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Star performer Ohoka Punter has a new home. The triple Group One winner has been purchased by leading owners Kevin and Kay Seymour and is set to join the stables of leading trainer Grant Dixon. Following his victory in the 2016 $200,000 Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship, the star performer was sent west to Perth where he joined the stables of Gary Hall. But a series of setbacks and niggling issues prevented him from producing his best efforts and scored only once from 20 starts. An attack of colic, followed by a lung infection, forced Ohoka Punter to miss the 2016 Inter Dominion Championship series but managed to run minor placings in a host of other feature events. A flight from Perth last night (Wednesday) was carrying the million dollar earner. Ohoka Punter has not raced since finishing second behind champion stablemate Chicago Bull in the Listed $50,000 Governor’s Cup at Gloucester Park on February 23. Boasting a fine record of 25 victories and 30 minor placings from 72 lifetime starts, the Bettors Delight entire has amassed stakes if $1,049,860. His fastest winning mile rate of 1:52.4 was set at Albion Park back in May, 2016. With the 2018 Queensland winter carnival looming, connections could be looking at the riches on offer. A future stud career is also likely. The Seymour’s own Egmont Park Stud on the Darling Downs and currently stand Mr Feelgood, Hurrikane Kingcole and Gotta Go Cullect. Chris Barsby

Former buzz Kiwi pacer King Of Swing headlines a powerful Kiwi flavour through Australia’s bumper Easter weekend of racing. New trainer Gary Hall Sr is thrilled with the way King Of Swing has bounced-back from a cold and can’t wait to line him up in tomorrow (Thursday) night’s WA Derby prelude at Gloucester Park. “He went so well in his Pinjarra trial last Sunday and has come through it in great style,” he said. “A week ago I thought we really up against it, but he seems right back on track.” King Of Swing will dominate betting from gate three with another talented former Kiwi, Ocean Ridge, the other key runner from gate five. It will be the son of Rocnkroll Hanover’s first run since running ninth to Chase Auckland at Alexandra Park on New Year’s Eve. In his new home state of NSW, Miracle Mile winning trainer Tim Butt carries the Kiwi flavour into Saturday night’s stellar Bathurst Gold Crown meeting. But he is supported by former star Kiwi pacer Franco Nelson, who will dominate betting despite gate 10 in the Lord Mayor’s Cup for Shane and Lauren Tritton. Butt has emerging two-year-old filly Glenledi Babe (gate seven) as second favourite at $5.50 on the Aussie TAB behind Mick Stanley’s Desirable Stride ($1.90, gate one) in the $100,000 Group 1 Gold Tiara final. Butt’s three-year-old filly Lady Chatto also looks an each-way chance from gate five in the Group 2 Gold Bracelet final. That race has been thrown wide-open with NSW Oaks runner and NZ Oaks hopeful Soho Burning Love drawing outside the back row (gate 14). Also on Saturday night, former talented pacers Motu Meteor (gate nine) and Messini (11) head the betting in the $30,000 Ararat Cup from gate nine. Adam Hamilton

Hall of Fame harness racing trainer Gary Hall Snr holds the record of preparing five winners of the Group 2 Slater Gartrell Western Gateway Pace and he is pinning his hopes on Speed Man in the $50,000 classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Hall agreed that the race looked extremely open, but he said that Speed Man had the ability to bounce back from his fifth placing behind Golden State in a WA Derby prelude last Friday night when the colt raced in the breeze outside the pacemaker Golden State. “He is not suited to racing without cover,” Hall said. “He gave it away only over the final 50 metres. He also raced in the breeze when fifth behind Bechers Brook and Golden State in the Battle of Bunbury at his previous start. “However, Speed Man showed his true worth three starts ago when he raced behind the pacemaker Golden State before finishing strongly to beat him by more than a length.” In-form reinsman Stuart McDonald will drive Speed Man, who is drawn awkwardly at barrier six on the front line, while stable newcomer Benhope Rulz, drawn on the inside of the back line in the 2536m event, will be handled by star reinsman Gary Hall Jnr. Benhope Rulz, a winner of three standing-start races from five starts in New Zealand, was driven by Hall Jnr in a 2150m mobile trial at Byford on Sunday morning. Benhope Rulz impressed in finishing powerfully from sixth at the bell to be a nose second to the pacemaker Antero. Hall sat quietly in the sulky all the way up the home straight and he did not ask the gelding for a special effort. “Benhope Rulz went pretty good in the trial,” said Hall Snr “He went a lot better than he had been going at home when his work was lack lustre. However, I wouldn’t say that he cannot win on Friday night.” Hall Snr has won the Western Gateway Pace with The Falcon Strike (2001), Alta Christiano (2013), Elegant Christian (2014), Beaudiene Boaz (2015) and Chicago Bull (2016). Last year Hall was the trainer of Herrick Roosevelt, who raced in the breeze and finished third behind the pacemaker Mitch Maguire and Maczaffair in the Western Gateway Pace. Speed Man, who has won at four of his ten starts, has yet to race beyond 2240m but he is capable of performing strongly over 2536m. Benhope Rulz has unwound powerful finishing bursts to win over 2600m, 2000m and 2400m. At his latest appearance, in a 2400m mobile event at Nelson on January 14, Benhope Rulz started from the outside (No. 8) of the front line and was restrained back to last in the field of nine. He sustained a strong last-lap burst to move into second place before fighting on doggedly to finish fifth, just