three lengths. But he quickly made up the lost ground and dashed past On My Oath and into the lead after 350m. From then it was a cakewalk for The Buckeye Bullet, who coasted home to win by 7m from the fast-finishing Miss Sangrial ($9) who started off the 30m mark and improved from ninth at the bell. The victory gave Egerton-Green his 59TH winner for the season. Four-year-old The Buckeye Bullet now has made four appearances in stands for three wins and a second. After a win and a placing from two starts in New Zealand the son of American sire Well Said has raced 16 times in Western Australia for eight wins and five placings. He is the 14TH foal out of New Zealand mare Titan Bloss. The Bird Dance, a four-year-old stablemate of The Buckeye Bullet, failed in his first appearance in a stand, starting off the 20m mark and finishing eighth after racing in eighth position and out wide in the final lap. Former Victorian performer GI Joe finished last at his WA debut. He was trapped four wide early, was restrained to the rear, paced roughly and moved up to the breeze after just over a lap before fading in the final circuit.   Millwood Molly a Breeders Stakes prospect Millwood Molly, a sparingly-raced seven-year-old, gave a bold frontrunning display to win the Garrard’s Horse And Hound Johnson final at Gloucester Park on Friday night and showed that she would be a leading candidate for the $40,000 WASBA Breeders Stakes next Friday week. Driven by her trainer Aiden de Campo, Millwood Molly, second fancy at $3.30, sped straight to the front, while one of her chief rivals and last-start winner Typhoon Tiff ($5.50) broke in the early stages and dropped back to the rear. Balcatherine, the $2.90 favourite, started from the back line and was urged forward, three wide and into the breeze after 550m before Pick My Pocket sustained a three-wide burst to assume the breeze position 250m later. Balcatherine vacated the one-out, one-back position 520m from home to issue a three-wide challenge. She fought on determinedly to finish second, with Has No Fear ($31) coming from three back on the pegs to be third, ahead of Countess Grace, who finished solidly from last on the pegs at the bell. Dracarys fought on, out six wide, to finish seventh. The New Zealand-bred Millwood Molly, who rated 1.56.9, has earned $113,127 from 11 wins and ten placings from 37 starts.   Star Fromthepalace ready to go Talented filly Star Fromthepalace, who is related to former champion millionaire pacers Chokin and Changeover, is ready to fire in the $150,000 WA Oaks next Friday night after another dashing victory at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Star Fromthepalace, the $1.60 favourite for Byford trainer Peter Anderson and reinsman Aldo Cortopassi, set a strong pace and won convincingly from rank outsiders Missbillynotsilly ($101) and Rockin The Trend ($151), covering the 2130m in 2min.34.3sec. and rating 1.56.6. This compared favourably with another Oaks candidate Fifty Five Reborn, who won over 2130m with a gross time of 2min. 36.7sec. (a 1.58.4 rate) in an earlier event on Friday night. Star Fromthepalace, by Follow The Stars, is out of the unraced mare From The Palace and now has had 24 starts for five wins, nine placings and earnings of $68,665. Star Fromthepalace was not challenged at any stage as she bowled along in front and won by one and a half lengths. The unlucky runner was Blockjorg ($17), who finished fourth after enjoying no luck at all. After starting out wide at barrier seven, Blockjorg settled at the rear and was seventh at the bell before being badly hampered for room in the back straight. She was last at the 500m mark and did not get clear until late when she finished fast. Alta Louisa, second favourite at $3 from the outside barrier at No. 9, never got into the race. She was sixth, three wide, at the bell and finished sixth.   Oaks the target for Fifty Five Reborn Banjup trainer-reinsman Colin Brown has Fifty Five Reborn fit and firing and ready for a strong performance in the $150,000 WA Oaks next Friday night.  The WA-bred filly was all the rage as the $1.40 favourite for the 2130m Specialised Equipment Funding Solutions Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night when she led from the No. 1 barrier, and after a smart lead time of 36.9sec. was able to amble through the first quarters of the final mile in 32.1sec. and 31.7sec. before giving her rivals little chance by speeding over the final 400m sections in 28.6sec. and 27.5sec. Fifty Five Reborn was not extended in winning by one and a half lengths from the fast-finishing My Sweet Deal ($12), with a head to Intheskyrocket ($8.50) in third place. My Sweet Deal maintained her consistent form and did well to finish solidly from seventh at the bell. Intheskyrocket enjoyed a perfect sit behind the pacemaker throughout. Fifty Five Reborn, by Renaissance Man and the first foal out of the unraced mare Arma Fifty Five, has had 12 starts for five wins and two seconds for $59,003 in prizemoney.   Six in a row for Papinik Lightly-raced four-year-old Papinik continued on his winning ways and chalked up his sixth win in a row when he finished full of running to defeat the pacemaker Roman Art in the TABtouch Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Given a perfect passage in the one-out, one-back position by Mitch Miller, the Ross Olivieri-trained Papinik burst to the front on the home turn to win by two metres, rating 1.58.2. Miller now has driven Papinik three times for three wins and the event billed as a match race between the Advance Attack gelding and Roman Art, certainly developed into a battle between the only four-year-olds in the race. Roman Art, who also went into the race with a string of five successive victories, was a $3.40 chance from the No. 1 barrier, with Papinik, from barrier two, the $2.40 favourite. Chris Voak, who had driven Papinik to four victories, was able to defy an early challenge for the lead from Carramar Arapaho, and the Victor Bryers-trained Roman Art was able to stroll through the lead time in a casual 38.7sec. and the opening quarter in a slow 32.4sec. Roman Art then sprinted the third quarter in a swift 27.3sec. and covered the final 400m in 27.9sec. But he was no match for the fast-finishing Papinik, who now has raced only nine times for seven wins and two thirds for earnings of $35,594. Papinik is the ninth foal out of Artists Impression, who was retired after one placing from three starts in 2001. Artists Impression has produced seven winners, including Heez On Fire, who earned $287,607 from 20 wins and eight placings from 52 starts. He won the group 2 Westbred Classic for two-year-old colts and geldings in June 2012 and the group 2 San Simeon final in January 2014. He also finished third behind Nowitzki in the Golden Nugget championship in December 2013.   Bettor Be Oscar maintains top form WA-bred four-year-old Bettor Be Oscar maintained his wonderfully consistent form when he proved the master of his older rivals in the 2130m Retravision Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The Bettors Delight gelding, trained and driven by Aiden de Campo, has certainly inherited much of the ability of his sire and his dam, Copper Beach Girl, who earned $156,851 from 14 wins and 24 placings. Bettor Be Oscar now has had 44 starts for 12 wins, 21 placings and $99,807 in stakes. Bettor Be Oscar is the second and last foal out of Copper Beach Girl, who died a few years ago. Copper Beach Girl’s first foal was Topless Beach Girl, who managed one win and ten placings from 21 starts in 2015 and 2016. Bettor Be Oscar started from the inside of the back line and was a $5.70 chance, with Mr Kiwi, at his Australian debut, a warm favourite at $1.75. Qtown Rip Roaring led early from barrier one before stablemate Brookies Jet dashed to the front. Mr Kiwi raced wide early before moving into the breeze after about 450m, with Bettor Be Oscar travelling well three back on the pegs. Mr Kiwi broke into a gallop approaching the bell and dropped back to finish a distant last. Bettor Be Oscar forged to the front 300m from home and won at a 1.56.1 rate from the strong-finishing Qtown Rip Roaring, with Marquisard running home solidly to be third.   Sergeant Oats at odds-on    Consistent and reliable WA-bred six-year-old Sergeant Oats was in an unusual position as the $1.80 favourite for the 2130m Westral Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. It was the first time he had started at odds-on since he was at $1.90 when he led and finished second to Golden State at Gloucester Park 26 starts earlier. However, this time he justified the short quote, with Shannon Suvaljko making the most of the coveted No. 1 barrier by setting the pace and scoring a comfortable victory over Soho Thunderstruck, who fought on gamely after following the pacemaker throughout. Sergeant Oats, who rated 1.57 and is part-owned and trained by Courtney Burch, has been a good moneyspinner, earning $141,688 from 12 wins and 17 placings from 51 starts. Suvaljko has formed an excellent association with the gelding and has handled him at seven of his victories.   Kingslayer makes it eight from 12 Lightly-raced New Zealand-bred six-year-old Kingslayer is proving a splendid acquisition for leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond and looks set for many more wins. He improved his record in Western Australia to eight wins and two placings from 12 starts when he gave star reinsman Ryan Warwick an armchair drive on the way to an easy all-the-way victory over Valbonne and Always An Honour in the 2130m Direct Trades Supply Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Warwick took full advantage of the No. 1 barrier by sending Kingslayer, the $2.20 favourite and $1.85 on the fixed market, straight to the front and setting a solid pace before sprinting over the final quarters in 27.8sec. and 28.1sec. Free-For-All performer Im Soxy was dropping back in grade and was a firm second fancy at $2.40. After starting from barrier five and racing three wide early, Im Soxy was restrained by Gary Hall jnr to sixth in the one-wide line. Hall then put Im Soxy into the race by sending him forward to the breeze 1200m from home. But he did not seriously challenge Kingslayer and wilted to finish fourth. Kingslayer, who has earned $77,155 from 12 wins and six placings from 27 starts, is by Christian Cullen and is the first foal out of Bettors Delight mare Millwood Manhattan, who was retired after winning at three of her 19 starts and earning $40,364.   Ken Casellas

