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At just the age of 32 trainer-driver Justin Prentice claimed his second WA Derby at Gloucester Park on Friday night. In a race that has been dominated by the powerful Gary Hall Snr stable in recent years, taking out five of the past eight editions, it was Prentice’s first WA Derby as a trainer thanks to his fast-finishing pacer Mighty Ronaldo. Prentice won the WA Derby in 2012 with Im Victorious for trainer Michael Brennan. He was driving the favourite on that occasion but the same cannot be said for the latest edition of the feature. After beginning from barrier two, Prentice and Mighty Ronaldo were pocketed four-back on the pegs. The favourite Jumpingjackmac led from barrier four while the second elect Lavra Joe worked away from his inside second-row-draw to be positioned outside the leader by reinsman Chris Lewis. A slick middle half in quarters of 28.4 and 27.9 seconds was enough to tire some in the running line, giving Prentice room to angle Mighty Ronaldo into the clear heading into the home turn. Clocking the last quarter in a leisurely 29.1 seconds was all Mighty Ronaldo had to do to cause a minor upset at $7 with TAB Fixed Odds in the $200,000 Group 1. Mighty Ronaldo rated 1:56.1 - the fastest mile rate seen since the race was run over the 2536m distance. To watch this race click on this link. Subsequently, that was Mighty Ronaldo’s second Group 1 victory having won the Golden Slipper at Gloucester Park last July. The three-year-old by Alta Christiano’s out of the Bettors Delight mare Millwoods Delight, extended his record to five wins and six placings in 16 starts. This victory has pushed Mighty Ronaldo’s earnings to $270,255 making his the richest progeny of his deceased stallion.   By Amanda Rando for Harnesslink

The outstanding father-son combination of harness racing's Hall of Fame champions Gary Hall Snr and Gary Hall Jnr is poised to create history at Gloucester Park on Friday night by winning the $200,000 Sky Channel WA Derby with Jumpingjackmac, the least experienced runner in the field. The strong possibility of a Hall triumph emerged when Jumpingjackmac drew the No. 4 barrier in the 2536m Group 1 classic, and his arch rival Lavra Joe drew awkwardly on the inside of the back line of three runners. The Halls have combined to win the WA Derby five times in the past eight years, and a win by the exciting Jumpingjackmac would give Hall Snr a record sixth training success in this classic event for three-year-olds which was first run in 1917 when Freckles rated 3.3.7 in winning from Tiny Tracey and Santa Clause. The late Fred Kersley snr trained the Derby winner five times, and he holds the Derby record of six wins as a driver. Hall Jnr has won the race five times, a feat also performed by Fred Kersley Jnr and Chris Lewis. Lewis will drive the Ray Jones-trained Lavra Joe, a magnificent colt with a remarkable record of 18 wins and seven placings from 30 starts. He has won easily at each of his past five appearances (at an average winning margin of three lengths) and his past 15 starts have produced 12 wins, two seconds and one third placing. Lavra Joe will start behind Sugar Street, a smart in-form pacer to be driven by Chris Voak for owner-trainer Barry Howlett. But Sugar Street is not noted for his gate speed and is unlikely to be able to hold out Justin Prentice’s talented gelding Mighty Ronaldo, who possesses excellent gate speed and is a noted frontrunner who has led three times in races at Gloucester Park for three wins. Lavra Joe is strong and versatile, and Lewis will be desperate not to be tucked in on the pegs in confined space. He will be looking for the earliest chance to get Lavra Joe off the inside running and then sending the powerful colt forward. Hall Jnr has driven Jumpingjackmac aggressively in his recent starts and he is likely to make a bold bid for the lead in the early stages with the gelding who has raced only eight times for six wins, a second to Lavra Joe four starts ago and an eighth behind Eldaytona at Gloucester Park at his second race start, last November when he started from the inside of the back line, met with interference and raced at the rear. Hall Snr, who has won the Derby with Alta Christiano, Beaudiene Boaz, Chicago Bull, King Of Swing and Major Trojan, said that Jumpingjackmac was a lazy pacer who generally does just what he needs to do to win. “I’ve put the hood on him for his past two starts and he’s been very good,” he said. “The blinkers have sharpened him up and having his first start over 2536m won’t worry him.” Hall jnr said he was pleased with Jumpingjackmac’s last-to-first victory over Otis and Seeryanfly over 2130m last Friday night was an ideal prelude to this week’s big race. “I don’t think we could be more ready for the clash with Lavra Joe,” he said. “It is difficult to tell how good he is because he will only do what you ask him to do. He is quite different to Alta Christiano, who felt like a car when you drove him.” Lavra Joe completed his Derby preparation with an effortless all-the-way victory over Strike Team in the 2569m Country Derby at Bunbury’s Donaldson Park last Saturday night. The powerful colt will start from the inside of the back line the same barrier the Greg and Skye Bond-trained Patronus Star started from when he won the WA Derby 12 months ago. Dylan Egerton-Green drove an extremely patient race with Patronus Star, who settled down three back on the pegs and had a perfect opportunity to move off the inside in the early stages. But Egerton-Green was quite happy to stay on the pegs with Patronus Star, who was eighth with 550m to travel. Egerton-Green skilfully manoeuvred Patronus Star into the clear 250m from home and the gelding went three wide on the home turn before finishing strongly to snatch a last-stride victory over Major Martini, who was driven by Hall Jnr for trainer Justin Prentice. Prentice, who took full advantage of the No. 1 barrier when he drove the Michael Brennan-trained Im Victorious to an all-the-way victory in the 2012 WA Derby, will be keen to repeat the dose when he handles Mighty Ronaldo from the No. 2 barrier on Friday night. “Mighty Ronaldo didn’t get a crack at them at his latest start (when sixth behind Jumpingjackmac last Friday week),” he said. Indeed, Mighty Ronaldo was hopelessly blocked for a clear run in the final stages and went to the line with plenty in reserve. At his previous outing Mighty Ronaldo finished strongly from sixth at the bell to be third behind Lavra Joe and Pinny Tiger in the Battle Of Bunbury, and three starts before that Mighty Ronaldo led from the No. 1 barrier and won the $50,000 Sales Classic from Lavra Joe and Give Us A Wave. Sugar Street is racing keenly for Busselton trainer Barry Howlett and reinsman Chris Voak. He is sure to be prominent throughout and is capable of a bold showing for his trainer who was successful with Three Blind Mice in the 2014 WA Derby.   Ken Casellas