over a length behind the winner Pirate Bay. Mike Reed, who trained and drove Manageable for his win in the Western Gateway Pace in 1988, holds a strong hand in Friday night’s race, with Bechers Brook (No. 4 on the front line) and Golden State (barrier two on the back line). Golden State, whose ten starts have produced five wins and three seconds, should settle down in a prominent position in the one-wide line and looks set to fight out the finish. Bechers Brook, who also has won at five of his ten starts, will be handled by Dylan Egerton-Green, who brought the colt home with a spirited burst to win the Battle of Bunbury from the pacemaker Golden State two starts ago. Bechers Brook started from the outside (No. 9) in the Derby prelude last Friday night when he raced at the rear and then was forced wide in the final circuit before finishing last. He can do much better from his more favourable draw this week. Three fillies, Lady De La Renta, Cimorine and Cott Beach will contest Friday night’s race. Only three fillies, Omista (1972), Via Vista (1981) and Whitbys Miss Penny (1991) have been successful in the 46-year history of the Western Gateway Pace. Lady De la Renta, trained by Annie Belton and driven by Chris Voak, will have many admirers after drawing the prized No. 1 barrier. Lady De La Renta is a versatile filly who has won in good style at her past two starts. Cimorene, trained by Terry Ferguson, and the Kristy Elson-trained Cott Beach, face tougher assignments from out wide at barriers eight and nine, respectively. Cimorene notched her fourth win from 21 starts when she settled in seventh position and raced in the breeze in the final lap before beating Mister Spot in the $30,000 Country Derby over 2185m at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon.   Mister Spot did well to fail by only a nose after racing wide early and without cover in the middle stages. He is trained in Bunbury by John Graham, who prepared Lively Royce for his victory in the 2008 Western Gateway Pace. Mister Spot will be driven by Dean Miller. Chris Lewis, who has won the classic five times with Flashing Star (1993), Pro Armbro (1995), Saab (1998), Talladega (2000) and Alberta Retreat (2005) will drive the promising, lightly-raced gelding Shadow Magic for Busselton trainer Barry Howlett. Shadow Magic was eighth at the bell and was hampered for room in the final circuit before flashing home on the inside to be sixth behind Golden State last Friday night. He worked hard without cover before winning by five lengths in an R0 event at Bunbury at his previous outing. From barrier two on the front line on Friday night Shadow Magic is capable of a forward showing. Cott Beach, who has earned $195,226 from 11 wins and eight placings from 22 starts, possesses sparkling gate speed, but it is difficult to predict that she will be able to muster sufficient early speed to get to an early lead. Ken Casellas  

Hall of Fame harness racing trainer Gary Hall Snr was in grave doubt that New Zealand-bred gelding Chok Chai would be able to race again a couple of years ago after the gelding was laid low by a hairline fracture of a sesamoid. But patience and plenty of rest eventually cured the problem and Chok Chai, now a five-year-old, is showing considerable promise and should get punters off to a flying start at Gloucester Park on Friday night by setting the pace and winning the opening event, the PPC Pace over 2130m. The gelding by Washington VC warmed up for this assignment by scoring an easy all-the-way victory over 2130m, rating 1.57.6 on Tuesday night. This took his record to nine wins and two seconds from only 12 starts. His only unplaced effort was when he met with severe interference and was distanced, finishing 246 metres behind the winner Te Rauparaha at Pinjarra in May of last year. “He’s had a lot of problems, mainly the fracture to his sesamoid, and I felt that he would be unable to overcome his injuries,” Hall said. “All’s well now and from barrier one on Friday night he should lead and win. He’s a strong horse and it will take a good horse to beat him.” Reinsman Gary Hall Jnr agreed, saying: “He felt good tonight (Tuesday). He’s a big horse who should get better and better, hopefully.” Chok Chai is likely to be challenged strongly by in-form pacers in the Ross Olivieri-trained pair of Military Master and Lord Willoughby and Skye Bond’s smart four-year-old Mighty Mr Sharkey. Chris Lewis, who will drive Military Master from barrier No. 7 in a field of eight, praised the six-year-old’s outstanding first-up performance when he led from barrier four and sped over the final 400m in a sizzling 26.9sec. to win by six lengths from Real Zeal over 2100m at a 1.57.6 rate at Bunbury last Saturday week. That was a wonderful effort at his first outing for six months and Lewis said: “He won really well. Obviously, it’s a worse draw this week, but he’s still in the mix of things from the wide draw. He’s going well enough to give a forward showing.”        That performance improved Military Master’s record to 11 wins, nine seconds and two thirds from 38 starts. Shannon Suvaljko, who will drive Lord Willoughby from barrier three, declared that the four-year-old was flying and predicted the gelding would be prominent. This season Lord Willoughby has raced ten times for four wins, five seconds and one third. The Skye Bond-trained Mighty Mr Sharkey will start from the outside (No. 8) with Ryan Warwick in the sulky. The four-year-old has had 29 starts for ten wins and nine placings. He had a tough run in the breeze before winning in fine style over 2130m at Gloucester Park two starts ago. Ken Casellas

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