RACE 1 TABtouch Pace 1.Chris Voak (Roman Art) “He drew better than Papanik. Tactically he has more options than him. He can lead or be leaders back.” 2. Ross Olivieri (Papanik) “Voaky made the decision to go with the one. He has a second to none chance in this race though.” 4. Wayne Justins (Carramar Arapaho) “I think he can cross. That’s his strength. 2130 is a bit closer to his distance range too so he may hold the lead.”   RACE 2 Retravision Pace 1.Matt Scott (Qtown Rip Roaring) “He’s racing well. He has the option to lead or sit. He will be hard to beat.” 2.  Matt Scott (Cut Above) “Good effort last start. She’s up against the boys though so she might be a place chance.” 3. Matt Scott (Brookies Jet) “Last start he was disappointing. 15 days between runs will help hin.” 4. Ross Olivieri (Carrera Mach) “He’s working the place down. He’s yet to show that. Second-up but he hasn’t been blessed with great draws. Place chance.” 5. Gary Hall Snr (Mr Kiwi) “He’s a chance. He’s working well enough. Best form is clearly good enough.”   RACE 3 Westral Pace 6. Wayne Justins (Pradas Ideal Dahling) “He didn’t get a proper crack at them last week. His track work is as good as ever. Other than lacking a bit of fitness, I can’t have him any better.”   RACE 4 Direct Trades Supply 1.Greg Bond (Kingslayer) “He should hold up. He might cop a bit of pressure. He’s got the speed to hold Saleahs Command. 2. Greg Bond (Courage Tells) “Tricky gate. He’s making up the numbers.” 5. Brian Clemens (Im Soxy) “I don’t give Jnr instructions. I leave it up to him. I couldn’t be happier to find a race. There’s not much point in him going back getting into a field like this.   RACE 5 Perth Plasterboard Centre Memorial Day Pace 1.Greg Bond (Our Jimmy Johnstone) “He’s got to be driven the way he runs his best races which is cold. We won’t want him getting into a war. He can stick to the fence and run home well. 5. Ross Olivieri (Im Full Of Excuses) “Generally a better horse when we don’t use him off the gate. I think he’s a knock out chance. The middle draw is a bit ordinary. The horse is going well. 7. Gary Hall Snr (Chicago Bull) “I’m pretty happy with him. He’ll be needing the run. We will sit him up and come with the one run. 9. Wayne Justins (Mighty Flying Deal) “He’s in here to have a go.” 10. Greg Bond (Ocean Ridge) “The draw suits and will likely be three back on the pegs. Wouldn’t surprise me to see him hitting the line. 12. Aiden De Campo (Shockwave) “It’s going to be exciting. It’s one I won’t look into too much. I will drive it to the speed of the race. He’s a horse that’s got a few strings to his bow. I wouldn’t be sure Talktomeurmattjesty would run to the top. If I was Our Jimmy Johnstone I’d want to hold him out.   RACE 6 Champagne Classic 1.Ray Jones (Lavra Joe) “He’s very quick out of the gate. I trialled him one time at Bunbury from barrier one and led easily.” 3. Justin Prentice (Beat The Bank) “Little bit outclassed here. 2130 will suit though.” 5. Ross Olivieri (Star Of Willoughby) “Went well at Bunbury. They ran the race hard the whole way at Bunbury. I think he’s a knock out chance.” 7. Justin Prentice (Adda Something) “Not a lot luck with the draw. The ability is there. I hope he hits the line well.   RACE 7 Garrards Horse and Hound Johnson Pace 1. Colin Brown (Typhoon Tiff) “She has improved off the first-up run.” 4. Justin Prentice (Dracarys) “She was super first-up and last start she just never got into it. Jnr said she’s starting to feel like the old Dracarys. With the right run she’s a chance.” 10. Justin Prentice (Has No Fear) “She was only fair last start. She had the run to finish closer than she did last start. We’ve put the pull down blinds on to make her finish off. 11. Gary Hall Snr (Balcatherine) “She will go close again. Better suited now having had the runs.” 12. Justin Prentice (Pick My Pocket) “Racing well. Her work has been good. That draw doesn’t help her as she’s better on speed.”   RACE 8 Catalano Truck & Equipment Pace 3. Greg Bond (The Buckeye Bullet) “Going well in stands. Expect a competitive showing.” 4. Justin Prentice (Babyface Adda) “Last two starts have been disappointing. His work has been good. He does need the race run to suit. If he can find a forward position he’s an each way chance. 5. Ross Olivieri (Kiwi Bloke) “A bit like Carrera Mach I’m waiting for him to show some form. His best form is in stands. Good opposition are drawn inside him. He needs to step well. 6. Ross Olivieri (G I Joe) “I hope he will be a better horse at the races. He’s a lazy track worker. We’ve added a hood to gee him up a bit. 9. Greg Bond (The Bird Dance) “First run in the stand. He got away well in the trials.” RACE 9 Specialised Equipment Funding Solutions 3YO Fillies 1.Colin Brown (Fifty Five Reborn) “She will appreciate the significant gear changes.” 2. Greg Bond (Intheskyrocket) “She’s racing well and will likely be on the back of the one.” 3. Justin Prentice (Suing You) “Fifty Five Reborn will be hard to beat. This isn’t a bad draw for her where we can drive her quietly.” 4. Stuart McDonald (My Sweet Deal) “I wasn’t impressed with her last run or my drive. I expect her to be near her best this week which should set her up for the Oaks. 2nd is probably the best result looking at the draws and the way the race will most likely be run.” 5. Ross Olivieri (Run For Mercy) “I think she’s in good order. She trialled well. We might have a throw at the stumps for the lead.” 6. Greg Bond (Weewah) “She will be dictated to by the speed of the race.” 8. Greg Bond (Nikasa) “I have an opinion of her but the draw hurts. Hopefully she runs top three to get in the Oaks.” RACE 10 Etch Coatings 3YO Fillies Pace 1.Aldo Cortopassi (Star Fromthepalace) “I think we will run the gate hard and try to find the front. She will go close.” 3. Gary Hall Snr (Advance Your Dream) “I’m hoping she can be in the running line with some cover. I don’t really want her to breeze. 9. Justin Prentice (Alta Louisa) “It’s hard for her. She’s a nice filly. Her first two runs have been impressive. Big rise for her in grade but she’s capable of measuring up to them.”   Tim Walker

Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr is renowned for his ability to produce pacers in top condition for first-up assignments and he is hoping that recent New Zealand arrival Mr Kiwi will make a successful Australian harness racing debut when he contests the Retravision Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Mr Kiwi has not been produced at trials and has managed just one placing (a third) from his final five starts in New Zealand. However, even from an awkward draw at barrier five on the front line he should prove hard to beat. He left New Zealand on March 6, a month after his final start in that country, a seventh in a field of nine in a 2700m stand at Cambridge on February 9. He was the lone backmarker off 30 metres and was favourite at $3.40. He settled in ninth position, 45m from the early leader Fleeting Grin before racing three wide in the final circuit when he moved to second 600m from home. But he wilted to finish six lengths behind the winner Gambit. Two starts before that Mr Kiwi started from barrier seven in a 220m mobile at Alexandra Park when he enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back, before sprinting strongly to hit the front 80m from the post. But he was swamped by the fast-finishing pair of Double Rocket and The Revolver. The final 800m was covered in 55.5sec. and Mr Kiwi’s effort was meritorious. Mr Kiwi’s most recent victory was seven starts ago when he began speedily from barrier four in a 2200m mobile event at Alexandra Park on November 1 last year. He burst to the front after 70m and gave a strong frontrunning display to win by a head from Ball of Art at a 1.56.6 rate, with final quarters of 28.3sec. and 27.2sec. Gary Hall Jnr, who will drive Mr Kiwi, has several other good drives on the ten-event program, including veteran Im Soxy, who will start from the No. 5 barrier in the 2130m Direct Trades Supply Pace. The big seven-year-old, trained in Bunbury by Brian Clemens, is sure to appreciate a considerable drop in class after recent placings behind Im Full of Excuses, Vampiro and El Jacko. He is likely to carry too many guns for his obvious toughest rival, the polemarker Kingslayer, who has won 11 times from just 26 starts.   Ken Casellas

Dashing reinsman Chris Voak, who has driven 124 winners this season, has given punters a good lead by choosing to handle Roman Art ahead of the highly-promising Papinik in the opening event, the TABtouch Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. When Roman Art drew barrier one and Papinik No. 2, Voak was faced with a dilemma. The two four-year-olds, the least experienced runners in the field of 12, look set to have an intriguing battle for ascendancy. Voak has a high opinion of the Ross Olivieri-trained Papinik, who has won at six of his eight starts. Voak has driven the black gelding six times for four wins and two thirds, with Mitch Miller having driven him twice for two wins. Miller will drive Papinik on Friday night. Roman Art, who is trained at Coolup by his lessee owner Victor Bryers, has had 15 starts for eight wins and three placings. He is in top form, having won at each of his past five starts on South-West tracks. His only appearance at Gloucester Park was on August 30 last year when he finished seventh. Roman Art has won six times at Pinjarra and twice at Bunbury. Voak has been the successful driver seven times and he is sure to attempt to take full advantage of the No. 1 barrier. Roman Art has started from barrier one three times for three all-the-way victories. Papinik has an excellent turn of foot and he has unwound strong finishing bursts in several of his victories. Collie owner-trainer Wayne Justins has engaged Dylan Egerton-Green to drive the speedy Carramar Arapaho, who will start from the No. 4 barrier. The only time Egerton-Green has driven the six-year-old was five starts ago when he led from barrier one and held on to win by a short half-head from Flying Mister Ideal over 1684m at Pinjarra on March 23. That has been his only win from 11 starts in Western Australia after winning once in the country in Victoria and nine times in New South Wales. Voak also had the choice between two Olivieri-trained pacers in the eighth event, the Catalano Truck And Equipment Handicap, a stand over 2503m. He chose newcomer GI Joe over fellow frontmarker Kiwi Bloke, who will be driven by Chris Lewis. GI Joe is a lightly-raced seven-year-old who has had only 29 starts for seven wins and eight placings. He raced 15 times in New Zealand where his five wins included victories in stands over 2400m at Ashburton and over 2700m at Addington in the winter of 2016. He then had 13 starts in Victoria for two wins (in mobiles at Stawell and Charlton) and four placings.       Leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond hold a strong hand in the race with front-line runner The Buckeye Bullet and The Bird Dance, who will start off the 20m mark. Ryan Warwick has given punters a lead by choosing to drive The Bird Dance, who will be making his first appearance in a stand. But he goes into the race with an impressive record of 11 wins from 16 starts (two wins from five starts in New Zealand ands 11 starts in Western Australia for nine wins and a last-start second to Sergeant Oats). The Buckeye Bullet, to be driven by Dylan Egerton-Green, has raced three times in stands for two wins and a second placing. After a win and a second from two New Zealand outings The Buckeye Bullet has raced 15 times in WA for seven wins and five placings.   Ken Casellas

The long-awaited first clash between rising star Shockwave and millionaire superstar Chicago Bull will be the highlight of the ten-event program at Gloucester Park on Friday night when they lock horns in the $20,000 Perth Plasterboard Centre Memorial Day Stakes. Four-year-old Shockwave, the youngest runner in the field of 12, will start from the outside barrier (No. 3) on the back line and is ready to meet the challenge full on after superb victories at each of his past four starts. However, the Ryan Bell-trained stallion will need to be at his best to topple Chicago Bull, who is awkwardly drawn out wide at barrier seven on the front line. Chicago Bull was produced in splendid condition for his first-up appearance after a ten-month absence when he won at a 1.54 rate over 2130m last Friday night. He settled down 40m behind the pacemaker Talktomeurmattjesty, was eased off the pegs at the 1050m mark and got to the front on the home turn before fighting on determinedly to beat the fast-finishing El Jacko by a head. Seven-year-old Chicago Bull, the winner at 44 of his 67 starts, is sure to have derived great benefit from that effort and he has bright prospects of notching another victory in this 2536m event against some solid opposition, including Shockwave, Our Jimmy Johnstone, Im Full of Excuses, As Happy As Larry, Golden State and other smart performers. Our Jimmy Johnstone’s prospects cannot be overlooked from the coveted No. 1 barrier. His recent form over 2536m has been excellent. The 11-year-old to be driven by Bailey McDonough for leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, started from the outside barrier and sustained a strong burst from sixth at the bell to win by a neck from stablemate Mighty Santana and Golden State over 2536m last Friday night. A week earlier, over 1730m, he raced in fifth position, three back on the pegs, before finishing strongly, out four wide, to be a head second to Shockwave. He finished powerfully when second to Vampiro over 2536m two starts before that. Champion trainer Gary Hall Snr is looking for Chicago Bull to give him and his reinsman son Gary a third success in the Memorial Day Stakes, after victories with John of Arc in 2015 and Whozideawasthis in 2018. Hall snr also prepared Memorial Day Stakes placegetters Zakara, Bengeeman, Dartmoor, Talk To Me Courage and Sanjaya. Morgan Woodley (Argyle Red) and Aldo Cortopassi (Mighty Flying Deal) will be driving outsiders after each having won the event multiple times --- with Woodley scoring with Mysta Magical Mach in 2009 and Tsunami Lombo, an 8/1 chance who beat Has The Answers and 10/1 on favourite Ima Spicey Lombo in 2011, and Cortopassi winning with 11/1 chance Just Jasper, who got up in the final stride to defeat 3/1 on favourite Scruffy Murphy in 2008, and scoring with Hokonui Ben in 2014 and Heez On Fire in 2017. Chris Voak will be driving Im Full of Excuses, a recent Bunbury winner and city placegetter behind Handsandwheels and Vampiro for trainer Ross Olivieri, who prepared Memorial Day Stakes winners Captain Lee in 1995 and Tsunami Lombo in 2011.   Ken Casellas