The upcoming potential blockbuster between the vastly experienced Lavro Joe, the relatively inexperienced JumpingJackMack and a very deep supporting cast in this Friday Night’s WA Derby could well herald the rise of another champion, just as it did 60 years ago. Bin Oro was steered to victory in the 1961 classic by the ace reinsman of the day, the brilliant Alan Woodworth (for his father/trainer Stan) but the lead up and preparation for the time honored blue ribbon Group 1 event was vastly different to the norms of today. The thought of a horse going into a Derby with 30 race starts was unheard of, coupled with the very limited opportunities for 3 year old racing in those times, with no lead up events such as the Western Gateway Pace or the raft of Sales Classics races currently available. In fact, Bin Oro, who would go on to be ones of the WA’s most enduring and brilliant performers, was having his first 3 year old start when he contested heat 1 of the 1961 WA Derby on February 25, 1961. With Max Johnson driving (with Woodworth aboard stable mate Description), the 12/1 chance had to settle for 3rd place behind another star colt in Majestic Son (Gil Starkie). Majestic Son had the benefit of race experience having won his first 3 year old race at Harvey back in October 1960 (and was placed 3rd at his 2nd start on the same night) and in 5 subsequent starts, he had claimed wins at both Pinjarra and Gloucester Park along with a 2nd place in an open 2.21 and better event at Richmond Raceway. He was the vastly more experienced colt and started as the 2/1 favourite in the Derby heat, which he won comfortably by 2 metres over Freeman Potts with a further 6 metres back to Bin Oro. Robert Rivaire won the second heat by a big margin as the 5/2 on favourite and would proceed to the Derby Final on March 4th as a warm 7/4 favourite. However, on the back of a brilliant Woodworth drive, it was Bin Oro (8/1) who triumphed by 4 metres over Freeman Potts with Robert Rivaire a beaten favourite in 4th and Majestic Son back in 5th place.  It was the first of multiple feature race wins for Bin Oro who went on to be a class Interdominion performer with 3 heat wins, a 4th to Cardigan Bay in the Final and a win in a consolation to go with his August Cup, Christmas Handicap, State Sprint Championship (a fore runner to the Mount Eden Sprint) and Birthday Cup wins in addition to his 3rd in the WA Pacing Cup and numerous Free For Alls. Majestic Son also had a very successful career as a quality FFA and Cups performer.  A similar scenario presents itself this Friday Night. Will it be the racecraft and brilliance of Lavro Joe that prevails or will JumpingJackMack, the relatively inexperienced tyro, touted by champion trainer Gary Hall Snr as “the best 3 year old he has trained”, emerge victorious. Will the country based hobby trainer Ray Jones ace the might of the Hall stable or will there be a surprise emerge from the quality field that oozes class, such as Mighty Ronaldo or the highly thought of Pinny Tiger? The only thing not in doubt is that this WA Derby will be a contest for the ages with levels of interest hopefully as high as they were 60 years ago. Friday night can’t come soon enough.   Tim Blee

Patronus Star formerly trained by Gavin Smith in Canterbury but now trained by Greg and Skye Bond upset the harness racing favourites to win the Sky Racing WA Derby at Gloucester Park on Friday night. A winner last week at Bunbury at his first start in Australia in 1:53.2 for the mile, Patronus Star put in a paralyzing burst late in the piece last night to claim victory in the $200,000 3YO feature. Driver Dylan Egerton-Green managed to extract the son of American Ideal at the right time after a handy run on the fence and he powered home to beat second favourite Major Martini by a narrow margin. View the race replay here. The Greg and Skye Bond trained favourite for the race Howard Hughes did a fair amount of work for most of the race but found nothing in the straight and he faded away to finish eighth.   Harnesslink Media

The 2019 WA Derby was built up as one of the strongest ever. It ended as a precession, as Major Trojan delivered reinsman Gary Hall Jnr and trainer Gary Hall Snr a fifth win in the $200,000 feature at Gloucester Park. The Group 1 event started in eventful circumstances as likely pacemaker and the well backed Its Rock And Roll had to be retired from the race when reinsman Colin Brown’s sulky got a flat tyre. It allowed Franco Edward to run to the lead and Major Trojan settled behind him when Hall Jnr elected against pressing on to the front. Hall Jnr had to be patient on the final lap as he sought clear running room, but on the turn for home he was able to get off the pegs and was poised for his run. The Art Major colt then stormed away over the closing stages to record a seemingly effortless 4.7m win to Bletchley Park, who narrowly beat Franco Edward for second place. Eloquent Mach, who won the main Derby lead up the Western Gateway a fortnight ago, was well beaten. Hall Jnr, who won the WA Derby previously with Alta Christiano (2013), Beaudiene Boaz (2015), Chicago Bull (2016) and King Of Swing (2018), said his fifth win in the time honoured event was the pick of them. “It’s a special one because you put your neck on the line with those sort of horses when you pay that money for them,” Hall Jnr told RWWA Harness. “I know Snr feels the pressure a lot more than me. “Sometimes you scratch your head when you pay the big money for them, but he was super tonight. “He’s still got room for improvement.” Major Trojan will now be aimed towards the Golden Nugget in December. The Derby win started a run of four straight winners on the night for Hall Jnr, who teamed up with Liberty Rose, Dracarys and Whozideawasthis in the following three races. Liberty Rose’s win in the In Appreciation Of Dr Tom Rieusset Pace (2536m) ended a frustrating run of outs for the mare. Hall Jnr said Liberty Rose deserved the breakthrough win and felt she may be a better horse when she didn’t lead. “We’ve not found any issues with her,” he said. “I was disappointed in a few of those races. “Some horses don’t like leading and I thought it would’ve suited her from what we saw as a three-year-old. “Maybe she likes being tucked away.” Dracarys showed why she would be the one to beat in next month’s WA Oaks, with a dominant win in the Oaks Prelude. Whozideawasthis then completed the stunning run of success for Hall Jnr, when he took out the Free-For-All event of the evening. The eight-year-old gelding won at Free-For-All level two starts back and continued the excellent form last night by upstaging the short-price favourite Handsandwheels. Hall Snr also had Tact Major win last night at just his second start back since November 2017. In a further boost for the stable, Hall Snr said Chicago Bull was a month away from making his return to the races. Tim Walker