Three members of the WA Trotting Media Guild have labelled comeback pacer Zennart as a star bet at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The Gary Hall-trained Zennart has impressed in his three starts back from a lengthy injury-enforced spell, with two wins and a courageous last-start second behind Maxentius. Last season’s leading tipster Stuart Lowe, The West Australian’s racing co-ordinator Ryan Havercroft and longshot king Pat Harding are all in the Zennart camp. “My best bet is Zennart, a very smart pacer who has had three runs back after two and half years off,” Lowe said. “Those runs resulted in two strong wins before a solid last-start second here from barrier 12. The pole draw here should enable him to lead and win.” Havercroft agrees with Lowe’s summation. “Zennart has returned to racing in great order after a two-and-a-half year injury break,” Havercroft said. “Though beaten last week from a back-line draw, he made a sustained run from the back to be a clear second to Maxentius and can go one better on Friday.” Harding is of the same opinion as his colleagues. “I'm  prepared to give Zennart another chance,” Harding said. “He finished a very creditable second last week and with Lauren Jones on board and coming out of barrier one I think he can break through for another win.” But TABradio’s Matt Young disagrees. “Vampiro in race two is my best bet,” Young said. “He was very good last start, is now third up from a spell and I'm confident he'll be at his peak and can outstay Zennart.” The West Australian’s Ernie Manning believes unbeaten filly Cap In Hand can make it three in a row in the $100,000 Clipsal by Schneider Electric 2YO Fillies Sales Classic Final (1730m). “Cap In Hand has the early speed to overcome gate seven and gets her chance to maintain her unbeaten record,” Manning said. “The Kat Warwick-trained juvenile, driven by Gary Hall Jr, has set the pace and won stylishly in her two appearances. She scored at Pinjarra on February 5 and then was successful in a sales classic heat at headquarters last Tuesday week.” GPTV’s Ken Casellas is keen on Responder. “Twelve wins from 151 starts equates to an extremely modest winning record of 8 per cent,” Casellas said. “But Responder was so dominant in a slashing victory last Friday night that he should repeat the dose by overcoming the outside barrier and proving the master of his seven rivals in the opening event on Friday night.” Veteran tipster Bill Brindley has marked two horses as star bets. “There are only eight races on Friday night, but plenty of chances in most races,” Brindley said. “My best bet is Mister Versace. He is close to top form and has the ability to be racing in much better company. Speed Man was responsible for an outstanding second last and a better barrier should enable him to beat Golden State on this occasion.” Guild president Wayne Currall believes punters can confidently support Runrunjimmydunn. “Runrunjimmydunn has been in outstanding form with four wins and three seconds at his past seven starts,” Currall said. “You don’t get much more consistent than that. He’s the sole runner on the back line in the third and Junior will have plenty of time to decide when to unleash Jimmy.” VALUE BETS Stuart: My value bet is the classy Machrihanish, who has followed two close seconds with a ninth at Bunbury in a very strong field. Down in class here and suited by the small field. Ryan: Soho Interceptor worked home nicely when second to Cap In Hand in her heat of the 2YO Fillies Sales Classic last Tuesday week. Can improve. Pat: We get a chance to see some of the stars of the future in the 2YO Finals. In the fillies final, Cap In Hand should make it three wins in a row with Gary Hall Jr aboard. Matt: Zacharia has been racing really well and meets a good line-up for him. He’s a strong each-way player in the opener. Ernie: The consistent Hot Fraternity looks capable of overcoming barrier nine in the Clipsal C-Bus Pace. He endured a tough run in the early stages before finishing sixth last Friday. Ken: Rockin The Boys is capable of bouncing back after her first-up failure two Fridays ago when she led and wilted to sixth behind Gotta Go Gabbana. Bill: Machrihanish is an each-way chance in race one and Johnnys Grange is a similar hope in the sixth. Wayne: Watch Me React has drawn the pole in the 2YO colts and geldings final and with Morgan Woodley in the cart can upset his more fancied rivals. To view all of the Media Guild Tips for this week click here. Good Punting.     Wayne Currall

With close to 2800 winners and 47 Group One wins as a harness racing trainer Gary Hall has seen it all and it takes something pretty special for him to get emotional on the track. On Friday night at Gloucester Park Gary Hall was emotional as he took in the fact the his three-year-old filly Slick Artist had won the $50,000 Group Two Daintys Daughter Classic. Having just her ninth start, Slick Artist has now won three races and set a new race record when she rated 1:56.4 for the 2130 metres and took her earnings to more than $43,000 as she led home Infinite Symbol and short-priced favourite Cott Beach. Slick Artist is by Art Major from the Bettors Delight mare Slick Bird and she is raced by Beth Richardson, Gary’s wife Karen Hall, Gary Ralston and WA Turf Club Chairman Neil Pinner. The quartet bred Slick Artist along with the Falsify Syndicate. Slick Bird won ten races in WA including a prelude of the 2011 WA Oaks and finished third to Artemis Belle and If I Have A Dream in the final. “Slick Artist is the first horse I have been involved with breeding,” a visibly excited Hall said after the race. “I have had her since she was born and it is special to see her come so far”. “I have a two-year-old half-brother to Slick Artist by Alta Christiano and he looks like being even better,” he said. Alta Christiano won the 2013 WA Derby for Hall in a career severely restricted by injury and his first crop