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Champion reinsman Chris Lewis is a keen judge of form and he has sent harness racing punters an important message by choosing to drive Sheer Rocknroll in preference to stablemate Johnny Fox in the $22,000 Steelo’s Bistro Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The Ross Olivieri trained Sheer Rocknroll and Johnny Fox are the highest-assessed pacers in the 2536m event and have the ability to overcome the outside barriers on the front line, with Sheer Rocknroll starting from barrier eight and Johnny Fox from barrier nine. Lewis has been in the sulky behind Johnny Fox at each of his past five starts, which include two powerful fast-finishing wins over 2130m but he has opted for Sheer Rocknroll, a mare he has handled at three of her past six starts. Sheer Rocknroll is an M5-classified performer, but she has a losing sequence of 19, with her most recent victory being her win in the Race For Roses 11 months ago. Sheer Rocknroll has been placed at three of her five starts since resuming after a spell with an encouraging first-up second to Dana Duke in late February. She also impressed two starts ago with her strong-finishing third to Major Reality and Better B Chevron in the Golden Girls Classic over 1684m at Pinjarra. Chris Voak has been engaged to drive Johnny Fox, who was far from disgraced when fifth behind Importer Exporter in the 2902m Easter Cup. The nine-year-old raced without cover for a while before taking the lead 550m from home and wilting late to finish just over two lengths behind the winner. Astute punters are likely to rally to support the Skye Bond-trained Risk, who has been unplaced at his past five starts and has a losing sequence of ten. However, Risk looms as a major player after drawing the prized No. 1 barrier on the front line, an advantage made possible with the New Zealand-bred six-year-old moving from an M3 classification to an M2 mark under the drop-down regulations. Ryan Warwick is expected to make every post a winner by setting a brisk pace with Risk, whose most recent success was when Warwick guided him to an all-the-way win over Twoandahalf Tigers at Gloucester Park in November 2016. In an open affair on Friday night the lightly-raced, but richly talented Zennart also has strong claims. He is sure to appreciate a significant drop in class after finishing sixth behind Bettors Fire last Friday night after racing wide and then enjoying the one-out, one-back trail. His previous eight starts in his current preparation produced five wins, two seconds and a third placing. Michael Grantham will be unable to drive evergreen performer Bronze Seeker after fracturing a hand in a work accident with the family-owned horse transport business on Tuesday. He will be replaced in the sulky by Gary Hall Jnr, who should have the Peter Anderson-trained nine-year-old in a handy position throughout after starting from the inside of the back line. Stablemate Mighty Flying Thomas, a winner of one race from his past 37 starts, but racing with admirable zest, will start alongside Bronze Seeker on the back line. He will be driven by Aiden de Campo. Ken Casellas

Champion reinsman Chris Lewis is upbeat about his prospects of winning the $25,000 Lewis Mares Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night, a feature event named in his honour to acknowledge his remarkable career in harness racing. Lewis will drive the Ross Olivieri-trained four-year-old who has drawn perfectly at barrier one on the front line in the 2130m mobile event. “This is probably the best chance I’ve had to win this race,” Lewis said. “Madame Meilland is definitely going extremely well and this is the best draw she’s had. The plan will be to lead and it will be quite a thrill to win. Her run at Northam last Saturday night was an excellent effort when the last lap was covered in very good time.” Madame Meilland began speedily from the No. 4 barrier at Northam and raced without cover before finishing strongly to be a close second to Vampiro, with the final 800m whizzing by in 55.7sec. This followed solid efforts with third placings behind Better B Chevron at Northam and Mon Lillies at Gloucester Park. The New South Wales-bred Madame Meilland has excelled under Olivieri’s care in Western Australia, with her 12 starts producing five wins and six placings to improve her career record to 33 starts for eight wins, eight seconds and five thirds. “She’s quick out and is certainly going to be the testing material,” said a confident Olivieri. Madame Meilland is the first foal lout of New Zealand-bred mare The Peace Rose, who earned $79,920 from nine wins and 18 placings from 66 starts. The three other four-year-old mares in Friday night’s race loom as the main rivals for Madame Meilland. They are Gotta Go Gabbana and stablemates Better B Chevron and Covered N Diamonds. Gotta Go Gabbana, to be driven by Chris Voak for Banjup trainer Annie Belton, will have many admirers. A winner at each of her past three starts, all over 2130m at Gloucester Park, Gotta Go Gabbana will start from barrier four on the front line and looks certain to go forward at the start before racing on the outside of Madame Meilland, the likely pacemaker. “She shouldn’t miss the first three,” declared Voak, who added that the mare had improved her manners immensely in recent weeks. Skye Bond trains Better B Chevron and Covered N Diamonds, New Zealand-bred mares who are racing with admirable enthusiasm. They will start from the back line, with Ryan Warwick opting to drive Better B Chevron and Colin Brown being engaged to handle Covered N Diamonds. Better B Chevron had a tough run in the breeze when a fighting second, beaten a head by Mon Lillies over 2130m last Friday week. That followed wins at Albany and Northam, and she now has raced 22 times for 12 wins, seven placings and stakes of $103,983. Covered N Diamonds has won at six of her 17 starts and should enjoy a soft passage from barrier two on the back line. Cardup trainer Sarah Suvaljko will be represented by Auctioneers Elsu (Jocelyn Young), Its My Lucknow (Dylan Egerton-Green) and Sea Cider (Michael Grantham). They have a combined total of 542 starts for 43 wins, 117 placings and $405,988 in prizemoney. All three will be at handsome odds on Friday night. The prospects of speedy frontrunners Mon Lillies and Tajies Girl slumped considerably when they drew the two outside barriers on the front line. Ken Casellas