King Of Swing has delivered Gary Hall Snr his fourth WA Derby (2536m) success in the past six years, with an outstanding effort in the time honoured harness racing event at Gloucester Park tonight. The Rocknroll Hanover colt joins Alto Christiano (2013), Beaudiene Boaz (2015) and Chicago Bull (2016) as Hall Snr’s Derby winners, but for the champion trainer this one was special. Since he was purchased for close to $400,000 from New Zealand, it has been far from smooth sailing for King Of Swing, who was having just his second start in Perth in the Derby. He has battled illness and a rough plane trip on his way to the Derby, and Hall Snr said he thought it would take its toll in tonight’s $200,000 event. “I didn’t think he could win,” he said. “I didn’t want to give any negative vibes to anyone, but I didn’t really think he could win. “He hasn’t worked that well, and he has been lethargic and dour and not wanting to be here. “The trip over knocked him around, and then he got the cold, and I couldn’t work him how I wanted to. “For him to come out and win, it was just outstanding.” The pace was on early in the WA Derby, with Golden State powering to the lead out of the straight the first time from barrier eight, while King Of Swing was close to 25m off the lead in the early stages. Driver Gary Hall Jnr was able to work to the breeze outside of Golden State at the end of the first lap. Golden State was still in front on the turn for home, but King Of Swing quickly went past him and was left in front a long way out from home, with his rivals behind lining up to have the last crack at him. Western Gateway winner Bechers Brook stormed home from last, but narrowly missed King Of Swing, going down by a head, while Cott Beach produced one of her career best performances in back in third, which suggested she could figure prominently in the WA Oaks. Hall Snr’s other key chance in the race Speed Man was held up on the home turn, but was able to work home well and finish fifth. King Of Swing will now be set for open class races, with Hall Snr suggesting he could join some of his star stablemates in Group 1 races in a little under 12 months time. “He’s up there for sure, because he is only half the horse he could be right now,” he said. “With a spell, going out and doing well, he will come back in fantastic order.” Tim Walker     5 7:24pm SKY RACING WA DERBY MS PACE (SKY 1) 2536M $200,000 3YO. 3C0 Or Better. RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 KING OF SWING NZ      Fr3 3 Gary Hall Snr Gary Hall Jnr   $ 2.60 fav  PRBT 3WM L1W 2 D/F $500 UW SWAB   BAY COLT 3 by ROCKNROLL HANOVER USA out of TWIST AND TWIRL NZ (ARTSPLACE (US))  Owner(s): B V Richardson, M A Congerton, Go Racing, K A Hall, G L Moore, S D MacGregor, R Patriarca, F Patriarca  Breeder(s): Breckon Farms Ltd 2 BECHERS BROOK      Fr7 7 Mike Reed Dylan Egerton-Green HD $ 11.50   RAS 8 SWAB 3 COTT BEACH      Fr9 9 Kristy Elson Nathan Turvey HD $ 43.40   OPS RAS 3WMLT W3 SWAB 4 OCEAN RIDGE NZ      Sr1 10 Greg Bond Ryan Warwick 2.10 $ 3.50   3WMLT W2 5 SPEED MAN NZ      Fr2 2 Gary Hall Snr Stuart McDonald 3.10 $ 5.80   GS L1W OTM 4 6 BRIGHT DIAMOND NZ      Fr1 1 Skye Bond Chris Lewis 3.40 $ 21.60   PRBT GS 3 HUE 7 MISTER SPOT      Sr3 12 John Graham Dean Miller 5.00 $ 146.40   7 HU 8 GOLDEN STATE NZ      Fr8 8 Mike Reed Shannon Suvaljko 7.70 $ 12.10   GS L 1 QP 9 BENHOPE RULZ NZ      Fr6 13 Gary Hall Snr Clinton Hall 8.20 $ 125.30   3WE RTR 9 HU 10 CIMORENE      Fr4 4 Terry Ferguson Michael Grantham 11.80 $ 144.40   GS 5 D/F$200 CMP 11 LADY DE LA RENTA      Sr2 11 Annie Belton Chris Voak 27.90 $ 19.10   OVR 3WML W1 C 12 BETTOR B ABELIEVER NZ      Fr5 5 Paula Petricevich Kyle Harper 71.40 $ 45.10   GS 3WE RP OVR 6 GG Scratchings   FIZZING NZ 6 CARRERA MACH NZ 14 Track Rating: GOOD Gross Time: 3:04:3 Mile Rate: 1:57:0 Lead Time: 66.9 First Quarter: 29.6 Second Quarter: 29.5 Third Quarter: 28.4 Fourth Quarter: 29.9 Margins: HD x SHFHD  