have just begun to appear in this season’s 2yo races. The Daintys Daughter Classic was first run in 2000 and was the brainchild of the WA Standardbred Breeders Association who wished to honour arguably the greatest race-mare to have raced in this State. Daintys Daughter, who was the first mare inducted into The West Australian Racing Industry Hall of Fame in 2010, won 36 races against all-comers including a WA Pacing Cup and Fremantle Cup and set World Records over one mile and two miles for her owner/breeder Jock Coleman and trainer/driver Bernie Cushing. Bernie Cushing's daughter Dot presented the 2018 Daintys Daughter Classic trophy to Gary Hall on Friday night. The first winner of the race was Black And Blue which coincidentally is from the same maternal family as Daintys Daughter. A grand-daughter of Black And Blue in Cott Beach started a favourite in Friday night’s race to add more to the coincidence. Alan Parker

Champion harness racing trainer Gary Hall sen. is poised to notch his eighth victory in the $50,000 Worldwide Printing Lord Mayor’s Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He will be represented by five of the ten runners and has no hesitation in declaring that outstanding five-year-old Chicago Bull will be the horse to beat in the group 2 feature to be run over 2536m.   Chicago Bull is ideally drawn at barrier two on the front line and star reinsman Gary Hall jun. is aiming for an all-the-way triumph. “That’s the plan,” said Hall sen. “Stablemate Ohoka Punter will start from barrier one and Stuart McDonald will be told to hand over which will be in Ohoka Punter’s best interests and give him his best winning chance.” Hall said that he considered that Kyle Harper was likely to make a bid for the early lead with the speedy beginner Bettors Fire from the No. 3 barrier. However, he said that he was confident that Chicago Bull had the natural speed to withstand an early challenge from Bettors Fire. Remarkably, Chicago Bull goes into Friday night’s Cup with a losing sequence of four --- the longest losing run in his 39 starts in Western Australia which have produced 25 wins, five seconds, eight thirds and one fourth. Chicago Bull, who won twice from seven starts in New Zealand, has been outstanding in defeat at his past four starts which resulted in a second to Lazarus in the final of the TABtouch Interdominion championship, third to Bettors Fire and Soho Tribeca in the Village Kid Sprint, third to My Hard Copy and Lazarus in the Fremantle Cup and second to Soho Tribeca in the WA Pacing Cup. “He’s probably an over-achiever, an insignificant little horse,” said Hall. “And he’s got a terrific record.” Hall’s previous successes in the Lord Mayor’s Cup have been with Tricky Bey (1994), Abit Rich (1997), Live To Reign (2007), Talk To Me Courage (2010), Livingontheinterest (2014), Northview Punter (2015) and Cyamach (2016). And for good measure he has had four second-placed runners in the Lord Mayor’s Cup --- Our London Pride (2000), Aussie Reactor (2012), Im Themightyquinn (2013) and Hokonui Ben (2014). Hall jun. has driven one winner of the Lord Mayor’s Cup --- when 10/9 favourite Live To Reign began speedily off 10m and made most of the running to beat Demoralizer by just under two lengths when the Cup was last run from a standing start. The past four Lord Mayor’s Cups have been decided over 2130m, but this year the race will be run over 2536m. Apart from Chicago Bull and Ohoka Punter, the Hall stable will be represented on Friday night by Norvic Nightowl (Nathan Turvey), American Boy (Lauren Jones) and My Hard Copy (Clint Hall). “Barrier nine is a stumbling block for My Hard Copy, but he is in top form, having won at three of his five starts in his current campaign,” Hall sen. said. “His two unplaced runs were when he was held up for a run and I’m sure he will go well this week.” My Hard Copy, an equine millionaire like Chicago Bull and Ohoka Punter, maintained his wonderful form when he enjoyed the perfect sit, one-out and one-back, before sprinting home fast to win the 2536m Duffy Memorial from the pacemaker Vultan Tin and Norvic Nightowl. My Hard Copy rated 1.56.3, with the final quarters in 27.5sec. and 28.9sec. Norvic Nightowl (barrier five) and Vultan Tin (six) have to contend with awkward draws, but they are racing keenly and have place prospects. Abraxas Blues (Kim Prentice) and Argyle Red (Morgan Woodley) are comparative newcomers to group racing and they face a difficult assignment. Prentice has driven the winner of the Lord Mayor’s Cup with Livingontheinterest and Cyamach and Woodley has won the race with Taihape Tickler (2006), Mysta Magical Mach (2009), Another One For Me (2012) and Mysta Magical Mach (2013). Ken Casellas

Not even drawing the despised outside barrier at No. 9 has dented the confidence of the remarkable, high-achieving and record-breaking harness racing duo of champion trainer Gary Hall Snr and his son, superstar reinsman Gary Hall Jnr, who are pinning their faith in star five-year-old Chicago Bull in the $450,000 TABtouch WA Pacing Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “I’m still pretty confident, despite the draw,” said Hall Jnr who won the Group 1 WA Pacing Cup with Chicago Bull 12 months ago to give him his seventh success in the State’s premier pacing event. Hall Snr, aiming for an unprecedented eighth consecutive victory in the Pacing Cup and his 12th in the past 16 years, conceded that Chicago Bull faced an acid test from the outside barrier. However, he declared that Chicago Bull was at his peak and should prove very hard to beat. He said that the barrier draw had thrown the big race, to be run over the marathon trip of 2936m, into the melting pot. “All the favoured horses will have to do some work,” he said. “But I still think that Chicago Bull will be the one