Champion reinsman Chris Lewis has won the Champagne Classic a record seven times and he has high hopes of adding to this impressive tally by driving Lavra Joe to victory in the $40,000 feature event for two-year-olds at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He gave punters a strong lead by choosing to handle the Ray Jones-trained Lavra Joe in preference to Ross Olivieri’s promising colt Star of Willoughby. Lavra Joe notched his third win from his past four starts when he started from the outside barrier in a field of five in a 1609m event at Bunbury last Saturday night. He raced three wide for the first 150m and then in the breeze outside the pacemaker Sugar Street before racing locked together with that pacer over the final 300m and prevailing by a head. The time for the 1609m was 1.55.9, with final quarters of 27.9sec. and 28.2sec. Lavra Joe’s prospects in the 2130m Champagne Classic improved considerably when he drew the prized No. 1 barrier and Lewis is sure to make full use of the colt’s excellent gate speed and attempt an all-the-way victory. Star of Willoughby, who will start from barrier No. 5, with Chris Voak in the sulky, enjoyed the one-out, one-back trail in last Saturday’s Bunbury event and he finished solidly to be a close third. That followed a solid first-up second to Machnificent at Gloucester Park. Machnificent, who is trained at Byford by Katja Warwick and will be driven by Gary Hall Jnr, looms large as a serious threat to Lavra Joe in the Champagne Classic. He was most impressive when he set the pace and dashed over the final quarters in 28.7sec. and 27sec. to win from Star of Willoughby and Robbie Rocket at a 1.58.9 rate over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Easter Thursday. That was his second win from five starts and he looks set for a bright career. With Hall opting to handle Machnificent, Boyanup trainer Justin Prentice decided to drive his promising gelding Adda Something, who was driven by Hall at his past two outings for a second to Lavra Joe at Gloucester Park and an all-the-way win over Disco Demon at Bunbury last Saturday week when he sped over the final 400m in 27.3sec. Adda Something’s prospects diminished significantly after drawing out wide at barrier seven. Prentice will also be represented by Beat The Bank, who will be driven by Dylan Egerton-Green from barrier three. Beat The Bank set the pace from barrier one and won from Troopingofthecolor over 1730m at Gloucester Park two starts ago. Shannon  Suvaljko, who drove the Noel Keiley-trained Bettors Ace to victory in the 2010 Champagne Classic, will handle Robbie Rocket in this week’s race, but the colt, a winner at two of his four starts, faces a daunting task from the outside barrier at No. 9. Lewis has won the Champagne Classic behind Pardon Me Boys (1987), Talladega (1999), Wirrpunda (2001), All Four Firing (2002), Slick Operator (2003), David Hercules (2009) and Mister Jadore (2013).    Ken Casellas

Chicago Bull resumes in style Champion pacer Chicago Bull reappeared after a ten-month absence at Gloucester Park on Friday afternoon when he gave convincing proof that he is capable of regaining his crown as Australia’s best harness horse. Starting from the outside in a field of six in the 2130m Perth Plasterboard Centre Pace, Chicago Bull was restrained to the rear and settled down almost 40 metres behind the noted frontrunner Talktomeurmattjesty and at the lucrative price of $2.40 (and at $2.10 on the fixed market) --- after being an odds-on favourite at his 19 previous appearances at Gloucester Park. Gary Hall jnr was content to keep the seven-year-old in last position in the Indian file affair until he eased him off the pegs with 1050m to travel. Chicago Bull then gradually made up ground as he led the one-wide line forward until he wrested the lead from Talktomeurmattyjesty on the home turn. He then held on grimly to win by a head from El Jacko, who finished determinedly after following Chicago Bull until the champion went to the front. After a smart lead time of 34.8sec. and quarters of 29.2sec., 29.1sec. and 28.1sec., the final 400m was covered in a relatively modest 29.7sec., with Chicago Bull rating 1.54. Watch the video replay here. Chicago Bull, who was having his first start as a seven-year-old, was produced in splendid condition by champion trainer Gary Hall snr and is sure to derive great benefit from his comeback to racing action. Hopes are high now that he will continue an upward path which could see him being set for the Interdominion championship in New South Wales in November and December and the Fremantle Cup and WA Pacing Cup in the New Year. Chicago Bull now has raced 67 times for 44 wins, 17 placings and $1,756,520 in prizemoney. Talktomeurmattjesty, a brilliant all-the-way winner at a 1.52.9 rate over 2130m two starts before Friday’s race, wilted to finish a well-beaten fifth. This followed his fading sixth behind Argyle Red after leading at his previous outing.   Our Jimmy Johnstone’s flame burns brightly Evergreen veteran Our Jimmy Johnstone managed only five placings from 21 starts last season, but the 11-year-old has been racing with youthful enthusiasm this season. He overcame the disadvantage of starting from the outside barrier in a field of eight in the 2536m Mondo Doro Smallgoods Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday afternoon when he sustained a three-wide burst from sixth at the bell to get up in the final couple of strides to win by a neck from his six-year-old stablemate Mighty Santana. Our Jimmy Johnstone, the $3.20 second favourite prepared by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, was driven confidently by Bailey McDonough. The final quarters were run in 28.1sec. and 28.4sec. and the winner rated 1.58.8 in taking his record to 134 starts for 30 wins, 289 seconds and 22 thirds for stakes of $750,533. Golden State, the $2.80 favourite, began speedily from the No. 4 barrier and he led for the first 400m before Ryan Warwick sent Mighty Santana ($5.50) to the front. Iceenothink, well fancied at $4, enjoyed a perfect passage, one-out and one-back, but was held under lock and key down the back straight in the final circuit before finally getting clear and running home solidly into fourth place. Our Jimmy Johnstone, by American stallion P Forty Seven, had 28 starts in New Zealand for nine wins, ten placings and $141,449 before arriving in Western Australia as a six-year-old in November 2014. He won at his WA debut, in a 2631m stand at Pinjarra on December 15, 2014 and has been a wonderful money spinner ever since, with his 106 WA starts producing 21 victories and 40 placings.   Always An Angel sparkles New Zealand-bred filly Always An Angel showed that she should be a major player in feature events for two-year-olds this season when she gave a stylish performance to win the Off The Track Pace over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Friday afternoon. Favourite at $1.90 on the tote (and second fancy at $2.25 on the fixed market), Always An Angel was driven aggressively by Gary Hall jnr, who dashed her (from barrier No. 4) to the front after 200m and an opening quarter of the final mile in 28.5sec. made life tough for her rivals. She was not fully extended in strolling to victory by three lengths over Benesari Lane ($8) who was fifth at the bell and then finished strongly, out wide. This gave the Justin Prentice-trained Always An Angel her second success from three starts. Always An Angel, by Art Major, is the first foal out of the Christian Cullen mare Angel of Destiny, who was retired after managing three placings from ten starts. Interestingly, exactly 11 years ago on April 17, 2009, In The Force won the WA Derby at Gloucester Park. Always An Angel’s great granddam Dark Angel was the mother of In The Force, who won 15 times from 45 starts. Angel of Destiny is a half-sister to Its Onlyforyou, who earned $365,459 from nine wins and 17 placings from 46 starts. She was an outstanding two-year-old who won two group 1 feature events in New Zealand at that age.   A cakewalk for Double Expresso Super filly Double Expresso looks to have the $150,000 WA Oaks at her mercy. That was the conclusion after she crushed her eight male rivals in the Westral Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday afternoon. Her effortless victory over Gardys Legacy and Valentines Brook improved her record to twelve wins and three thirds from 16 starts for stakes of $282,884 and she looks certain to start a short-priced favourite for the rich classic for three-year-old fillies on Friday week. Trainer Ross Olivieri produced Double Expresso in fine fettle on Friday and Chris Lewis had an armchair drive, sending the filly straight to the front from the No. 1 barrier. After a lead time of 37.7sec. and comfortable opening quarters of 31.1sec. and 29.2sec. Double Expresso dashed over the final two 400m sections in 28sec. and 27.8sec. and beat Gardys Legacy by one and a half lengths. Gardys Legacy, who had finished second to Major Martini in the Western Gateway Pace and fourth behind Patronus Star in the WA Derby at his two previous outings, had the perfect trail behind Double Expresso throughout, but was unable to seriously challenge the filly in the final stages.   Suvaljko’s successful association Shannon Suvaljko is one of 11 drivers to have handled Sergeant Oats during his 50-start career and he maintained his successful association with the WA-bred six-year-old when he brought the gelding home with a well-timed finishing burst to beat the pacemaker The Bird Dance and Soho Thunderstruck in the 2130m Community TAB Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday. Sergeant Oats, who had finished second at each of his past three starts, represented terrific value at $20.70 from the No. 3 barrier, with most punters pinning their faith on Soho Thunderstruck ($1.90) and The Bird Dance ($2.15). Soho Thunderstruck was expected to lead from barrier two, but Ryan Warwick stole a march on his rivals by getting The Bird Dance away brilliantly from the No. 6 barrier to take up the running after 60m. The Bird Dance set a solid pace, with Soho Thunderstruck in the breeze and One For Sassy enjoying an ideal trail behind the leader. Sergeant Oats raced three back on the pegs in fifth place before he sprinted home fast to hit the front 15m from the post. Sergeant Oats, part-owned and trained by Courtney Burch, has proved to be a splendid money spinner, with his 50 starts producing 11 wins and 17 placings for earnings of $132,983. Suvaljkjo has driven the Rich And Spoilt gelding 23 times for six wins, eight seconds and one third placing. Royal Patina, the great granddam of Sergeant Oats, produced five winners, including The Last Padron, a pacer with whom Suvaljko enjoyed considerable success. He drove him 38 times for seven wins, five seconds and 13 thirds.   Brown’s decision pays off The skill of Maddison Brown to ease Balcatherine off the pegs and into the one-wide line 450m after the start paid handsome dividends when the lightly-raced four-year-old mare went on to win the 2130m Westside Auto Wholesale Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday afternoon. Balcatherine, third favourite at $4.20, started from the inside of the back line and Brown was determined not to face the danger of being hemmed in on the pegs --- and the supporters of the mare were on good terms with themselves when Brown got Balcatherine into the running line, one-out and two-back in sixth position. Purest Silk ($3.40) set the pace for Dylan Egerton-Green, with Talkerup, equal favourite at $3.40, in the breeze for Emily Suvaljko. Brown sent Balcatherine forward, with a three-wide run 650m from home and the mare hit the front with 225m to travel and won by a half-length from Cut Above ($26), who ran on solidly after enjoying a perfect passage behind the pacemaker. Balcatherine sprinted over the final 400m in 28.3sec. and rated 1.56.5. Balcatherine, trained by Gary Hall snr, was having only her second start after a 12-month absence and she now has raced only seven times for four wins and a second placing for stakes of $36,496. She showed wonderful early promise, winning at her only two starts in New Zealand (as a three-year-old). She finished strongly to win over 2200m at Gore on December 27, 2018, with a final quarter of 27.9sec. and then produced another powerful finish to win easily over 2200m on a rain-soaked track at Invercargill on January 21, 2019. Balcatherine, by American Ideal, is the seventh foal out of Holmes Hanover mare Touche Franco, who has produced honest performers Tyler Bromac (107 starts for 11 wins, 22 placings and $66,846), Levi Jade (132 starts for 11 wins, 37 placings and $70,832) and Glenisla (91 starts for 19 wins, 17 placings and $86,402).   Persistence pays off The persistence of Millendon trainer Sonia Zucchiatti paid off when Ideal Investment, unplaced at his six previous outings and with just one win from his previous 46 starts, gave a solid frontrunning display to win the Direct Trades Supply Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday afternoon. Ideally drawn at barrier one, Ideal Investment ($5.40) was perfectly rated by Zucchiatti’s daughter Deni Roberts and the seven-year-old won by a length from $17 chance Bee Seventeen, who finished fast from last at the bell. Kingslayer, the $2.80 favourite, trailed the pacemaker until Ryan Warwick eased him into the one-wide line at the bell. He battled on to finish third. The victory took Ideal Investment’s earnings to $102,006 from ten wins and 20 placings from 134 starts.   Saleahs Comand loves to lead Noted frontrunner Saleahs Comand maintained his excellent record from the No. 1 barrier when he set the pace and held on to win the 2130m TABtouch Pace by a half-head from $71 outsider Allwood Peacemaker at Gloucester Park on Friday. The seven-year-old, part-owned and trained by Sue Wiscombe, now has started from the No. 1 barrier eight times at Gloucester Park for four wins, three seconds and one fourth placing. Saleahs Comand, good value at $7.70 on the fixed market, survived an early spirited challenge from Dominate The Dojo, who was first out from barrier five and led by a half-length in the early stages, but was unable to cross Saleahs Comand and take up the running. Saleahs Comand now has raced 80 times for 12 wins, 23 placings and $109,279 in stakes. The disappointment of the race was the failure of the $1.85 favourite Eloquent Mach, who finished ninth. From barrier eight, he raced three wide early before being restrained to the rear. This was his first appearance for 126 days and he is sure to have derived considerable benefit from the run.   Two in a row for Princess Mila Former Victorian trotter Princess Mila followed her effortless victory at Pinjarra with another commanding performance to win the Allwood Stud Farm Trot over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday. Prepared by Gary Hall snr and driven confidently by Gary Hall jnr, Princess Mila, the $1.40 favourite, was first out from barrier three and relished her pacemaking role to win by a length at a 1.59.5 rate from Rock Tonight ($10), who finished gamely from sixth at the bell. This improved the five-year-old mare’s record to 36 starts for nine wins, 12 placings and stakes of $80,958. Roll With Me bred to win New South Wales-bred five-year-old Roll With Me is bred to be a good winner. His dam Miss Hazel amassed $310,063 in prizemoney from 15 wins and eight placings from just 29 starts. And Miss Hazel’s dam My Ami Lee produced seven winners of 96 races, and her dam Cosmophylla produced nine winners of 138 races. Roll With Me, by American sire Roll With Joe, is now owned and trained by Robin Zec, who has prepared the gelding for 23 starts in WA for five wins and nine placings to take his career record to 47 starts for ten wins, 14 placings and earnings of $73,198. Roll With Me, driven by Shannon Suvaljko and second favourite at $4.10, began speedily from the No. 4 barrier and, after an early battle with Carramar Arapaho, he took up the running after 400m and then bowled along in front with final quarters of 30sec., 28.8sec., 28.6sec. and 28.5sec. to win by a length from the $2.20 favourite ($1.80 fixed) Miracle Moose. Miracle Moose started from the back line and settled in seventh position before Emily Suvaljko sent the four-year-old forward after 550m and into the breeze. He fought on doggedly to notch his third second placing in a row.   Ken Casellas