Ocean Ridge, who failed to record a win from six starts as a two-year-old, has blossomed into an outstanding harness racing three-year-old who has excellent prospects of overcoming a back-line draw and winning the $200,000 Sky Racing WA Derby at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Victory in the 2536m classic would elevate Forrestdale horseman Greg Bond into the top bracket of successful trainers in the Derby which has been a highlight of every WA season since Freckles won the inaugural Group 1 event in 1917. Bond has won the WA Derby with New Zealand-bred pacers Richard Henry (2005), In The Force (2009) and Seel N Print (2011). The only trainers to have prepared four or more WA Derby winners are the late Fred Kersley Snr (five), the late Fred W Godecke (four) and Ross Olivieri (four). Leading trainer Gary Hall Snr has high hopes of notching his 100th winner of the season by winning the Derby with either King of Swing or Speed Man. A victory would give Hall his fourth success in the classic. Ocean Ridge, a colt by Mach Three, has won at five of his six starts this season and has revealed wonderful versatility. He led from barrier two and won easily in a modest C2-class event at Pinjarra at his WA debut two starts ago. And he was most impressive in scoring an effortless victory in a Derby prelude on Thursday of last week. He enjoyed a perfect trail, one-out and one-back, before Ryan Warwick sent him forward, three wide, with 600m to travel. The gelding took the lead at the 450m mark and won by just over two lengths from the 10/1 favourite King of Swing, with Speed Man finishing strongly from eighth (and last) at the bell to be third. Ocean Ridge rated 1.55.3 in the 2130m prelude and the 2536m journey on Friday night should prove to be no problem. He started his three-year-old campaign in dazzling style, setting the pace from barrier one and winning a 1950m event by five lengths at Addington on December 16. That was his first appearance for eight months. He then started from the inside of the back line in another 1950m event at Addington on January 26 when he was seventh at the bell before starting a three-wide move and working into the breeze position before finishing a close-up fourth behind Fizzing. Two starts ago Ocean Ridge was restrained to last from barrier seven in a field of nine over 1950m at Addington. He came from last, three wide, at the bell and then worked in the breeze before sprinting the final 400m section in 27.4sec. and hitting the front 130m from the post and winning, unextended. At his final appearance in New Zealand, over 1950m at Addington on February 16 he was beaten out from the No. 1 barrier and raced three back on the pegs before charging home from fifth on the home turn to win easily at a 1.55.7 rate, with a final quarter in 27.5sec. Ocean Ridge is the third foal out of Falcon Seelster mare There’s A Dancer, whose first two foals Bracken Ridge and McClinchie each won on WA debut for Bond. A win on Friday night by Ocean Ridge would help erase the disappointment suffered by Bond and his wife Skye when their smart colt Rock Diamonds, a 14/1 chance, finished a head second to Handsandwheels in the Derby 12 months ago after finishing strongly to take the lead in the final 70m. Their other runner, Mitch Maguire (9/4), was a luckless seventh after taking a narrow lead, out three wide, 350m from home and then locking wheels with 2/1 favourite Runrunjimmydunn.    Champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr has combined with his father to win the Derby with Alta Christiano (2013), Beaudiene Boaz (2015) and Chicago Bull (2016). Hall Jnr will handle King of Swing from barrier three on the front line and he gives the colt a strong winning chance. King of Swing raced three wide for the first 750m before setting the pace in last week’s prelude before lowering his colours to Ocean Ridge. “He’s got the draw to turn the tables on Ocean Ridge,” said Hall jun. “He has definitely got the ability to win.” Owner Albert Walmsley and Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed were naturally disappointed when their talented colts Bechers Brook (barrier seven) and Golden State (eight) fared poorly in the random draw. However, both pacers are strong sit-sprinters and are capable of winning. Reed prepared Tricky Vic (2002) and Ace of Spades (2003) for wins in the classic. Skye Bond prepares Bright Diamond, who despite only one win from 16 starts, will have admirers after drawing the prized No. 1 barrier. Bright Diamond will be driven by star reinsman Chris Lewis, who has won the Derby five times with Trunkey Maseratti (1994), Saab (1998), Talladega (2000), Argent Treasure (2008) and In The Force (2009). Ken Casellas

Inexperienced colt Speed Man is working along steadily in his bid to gain a start in the rich WA Derby on April 6 and he looks set to notch his fourth win from eight starts by setting the pace and winning the final event, the Push By Schneider Electric Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Champion trainer Gary Hall Snr said “He’s strong and is set for the Derby. At this stage I’ve got four good Derby prospects in King of Swing, Benhope Rulz and Beachbabebeauty.” The New Zealand-bred Speed Man, who is favourably drawn at the No. 2 barrier in a field of seven in a race over 2130m, has enjoyed little luck when placed at Gloucester Park at each of his past three starts. He started from the outside of the back line in the Caduceus Club Classic last Friday week when he settled down in eighth position before dashing forward in the middle stages to race in the breeze. He fought on grandly to be second, a half-length behind the pacemaker Golden State. Ace reinsman Gary Hall Jnr said that Speed Man had the ability to turn the tables on Golden State, particularly because of a more favourable draw (two) to Golden State’s No. 4 barrier. “Speed Man should be able to lead and hold the opposition at bay,” he said. “His latest run was phenomenal, I thought. He did plenty of work and still had the courage to fight on and nearly win the race. He’s definitely warming up to be a nice Derby horse.” Shannon Suvaljko, who will drive Golden State for Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed, admitted that Speed Man had a distinct barrier draw advantage but he stressed that Golden State could not be discounted, saying: “He is a nice horse and has trained on well since his latest win.” Hall Snr said that, at this stage, King of Swing was his brightest Derby prospect. “He is due to arrive by air from New Zealand on Saturday and has an impressive record.” King of Swing, a colt by Rocknroll Hanover, has raced 13 times for seven wins and four second to earnings of $236,244. Three starts ago, at Addington on November 14 last year, King of Swing finished second to champion three-year-old gelding Chase Auckland (unbeaten at his seven starts) in the Group 1 Sires Stakes, with the winner rating 1.55.2 over 1950m.  King of Swing has raced twice in Australia for wins in a semi-final at Bendigo and the Group 1 final of the Breeders Crown at Melton last August. Benhope Rulz is a gelding by Courage Under Fire who has raced five times in New Zealand for three wins and one placing. Beachbabebeauty has also raced five times in New Zealand for three wins. The powerful Bond stable is believed to have purchased the highly-promising Ocean Ridge from New Zealand. The Mach Three gelding has had ten starts for three wins and three placings for stakes of $35,695. He has been successful at his latest two runs, at Addington in February. He is a half-brother to McClinchie, who has raced 43 times for 11 wins, 16 placings and $89,377 in prizemoney.   Ken Casellas