to beat. He has pulled up in fantastic shape after his third in last week’s Fremantle Cup.” Hall Snr also has an outstanding second string in Friday night’s Cup in the evergreen eight-year-old My Hard Copy, who thundered home to snatch victory from Lazarus and Chicago Bull in last week’s 2536m Fremantle Cup. My Hard Copy was driven by Hall’s son Clint, who was also in the sulky when My Hard Copy flew home to win successive Pacing Cups in 2015 and 2016. Clint Hall also drove Hokonui Ben to victory in the 2014 Cup. Another win by My Hard Copy following last week’s Fremantle Cup victory would help to heal the disappointment of owners Steve Chapman, his wife Tina and their daughter Danielle, who were dismayed last year when their outstanding young pacers El Barcelona (15 starts, five wins, seven placings and stakes of $66,300) and The Pima Indian (nine starts for six wins, one placing and $28,359) died.   The Chapmans also were resigned 18 months ago that My Hard Copy’s career had ended after he was unplaced in the Miracle Mile at Menangle in February that year and subsequently suffered a serious concussion injury to a foreleg. This required intricate surgery and kept him out of action for 13 months. He has made a full recovery and is racing in the best form of his career of 80 starts for 24 wins, 22 placings and earnings of $1,203,550. My Hard Copy, a noted sit-sprinter, will start from the inside of the back line and Clint Hall is sure to give the stallion a reasonably soft run before aiming to get him off the pegs and into a position to unwind a characteristic sizzling finishing burst. Hall Jnr said that drawing the outside barrier with Chicago Bull was a cruel blow. “But with the scratching of Ultimate Machete and Lazarus we’re in with a big chance,” he said. “That’s tragic for the race, but good for everyone else, I suppose.” “Chicago Bull was mighty last week in the Fremantle Cup and I consider it was his career-best run. He did something (racing in the breeze) that he’s not really accustomed to and finished a half-length from the winner. He’s flying at the moment and is a better and more mature horse than he was 12 months ago when he won the Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups.” Hall said that it was extremely difficult to predict how the race would be run and which horse would lead and who would be in the breeze. “If there is plenty of speed on early it will help Chicago Bull,” he said. Kim Prentice, who will drive Soho Tribeca, conceded that drawing out wide at barrier eight had not enhanced the five-year-old’s prospects. But he said that the stallion had worked in fine style on Tuesday morning and was primed to run a big race on Friday night. “There is a fair bit of speed on the front line and they’re all likely to come out in a bid to find a spot,” he said. “We’ll definitely be having a look out of the gate (echoing the sentiments of owner Rob Watson, who said that going back at the start would be suicidal). “I think that trying to zap them would be silly, but I wouldn’t mind the front if it is available, or the breeze if that is available. It is an advantage drawing inside Chicago Bull. The horse who gets the most luck and with the best run will win.” “If we had My Hard Copy’s run in the Fremantle Cup last week and were able to pull out when we wanted to, Soho Tribeca would have finished better than fifth. I tried to go outside of Clint (My Hard Copy), but when he came out my horse threw his head in the air and lost a couple of lengths.” “Soho Tribeca was doing his best work on the line and was still taking ground off the leaders. Hopefully, we won’t be off the track over the final 400m.” Soho Tribeca relishes long-distance events and he was most impressive in the Pacing Cup 12 months ago when he started from the outside of the back line and was tenth in the middle stages before sustaining powerful three-wide burst over the final 1050m to finish third, a half-length behind the winner Chicago Bull. In last year’s Cup Chicago Bull started out wide at barrier eight and was last after a lap before Hall Jnr dashed him forward and into the breeze (outside the pacemaker Beaudiene Boaz). Chicago Bull sped over the final quarters in 27.9sec. and 28.3sec. and hit the front 250m from the finish. Chris Lewis, who has made more appearances (35) in a Pacing Cup than any other driver, has won the big race five times with Village Kid (1986, 1988 and 198), Hilarion Star (1994) and Saab (1999) and he is confident that the Ross Olivieri trained Motu Premier is capable of finishing in the first three from his favourable No. 2 barrier. “Motu Premier is not impossible and is definitely in the mix,” Lewis said. “He can definitely run 1-2-3, given the right run. He doesn’t have exceptional gate speed and the aim is to stay in contact with the leaders, as close as we can.” Motu Premier was a 100/1 chance when he started from the outside of the back line in last week’s Fremantle Cup. He raced on the pegs at the rear and was hampered for room in the last lap when tenth behind My Hard Copy.  He impressed the previous week when he started from barrier eight and was eighth at the bell before finishing with a powerful burst to be second to Lazarus over 2536m. “It was a very good run,” Lewis said. “He can sprint home extremely good and I think you saw that in a 2130m heat of the Inters when he came from eighth at the bell to finish fourth behind Lennytheshark, with the final quarters off the front in 27.3sec. and 26.8sec. ”Forget about his run last week when he was held up. He had a bit there to give.”  