It’s hard not to like Talktomeurmattjesty’s style of racing. His bold front-running style takes luck out of the equation and takes his rivals out of their comfort zone. He has established himself as one of the key players in the state’s Free-For-All ranks over the past few months, highlighted by his emphatic 24.5m win two starts back. This Friday he will be out to spoil the return of star pacer Chicago Bull in the Perth Plasterboard Centre Pace (2130m) where he has drawn the inside barrier in the six horse field. The eight-year-old suffered a surprise defeat last start where he beat just two of his seven rivals as a $1.70 favourite. Driver Kyle Harper said Talktomeurmattjesty’s followers should forgive his last start performance and tipped a much better showing this week. “He was a little bit disappointing last start but he went into that race with a month between runs,” Harper told RWWA Harness. “He went a little bit amiss in the time between those runs with a bug. “It was a bit tough for him to go up against a good field after a month off.” Chicago Bull headlines the six horse field in this week’s $20,000 event, which also includes Chiaroscuro, Argyle Red, Tommy Be Good and El Jacko. Despite Chicago Bull’s presence, Harper said he expected Talktomeurmattjesty to be too slick for his rivals out in front this week. “We weren’t super confident last start but I’m confident with him this week, even with Chicago Bull in the race,” he said. “From what Barry told me, he should be a lot sharper this week.” Talktomeurmattjesty rated a scintillating 1.52.9 in his win two starts back and ran a lead time of 35.1. The Barry Howlett-trained gelding had the field spread right out on that occasion and never looked like being headed. Harper said he always gets a good idea before each race whether Talktomeurmattjesty was on top of his game. “When he’s on song he’s nice to drive, especially when he finds the top,” he said. “You can tell in the warm up when he’s on song and he’s not all that fun to drive when he’s not able to find the front. “He’s an amazing horse though to do what he does early in races and then do it at the end as well. “Not too many horses can run that sort of lead time then do it at the end as well.” Talktomeurmattjesty has built up a formidable record of 15 wins and 12 placings from 45 starts in an admirable career spanning back to 2015. His second-up win this campaign back in December stands out as his best win to date where he beat subsequent Fremantle Cup and WA Pacing Cup winners Caviar Star and Mighty Conqueror respectively. Should he claim the scalp of Chicago Bull this Friday it might very well go down as his finest win yet.   Tim Walker