Champion Western Australian harness racing reinsman Chris Lewis has tasted WA Pacing Cup success five times in his 34 starts - he rates this year's prospect, Motu Premier, a solid chance. Listen to what he says about his prospects in this years $450,000 Cup.

The Christmas Gift is one of the very few feature events in Western Australia to have eluded champion harness racing reinsman Chris Lewis, who has bright prospects of breaking this hoodoo by guiding Wrappers Delight to victory in the $50,000 Gift final at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Wrappers Delight was the fastest of the three heat winners last week and Lewis’s prospects rose sharply when drew favourable at barrier two on the front line in the 2130m event. Lewis finished third in the Christmas Gift with Pallaton in 1979 and since 1990 he has had a drive in the final of the Gift 26 times for five seconds (with Nippy Rendina, Downtown Boy, Regunya Boy, Michael Leslie and Heez On Fire), one third (Grand Canyon) and seven fourths. “His run was exceptional and he has run a very good time on a track that is not particularly quick,” Lewis said after driving Wrappers Delight to an impressive all-the-way victory over Abraxas Blues and Herrick Roosevelt in a qualifying heat last Friday night. Wrappers Delight, a Victorian-bred four-year-old, rated 1.56.3 which was faster than the rates recorded by the other heat winners, Zach Maguire (1.56.5) and Rock Diamonds (1.58.3). The stallion is a smart beginner and it is significant that he has set the pace and won six times in a 31-start career of ten wins and nine placings. Herrick Roosevelt, trained by Gary Hall Snr, looms as one of Wrappers Delight’s main rivals. He started from barrier four and worked hard in the breeze when a wilting third behind Wrappers Delight last Friday night. This week Herrick Roosevelt will start from the No. 1 barrier and Gary Hall Jnr is sure to be anxious to use the gelding’s excellent gate speed in a bid to set the pace. Herrick Roosevelt has made all the running in five of his nine wins in Western Australia. Hall Jnr has opted to drive Herrick Roosevelt in preference to smart stablemate Zach Maguire, who raced in sixth position, one-out and two-back, before sprinting home strongly from fifth on the home turn to beat the pacemaker Skippy Rascal in a qualifying heat. “He’s one of my favourites and is still on the way up,” said Hall after the win. Zach Maguire will start from barrier six on the front line with Stuart McDonald in the sulky. The third heat winner, the Skye Bond-trained Rock Diamonds, will start from the No. 2 barrier on the back line, immediately behind Wrappers Delight. A winner at 13 of his 27 starts, he should obtain a good passage and is capable of producing a powerful finish. He led comfortably from barrier three and set a moderate pace for the first 1200m before sprinting over the final quarters in 28.1sec. and 27.6sec. One of the most impressive performances in the qualifying heats was that of six-year-old Argyle Red, who was tenth at the bell and still tenth with 550m to travel before going five wide on the home turn and charging down the straight to finish fourth behind Rock Diamonds. The Rob MacDonald-trained Argyle Red will start from barrier five with Morgan Woodley in the sulky. The Kim Prentice-trained Abraxas Blues also impressed in the heats with his fast-finishing second to Wrappers Delight. He will start from barrier four. Ken Casellas

Harness racing veteran reinsman Chris Lewis won his eighth $50,000 Bunbury Cup MS Pace (2569m) when he drove Sokys Bigbullet to victory at Donaldson Park on Saturday night. Harness racing fans were treated to a brilliant night of racing, but it was Lewis and his eight-year-old bay gelding who were the stars when they won a tight contest from Kristian Hawkins and The Trilogy by half-a-neck. Lewis had previously won the Bunbury Cup in 1980, 1982, 1987, 1998, 2005, 2008 and 2011 and does not look like he is going to stop adding to his impressive resume. The $5.30 chance sat comfortably at the front for most of the race, but the Tony Svilicich-trained gelding was challenged on the straight and held on in what will go down as an instant classic. Favourite and local hopeful Natural Disaster finished a disappointing sixth by more than four and a half metres behind the winner. By Mitchell Woodcock Reprinted with permission of The West Australian