Trainer Michael Brennan and driver Michael Grantham are delighted that The Bucket List will start from the coveted No. 1 barrier. “He’s got good gate speed and will come out in a bid for the lead,” Grantham said. “And from there I will just assess our options.” The Skye Bond trained Galactic Star is favourably drawn at barrier three and should be prominent. He possesses sparkling gate speed, but Ryan Warwick may opt to take a sit with the five-year-old, with part-owner Rob Gartrell saying at the barrier draw that “three back on the fence will be good for him and he is certainly a place chance. Champion New Zealand trainer-reinsman Mark Purdon had to withdraw star pacers Lazarus and Ultimate Machete, but he has hopes with his millionaire performer, six-year-old Have Faith In Me, who will start from the No. 4 barrier. Have Faith In me has been unplaced at four of his five starts in his current campaign in Perth, but he impressed greatly three starts ago when he covered extra ground and finished with great determination to be a half-length second to stablemate Lazarus in a 2536m heat of the Inter Dominion championship. Have Faith In Me won the Great Northern Derby at Alexandra Park and the New Zealand Derby at Addington in March 2015 before he gave further proof of his great ability and staying prowess when he won the 3200m Group 1 Auckland Cup as a four-year-old, beating Hughie Green and Smolda, with a last 800m in 55.7sec. and a final 400m in 26.6sec. Purdon could well make an attempt to set the pace with Have Faith In Me. Failing that, Purdon could be well satisfied to sit in the breeze and dictate the tempo of the Cup. Ken Casellas

Harness racing 'Hall of Fame' trainer Gary Hall Snr reports that West Australia’s best pacer Chicago Bull is spot on for a tilt at the $300,000 Retravision Fremantle Pacing Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night and he has hopes of winning the big race for a record eighth time. Chicago Bull has drawn somewhat awkwardly at barrier four on the front line and Hall said that his son, Gary Hall Jnr, planned to drive the diminutive five-year-old aggressively “Going forward, that’s the plan,” Hall Snr said. “Well, that’s what Junior is saying. So, Chicago Bull will go forward and if Bettors Fire (barrier one) doesn’t hand up, we will keep the breeze and keep Lazarus three wide when he comes. “Everyone has got Lazarus past the post and If we just let him go to the breeze, the race will develop into a walk with a sprint home and Chicago Bull can’t win then. We can’t make it easy for Lazarus. My owners don’t want to make it easy for him. I think Chicago Bull can win, but he will need a lot of luck. “I would have liked Chicago Bull to have drawn where he could lead and I reckon that leading, he would go close. He is a better horse now than when he won the Fremantle Cup last year. He’s stronger.” Chicago Bull, who finished a splendid second to Lazarus in the Inter Dominion championship final five Fridays ago, maintained his excellent form when he ran home strongly from sixth at the bell to finish a half-length second to Bettors Fire in the 1730m Village Kid Sprint last Friday week. The powerful Hall stable will also be represented in Friday night’s Cup by eight-year-olds Ohoka Punter and My Hard Copy, who will start from barriers six and seven, respectively. Stuart McDonald will handle Ohoka Punter and Clint Hall will be in the sulky behind dual WA Pacing Cup winner My Hard Copy, who started from barrier nine when he finished strongly to be second to Beaudiene Boaz in the 2016 Fremantle Cup. “My Hard Copy is absolutely flying and is working as good as Chicago Bull,” said Hall Snr “From barrier six he will go back at the start. Don’t forget that he has won two WA Pacing Cups from barrier nine. ”Barrier seven won’t help Ohoka Punter. However, he’s going all right, even though he might be a bit past it.” Clint Hall said that My Hard Copy would need plenty of speed in the race to be a realistic chance. “If things get silly, he could certainly knock them out, late,” he said. “I’m pretty excited about his prospects. “He led and won first-up, beating Bettors Fire and A Piccadilly Princess and then at his next start he was unlucky when he finished right on the back of them in the Village Kid Sprint when he didn’t get clear and still had something to offer.” Clint Hall has yet to win a Fremantle Cup, a race that has been won eight times by his younger brother Gary. Gary Hall Snr has won the Cup seven times with The Falcon Strike (2002 and 2004), Im Themightyquinn (2010-11-12), Beaudiene Boaz (2016) and Chicago Bull (2017). For good measure, Hall has also trained the second placegetter in the Fremantle Cup on eight occasions with Tricky Bey (1993), Our London Pride (2001), De Galdearno (2006), Kotare Flame (2007), Alzona (2010), Im Themightyquinn (2013), Northview Punter (2015) and My Hard Copy (2016). He has also trained three third placegetters Fac Et Spiro (2008), Dartmoor (2010) and Im Themightyquinn (2009). Ken Casellas

Harness racing "Hall of Fame" trainer Gary Hall Snr is making a concerted bid to win the Christmas Gift and he has bright prospects of winning the three qualifying heats at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Up-and-coming four-year-old Herrick Roosevelt has a 56 per cent winning record and looks outstanding in the first heat; Zach Maguire is in superb form and is capable of overcoming the disadvantage of starting from the outside of the back line and winning heat two; and Lets Chase The Dream should appreciate a massive drop in class and should fight out the finish in the third heat. All three pacers will be handled by star reinsman Gary Hall Jnr Horses filling the first four placings in each of the 2130m heats will qualify for the final on Friday of next week. Herrick Roosevelt by Christian Cullen, a winner of nine of his 16 starts, is handily drawn at barrier four on the front line in the first qualifying heat. He is a versatile performer who warmed up for this week’s assignment in fine style when he