Veteran reinsman Lindsay Harper is happy with the proven formula for success: Draw barrier No. 1, dictate the terms in front and go on and win. That’s exactly what he did when Middlepage started from the No. 1 barrier, led and won by four lengths from Shirmaya over 2130m in the final event at Gloucester Park on Tuesday night. Now he plans for a similar outcome when he drives Saleahs Comand from barrier one in race one, the TABtouch Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday morning. Saleahs Comand, an experienced seven-year-old gelding trained by Sue Wiscombe, possesses sparkling gate speed and is a good frontrunner. He has started from the No. 1 barrier seven times at Gloucester Park for three wins, two seconds and one fourth placing. He was a $51 outsider on Thursday of last week when he started from the inside of the back line in a 2130m event at Gloucester Park. He raced in fifth position, three back on the pegs, and fought on well when fourth behind Mighty Santana, who sprinted over the final 400m in 27.9sec. Friday’s race will see the return to action of the smart New Zealand-bred four-year-old Eloquent Mach, who will be having his first start for four months. Eloquent Mach, trained by Gary Hall Snr and driven by Stuart McDonald, is the quality performer of the field of 12 but faces a test from the wide draw at No. 8. He last appeared when he covered a lot of extra ground and finished eighth behind Shockwave in the Golden Nugget Championship on December 13. That followed a fast-finishing fourth behind Sangue Reale in the $125,000 Four-Year-Old Classic. That was the best of his five unplaced efforts in top company as a four-year-old. He was outstanding as a three-year-old when his 16 starts produced ten wins, four seconds, one third and one eighth placing.   Ken Casellas

An eye-catching trial at Byford on Sunday morning showed that Benesari Lane is poised to issue a powerful challenge to unbeaten filly Lady Jadore in the Off The Track Pace for two-year-old fillies at Gloucester Park on Friday. Benesari Lane, to be driven by Shannon Suvaljko for Byford trainer Vicki Lea, will start from barrier five in the 1730m event, with Lady Jadore, to be driven by Aldo Cortopassi for Banjup trainer Annie Belton, at barrier six in the field of six. Benesari Lane was restrained from the outside of the front line in Sunday’s 2150m trial and settled down in ninth position, about ten lengths from the pacemaker Unearthed. She was eighth at the bell and sixth with 300m to travel before switching five wide on the home turn and finishing purposefully to be second to the highly promising gelding Peligroso. She was not extended by Suvaljko. Lady Jadore will be having her first start for seven weeks since she raced three wide early, took the lead after 500m and won the Group 1 $100,000 Sales Classic final by more than a length from Adore Me Some More, with Benesari Lane one and a half lengths farther back in third place.  At her previous outing Lady Jadore led and won by three lengths from Foxy Rose, with Benesari Lane a half-length away in third place. Benesari Lane has improved noticeably since those two third placings behind Lady Jadore. She led and won easily from Star For Me at Gloucester Park a fortnight ago. Boyanup trainer Justin Prentice will be represented on Friday by last-start Bunbury winner Always An Angel and Star Of The Bay, a last-start second to Shes A Bright Star at Gloucester Park. But neither appears capable, at this stage, of testing Lady Jadore or Benesari Lane. Cortopassi, who has a high opinion of Lady Jadore, also is hoping for a change of luck with the Karen Thompson-trained Whoswhointhezoo, who will start from the No. 1 barrier in the Retravision pace over 2536m. Whoswhointhezoo gave signs of better things to come when he finished with a strong sprint to be second to Purest Silk over 1684m at Pinjarra last Friday and he has sound prospects of ending a losing sequence of 33. Purest Silk, who set the pace at Pinjarra and rated 1.56.7, with final quarters of 28.6sec. and 27.9sec., has sound prospects of repeating the dose when she starts from the No. 2 barrier in the final event on Friday, the 2130m Westside Auto Pace for mares. Purest Silk’s most serious rival is likely to be Balcatherine, who will be driven by Maddison Brown from the inside of the back line. Balcatherine, prepared by Gary Hall Snr, reappeared after an absence of 12 months when she finished an unlucky fourth behind Typhoon Tiff last Friday night when she was badly hampered for room in the closing stages.   Ken Casellas

She’s big, fast and strong. That’s star filly Double Expresso, who will have her final start before contesting the $150,000 WA Oaks on Friday week when she clashes with eight colts and geldings in the Westral Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday afternoon. The Ross Olivieri-trained filly fared perfectly in the random barrier draw and will start from the prized No. 1 position in the field of nine. Double Expresso, a winner at 11 of her 15 starts, has begun from the No. 1 barrier twice when she has been untroubled to set the pace and win easily in the Diamond Classic for two-year-olds in May 2019 and in the Group 2 Sales Classic for fillies two starts ago. Chris Lewis is sure to be keen to set the pace in this week’s race and Double Expresso has the ability to prove the master of her male rivals, with Gardys Legacy appearing to be the major danger. Gardys Legacy, to be driven by Gary Hall Jnr for Boyanup trainer Justin Prentice, is expected to take the sit behind Double Expresso, with Hall biding his time before making a determined bid to overhaul Double Expresso in the closing stages. Gardys Legacy’s past two runs have been full of merit. He started from barrier one and sat behind the pacemaker Major Martini before fighting on gamely to be second to that pacer in the Western Gateway Pace two starts ago. Then he ran on from seventh, four back on the pegs, at the bell to finish fourth behind Patronus Star in the WA Derby two Fridays ago. Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed is well represented in this week’s race with Pocket The Cash (barrier three) and Valentines Brook (six). Pocket The Cash, to be handled by Michael Grantham, has been placed at his past three starts and is handily drawn at barrier three. Valentines Brook won for the sixth time from 17 starts when he led and defeated Hotfoot It and Verstappen over 2185m at Pinjarra last Monday week. The Greg and Skye Bond-trained Poisedtopounce has also won six times from 17 starts, including very easy wins over 2096m and 2536m at Gloucester Park at his past two outings. He will start from barrier five with Ryan Warwick in the sulky. Champion pacer Chicago Bull’s first appearance for ten months will be the highlight of the ten-event program. He will start from the outside barrier in the field of six in the 2130m Perth Plasterboard Centre Pace and is forward enough in condition to prove mighty hard to beat. Noted frontrunner Talktomeurmattjesty will start from the No. 1 barrier and Kyle Harper is sure to again make the most of the eight-year-old’s sparkling gate speed and his ability to set a very fast pace. Talktomeurmattjesty was an odds-on favourite in a 2130m event last Friday week when he led, contacted his own sulky and faded noticeably to finish a well-beaten sixth behind Argyle Red. This was a serious let-down after he had set a scorching pace and had won by eight lengths from Chiaroscuro at a 1.52.9 rate over 2130m at his previous start, a month earlier.   Ken Casellas

Champion pacer Chicago Bull will make his return in a rare Friday day time meeting this week at Gloucester Park. The Gary Hall Snr-trained pacer is one of six runners engaged in the Perth Plasterboard Centre Pace (2130m) at Free-For-All level. Chicago Bull will have to overcome the outside barrier to score on his return, while Talktomeurmattjesty looms as a key danger from barrier one. Chiaroscuro, Argyle Red, Tommy Be Good and El Jacko have drawn barriers two through to five. Double Expresso will look to return to the winner’s list in the Westral Pace (2130m) for the three-year-olds, where she has drawn barrier one. The filly produced an honest performance in the Sky Racing-WA Derby on April 3 when seventh to Patronus Star. Gardys Legacy, fourth in the WA Derby, has drawn barrier two alongside Double Expresso in what is expected to be a hotly contested event. Another key event on Friday afternoon will be the Off The Track – More Than Just A Racehorse Pace (1730m) for the two-year-old fillies. Sales Classic winner Lady Jadore makes her return to the track for the first time since winning that Group 1 on February 28 where she has drawn the outside of the six runners. Always An Angel and Benesari Lane will also play a key part in the event from barriers four and five respectively. Meanwhile, progressive pacer Papinik made it five straight wins to start his campaign in the Mondo Doro Smallgoods Pace (2130m) at Gloucester Park last night. Papinik worked his way to the front for reinsman Chris Voak and ran home in 56.6 to score by 1.8m. It was the second leg of a double on the card for Voak, who teamed up with Disco Under Fire earlier in the evening. Gary Hall Jnr also enjoyed success on the eight race card with Mister Bushido scoring a well-deserved win and Good Times Ahead scoring his second win in five days. The meeting gets underway at 10.30 on Friday morning.   Tim Walker