Champion harness racing reinsman Chris Lewis declares that five-year-old Motu Premier is on the way up and eight-time premiership trainer Ross Olivieri is similarly excited at the gelding’s progress. The New Zealand-bred Motu Premier will have his final start before contesting the rich TABtouch Inter Dominion championship series, starting with the first set of heats on November 24, when he contests the $25,000 HLB Mann Judd Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Motu Premier is awkwardly drawn at barrier seven on the front line, but he has the ability to overcome this disadvantage --- and he is sure to appreciate not having to race against top-flight pacers Chicago Bull and Soho Tribeca this week. He maintained his excellent form last Friday night when he started from the No. 5 barrier in the group 2 James Brennan Memorial and raced in sixth place in the one-wide line before Lewis urged him forward, three wide, with 550m to travel. He finished strongly into third place behind Chicago Bull and Soho Tribeca, with the final quarters in the 2536m event being covered in 28.4sec. and 26.7sec. That was his third run after a two-month break and followed a first-up victory over Condrieu and a close second to American Boy after racing wide early and then in the breeze. Olivieri admitted that he was happy that Motu Premier would not be clashing with Chicago Bull and Soho Tribeca this week. But he was quick to point out that Motu Premier had made up ground on those two stars in the final circuit last week. “Barrier seven is not perfect this week, but the way he finished last week, pulling ground off both those horses, was heartening,” he said. “And we met them on not very favourable terms.” Olivieri said that Motu Premier had raced four times in Sydney earlier this year after arriving from New Zealand and then had six runs in WA before being sent for a welcome spell. “He didn’t miss a beat when he got here before I gave him a little break,” he said. “He laid down for the first five days and then he got up and terrorized the other horses in the paddock. Now he’s on track for the Inters and is only one good barrier draw away from a win.” Lewis said that he gave Motu Premier a good winning chance this week. “From barrier seven, he’s got options,” he said. “He faces a bit of a task from the wide draw, but I’d certainly put him in the mix. He’s a nice horse on the way up and is heading nicely towards the Inters when I think he will be at his peak.” Lewis and Olivieri have plenty of respect for the opposition this week in a race in which The Bucket List, Condrieu, Shandale, Major Reality and Vultan Tin will have admirers. Michael Grantham gave a strong indication that he would drive The Bucket List conservatively and would rely on a powerful finishing burst. The Bucket List is favourably drawn at barrier two on the front line and is unlikely to get to an early lead, considering that Ryan Warwick appears certain to make full use of Condrieu’s blistering gate speed from barrier four and Colin Brown could also make a bold bid for early ascendancy with the speedy beginner Sokys Bigbullet. The Bucket List, trained by Michael Brennan, ran an excellent trial for Friday night’s race when he finished a close second to Tommy Be Good in the Don Randall Memorial Cup over 2631m at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon. He raced in sixth position in the one-wide line before he started a three-wide move with 850m to travel. He took a narrow lead on the home turn and was overhauled in the final couple of strides, with the winner Tommy Be Good setting a track record. “They went 28.3sec. down the back, they broke the track record and we just got nutted,” Grantham said. “He’ll go well on Friday night.” Coolup trainer Phil Costello has engaged Morgan Woodley to handle Vultan Tin, with Chris Voak opting to drive the Olivieri-trained Jambiani. Vultan Tin gave a superb performance last Friday night when he started from barrier seven, dashed to the front after 550m and scored an impressive victory by more than four lengths, rating 1.56.4 over the 2536m journey. Woodley, who has enjoyed considerable success in the sulky behind Vultan Tin, said that the gelding had exceeded his expectations. “He has gone from strength to strength and what Phil has achieved with him has been phenomenal,” he said. Ken Casellas

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

Harness racing trainer Ross Olivieri and reinsman Chris Lewis have been a powerful and highly successful combination for 30 years and they will join forces at Gloucester Park on Friday night when they attempt to win three consecutive events with talented New Zealand-bred pacers Itz Bettor To Win, Motu Premier and Im Full of Excuses. These three pacers are raced by leviathan owner Merv Butterworth, who is hoping the trio will qualify for the rich TABtouch Inter Dominion championship series, starting on November 24. Butterworth makes no secret that he considers five-year-old Motu Premier a superior pacer to Im Full of Excuses and Itz Bettor To Win. Sharing his opinion is Lewis, who said: “Motu Premier is a nice horse who goes good. And now he’s got to step up to the next level if he’s going to be an Inter Dominion contender.” Motu Premier, whose six starts in Western Australia have resulted in five wins and a close second placing, will be making his first appearance for nine weeks when he starts from the No. 3 barrier on the front line in the $22,000 Simpson Pace over 2130m on Friday night. Motu Premier is a strong and dour gelding who has won many races after working hard in the breeze and he is likely to have to endure a tough run again on Friday night when his chief rival looms large as the Olivieri-trained El Hombre. El Hombre will start from the No. 1 barrier and Chris Voak said he would be keen to set the pace. “He produced a powerful effort when he raced without cover before winning from Soho Chelsea and Mach Time last week,” he said. “He should go even better by leading this week and I give him a good chance of beating Motu Premier.” Lewis appreciates that El Hombre will be a worthy opponent on Friday night, saying: “That was one of his best runs and this will be a challenge for Motu Premier. However, all things being equal, I’d say Motu Premier is a better horse.”   Adding considerable interest to Friday night’s race will be the reappearance of Natural Disaster, an up-and-coming five-year-old who will be driven by his trainer Justin Prentice. Natural Disaster, who impressed in winning at eight of his 13 starts last season, will be having his first start for ten weeks. He faces a stern test from the outside (No. 9) on the front line. Motu Premier is at No. 21 in the second list of ranking for the Inter Dominion championship series. Stablemate Jambiani is ranked No. 22, with Im Full of Excuses at No. 25, El Hombre at No. 58 and Itz Bettor To Win at No. 70. Itz Bettor To Win will start out wide at barrier eight in the Celebrating Melissa Renouf Pace on Friday night and Lewis expects him to perform strongly at his second start in Western Australia. The six-year-old gelding was favourite at 6/4 when he dashed to the front from barrier three after 200m and set a brisk pace before wilting slightly in the closing stages to finish fourth behind Soho Tribeca, Bronze Seeker and Ideal Tyson. “I think he ran pretty well,” Lewis said. “He obviously needed the run and even though he’s not well drawn this week, he will be one of the main players in the race.” Im Full of Excuses will start from barrier four in the $25,000 Fred Doy Memorial Pace on Friday night in which he will clash with in-form pacers Simply Susational, Ideal Tyson and Cut For An Ace, as well as outstanding mare Major Reality, who will be having her first start since winning the Golden Girls Classic at Pinjarra on March 27. Im Full of Excuses will be having his second start after a spell. He resumed last Friday week when he started out wide at barrier nine and was restrained to the rear before dashing forward to race in the breeze outside the pacemaker Sheer Rocknroll before wilting to fifth behind Simply Susational. “I was happy with his first-up effort and I think he should step up and run a pretty good race this week,” Lewis said. Ken Casellas

Considerable interest will surround the first appearance in Western Australia of the Ross Olivieri trained New Zealand-bred trotter Blue Sky Commander (Skyvalley) when he contests the Pat Harding Handicap, a stand over 2503m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The six-year-old’s past seven starts, all in Victoria, have been in mobiles after the gelding was placed outside the draw in stands following his sixth as the 9/4 favourite in the Trotters Cup at St Arnaud in March when he broke soon after the start. However, Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri has had no hesitation in running Blue Sky Commander in a stand at his WA debut. The gelding is an experienced standing-start performer, with his three wins from 11 starts in New Zealand all being in stands and then his eight wins in Victoria included five in stands. Blue Sky Commander will be driven by Chris Lewis and will start from the outside of the 10m line. “He continues to please us and we’re confident he’ll go really well,” said Olivieri. “And whatever he does, he’ll improve on.” Blue Sky Commander’s chief rival looms as Lightning Calder, the solitary runner off the 20m back mark. Lightning Calder, to be driven by Chris Voak for Wundowie trainer Bruce Stanley, worked hard in the breeze when a fighting last-start third behind Lord Liam and Ropeburn at Gloucester Park. Olivieri is also optimistic about the prospects of Assassinator in the Wayne Currall Pace, a 1730m mobile event in which Assassinator will start from the No. 4 barrier with Chris Voak in the sulky. “He’s got a tricky draw, but he’s a good chance,” Olivieri said. “Punters should ignore his run when he finished tenth behind Heez On Fire last Friday night. He started off in the one-out, one-back position before being shuffled back to second last. He went to the line hard held.” Ken Casellas