started from the inside of the back line and raced three back on the pegs in fifth position. He was sixth on the home turn before finishing fast along the inside to be third behind Ultimate Machete and Maczaffair in the $200,000 Golden Slipper. At his previous outing, a fortnight earlier, he raced without a trail for much of the way and fought on doggedly to finish fourth behind Ultimate Machete in the $125,000 Yes Loans Four-Year-Old Classic. His chief rivals appear to be the Ross Olivieri trained four-year-old Wrappers Delight and the Skye Bond trained ten-year-old Courage Tells, who will be having his 164th start in a race. Wrappers Delight (Chris Lewis) impressed last Friday night when he sustained a spirited three-wide burst in the middle stages to come from eighth to finish a close third behind Skippy Rascal and Simba Bromac. He is sure to have many admirers from the favourable No. 2 barrier on Friday night. Courage Tells (Ryan Warwick) is well drawn at barrier three after his shock victory at tote odds of $114.50 last Friday night when he started from barrier eight, raced on the pegs in ninth position and overcame interference 300m from home to get up and beat Johnny Disco and Three Blind Mice. Zach Maguire by Bettor's Delight has resumed after a spell in fine style, with a win and three seconds from four starts. He caught the eye with a bold performance last Friday week when he was last in a field of seven at the bell before sustaining a strong three-wide burst to finish second, a head behind the pacemaker Condrieu. His powerful finish should enable him to defeat Itz Bettor To Win, Skippy Rascal, Walkinshaw and Im Rockaria. Itz Bettor To Win has been freshened up since he started off 20m and raced wide early and then in the breeze before finishing a close second to Maximum Demand over 2503m. He had a similar tough passage before winning a 2536m mobile event two starts before that. The six-year-old, who has had 34 starts for 12 wins and eight seconds, will again be driven by champion Chris Lewis for trainer Ross Olivieri. Skippy Rascal, trained and driven by Callan Suvaljko, will have many admirers from the favourable No. 2 barrier on the front line. The experienced eight-year-old notched his 17th victory from 135 starts when he sat behind the pacemaker Simba Bromac and finished strongly to beat that promising four-year-old last Friday night. Walkinshaw and Im Rockaria will start from the back line and cannot be discounted. Each pacer has raced eight times this season for four wins. Lets Chase The Dream another by Bettor's Delight, who has amassed $490,835 in prizemoney from his 15 wins and 12 placings from 43 starts, is handily drawn at barrier three on the front line in the third heat and is sure to appreciate a very big drop in class after being unplaced in three heats of the TABtouch Inter Dominion championship series. He is a good frontrunner who led all the way over 2185m at Pinjarra five starts ago. His chief rival is likely to be the Skye Bond-trained four-year-old Rock Diamonds, who raced three wide early and then without cover for two laps before wilting to eighth behind Ultimate Machete in the Golden Nugget last Friday night. At his previous outing, a week earlier, Rock Diamonds gave a strong frontrunning display to win the Group 2 Westral Four-Year-Old Championship from Space Junk and Motu Meteor. Ken Casellas

TOP local driver Gary Hall Jr had to be content with second in the Inter Dominion aboard Chicago Bull, but still snared a Group 1 win on the night. Hall Jr teamed with his father, Gary Hall Sr, and classy mare Ideal Alice to win the $125,000 Group 1 Mares’ Classic (2536m) at Gloucester Park. And it came courtesy of a typically brilliant Hall Jr driver to extricate Ideal Alice from a three-peg run rounding the final bend, find clear air and storm over the top of a super gallant Ameretto to win by a head in a slick 1min55.5sec mile rate. The NZ-bred Ideal Alice is now in foal herself and will soon be retired to return to her homeland. The win was her 20th from 63 starts with another 20 placings and earnings over $400,000. “She’s been a wonderful mare. I wasn’t sure her recent form was quite up to the likes of Ameretto and A Piccadilly Princess going into these big mares’ races, but she had three nice runs for two seconds and now this big win,” Hall Sr said. It was almost unfair to see Ameretto beaten after Kerryn Manning’s star worked three-wide for more than a lap to finally get outside the heavily-backed leader, Eden Franco, and kick away with what looked a winning break on the home bend. Eden Franco raced a little keen at times, making her vulnerable over the longer trip, and she tired late for fourth. The hardluck story, just as she was last year, was the All Stars’ A Piccadilly Princess. Mark Purdon got the gun through behind the leader and had to decide with a just over a lap to go whether to stay on the pegs and risk being pocketed or move outside the leader. Purdon stayed in, the run never came and A Piccadilly Princess hit the line hard-held in fifth spot. _______________________________________________________________________________________ FREELANCE driver Chris Voak is such a breath of fresh air. An effervescent personality, Voak is also a serious driver and shown by his two big wins in support races as well as a close fourth on roughie Vultan Tin in the Inter Dominion final last Friday night. An $85 shot, the locally-bred Vultan Tin just missed snatching third spot from the leader Tiger Tara. Voak then produced a dashing front-running drive on former Victorian trotting mare Itsgettingcalder to win the $50,000 Group 1 Trotters’ Cup (2503m). He then caused a minor upset on $12.60 shot Costa Del Maginifico to win the last race of the night for trainer Ross Olivieri. “It’s been fantastic o be part of