There were a few surprised people when champion driver Gary Hall Jr opted to drive Im Rockaria in tomorrow night’s Group 1 WA Derby (2536m). After all, it was a big call for him to turn his back on the three runners trained by his father Gary Hall Sr, who has trained three of the past four WA Derby winners. Clint Hall was always going to drive Hall Sr’s recent buzz Kiwi import Runrunjimmydunn, but the feeling was Hall Sr would expect Gary Jr to take the reins on Herrick Roosevelt. One person not surprised – and just as equally delighted – is Im Rockaria’s trainer Michael “Mouse” Brennan. “We’re thrilled. There’s nobody better than Gaz, especially from a good draw in a big race around Gloucester Park,” he said. “If Gaz is driving against you, you’re always worried. It’s great to have him on our side.” Im Rockaria, who returns from a recent minor health scare, is $4 third favourite from barrier one with the Aussie TAB. Runrunjimmydunn (gate six) is a surprisingly short $2.80 favourite. There has been strong support for Herrick Roosevelt ($16 into $8.50), while last-start Group 2 Western Gateway winner Mitch Maguire – trained by Greg and Skye Bond – is clear second elect at $3. Brennan said all the signs were Im Rockaria was primed after missing “about four days work” due to an infection under a tooth cavity. “Basically you couldn’t steer him, but we hit him with strong anti-biotics and it cleared-up quickly,” he said. “He trialled really in quick time last weekend and I was thrilled with his work on Wednesday. “I don’t think I’ve had him better. “I think he’ll have the speed to lead, at worst he’ll be behind Mitch Maguire. Either way, I think he’ll run a huge race.” Brennan won the WA Derby back in 2012 with Im Victorious, who went on to become a budding Grand Circuit star before a nasty injury sustained in the 2014 Inter Dominion final in Sydney prematurely ended his career. Hall Sr has won three of the past four WA Derbys with Chicago Bull (last year), Beaudiene Boaz (2015) and Alta Christiano (2013). Adam Hamilton

Victorian-bred harness racing gelding Im Rockaria has overcome a worrying setback and is poised for a bold showing in the $200,000 Sky Racing WA Derby at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He has recovered fully from an infection under a cavity in a tooth which caused him to race erratically and finish a distant last in a field of 11 at his latest appearance, in a Derby prelude three Fridays ago. Trainer and part-owner Michael Brennan is bubbling with confidence after Im Rockaria finished a head second to experienced stablemate Naughty Maravu in a 2185m trial at Pinjarra on Sunday morning when he dashed over the final 800m in 56sec. Im Rockaria’s prospects soared after he drew the prized No. 1 barrier on the front line in the 2536m Derby and champion reinsman Gary Hall jun. signified his confidence in the gelding when he chose to drive him ahead of highly-promising three-year-olds El Barcelona and Herrick Roosevelt, who are prepared by his father Gary Hall sen. Brennan, who purchased the son of Rocknroll Hanover for just $16,000 at the Victorian yearling sales, has had only one previous runner in a WA Derby --- Im Victorious, who started from the No. 1 barrier and was driven to an all-the-way victory by Justin Prentice five years ago. “This year the barrier draw is a big help, we’ve got the right driver and the horse has got over the little issue we had with his mouth,” Brennan said. “Im Rockaria is ready to go and he has all the qualities needed to win a Derby. He’s strong and he’s fast and I think he is 100 per cent spot on. He loves leading and has never been beaten when he has led. The distance is no problem at all. He’s a really good stayer and he’s got super high speed to go with it. “Obviously, Mitch Maguire is going to be very hard to beat, Herrick Roosevelt has been super impressive and Runrunjimmydunn was most impressive in winning last Friday night. It is by no means a one or two-horse race. There is a lot of quality and this is one of the more even Derbies in recent years.” In his trial on Sunday morning Im Rockaria was driven by Nathan Turvey and he raced three back on the fence before finishing strongly to be second, a head behind Naughty Maravu, an M3-class pacer who set the pace with Brennan in the sulky. “At his most recent start, in a Derby prelude, Im Rockaria tracked up three wide (from the 1100m to be fifth at the bell) and hung in really badly,” Brennan said. “Later we discovered that he had an infection under cavity in a tooth and Gary couldn’t steer him. “This problem is the reason why he hasn’t been able to race over the past three weeks. We had to treat him quite heavily with anti-biotics and we’ve tried a bit of different gear to take the pressure off the jaw. “His win two starts ago, in the Battle of Bunbury, was super.” In that event Im Rockaria enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back, before starting a three-wide move 800m from home. He surged to the front at the 500m mark and went on to win by more than three lengths from Rock Diamonds.” Im Rockaria, who has earned $137,275 from ten wins and three seconds from 18 starts, has already won a group 1 feature event, having been successful as a two-year-old in the Pearl Classic at Gloucester Park last June. He is owned by Brennan and his wife Lara, Cam Byers and Dave Skelton (who were part-owners of Im Victorious), Michael Maxwell and Cameron Maggs, who broke in Im Rockaria in Victoria. Im Rockaria is the ninth foal out of Vitness, whose second foal Twelve Paces earned $263,058 from 27 wins and 20 placings from 68 starts. Twelve Paces won a heat of the Victoria Derby at Shepparton in January 2007, beating Triple Vance and Lombo Pocket Watch. He then finished fifth behind Lombo Pocket Watch in the final at Moonee Valley. Mitch Maguire, prepared by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, is handily drawn at barrier three on the front line and looks set to fight out the finish. His form is outstanding, having won at ten of his past 11 starts in a glittering career of 18 starts for 12 wins and two placings for stakes of $197,373. He completed his Derby preparation with an all-the-way win from barrier one in the 2536m group 2 Western Gateway Classic last Friday week. He was favourite at 10/1 on and after a third quarter of the final mile in 28.4sec., he just held on in a final section of 29.3sec. to beat the fast-finishing Maczaffair by a half-head at a 1.57.3 rate. “He overraced and that probably took the sting out of him,” said reinsman Ryan Warwick. “People shouldn’t want to measure him on that performance. Mitch Maguire beat Im Rockaria at Pinjarra four starts ago (when Mitch Maguire worked hard in the breeze). “I’m confident in the horse and the 2536m won’t worry him. I keep going back to his Pinjarra run three starts ago (when he galloped in a stand and made up a huge amount of lost ground to win easily). It was a phenomenal performance and I rate the horse highly. His record is hard to fault and I can’t see any reason to discount him.” Herrick Roosevelt, who has drawn poorly on the outside of the front line, will be driven by Kim Prentice and Chris Voak has been engaged to handle El Barcelona from the outside of the back line. Herrick Roosevelt has raced only four times for two wins, a second to Mitch Maguire (from the breeze) and a last-start third from the breeze behind Mitch Maguire and Maczaffair. “He’s going super,” Prentice said. “I have sat behind him once, in a trial a couple of weeks ago. It was only a jump out, but I love the horse. The biggest problem on Friday night will be holding him out of the mobile because he is inclined to get keen. We will be trying to slot in somewhere.” El Barcelona won for the fifth time from 12 starts when he led from the No. 1 barrier and held on to defeat Handsandwheels and Heza Head Honcho last Friday night. Handsandwheels, to be driven by Aiden de Campo, is nicely drawn on the inside of the back line and certainly has sound place prospects. Clint Hall will drive Runrunjimmydunn, who was produced in fine fettle for a first-up victory in WA last Friday night. The gelding is awkwardly drawn at barrier six, but will have many admirers after his runaway seven-length victory over In Nyrobi, rating 1.56.4 over 2130m last Friday night. “He’s a pretty good horse and I’ll be putting him into the race at some stage,” Hall said. The Mike Reed-trained Maczaffair is a talented performer who has won at eight of her 18 starts and impressed last Friday week when she was tenth at the 600m and seventh with 250m to travel before flying home to be a half-head second to Mitch Maguire last Friday week. The WA Derby was first run in 1917 and a filly has been successful only six times, with those winners being Hilda Grattan (1948), Happy Mint (1950), Swahili (1962), Hill Oro (1969), Via Vista (1981) and Whitbys Miss Penny (1991). Champion reinsman Chris Lewis will be seeking his sixth win in the classic, after victories behind Trunkey Maseratti (1994), Saab (1998), Talladega (2000), Argent Treasure (2008) and In The Force (2009). He will drive the Ross Olivieri-trained Lord Willoughby from barrier No. 2. Lord Willoughby is improving steadily, but has won only three times from 17 starts.  Ken Casellas

