Day At The Track

History beckons Motu Premier

03:32 PM 09 Aug 2018 NZST
Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print
Motu Premier,Harness racing
Motu Premier
Gloucester Park photo

Ross Olivieri, the leading trainer in Western Australia eight times, and champion reinsman Chris Lewis have combined to win the Channel 7 Marathon Handicap a record four times and they are confident that they can notch a fifth victory in the 3309m stand at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

They are pinning their faith in the New Zealand-bred five-year-old Motu Premier, who at his 50th start in a race, will be attempting to become the first horse in the 25-year history of the Marathon Handicap to win the race twice.

Motu Premier is a proven stayer owned by Merv Butterworth, who raced Chief Thundercloud and Our Jericho, who won the Marathon for the Olivieri-Lewis team in 2015 and 2016, respectively.  Before that, Olivieri and Lewis were successful with the Neville Dewhurst-owned Nickelmeldon in 2009.

Motu Premier was the 5-4 favourite in last year’s race when he started off the 30m mark. Lewis stole a march on his rivals when he set Motu Premier alight soon after the start and the gelding burst to the lead after a lap. Then, after sections of 29.6sec., 31.2sec. and 29.3sec., Motu Premier sprinted over the final 400m in 28.9sec. to win by just over a length from The Bucket List, who started from 40m and sustained a strong three-wide burst from ninth in the middle stages.

This year Motu Premier will share the 40m mark with Runrunjimmydunn and Devendra and Lewis is likely to adopt the same aggression as he used so successfully 12 months ago.

In a field of nine and with only one horse (Cracka Star) off the front and two (Always Arjay and Swimbetweentheflags) off 10m, drivers off the back marks are expected to make strong attacking moves in the early stages.

Cracka Star relishes the role of pacemaker, but he rises a great deal in class and it is difficult to suggest he can succeed against several far-better credentialled rivals. He will be handled by Luke Edwards for trainer Debbie Padberg, who prepared Rocket Reign for his Marathon victory in 2014 when he started off 40m and surged home from eighth at the bell to beat This Time Dylan.

Always Arjay is a standing-start specialist with a record of 23 starts in stands for seven wins, four seconds, two thirds and five fourths. Confident part-owner and trainer Matt Scott said that he expected Always Arjay to run a super race. “Stands are his forte and if he can lead he is capable of beating the backmarkers,” he predicted.

Always Arjay is in splendid form. Although he has a losing sequence of 16, he has finished second at each of his past four starts. He raced three wide early and then in the one-out, one-back position before finishing strongly to be second to Courage Tells in a 2130m mobile last Friday night.

Two starts before that Always Arjay finished with great determination to be second to The Bucket List in the BOTRA Cup, a 2503m stand. Motu Premier, at his second outing after a spell, finished third. Last Friday night Motu Premier warmed up for the Marathon in fine style with a close-up third behind Ideal Tyson and Vampiro in a 2130m mobile after working hard in the middle stages.

Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr has sound prospects of winning the Marathon for the third time after successes with Im Themightyquinn off 80m in 2010 and Code Red, the sole frontmarker in 2012. He will be represented by Runrunjimmydunn (40m) and Lets Chase The Dream (20m).

“The distance will suit Runrunjimmydunn and he’s a good each-way chance,” Hall said. ”He got home really well when a close third to Chicago Bull and Devendra last week and the distance won’t worry Lets Chase The Dream, who had a hard run before getting to the front and then finishing fourth behind Ideal Tyson last week.”

Four-year-old Runrunjimmydunn’s only appearance in a stand from 26 starts in WA was when he began from 30m and finished a close third to Importer Exporter and Bettors Fire in the 2902m Easter Cup in March this year.

Nathan Turvey, who set the pace with Baleybofey in 2013 and won the Marathon for trainer Ray Williams, said that Devendra’s frontrunning head second to Chicago Bull last Friday night was a good pointer to his prospects this week.

“Devendra flies out from the stand and he must be considered,” said Turvey. The eight-year-old Devendra is an excellent stayer, who won five stands in Tasmania, including the 3020m Devenport Cup in March 2014. In the summer of 2015-16 he won two heats of the Inter Dominion championship at Gloucester Park before finishing second to My Hard Copy in the 2936m WA Pacing Cup.

Star trainers Greg and Skye Bond will be looking for a strong performance from Vampiro, an up-and-coming four-year-old who has had 29 starts for 12 wins and nine placings. Ryan Warwick will handle Vampiro, the sole runner off the 30m mark. Vampiro was hampered for room in the home straight before flashing home on the inside to finish a half-head second to Ideal Tyson last Friday night.    

 

Ken Casellas

Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print

Read More News About...

Stallion Name

Next article in Australia: