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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

Busselton trainer Barry Howlett is delighted that he rejected a tempting offer of $100,000 for Jack Mac four months ago and he is looking forward with confidence to the brilliant colt winning the $125,000 Choices Flooring Golden Slipper at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Howlett picked out Jack Mac and bought him as a weanling in New Zealand. He races the two-year-old in partnership with his wife Lyn and their son Jim and he was seriously considering the big offer after Jack Mac had been unplaced at his first five starts in New Zealand when he earned just $7450. However, Howlett pointed out that Jack Mac, trained by Brent Mangos, had been racing against the best two-year-olds in New Zealand and he is more than happy that the colt has developed into a star performer in Western Australia where he is unbeaten in five starts, earning $99,298. Howlett’s confidence grew considerably when the colt drew most favourably at barrier two on the front line in Friday night’s 2130m classic. The colt will be driven by Chris Lewis, who holds the record in the 49-year history of the Golden Slipper with seven victories ---- with Pardon Me Boys (1987), Harry Gunn (1995), Saab (1997), Talladega (1999), The Jobs On (2004), Aikido Whitby (2006) and Western Cullen (2011). Howlett is hopeful of winning the Golden Slipper for the second time. He is a part-owner of Mitch Maguire, who started at 3/1 on and made full use of the prized No. 1 barrier by leading all the way for trainers Greg and Skye Bond and reinsman Ryan Warwick and scoring an easy win over Major Pocket and El Barcelona in last year’s classic. “I bought Mitch Maguire for $43,000 as a yearling in New Zealand, sold a share to Trevor Lindsay and gave Mangos a share,” Howlett said. “After Mitch Maguire had finished third in the Jewels we decided to sell him to Greg and Skye Bond. Then Greg asked if we would be interested in keeping a share. So, Trevor and I kept a ten per cent share. My wife wasn’t very happy when I sold Mitch Maguire and she strongly suggested that I shouldn’t sell Jack Mac. Therefore, I didn’t. Now I consider that Jack Mac goes better than Mitch Maguire.” Lyn Howlett named Jack Mac after her late father Jack McGowan. And, remarkably, there is little to suggest in his breeding that he should be such a brilliant young pacer. Jack Mac, by Mach Three, is the seventh foal out of Matavutu, whose first six foals had only a combined total of 62 starts for seven wins in minor races for combined earnings of $45,686. The only bright feature in Jack Mac’s breeding goes back a long way. His great, great granddam Wainoni Command’s first foal was Markovina (by Mark Lobell) who was a star of the 1970s, winning 35 races and being placed another 20 times from 97 starts. Trained and driven by Brian Gath, Markovina unwound a powerful finishing burst to win the 1978 Inter Dominion championship final at Moonee Valley. “I was up north fishing a couple of years ago when I picked out two or three youngsters at the weanling sales in Auckland,” Howlett said. “I asked Brent to have a look at them and he liked the look of Jack Mac and bought him for me. Brent broke in Jack Mac and the colt always showed a bit." He impressed at his final start in New Zealand in finishing fifth behind the outstanding colt Alta Maestro in a 1700m heat of the New Zealand Sires Stakes at Cambridge on March 23 this year. He started out wide at barrier seven and raced at the rear before running home solidly from eighth at the bell. The quarters were run in 27.9sec., 29.1sec., 28.3sec. and 28.3sec. and the winner rated 1.53.3, a national record for two-year-olds. Jack Mac has had to work hard and cover a lot of extra ground in four of his five WA starts, but he should be able to set the pace from the No. 2 barrier on Friday night. “He’s got a lot of early speed if you want to use it,” Howlett said. “He’s got speed and stamina and has also got a good kick when you want it.” At his most recent start, at Gloucester Park last Saturday week, Jack Mac started from barrier five, raced three wide early and then in the breeze before wobbling and running out on the turn into the back straight in the final circuit. Lewis quickly got his mind back on the job and the colt burst to the front and was coasting when he won by two lengths from Antero at a 1.57.8 rate over 2130m. “He went to run off the track,” Howlett said. “He thought he had finished and wanted to pull up, something he had never done before. However, he went to the line well and still had the ear plugs in. Chris said he was travelling easily." "We thought he was a little bit underdone, so we gave him a little light hit-out in a trial at Pinjarra on Sunday morning.” He set the pace and was not extended in winning the trial by more than three lengths. Ken Casellas

Friday night's Group 1 Owners Only Westbred 3YO Colts and Geldings Pace (2130m) at Gloucester Park has attracted a quality field of youngsters but if there's one pacer in the race that was bred to win such a prestigious $100,000 feature then you should look no further than Our Zak Whitby and his form's not half bad either. He's won at four of his past five starts and will have the services of champion harness racing reinsman Chris Lewis. The Edwin Dewar bred, owned and trained Mach Three bay colt is bred in the purple with Dewar breeding from his great, grand dam Remit. Dewar also bred and owned Our Zak Whitby's grand dam, Whitby's Merit (15 wins and more than $107,000 in stakes), and the dam, Zerina Whitby (eight wins and just over $55,000 in prize money). "Our Zak Whitby's from the same family as Adore Me and a few other stars from the Mark Purdon camp," Dewar said. "Remit is a half-sister to Adore Me's great, grand dam Time Lag - it's a great family." Adore Me, who was retired about two years ago, holds the Australasian record for a mile by a pacer. She set the record for the fastest mile by a pacer outside of North America when she stopped the clock at 1:47.7 at Menangle in March, 2015. Adore Me was New Zealand’s champion three and four-year-old, but her career went to another level when she smashed the world record for the 3200m standing start, winning New Zealand’s greatest harness race, the New Zealand Cup at Addington. She then recorded a series of huge summer performances which left little doubt she was the greatest female harness horse produced in the southern hemisphere. The five-year-old mare was retired after 36 starts for 26 wins and seven placings for $1,677,032 in earnings, including 12 Group 1 wins. It's certainly a blue-blood family and Our Zak Whitby is only now starting to show the potential that Dewar always expected from the horse. "He was very unlucky as a two-year-old and never seemed to get a draw, especially in the big races," Dewar said. "He then developed hoof problems and we had to wait until his hoof grew out before we could put him back into work. That's why you never saw much of him as an early three-year-old. He's only now starting to hit his straps and he's racing in the best form that he ever has. It's an interesting race on Friday night with many chances, but I expect him to acquit himself well." Our Zak Whitby will have to be at his best after drawing poorly in gate 12 for Friday night’s feature although that is somewhat offset by Lewis' ability in the bike, it is a very even field with several realistic winning chances. Cases can be made for last-start winners Kerrin Joseph (gate 11), Baylan Jett (4) and the ever consistent grey Anvil Rollover (6), who is shooting for five wins on the trot. Throw in the WA Derby winner Handsandwheels (3), Davinci Diamond (2), Justin Prentice's two charges Bettor Be Lively (7) and Courage To Live (10), along with Lord Willoughby (9) and Bob Wheel (8) and you have a cracker of a race. However, there can only be one winner and if that winner is decided on breeding then Our Zak Whitby gets the nod. Wayne Currall

Waterloo trainer Vanessa Brockman has high hopes her lightly framed harness racing mare Alkiras Desire can win Friday night’s R H Trotter & Co. The Lombardo Fillies and Mares Qualifying Heat 2 (2130m) at Gloucester Park. The first four mares across the line in the three heats qualify for the $25,000 Final at headquarters at the end of June. Artistic Lilly led all the way in last week's first heat. She qualified for the final alongside the three other mares who finished behind her - Shes Turbo Charged, Talkerup and Giuliana Rancic. The third and final heat will be run next week. Alkiras Desire's chances of success improved immensely when the consistent four-year-old mare drew gate 10, right behind speedy beginner and likely leader Falling Starzzz and with champion reinsman Chris Lewis in the bike, Alkiras Desire looks hard to beat. "It looks like a good trailing draw for her," Brockman said. "I just hope Chris can weave his magic at some stage and get her off the fence. She's trained on well since her last-start second behind Shes Artful a fortnight ago." Alkiras Desire was game in defeat on that occasion. Lewis took hold of her from the wide draw over the sprint trip of 1730m, while Ryan Bell sent Shes Artful to an early lead from her inside draw. Lewis then set Alkiras Desire alight over the last 800m after Bell "walked the field" through the first half of the race. The little mare tramped three deep and then in the breeze when Shes Artful came home in a slick 56.3. Alkiras Desire almost got on terms with Shes Artful on the turn, but the earlier effort told and she was running on empty up the straight. "She's only a little thing and I try and space her races as much as I can," Brockman said. "We're hoping she qualifies for the final and then she can run in that. She'll probably go for a spell after that - it would be nice to go out on a win. We don't like to tax her too much." Brockman's father Neville bred Alkiras Desire and races the mare in partnership with a couple of friends. The Brockman family also bred and raced Alkira Jet - the dam of Alkiras Desire. Alkira Jet, a black mare by Jet Laag, had a powerful finish and ended her career with 17 wins and 8 placings from 45 starts for more than $134,000 in prize money. Alkiras Desire, with 6 wins and 4 placings from 14 starts and a little over $36,000 in earnings, has a long way to go before she can match Mum, but she's starting to show the promise that the Brockman family always knew she had. "She's only lightly framed and I tried to get her ready for some of the early two-year-old races," Brockman said. "But she just wasn't ready to go to the races, so we gave her time to mature. That's the reason she's only had the 14 starts." Alkiras Desire had her first start just over a year ago when she won by more than 25m in a 1684m C0 at Pinjarra. Her last quarter that day was run in a blistering 26.9 and C. Lewis did the steering that day. Alkiras Desire must have impressed the master reinsman because he's been at the helm in all of her races since. Wayne Currall Fields for Gloucester Park, Friday 16 June 2017 Form guide for Gloucester Park, Friday 16 June 2017

New Zealand import Jack Mac broke a race record when brilliantly winning the first leg of a rich harness racing double in tonight’s $100,000 2YO Pearl Classic (2130m) at Gloucester Park. Owner-trainer Barry Howlett said the colt, unbeaten in four WA starts, would go on to tackle next month’s $125,000 Golden Slipper Pace (2130m). Jack Mac, starting a $1.10 favourite in the Pearl, scored by 10.5m by from Rock Me Over ($14.50) and Highroller Joe ($49.60) finished a further 15m back in third place. Champion reinsman Chris Lewis did not fully extend Jack Mac, who rated 1:55.9 and eclipsed the Pearl race record which had stood since Your Call Lombo clocked 1:57.5 when winning in 2002. Busselton-based Howlett has improved Jack Mac, who failed to run a place in five Kiwi starts. “The colt appreciates his new environment and has thrived since recently joining our stable,” 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 program.” Jack Mac broke gait at the start of his Pearl Classic qualifying heat over 2130m on May 30 and he had to race three-wide when advancing from back in the field during early stages. But the colt was on his best behaviour in gate five last night and he began fast. Lewis let him race outside leader Warriors Code until the final lap. Jack Mac sprinted clear after the bell and outclassed rivals. Jack Mac Chicago Bull returned to racing in sensational fashion winning his first start back since early January rating an impressive 1:53.2 mile rate. Chicago Bull By Ernie Manning Reprinted with permission of The West Australian

Friday night's Book Your Next Conference at Gloucester Park Pace (2130m) is shaping up as one of the highlights on a terrific night of  harness racing. The M0-M2 race has some promising pacers engaged and finding the winner won't be easy. Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri has a strong hand in the event with Military Master and El Hombre, but there are many realistic winning chances. Military Master, with champion reinsman Chris Lewis in the bike, is shooting for four wins on the trot, while El Hombre, to be reined by the equally talented Gary Hall Jnr, will be aiming for three wins from his past six starts. Military Master has drawn gate three and Lewis is expected to make a bold bid for the lead from his favourable barrier, but Michael Grantham on polemarker Im Master Charlie might have something to say about that. Im Master Charlie, three wins from his past four runs, is up in class but his inside draw offsets this and Grantham will be keen to make the most of the rails. The Callan Suvaljko trained and reined Skippy Rascal is also fast out of the machine and will be looking to lead or take up a forward position from gate two. He ran a close third behind Franco Rayner two starts ago at headquarters before finishing second behind the much-improved Soho Wall Street last week at GP. Adding to the intrigue is Justin Prentice's exciting four-year-old gelding Natural Disaster, who made a winning return to the racetrack at Bunbury earlier this month following a four-month spell. He's drawn awkwardly in gate five but certainly has the ability to test this field. Natural Disaster finished fourth, nine metres behind Soho Tribeca in a hot Golden Nugget field last December and has won seven of his 24 starts. He would have derived plenty of benefit from his first-up victory and should not be underestimated. Throw in the likes of Chelsea Royale (Barrier 4) the winner of five of her past six starts before a spell, ultra-consistent mare Foxy Dame (7), prolific winner Aussie Delight (11) and El Hombre (12) and you have a cracker of a race. Good luck trying to find the winner. Wayne Currall

Friday night's $25,000 Pure Steel Final (2130m) at Gloucester Park brings together a quality field of up-and-coming harness racing pacers. The 12-horse field is comprised of pacers who qualified in heats run over the past three weeks at headquarters and Tuesday's random barrier draw shed no light on who would emerge as the winner. It's one of the most open races seen at GP in a long time, with nine of the twelve runners in with a realistic chance of taking home the spoils. The three heat winners - Americanbootscoota (Barrier 2), Livura (5) and Zach Maguire (9) - were all impressive in their respective victories but apart from Americanbootscoota (Allamerican Ingot), Livura and Zach Maguire will have to contend with tricky draws. Red Hot Major lobbed the coveted pole and driver Aiden De Campo seems certain to use the horse's speed from the machine to attempt an all-the-way victory. This Gary Elson-trained five-year-old entire has been racing in solid form and punters would be wise to disregard his last-start fourth behind Frostyflyer when he just did too much work from a wide gate. Two starts prior Red Hot Major sprinted home the last 800m in a slick 54.7 to defeat Simply Susational in a 2185m race at Pinjarra and then he came to town, sprinted hard from a middle gate to take up the running and boxed on strongly to finish a close third in a heat of the Pure Steel (2130m) behind Livura and Overboard Again. Leading trainer Gary Hall Snr has a strong hand in the final with Zach Maguire, Harry Hoo (3), Overboard Again (11) and Campora (12). Overboard Again with two wins and a close second to his credit since returning from a spell, is poised to get a charmed run on the back of Americanbootscoota. The consistent Campora, two wins and four placings from his six starts since a spell, follows out stablemate Harry Hoo, himself a last-start all-the-way winner at headquarters and the impressive Zach Maguire, three wins from his three starts back since a break, completes the Hall juggernaut. Johnny Disco, from the stables of Ross Ashby, has been in good form with two wins and a second at his past four runs and is set to get a cushy run on the back of likely leader Red Hot Major. Champion reinsman Chris Lewis will be keen to keep the breeze on his wife Debra's horse Americanbootscoota - a tough four-year-old gelding who appears to do his best work when parked. Ravenswood-based trainer Nathan Turvey has qualified two horses for the final - the consistent Livura, who he will drive, and former Kiwi pacer Dana Duke (4), to be reined by Ryan Warwick. It's certainly a quality line-up with many of these horses destined to become fast-class pacers in the future. Finding the winner will be no easy task, but punters can be assured that if they do find the winner then the odds will be tasty. Wayne Currall

Sheer Rocknroll, a wonderfully consistent four-year-old, should boost her earnings past the $200,000 mark by winning the $25,000 International Animal Health Products Westbred final for harness racing four and five-year-old mares at Gloucester Park on Thursday night. The Rocknroll Hanover mare warmed up for this assignment in eye-catching style last Friday night when she began from the back line and raced in fourth place on the pegs for most of the way before sprinting home strongly to finish second to talented six-year-old gelding Eyre Crusher. The final sections were run in 27.9sec. and 28.2sec. and Sheer Rocknroll finished ahead of several smart performers, including Foxy Dame and Bungalow Bill.   Sheer Rocknroll, trained by Ross Olivieri and driven by Chris Lewis, is handily drawn at barrier four on the front line and she should carry too many guns for the opposition, none of whom has anywhere near the record of Sheer Rocknroll, who has amassed $194,902 from 18 wins and ten placings from 44 starts. Sheer Rocknroll is the first foal out of former star mare Sheer Royalty, who raced only 33 times for nine wins, seven placings and $248,904 in prizemoney. Her victories included three feature events for three-year-old fillies in 2009 --- the group 1 double of the WA Oaks and State Sires Series and the group 3 Daintys Daughter Classic. The three mares drawn inside of Sheer Rocknroll have place prospects as does last-start winner Falling Starzzz (barrier two on the back line) and Lovers Prayer (barrier No. 5), a winner three starts ago. Drawn on the inside of Sheer Rocknroll are Nowuseemegirl (Aiden de Campo), Sea Cider (Michael Grantham) and Kathleen Betty (Shannon Suvaljko). Nowuseemegirl has been driven to victory at all her seven wins by de Campo, but she has been unplaced at her past seven starts since winning at Bunbury last September. She led and faded to fifth behind Lovers Prayer at Gloucester Park at her most recent outing. She is capable of improvement. Sea Cider showed a welcome return to form and ended a losing sequence of 16 when she led and won from Bettor Bling over 1780m at Northam on Thursday March 30. Kathleen Betty rises in class after a last-start fifth behind Alfs Odyssey at Bunbury last Saturday night. She won three in a row (one at Bunbury and two in Albany) in February and March. Ken Casellas

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