Day At The Track

Big test for Motu Premier

04:12 PM 26 Oct 2017 NZDT
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Motu Premier, harness racing
Motu Premier will face a stern test from Barrier 9 tomorrow night at Gloucester Park.
Gloucester Park Photo

Harness racing rising star Motu Premier, who has shot into prominence with 12 wins from his past 15 starts, faces an acid test when he starts from the outside barrier (No. 9) in the 2130m Happy Wedding Anniversary Bill and Norma Horn Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

The New Zealand-bred five-year-old with a tremendous record of 34 starts for 16 wins, nine seconds and three thirds, has developed into a leading candidate for the rich TABtouch Inter Dominion championship later this year and should again prove mighty hard to beat.

However, eight-time premier WA trainer Ross Olivieri and champion reinsman Chris Lewis agree that the outside barrier and the quality of the opposition, particularly Ohoka Punter and Simply Susational, present a considerable challenge to the gelding.

“It is a big test for him, particularly from the outside barrier,” said Lewis. “It’s not an easy race. But his first-up win was excellent and there’s improvement in him, for sure. He will definitely improve from the run (when he raced one-out and one-back before finishing strongly to hit the front 20m from the post and win from the fast-finishing Condrieu and the pacemaker El Hombre last Friday week).

“He enjoyed a good sit, but that can be deceiving because the front horses ran home quickly (27.8sec. and 28.2sec.). However, once he straightened, he did his job. He really stretched out and won comfortably.”

Olivieri is delighted at Motu Premier’s progress and said: “It won’t be easy, but he’s going terrific. He’s a classy horse and I’d probably prefer him to any other horse in the race. From the wide barrier it will be a test and he’s sort of set up to be beaten. But who knows how the race will be run. All I know is that I couldn’t be happier with him.”

Olivieri has an excellent second string in Friday night’s race in Im Full of Excuses, who will be handled for the first time by Shannon Suvaljko. Im Full of Excuses, a winner at 17 of his 39 starts, will begin out wide at barrier eight at his third outing after a spell.

He has been a shade disappointing at his two runs in this preparation, finishing fifth behind Simply Susational and sixth behind the same pacer.

“I expect him to go somewhere near his best,” Olivieri said. “He came back big (in condition) from the paddock. He was enormous. When he was racing well in his previous preparation, his condition was okay and didn’t need to lose any weight. Now, he’s lost some weight since his latest run and has started to get his dapples up.”

Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr said he was expecting Ohoka Punter to improve on his first-up effort when he set the pace and finished fourth behind Chicago Bull, Soho Tribeca and Shandale in the Mount Eden Sprint last Friday night.

“Chicago Bull broke the track record (rating 1.51.6 over 1730m) and Ohoka Punter also broke the previous record,” Hall said. “I don’t think sprint racing suits him. He’s better over a bit more ground. And he’s a better horse than Motu Premier and Simply Susational and should be able to beat them.”

Hall will also be represented by American Boy (Stuart McDonald) and Run Oneover (Kim Prentice). He said that he expected American Boy (unplaced at his past nine starts) to be prominent from the No. 1 barrier. “He should lead and go a lot better,” Hall declared.

Simply Susational, trained by Skye Bond and to be driven by Ryan Warwick from barrier seven, cannot be underestimated after excellent efforts to win at his past two starts, running on to beat Tricky Styx and Norvic Nightowl over 2536m and racing without cover before finishing determinedly to beat Ideal Tyson and Major Reality over 2130m.

Vultan Tin, trained by Phil Costello at Coolup, will start from the No. 5 barrier with Chris Voak in the sulky. The six-year-old impressed last Friday night when he was 12th and last with 250m to travel before flying home, out wide, to finish second to Sokys Bigbullet over 2130m. 

Ken Casellas

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