THE buzz just keeps building around WA’s new pin-up pacer Shockwave. Ryan Bell’s four-year-old made it four wins from as many runs this campaign at Gloucester Park last Thursday night. It came courtesy of a superb Aiden De Campo drive to somehow land the one-one trail from an outside of the front row draw. In tactical affair, Shockwave hit the front on the home bend and had to dig deep to fend-off late challenges from Our Jimmy Johnstone and Golden State to score in a brisk 1min53.4sec mile rate for 1730m. Bell’s long-range plan is the Sydney Inter Dominion at the end of the year. The other open-class feature, the $40,000 Easter Cup, was won by tough veteran As Happy As Larry, who overcame a daunting 50m backmark and paced a strong 1min59.9sec mile rate for the 2902m trip. It was also great to see Colin Brown’s star three-year-old filly of last season, Typhoon Tiff, resume with a win in strong mares’ company on the same card. The daughter of Bettors Delight won the race when she showed enough gate speed to lead, then Brown dawdled through a 61.3sec middle half to give her key rivals no hope. It was Typhoon Tiff’s first run since winning the Group 1 Westbred final last June and took her record to 12 runs for eight wins and two placings. ___________________________________________________________________________________ PROMINENT Victorian trainer Mick Stanley thinks Drain The Swamp could actually benefit from the delay in major races because of Covid-19. The raw son of Somebeachsomewhere looked a bit special winning his second outing by 19.4m and clocking a slick 1min55.5sec mile rate for 1720m at Melton last Thursday. “On ability he’s up with the best babies we’ve got, but he’s one who will really appreciate it when the races get longer. He’s stronger than he is fast,” Stanley said. “He’s still a bit green, too, but it was great to see him go on from a terrific first start to win as well as he did the other day.” Drain The Swamp joins the likes of Soho Lanikai, Bar Room Banta and Soho Almasi as stunning juvenile winners for Stanley so far this season. ___________________________________________________________________________________ VETERAN pacer Egodan won his first start for his seventh trainer at Melton last night (Saturday). And just for good measure, his 23rd career win came at his 100th race start. It was his first outing for trainer Emma Stewart are stints with Matty Craven, Kevin Pizzuto, Beau Tindale, Paul Fitzpatrick, Vince Vallelonga and Michael Doltoff. The eight-year-old Sportswriter gelding, raced by popular owner Danny Zavitsanos, made the most of a lovely Greg Sugars drive in the one-one trail to snatch a half-neck win in a slick 1min54.3sec mile rate for 1720m. It was Stewart quinella with Egodan nabbing the favourite and leader, Major Times. Another impressive winner on the card was Anton Golino’s four-year-old trotter Always Ready, who made it eight wins from just 12 starts and zoomed clear to score by 26.4m. ___________________________________________________________________________________ LAST season’s Australian 2YO Filly of the Year, Pelosi, has come back from injury in terrific style. She just needs to work on her manners. After an impressive first-up win, the brilliant daughter of American Ideal ran a monstrous second at Albion Park last night (Saturday). She effectively threw-away the race by galloping out from the pole and did a superb job to get going again and finish a close second in a 1min53.8sec mile rate for 1660m.   By Adam Hamilton