The powerful combination of eight-time premier trainer Ross Olivieri and champion reinsman Chris Lewis has high hopes of continuing its successful run in the $25,000 Allwood Stud Marathon Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night by winning the 3309m listed classic with up-and-coming star Motu Premier. Lewis and Olivieri have combined to win the Marathon Handicap with Nickelmeldon in 2009, Chief Thundercloud (2015) and Our Jericho (last year). Chief Thundercloud and Our Jericho are owned by Merv Butterworth, who also races four-year-old Motu Premier, the youngest and least experienced runner in this week’s race. Motu Premier has shown the class to overcome the disadvantage of starting off the 30-metre mark, with only The Bucket List (off 40m) behind him. He has yet to contest a standing-start event in Australia, but has a good record in stands in New Zealand. His 23 New Zealand starts produced seven wins and ten seconds. He raced six times in stands for three wins. His final race in New Zealand was on the grass track at Methven where he began off 40m and ran on from sixth at the bell to win from Johnny Eyre. This week’s Marathon Handicap should suit Motu Premier ideally. The Bettors Delight gelding has won twice over 3000m. Twelve months ago Our Jericho, a 6/1 chance off the 10m mark, enjoyed a perfect trail, one-out and one-back, before finishing strongly to win by a length from the pacemaker, the Michael Brennan-trained Naughty Maravu. Motu Premier arrived in Australia early in April this year and raced four times in New South Wales for three wins and a second placing. His five WA starts have produced four wins and a second. He maintained his splendid form when he started out wide at barrier eight, raced wide early and then in the breeze before finishing powerfully to win the 2130m Chandon final from Mach Time and Natural Disaster last Friday week, rating 1.55.9. Brennan hopes to go one better than his second placing with Naughty Maravu last year and his four runners on Friday night are all capable standing-start performers. He will be represented by The Bucket List, the sole backmarker off 40m who will be driven by Michael Grantham, Rub Of The Green (Gary Hall jun.), Cut For An Ace (Aiden de Campo) and Im Master Charlie (Chris Voak). The Bucket List is a quality pacer who has earned $317,935 from 19 wins and 31 placings from 75 starts. His four starts since resuming from a spell have produced a win over Our Jimmy Johnstone and Beaudiene Boaz and seconds to Tricky Styx (twice) and Chicago Bull. The Bucket List is an experienced standing-start performer and a redoubtable stayer, who finished a nose second to Firebomb in the 2970m York Cup at Northam in November 2015. Rub Of The Green has a splendid record of 19 wins, seven seconds and a third from only 33 starts. He has been freshened up since he was seventh early before racing in the breeze for almost two circuits and getting to the front on the home turn and winning from Robyns Raider in a 2503m stand on July 14. He will start from 30m on Friday night and will have many admirers. Im Master Charlie (front) and Cut For An Ace (10m) are not foolproof in stands, but are capable of figuring in the finish. Always Arjay is in outstanding form for Serpentine trainer Matt Scott, who has engaged Nathan Turvey to drive the five-year-old after Lewis opted for Motu Premier. Always Arjay, who will start off 10m, is a versatile pacer who has won in stands at his past four starts. Turvey won the 2013 Marathon Handicap behind Balleybofey. Tommy Be Good and Rycroft are racing keenly and will start off 20m. Stuart McDonald will drive the Katja Warwick-trained Tommy Be Good, who impresses with his spirited finishing bursts. Rycroft set the pace and won a 2503m stand last Friday week for Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed. The New Zealand-bred five-year-old will be handled by Kim Prentice, who drove Serious Pursuit to victory in the 2003 Marathon Handicap. Kim Young, who drove To San Jose when he dead-heated for first with Sir Lektor in the 1996 Marathon, will be represented by veteran standing-start specialist Maximum Demand, who will be driven by Jocelyn Young and should be prominent from barrier one on the front line. Ken Casellas

Considerable interest will surround the debut of New Zealand-bred three-year-old The Pima Indian when the gelding makes his debut in the $18,000 Yearling Preparation at Allwood Stud Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The Pima Indian, trained at Serpentine by Gary Hall sen., is favourably drawn at barrier three on the front line in the 2130m event and should prove hard to beat after scoring easy wins in two trials at Byford on the past two Sundays. He rated 1.58.6 when he beat Major Fitz by 40 metres in a three-horse 2150m trial last Sunday morning and he sprinted home over the final 400m in 28.5sec. when he won a five-horse trial from the promising Neighlor the previous Sunday. The son of Changeover will be driven by Gary Hall jun., who preferred him to the Glenn Elliott-trained polemarker Illusionation, who possesses sparkling gate speed and has won at two of his past three starts. The Pima Indian has a family tradition to uphold at his first appearance in a race in Australia. His maternal granddam Cherubic had four of her progeny race in Australia --- and all won at their Australian debut --- Franco Conquest (Newcastle, December 1999), Franco Concord (Globe Derby, December 2000), Franco Croupier (Strathalbyn, December 2001) and Franco Cruz (Bendigo, November 2011). The Prima Indian faces some strong opposition from the outstanding filly Maczaffair and Tisadream, who are racing in excellent form. Maczaffair, to be driven by Chris Lewis for Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed, has amassed $247,295 in prizemoney from 11 wins and seven placings from 23 starts. She will start out wide at barrier eight on the front line. Maczaffair also started from the No. 8 barrier last Friday week when she raced wide early and then in the breeze before winning by almost two lengths from Pick My Pocket, rating 1.55.4 over 1730m. Tisadream, trained at Capel by Andrew de Campo, finished third in the WA Derby earlier in the year and he is in splendid form, winning by big margins over 2536m at Gloucester Park and 2100m at Bunbury at his latest outings. He will start from the outside of the back line and should be charging home in the final stages. Pick My Pocket, to be driven by Tom Buchanan for Boyanup trainer Justin Prentice, is racing with admirable enthusiasm, but will need some luck after starting out wide at barrier seven. Tyler Bret, to be driven by Colin Brown for Banjup trainer Dylan Egerton-Green, should be prominent from the No. 2 barrier. He covered a lot of extra ground before finishing strongly to win from Bravo Tex over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Monday afternoon. Ken Casellas