Three years ago, Busselton trainer Barry Howlett achieved his greatest success in harness racing when 17/1 tote chance Three Blind Mice led all the way and won the WA Derby. Now he is hoping to have a runner in this year’s $200,00 Derby at Gloucester Park on Friday of next week. He has three promising but lightly raced New Zealand-bred geldings engaged in the WA Derby prelude at Gloucester Park on Friday night and is hopeful that one of them can cause an upset and beat the favourite El Barcelona, another comparatively inexperienced but talented New Zealand-bred pacer in the stables of Gary Hall sen. Howlett, who races Punters Dream, Im The Best and Heza Head Honcho in partnership with his wife Lyn and son Jim, admits that El Barcelona will be hard to beat from the prized No. 1 barrier. But he is sure his three runners will be strongly competitive. Punters Dream makes good appeal as the pick of the Howlett trio. He is handily drawn at barrier three on the front line and will be driven by Chris Lewis. Im The Best is awkwardly drawn at barrier six and will be handled by Colin Brown, while Morgan Woodley will drive Heza Head Honcho from the No. 2 barrier on the back line. Punters Dream, placed at one of his four starts in New Zealand, has shown good promise at his three starts in WA, with two wins at Pinjarra and a last-start third behind Hoiho at Bunbury. “He’s still on the way up and is very inexperienced,” Howlett said. “But he’s pretty tough. “Heza Head Honcho went well when he won at Bunbury last Saturday night, but he’s still on the rise. “Im The Best has a lot of speed and if he had drawn in a bit he could’ve crossed to the front. He’s a nice horse, but is a light-framed little thing who needs a bit more time to strengthen up.” Im The Best is a full-brother to smart mare Quite A Delight, who finished a half-head second to stablemate Major Reality in the 2015 WA Oaks and has earned $112,189 from nine wins and eight placings from 26 starts. El Barcelona, who has won at four of his 11 starts, will be a short-priced favourite on Friday night, despite finishing ninth behind Mitch Maguire in the Western Gateway Pace last Friday night. Reinsman Clint Hall advised punters to disregard that performance, saying: “He lost a bit of ground at the 600m last Friday night and when we went to make up the lost ground a horse galloped in front of us, causing us to check and go wide. Despite that, he was beaten by just a little more than ten metres. “This week he gets a chance to lead and win. He’s working really well.” Last-start winners Messi and Davinci Diamond face stern tests after drawing out wide, while the improving Andrew de Campo-trained Handsandwheels should enjoy an ideal passage behind the likely pacemaker El Barcelona after drawing the inside of the back line. Ken Casellas