Harness racing backmarker triumphs in Easter Cup. As Happy As Larry, a $10.40 chance, made light of being the sole backmarker off 50 metres when trainer Robbie Williams produced a near perfect drive to land him an impressive winner of the $40,000 Easter Cup over 2902m at Gloucester Park on Thursday night. The victory was a welcome compensation for the eight-year-old’s desperately close fast-finishing second to Mighty Conqueror in the 2019 Easter Cup. Punters rallied to send Taroona Bromac out as a hot $1.70 favourite despite the four-year-old not having contested a standing-start event. Taroona Bromac began safely from the 20m mark before breaking into a gallop moments after the start and dropping back to the rear in the field of eleven. Outsider On My Oath led for the first 550m before Always An Honour, who had begun brilliantly off 30m, swept into the lead. Ryan Warwick seized the initiative by sending Taroona Bromac forward with a swift move after the completion of a lap --- and this proved a vital ingredient in As Happy As Larry’s victory.   Williams followed Taroona Bromac’s three-wide burst and he then skilfully manoeuvred As Happy As Larry into the one-out, two-back position after Dylan Egerton-Green eased the polemarker Where Ya Bin off the pegs into the one-out, one-back position, behind Taroona Bromac in the breeze. After Always An Honour had sprinted over the third quarter of the final mile in 28.2sec., Taroona Bromac began to wilt, and Williams set As Happy As Larry alive with a four-wide burst from the 250m. This carried As Happy As Larry into the lead on the home turn and the New Zealand-bred gelding won comfortably by just over a length from Where Ya Bin, who finished with a determined surge. On My Oath ran on solidly to be third, just ahead of Rum Delight. Miss Sangrial did a fine job in finishing strongly from last at the bell to be a close-up fifth, with Taroona Bromac fading to tenth. As Happy As Larry is by American sire Live Or Die and is the third and last foal out of Smart Shelley, a mare who managed one win and five placings from nine starts in New Zealand before being retired. As Happy As Larry won twice from 17 starts in New Zealand and now has raced 53 times for Williams in WA for 14 wins and 21 placings for a career record of 16 wins, 28 placings and $219,964 in stakes. To watch the video replay of As Happy As Larry's victory click here. Four in a row for Shockwave Star four-year-old Shockwave enhanced his reputation as Western Australia’s best pacer when he overcame the disadvantage of starting from the outside barrier in a field of seven to score an exciting victory in the Simmonds Steel Free-For-All at Gloucester Park on Thursday night. The WA-bred stallion by Mach Three, prepared by Ryan Bell, extended his winning sequence to four and looms large as the State’s leading candidate for the Interdominion Pacing championship in New South Wales in November and December, as well as the rich WA Pacing Cup and Fremantle Cup at Gloucester Park in the New Year. Aiden de Campo stole a march on his rivals when he got Shockwave away speedily from behind the mobile barrier in the 1730m sprint and  immediately slotted into the ideal one-out, one-back position as Ocean Ridge set the pace, with stablemate Galactic Star in the breeze and Golden State behind the leader. De Campo bided his time before urging Shockwave forward, three wide, 300m from home. Galactic Star took a narrow lead at the 250m mark before Shockwave, the $2.05 favourite, burst to the front on the home turn and fought on grimly to win by a head from evergreen 11-year-old Our Jimmy Johnstone, who had raced three back on the pegs. Golden State was third and Galactic Star fourth in a blanket finish. Shockwave rated 1.53.4, with final quarters of 27.6sec. and 27.7sec. He now has had 36 starts for 14 wins, 11 placings and stakes of $370,057. To watch the video replay of Shockwave's win click here Sweet Maddison is Oaks bound New Zealand-bred filly Sweet Maddison is developing into a strong contender for the $150,000 WA Oaks on May 1. Prepared by Michael Brennan, Sweet Maddison ($2.80) notched her fifth win in a row and the sixth in a ten-start career when Michael Grantham drove her to a strong victory over Fifty Five Reborn and Advance Your Dream in the Mondo Doro Smallgoods Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Thursday night. She began speedily from the No. 6 barrier and forged to the front after 220m, with a smart lead time of 36.5sec. The final quarters were covered in 27.7sec. and 28.9sec. and she rated 1.57.1. The Colin Brown-trained and driven Fifty Five Reborn also was impressive. She broke in the score-up and settled down a distinct last in the field of eight before sustaining a spirited three-wide burst from the rear at the bell. Advance Your Dream also did well to finish strongly, out three wide, to come from seventh at the bell to be third, just ahead of the $2.65 favourite Star Fromthepalace, who trailed the pacemaker Sweet Maddison and was hampered for room in the final stages. Sweet Maddison is by American sire Sweet Lou and is related to former good WA performers Pazam and Our Amazing Art. To watch the video replay of Sweet Maddison's victory click here. Machnificent is all class A quick glance at the pedigree of Machnificent is not particularly exciting. The colt is by super sire Mach Three and is the sixth foal out of Honourable Daughter, who was retired after finishing at the rear at each of her six starts in 2010. Honourable Daughter produced three modest performers, Master Flynn (five wins from 86 starts), Beach Landing (four wins from 30 starts) and For Honourandglory (two wins from 25 starts). But delving deeper, we discover that Honourable Daughter’s great granddam Chaangerr (six wins and $75,860 from 30 starts) is a full-sister to former champion pacer Chokin, who amassed $1,801,685 from 34 wins and 11 placings from 59 starts. Chaangerr’s progeny include the mighty Changeover (29 wins, 16 placings and earnings of $2,321,676 from 66 starts) and Change Stride (133 starts for 27 wins, 36 placings and $362,803). Two-year-old Machnificent, favourite at $1.50, trained at Byford by Katja Warwick and driven by Gary Hall jnr, gave a powerful frontrunning display to win from Star of Willoughby and Robbie Rocket at a 1.58.9 rate in the 1730m Happy Easter Pace at Gloucester Park on Thursday night. The disappointing runner was Lavra Joe ($3) who overraced and did not threaten danger. He finished last in the field of five. To watch the video replay of Machnificent's victory click here Typhoon Tiff returns in style Classy pacer Typhoon Tiff reappeared at Gloucester Park on Thursday night after an absence of almost ten months when she gave a dashing frontrunning display to win the 2130m Retravision Pace for mares. Produced in fine fettle by Banjup trainer-reinsman Colin Brown, the Bettor's Delight four-year-old was a $6.50 chance from barrier four at her first appearance since winning the $100,000 group 1 Westbred Classic for three-year-old fillies last June. Six-year-old Gotta Go Gabbana started from the outside barrier in the field of nine and Chris Lewis sent her forward, three wide, in a spirited bid to assume the breeze position. But Pick My Pocket (Michael Grantham) made his intentions clear that he was not about to relinquish the position outside the pacemaker, forcing Lewis to ease Gotta Go Gabbana back to the rear. Pick My Pocket performed strongly in the breeze and did well to finish third, just a half-head behind the second placegetter Millwood Molly, who finished gamely after enjoying an ideal passage, one-out and one-back. Balcatherine, having her first start for 12 months, was favourite at $2.50. She trailed the pacemaking Typhoon Tiff but was blocked for a clear passage in the home straight and finished an unlucky fourth. Dracarys found that barrier No. 8 was a major impediment and she raced at the rear before finishing in eighth place. Typhoon Tiff now has raced 12 times for breeder-owner Colleen Lindsay for eight wins, two placings and $151,539. To watch the video replay of Typhoon Tiff's victory click here Valbonne holds on grimly Smart four-year-old Valbonne gave owner Albert Walmsley a flying start to the Easter weekend when he set the pace and held on with grim determination to win the 2536m TABtouch Pace at Gloucester Park on Thursday night. This gave Walmsley the first of three winners in the space of 20 hours. He also was successful with Sweet Maddison on Thursday night and with three-year-old The Code Breaker, who led and won over 2185m at Pinjarra on Friday afternoon. Valbonne, favourite at $2.30 and driven by Michael Grantham, led from barrier three and was kept under pressure for much of the race by the $2.90 second fancy Soho Thunderstruck, who began from the outside of the back line and quickly dashed forward to the breeze position. After opening quarters of the final mile in 30.7sec. and 30.1sec., Valbonne increased the tempo with final 400m sections of 27.7sec. and 28.8sec. and held on to beat his adversary by a half-head at a 1.58.8 rate. Valbonne, by Mach Three and the second foal out of the unraced New Zealand mare Sayang, has had 42 starts for ten wins, nine placings and $88,010 in prizemoney. To watch the video replay of Valbonne's victory click here. The Bird Dance bounces back Promising New Zealand-bred four-year-old The Bird Dance bounced back to form after his unplaced effort when having a torrid run a fortnight earlier when he set the pace and held on to win by a neck from Iceenothink in the 2536m Etch Coating Pace at Gloucester Park on Thursday night. Prepared by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond and driven by Ryan Warwick, The Bird Dance was favourite at $1.60 and he made life extremely tough for his rivals with solid quarters of the final mile in 29.4sec., 29.7sec., 29sec. and 28.9sec. Iceenothink ($6) maintained his excellent form. He started out wide at barrier eight and settled down in ninth place before he sustained a spirited three-wide burst over the final 650m. Talkerup did well to finish third after racing without cover throughout. By A Rocknroll Dance The Bird Dance has earned $65,693 from 11 wins from 15 starts. He won twice from five starts in New Zealand and has won at nine of his ten outings in Western Australia. To watch the video replay of The Bird Dance winning click here Good Times Ahead end losing run of 31 Even though he went into the Perth Plasterboard Centre Pace over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Thursday nighty with a losing sequence of 31 over the past 12 months, Good Times Ahead was favourite at $4.10. And the New Zealand-bred seven-year-old by Mach Three justified this confidence by setting the pace for star reinsman Gary Hall jnr and winning by a neck from Qtown Rip Roaring, who ran on strongly from sixth at the bell. This gave Good Times Ahead his third win from 55 starts at Gloucester Park, with his other wins in a 106-start career being at Albany (eight), Wagin (two) and one each at Pinjarra and Narrogin. To watch the video replay click here Bettor Be Oscar is consistent WA-bred four-year-old Bettor Be Oscar ($3.40) maintained his wonderful consistent form when he won for the fifth times from his latest eight starts, scoring by just over a length from the $2.80 favourite Miracle Moose in the 2130m Direct Trades Supply Pace at Gloucester Park on Thursday night. Aiden de Campo got Bettor Be Oscar away swiftly from barrier five and the gelding took over the role of pacemaker from polemarker Absolution after 550m. He sped over the final quarters in 28.7sec. and 28.1sec. and improved his record to 43 starts for 11 wins, 21 placings and $91,525 in stakes. By Bettor's Delight he has inherited much of ability of his dam Copper Beach Girl, who earned $156,851 from 14 wins and 24 placings from 84 starts. Miracle Moose, the Nathan Turvey-trained four-year-old, again revealed his excellent sit-sprint ability by finishing powerfully from ninth at the bell. He will pay to follow. To watch the video replay click here No trouble for Mighty Santana Leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond will be looking forward for further successes from their lightly-raced New Zealand-bred six-year-old Mighty Santana, who was untroubled to coast to victory in the 2130m Westral Pace at Gloucester Park on Thursday night. Favourite at $1.30, Mighty Santana began smoothly from barrier four and Ryan Warwick sent him past the polemarker Gangbuster and into the lead after 120m. Mighty Santana rated 1.58.5 and beat Gangbuster by just under two lengths. By Santanna Blue Chip, Mighty Santana won at five of his 17 starts in New Zealand and his 24 WA starts have produced six wins and nine placings. To watch the video replay click here By Ken Casellas

As Happy As Larry has made up for the heartbreak of a short half-head in last year’s Easter Cup by taking out tonight’s edition of the Group 2 event at Gloucester Park. The Robbie Williams-trained and driven pacer fell perrilessly short of Mighty Conqueror last year but he was not to be denied tonight, despite being the backmarker as the sole starter off the 50m line. As Happy As Larry was quickly away from the back of the field, while race favourite Taroona Bromac’s chances took a significant hit after he galloped early on. Always An Honour was able to work to the front from the 30m line for Gary Hall Jnr, while Taroona Bromac had to work to sit outside the leader. Taroona Bromac had stablemate Where Ya Bin on his back, while As Happy As Larry was a further pair back. The Live Or Die gelding loomed large on the turn for home and went on to unleash a strong finishing burst and score a comfortable 3.7m win in the 2902m feature. It took the gelding’s record to 15 wins from 69 starts and the biggest of his career to date. Where Ya Bin fought on gamely to finish second, while On My Oath produced another good performance to run third to go with his fourth placing at Pinjarra earlier this week. Earlier in the night, Typhoon Tiff made a super return from a long spell taking out the Retravision Pace (2130m) for the fillies and mares. Trainer and driver Colin Brown drove the mare agressively off the gate and comfortably found the lead from barrier four. The Bettors Delight mare hadn’t raced since last year’s Westbred Classic for the three-year-old fillies but she showed no signs of needing the hit out in scoring the 2.6m win. Millwood Molly and Pick My Pocket made some in roads to Typhoon Tiff’s lead over the concluding stages in running second and third respectively. Balcatherine finished fourth in her first start in almost 12 months, while Dracarys and Gotta Go Gabbana had little luck in finishing at the rear of the field.   Tim Walker

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