Oldbury trainer-reinsman Kim Prentice admits that Abraxas Blues is not particularly tough, but he admires the four-year-old’s sit-sprint ability. Abraxas Blues will start from the inside of the back line in the In Memory of Max Johnson Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night and Prentice gives the gelding a good chance of notching his seventh win at his 25th start. Abraxas Blues caught the eye last Friday night when he started from the outside of the front line and settled down in 11th position before moving to ninth (three wide) at the bell and sustaining the effort to finish a half-head second to hot favourite The Publisher over 2130m. He sprinted fast from the 400m and looked likely to overhaul The Publisher but The Publisher dug deep to prevail in a thrilling finish. “The way he sprinted I thought he was going to run past The Publisher,” Prentice said. “But The Publisher just nodded off and when I got alongside of him, he picked up. However, it was a very good run by Abraxas Blues. “Drawn the inside of the back line on Friday night, I’m hoping the pole marker Attack On Command holds up and leads. Then we’ll just be sitting along the fence and, hopefully, we’ll get the run at the right time. He loves just sitting back and it gives him a good chance.” Another four-year-old in Fanci A Dance, trained in Busselton by Barry Howlett and with Chris Lewis in the sulky, will start from the No. 2 barrier on the back line and he looks a major winning chance after scoring at six of his past nine starts. He maintained his splendid form at Bunbury at his latest appearance, on July 8, when he raced wide in the middle stages and then in the breeze before winning from Our Zac Whitby, rating 1.57 over 2100m. Another well-fancied runner will be the Justin Prentice-trained and driven Quite A Delight, a winner at ten of her 27 starts, who will start from barrier five on the front line. She made a most impressive return to racing after an absence of almost seven months last Friday week when she finished powerfully to win from Mary Catherine and Donegal Rundlescreek, rating 1.58.3 over 2536m. Ken Casellas

Leading reinsman Chris Lewis is looking forward to driving top-flight filly Maczaffair for the first time when she contests the In Memory of Ron Percival Pace over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Lewis replaces Shannon Suvaljko, who is serving a term of suspension. Maczaffair, trained by Mike Reed, will be having her second start after an eleven and a half-week absence and she will need to be close to her top to overcome the disadvantage of starting from the outside (barrier nine) over a sprint journey. The Mach Three filly resumed in a heat of the Breeders Crown at Gloucester Park on Monday afternoon when she finished a close second to Better B Chevron in a field of four. The winner rated 1.57.6 over 2130m and the final three quarters were run in 29.5sec., 27.3sec. and 28.1sec. Maczaffair settled in last position in the field of four before Suvaljko moved her into the breeze in the middle stages. She fought on determinedly. Lewis, who finished fourth with Lady Luca in that race, had a good look at Maczaffair and he said that she looked slightly underdone. “Just looking at her, I thought she was just short of a run,” he said. “And it was no disgrace to be beaten by a very good filly. You’d expect her to be right in the finish on Friday night.” Maczaffair is the class filly in Friday night’s race, having earned $235,415 from ten wins and seven placings from 22 starts. She won the Group 3 Gold Bracelet as a two-year-old and earlier this season she was successful in the Group 2 Dainty’s Daughter Classic and Group 1 WA Oaks. Her stiffest opposition this week is likely to come from the Justin Prentice-trained trio of Pick My Pocket, Allamerican Queen and Somewhereonlyiknow. Prentice, who also has Lady Luca engaged in the race, has opted to handle the consistent Pick My Pocket. Lewis will also replace Suvaljko behind Rycroft in the In Memory of Les Marriott Handicap, a stand over 2503m. Rycroft, a winner of a 2503m stand four starts ago, looks well placed off the front and is sure to be prominent. Gary Hall Jnr gives front marker Whozideawasthis a good chance in this event after the six-year-old’s sound run at his WA debut last Friday night when he raced wide in the middle stages and then in the breeze before fighting on doggedly to be a half-length second to the pacemaker Dana Duke in a 2130m mobile in which the final 800m was covered in 56.8sec. “I’m not sure how he gets away in a stand,” Hall said. “If he jumps to the front he’ll be hard to beat. He’s also good with a sit. It was a good first-up run last week.” Ken Casellas  

Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr landed the quinella in last year’s Chandon Final and he is hoping to repeat the dose in the $25,000 In Memory of Bob Pollock The Chandon Final over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He has four runners, Mach Time (barrier one), Harry Hoo (two), Zach Maguire (inside of the back line) and King Lebron (outside of the back). Gary Hall Jnr has given punters a good lead by opting to drive Zach Maguire, a stylish all-the-way last-start winner over Motu Premier. His elder brother Clint will handle talented frontrunner Mach Time, Chris Voak has been engaged for Harry Hoo and Lauren Jones for King Lebron. “It’s a really good field, with many winning chances,” said Hall Jnr, who finished second with 6/1 chance American Boy in the Chandon Final 12 months ago after racing in the breeze for the final 1500m. Stablemate Ricimer, a 16/1 chance driven by Kim Prentice, set the pace and beat American Boy by just under a length. “Mach Time looks set to lead on Friday night and I should be sitting on him with Zach Maguire.” Zach Maguire is capable of unwinding a strong finishing burst, and Hall is hopeful the Bettors Delight four-year-old will get clear in the final circuit and outsprint Mach Time, another New Zealand-bred four-year-old with excellent potential. The main dangers to Mach Time and Zach Maguire loom large as Motu Premier, Natural Disaster and Vanquished. Motu Premier, to be driven by Chris Lewis for Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri, is in dazzling form and should prove mighty hard to beat. A winner of seven races in New Zealand, Motu Premier raced in New South Wales four times for three wins and his four starts in Western Australia have produced three wins and a last-start second to Zach Maguire when he had a tough run in the breeze. “It’s always a task when you draw wide (barrier eight), but I think he will run a good race,” said Lewis. Natural Disaster, a WA-bred four-year-old by American stallion Shadow Play, is in brilliant form for Boyanup trainer-driver Justin Prentice, with his 11 starts this season producing seven wins and two placings. He is unbeaten at his three outings after resuming from a spell and he should obtain an excellent passage after starting from the No. 2 barrier on the back line. Vanquished, in the stables of leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, will be driven by Ryan Warwick from barrier three on the front line and he warmed up for Friday night’s event with an impressive victory at Gloucester Park on Tuesday night.   He raced in sixth place in the one-wide line before bursting to the front 520m from home and winning by more than two lengths from Auctioneers Elsu, rating a smart 1.55.2 over the 2130m journey. Ken Casellas

Another Carnival and another display of dominance from the All Stars’ barn.  Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen finished the Queensland Winter Carnival with five runners for four wins and a third.  Partyon landed the Provincial Oaks and ran third in the Queensland Oaks, while The More The Better won all three starts – Premiers’ Cup, Provincial Derby and last Saturday night’s Group Two Queensland Derby.  He saved his best for last. The Queensland Derby win was a bit special. The times said so.  The More The Better’s 1.56 mile rate for 2680m broke Im Themightyquinn’s track record. It was 0.1 quicker than Hectorjayjay ran winning the Group One Blacks A Fake a few races later.  And part-owner Roy Purdon was trackside to watch it.  Natalie Rasmussen partnered The More The Better to his first two Queensland wins, but she’s away on holiday so Mark Purdon took the reins himself this time. The result was the same.  Purdon drove as though he was on the best horse, and basically bludgeoned his way to the lead inside a lap. From there he was always going to be impossible to beat.  Last start Queensland Oaks winner Shartin, who led and took the trail, tried hard along the sprint lane to get within a half-neck, while another filly My Casino Belle ran a monstrous third after sitting parked in blistering times.  Former Purdon pacer Motu Meteor was shuffled to three pegs, and found it impossible to bridge the gap on the winner in a 27.3 last quarter. He ran a solid fourth.  The More The Better and Partyon now head to Sydney to qualify for the Breeders Crown, and then it’s on to Melbourne for the semis and finals of the Crown.    Top Queensland trainer Grant Dixon is hitting the road again with his buzz juvenile Colt Thirty One.  Dixon thought enough of the Mach Three colt to have a dip at the Australian Gold series at Menangle back in April, but immaturity got the better of him.  He learned from the experience and has returned to Queensland a lethal force, as evidence by his amazing 20m win in a sizzling 1.53.9 mile rate in the Group One Qbred final at Albion Park last Saturday night.  “We’re taking him to the Breeders Crown,” part-owner and breeder Kevin Seymour said. “We have to take him after what he did tonight (Saturday).”  With stand-out juvenile Lumineer out with injury, it’s a smart play by Seymour and Dixon.  On what Colt Thirty One did Saturday night, he looms as one of the major players in the Crown.  The other Group One Qbred winner, NSW filly Arts Treasure, could also head to the Crown.  “She’s got so much talent, but is still pretty big and raw,” trainer-driver James Rattray said. “That’s one of the most challenging drives I’ve had, but thankfully she did enough right to get the job done.”    There is some serious X-factor about former Kiwi juvenile Jack Mac.  Yes he might not be beating much in the WA juvenile features, but it’s more about the way he’s doing it and the times he is running.  Throw in the fact his driver Chris Lewis – a renowned hard-marker – has a huge opinion of him and you know this is no ordinary youngster.  The son of Mach Three arrived in WA with five unplaced NZ starts under his belt, but has belied that with six wins from as many starts.  The latest was the biggest in the $125,000 Group One Golden Slipper (2130m) at Gloucester Park last Friday night.  The colt sat parked early, worked to the front, left his rivals standing to win by 7.3m and broke the race record with a 1.57 mile rate. “The colt appreciates his new environment and has thrived since recently joining our stable,” trainer Barry Howlett said. “We plan to start him in the Golden Slipper, then he’ll go for a spell. “Next season’s three-year-old feature events will be on his programme.”    Still on Gloucester Park and champion driver Gary Hall Jr put on a clinic last Friday night.  Hall Jr won half the 10-race card on a mix of favourites and outsiders.  The highlight was yet another sparkling and effortless win from buzz four-year-old Chicago Bull in the Free-For-All.  Hall Jr’s other wins came with The Publisher and Zach Maguire in races one and five for his father, trainer Gary Hall Sr.  He then finished off the night winning the second-last race on Sprinter for Gary Elson and $28.30 shot Illusionation for trainer Glenn Elliott in the final event.    The decision to try and rejuvenate classy NSW mare Ameretto by sending her south to Kerryn Manning has been a smash hit.  She’s improved at each of her four runs and looked positively stunning winning the Group Three Jane Ellen for mares’ by a cricket pitch at Melton last Friday night.  In a solidly run race, Ameretto stormed around the field out three wide to quickly put the race beyond doubt, and beat a good field by 17.3m in a blazing 1.55.4 mile rate for 2240m.  Ameretto won 17 races over her two, three and four-year-old seasons with Ashlee Grives (formerly Siejka), but had raced below her best with five NSW unplaced runs before being sent to Manning.  She’s now won 18 races and almost $270,000 with the promise of plenty more to come given the nature of her win last Friday.  It was the first leg of a training and driving double for Manning, who also scored with former Kiwi pacer Itz Bettor To Win in the seventh race.  The Merv Butterworth-owned gelding is gradually getting back to the potential he showed as a younger horse, and before being sidelined with injury.  The now five-year-old only scored by a head, but it was the fact he came from an outside back row draw, and around the field in a 1.54.7 mile rate for 1720m.    The controversial date switch and stakemoney cut for the Victoria Cup has certainly divided opinions.  Like it not, HRV has at least been able to snare a sponsor with Allied Express signing-on for the October 14 feature at Melton.  Passionate harness man Colin McDowell, still involved strongly on the breeding and training side of things through his family, is Allied’s CEO and was thrilled to sponsor the Victoria Cup.  An even bigger coup will come if the new timeslot means buzz WA pacer Chicago Bull makes the trip across for Perth for the Victoria Cup. Adam Hamilton