Henley Brook harness racing trainer Mike Reed has revealed that a phone call to New Zealand and heeding the advice of The Art Form’s previous trainer Steven Reid has resulted in a transforming the colt into a “different” horse with a strong winning chance in the $200,000 Sky Racing WA Derby at Gloucester Park on Friday night. And Reed threw down the gauntlet to the opposition in the 2536m Derby when he declared that his son Mark would set the pace from the No. 4 barrier. “The Art Form has got gate speed and he will be leading,” the trainer said. “He will be coming out to lead and he will not surrender the lead. “I wasn’t satisfied with his most recent run (when he led and wilted to fourth behind Chicago Bull in the 2536m Western Gateway Pace last Friday week). He was a little disappointing. “I then spoke to Steven Reid, who advised me not to start the colt in successive weeks. He said that you just can’t race him week to week. When I got the horse from New Zealand I gave him a trial and raced him in the next two weeks. Stephen advised me to race him with a fortnight between runs. “So that’s what we’ve done. I kept the work up to him and now he feels a different horse. In New Zealand he was a leader. He led over there and won, going 1.53 and a bit. I think he can cross the three runners on his inside on Friday night and I think he can beat the favourite. “At his last start in New Zealand he finished third behind Lazarus and Lets Chase The Dream after giving them a start. We’ve got the advantage in the draw over Lets Chase The Dream this week and we’ve got to make the most of that.” Mike and Mark Reed will be attempting to win the WA Derby for the third time. They combined to win the classic with Tricky Vic in 2002 and Ace of Spades the following year. Chicago Bull, prepared by champion trainer Gary Hall sen. and driven by star reinsman Gary Hall jun., will be attempting to stretch his winning sequence to six, a task well within the capabilities of the gelding, according to Hall jun. “Chicago Bull is going really well --- and he needs to be,” Hall said. “It’s difficult to predict what horse will lead. I’ll be going forward from barrier six. I can’t let Lets Chase The Dream to settle in front of me. I’d say that Chris (Lewis) will press forward from barrier seven. “I’d say the winner will probably come from Chicago Bull, Chase The Dream and Sprinter, with Cant Refuse and Dodolicious also having sound claims. They’re the only realistic chances.” Hall also said that Chicago Bull’s stablemate Mach Time, to be driven by Clint Hall, would go forward at the start from the No. 5 barrier.” Mach Time showed that he should be prominent in this week’s classic when he finished second to Lets Chase The Dream in a Derby prelude last Friday night. He settled in fifth position before dashing forward, three wide, after a lap to race outside the pacemaker Franco Rayner. Mach Time burst to the front in the final circuit and led by two lengths 150m from the post before being overhauled by the fast-finishing Lets Chase The Dream. Hall sen. and Gary hall jun. have combined to win the WA Derby with odds-on favourites Alta Christiano in 2013 and Beaudiene Boaz last year. Dodolicious, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, is the only filly in the field and she should enjoy an ideal passage after starting from barrier two on the back line. The most recent Derby win by a filly was in 1991 when Rod Chambers drove Whitbys Miss Penny to victory over the Sleek Byrd and Smooth Business. Since then, only two fillies have been placed --- Dilingers Reign in 2006 and Tricky Styx last year. Ken Casellas

The best 3yos will fight it out for a share in the $200,000 Group 1  the Sky Racing WA Derby on Friday night at Gloucester Park. harness racing. Lets Chase The Dream is a clear favourite on TABtouch currently but has drawn awkwardly in barrier 7. To his inside is local hope Chicago Bull for the mighty Hall stable. Scott Hamilton

Having placed in the New South Wales classic and finished fourth in the Victorian Group 1, Matthew Craven refuses to give up the dream of being a derby winner with his three-year-old harness racing gelding. The Terang trainer has Cant Refuse drawn in barrier eight for Friday night’s Sky Racing WA Derby at Gloucester Park, and will need to overcome yet another Mark Purdon horse to get the lion’s share of the $200,000 prize. It was Purdon’s Lazarus who took the lead honours in January’s Victoria Derby and his unbeaten stablemate Our Waikiki Beach who won at Menangle, when Cant Refuse was beaten into second by just 1.1m. Lets Chase The Dream, Purdon’s winner of nine races from 18 starts, is favourite for Friday night’s Derby, with Cant Refuse done few favours when drawn eighth. “We are drawn inside the second row and hopefully the one horse (Ideal Tyson) will come out and we can end up, at worst, third on the fence line,” Craven said. “At least he won’t have to work as hard across the trip. We are not expecting to win from that draw, but with any luck we may be able to run into a place.” He said the list of threats was long in the Group 1. “Lets Chase The Dream is a top horse, Chicago Bull, Sprinter and Dodolicious – it is a pretty stong race,” Craven said.  “I am just hoping for an easy trip and to have a run at them.” The WA Derby takes place at 8.30pm on Friday. Michael Howard 

The Barrier Draw for Friday night’s $200,000 Sky Racing  Harness Racing WA Derby at Gloucester Park has thrown the Blue Riband event wide open with nominal favourites Chicago Bull and Lets Chase The Dream drawing outside starting positions.  Western Gateway winner Chicago Bull has drawn barrier six, while the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained Lets Chase The Dream, to be once again be driven by Chris Lewis, is on his immediate outside in barrier seven. The Matthew Craven trained and driven Cant Refuse will start on the inside of the backline in barrier 10, with the only filly in the field, Dodolicious in barrier 11, having her first start back since her outstanding second in the NSW Oaks at Menangle on Miracle Mile day. Dodolicious’ stablemate El Jacko is the only other runner on the second line in barrier 12. Victorian Derby heat winner Sprinter has drawn awkward in barrier eight, however his stablemate Ideal Tyson has come up with the coveted barrier one. The line-up is one of the strongest in recent WA Derby history. The barrier draw for the Group One $200,000 Sky Racing WA Derby is;   Ideal Tyson Johnny Disco Questionable Gesture The Art Form Mach Time Chicago Bull Lets Chase The Dream Sprinter Nathans Courage  ---------- Second row---------- Cant Refuse Dodolicious El Jacko Just Bet On Black (1st Emergency) Lightning Jolt (2nd Emergency) There are 10 races on Friday night at Gloucester Park, with the first race scheduled for 5.33pm WA time and gates open at 4.30pm. Sky Racing’s Gareth Hall will be live trackside with all the action broadcast on Sky1.