Champion reinsman Chris Lewis will have a massive public following when he drives Americanbootscoota and Motu Premier in successive events at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The four-year-olds are in tremendous form and Americanbootscoota looks set to extend his winning sequence to four by proving the master of his rivals in the Choices Flooring Bunbury Pace and Motu Premier stands head and shoulders above the opposition in the second heat of the Chandon Pace after having won at nine of his past 11 starts. Wins by Americanbootscoota and Motu Premier will bring up a century of winners for Lewis at Gloucester Park this season. And Lewis also has extremely bright prospects of completing a treble by guiding the brilliant Jack Mac to victory in the Choices Flooring Golden Slipper. Lewis is the leading city driver this season with 98 wins and has a good margin over Gary Hall jun. (85 wins) and Ryan Warwick (64). He is also the leading driver on all tracks this season, with 184 winners and a healthy margin over Warwick (158) and Hall (148). Americanbootscoota, trained by Lewis’s wife Debra, is racing with great heart. He began speedily from barrier nine and forged to the front after about 450mbefore giving a powerful frontrunning display to win by four lengths from Billy Mack at a 1.58.2 rate over 2536m last Friday night. Lewis is again likely to drive the gelding aggressively from barrier five this week. Motu Premier has worked hard and covered extra ground at his first three starts in Western Australia, but he has not been fully extended in winning all three races. Lewis has been engaged to drive veteran Northam-trained pacer Celestial Ruler in the Choices Flooring Busselton Pace. The 11-year-old Celestial Ruler will be at long odds at his 205th start. But he could sneak a place. He will start from the inside of the back line and will enjoy a soft passage if the polemarker The Storm Chief holds up and sets the pace. The Merv Jupp-trained The Storm Chief has a losing sequence of ten, but has sound prospects from the No. 1 barrier over 2130m.The gelding is noted for his powerful finishing bursts, but he is also a capable frontrunner. The previous time The Storm Chief started from the No. 1 barrier was 12 starts ago when he led and won at a 1.57.9 rate from Superimposed and James Galleon on March 17 this year. The only previous time he has started from the pole was 40 starts before that, at his WA debut at Gloucester Park on March 29, 2016, when he trailed the pacemaker American Boy and finished second to that smart pacer. Ken Casellas

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