Champion harness racing reinsman Chris Lewis received a surprise telephone call from Christchurch yesterday (Tuesday) when leading New Zealand trainer Mark Purdon asked him to drive superstar colt Lets Chase The Dream in the Smorgasbord WA Derby Prelude at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The son of Bettor's Delight arrived in Perth by air on Monday and is the nominal favourite for the $200,000 WA Derby over 2536m the following Friday night. “I’m looking forward to driving such a good horse,” Lewis said. “Most of Purdon’s horses are pretty relaxed and laid-back and this colt should’ve travelled over okay from New Zealand.” Lets Chase The Dream has drawn the inside barrier on the back line in Friday’s 2130m event, perhaps leaving Lewis in a quandary whether to take the sit behind the polemarker and speedy frontrunner Overboard Again and hoping for the opportunity to get into the clear during the race or to restrain the colt in the early stages and get him off the pegs. “Purdon is certainly a great trainer and I haven’t yet had a chance to discuss tactics with him,” Lewis said. “I would have liked to have drawn anywhere else than the inside of the back line.” Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen have prepared Lets Chase The Dream for his 17 starts in New Zealand for eight wins, three seconds and three thirds for $338,246 in prizemoney. Rasmussen has driven the colt 15 times for seven wins and six placings. As a two-year-old Lets Chase The Dream won two group 1 classics, the $100,000 Young Guns Cardigan Bay Stakes over 1700m at Alexandra Park  and the $156,400 NZ Sires Stakes over 1950m at Addington. He beat champion colt Lazarus by a neck at Alexandra Park and defeated stablemates Motu Premier and Lazarus at Addington. He has finished second to Lazarus in three group 1 classics as a three-year-old this season, the 1950m Sires Stakes at Addington, the 2200m NZ Yearling Sales Series final at Alexandra Park and the 2700m Northern Derby at Alexandra Park at his most recent outing, on March 11. Lets Chase The Dream began fast from barrier six at his latest appearance and raced three wide early and then in the breeze before taking the lead after 600m. Rasmussen then opted to take the sit behind Lazarus, who sprinted over the final 800m in 55.3sec. and the last 400m in 27.6sec. He rated 1.57.4. Leading WA reinsman Gary Hall jun., who will handle the brilliant Chicago Bull in the Derby final, said that Lets Chase The Dream looked the pacer to beat in the Derby final, but considered he was slightly vulnerable in Friday night’s prelude from the awkward drawn on the inside of the back line at his first Australian run, only four days after the flight from New Zealand. “You would imagine that whatever Lets Chase The Dream does this week, he will improve on,” he said. “If he goes back and then around the whole field and goes 1.56 or better and wins easily, you would say that the Derby is over. I’d like to think that he is beatable first-up here.” Hall will drive New Zealand-bred gelding Mach Time in the prelude. Mach Time, trained by Gary Hall sen., will start from the No. 4 barrier on the front line. The gelding won at five of his 16 starts in New Zealand and made an excellent Australian debut when he began speedily from the No. 5 barrier and set a solid pace before sprinting the final quarter in 27.1sec. to beat Nitro Lad by two lengths over 2100m at Bunbury last Saturday night. He won at his final two outings in New Zealand, over 2200m and 2700m at Cambridge on December 24 and January 1, respectively. He revealed tremendous early speed from the back line on December 24 to take the lead after 250m before setting the pace and defeating Mastercraftsman.  Then at his most recent outing he started from the back line and mustered great early pace to settle in third position before taking the lead after 600m. “Mach Time will improve a lot off his first-up win in Bunbury,” Hall said. “He’s got good gate speed, but I won’t be able to cross Overboard Again, who ran a great trial at Byford on Sunday morning. He worked his way to the front and just ran. He won by more than eight lengths from Stroganoff, rating 1.56.3 over 2130m on a track which wasn’t overly quick. “Mach Time can win on Friday night, particularly if her raced one-out and one-back, with Lets Chase The Dream in the breeze and putting a heap of pressure on the leader.” Clint Hall will be in the sulky behind Overboard Again, who has had only two starts, for a fifth behind Vanquished over 2000m at Otago on January 2 when he finished strongly from tenth, and a three-length victory over Crackamoa in a 2000m event at the Northern Southland Club in Gore on January 14 when he was untroubled to set the pace from barrier two. Ideal Tyson, a winner at nine of his 16 starts for Pinjarra trainer Gary Elson, will start from barrier five with Nathan Turvey in the sulky. The colt warmed up for this week’s assignment with an effortless trial win, rating 1.55.9 over 2185m at Pinjarra on Sunday morning. Banjup trainer Colin Brown fared poorly in the draw, with Just Get On Black drawing the outside (barrier No. 9) on the front line and Franco Rayner drawing barrier six. Boyanup trainer-reinsman Justin Prentice was disappointed when Natural Disaster drew out wide at barrier seven. But he has not given up in his quest to qualify the gelding for the Derby final. “It’s going to be tough from the draw, but I think he went sensational at his latest run (when he started from barrier six and finished powerfully to be second to Johnny Disco in the Country Derby at Pinjarra on March 21),” Prentice said. “He’s got the motor to run the 2536m of the Derby final. I’m disappointed he didn’t get a run in the Western Gateway Pace last week and hopefully he proves that he deserves a Derby start.” by Ken Casellas Fields for Gloucester Park, Friday 08 April 2016 Form guide for Gloucester Park, Friday 08 April 2016

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