the Inter Dominion series with Vultan Tin, who did us all proud tonight. And to win a couple of other races on the night, especially the big trot, was fantastic. It’s been a great few weeks,” Voak said. _______________________________________________________________________________________ FORMER Olympic hockey gold medallist Michael “Mouse” Brennan already has sights set on the next Inter Dominion. Brennan thinks his emerging star Mista Shark will fly his stable flag in the Melbourne Inter Dominion next year. “He’s going places. Look at the way he won his heat and the final of this (San Simeon) series,” Brennan said. “He’ll be my Melbourne Inter Dominion horse in 12 months time.” Mista Shark sat parked to win his San Simeon heat at Bunbury last Tuesday week, then found the front in a dashing drive by Michael Grantham before easily holding-off the classy El Jacko to win in a 1min55.5sec mile rate for 2130m. Shane Tritton’s buzz former Kiwi mare Reaza Grunter made an early break, just as she did on night one, and lost all chance in the final. But her win on middle Friday of the Inter Dominion series showed why Tritton’s thinks she is potentially one of Australia’s best mares. Back to Brennan and he had another reason to celebrate on the big night when stable favourite The Bucket List overcame plenty of trouble to win the Inter Dominion consolation with Grantham in the cart. “I wish it had been six heats and a final because he’s only hitting his straps now,” Brennan said. “He’s not quite up to those very best ones, but that was a super win tonight to overcame the check he got early and come from so far off them.” Former top class Kiwi pacer Ohoka Punter also showed a glimpse of his best with former with a huge second after burning midrace around the field to take the lead and fight on well for a close second. _______________________________________________________________________________________ NEWLY-CROWNED World Champion driver James MacDonald admitted to getting a huge buzz from his win aboard Skippy Rascal in one of the Sky Racing Drivers’ series heats at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Macdonald escaped a pocket from behind the leader straightening for home and Skippy Rascal picked-up quickly to rundown the leader, Simba Bromac, and win by 1.3m in a 1min55.5sec mile rate for 2130m. “I needed that,” MacDonald smiled. “The first night didn’t go so well.. “We’ve had such an amazing time over here, everyone has looked after us so well, and to land a winner on Inter Dominion final night adds to it.” The other guest international driver, US-based Marcus Miller, finished third in the race aboard Wrappers Delight. _______________________________________________________________________________________ IT was an all local finish in the Invitation Lady Drivers’ race at Gloucester Park. Talented young local Kiara Davies made the most of the pole draw on favourite Dior Mia More to lead throughout and beat Kristy Sheehy on Bettor Bling and Jocelyn Young aboard Madame Meilland. Kerryn Manning, Lauren Tritton and US visitor Hannah “Hurricane” Miller were among the beaten brigade. _______________________________________________________________________________________ LET’S hope Shadow Sax stays sound. Emma Stewart’s injury-plagued star made it six wins on end – and 16 wins from just 24 career starts – when he won the Geelong Cup last Saturday night. It was closer than expected though with former classy there-year-old Cant Refuse running a great race for third and old-stager Messini a close fourth in a 1min57sec mile rate for 2570m. _______________________________________________________________________________________ A QUEENSLAND raid is paying dividends for the KerryAnn Turner and Robbie Morris team. They snared the feature, the Christmas Cup, at Albion Park with their classy gelding Aztec Bromac, who just nabbed remarkable veteran Avonnova. They landed a treble on the night with Smokey Quartz and Come Cullect winning easily as well. _______________________________________________________________________________________ MACH Doro is enjoying Tiger Tara being away in Perth. The classy Craig Cross-trained pacer, who contested last season’s Victoria Cup, opened this campaign with a good second to Tiger Tara at Menangle on November 4. Since then he’s brilliantly won both free-for-alls he’s contested, the latest in a blazing 1min51.9sec mile at Menangle last Saturday night. Trainer-driver Jarrod Alchin landed the feature at the Menangle meeting when Ima Mystery Girl won the Group 3 Teeny Teeny Stakes for mares’ in a 1min52sec mile. The talk of the race was the flop of Mark Jones’ star Kiwi mare Rocker Band, who finished second-last, prompting stewards to open an inquiry into the performance.   Adam Hamilton

Seven months ago, Chicago Bull had his right eye removed from the socket while a veterinary surgeon operated to cure an eye ulcer, known as a melting eye, and West Australian Hall of Fame harness racing trainer Gary Hall Snr had doubts about the small, inconspicuous-looking gelding recovering fully and being able to maintain his status as the State’s best pacer. The operation was successful, but then Chicago Bull had a few issues which concerned Hall and his son, champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr. “So, we had a few little concerns, but now everything has gone smoothly and I give Chicago Bull a very good chance of winning the Inter Dominion championship at Gloucester Park on Friday night,” said an upbeat Hall Snr. “He’s had the fastest finishing sectionals of any horse during the series and you would have to say that he’s going to get a very good run from his barrier (the only horse off the back line in the outstanding field of ten). And I’ve got the best driver. “Chicago Bull is a bit of a sniper. He’s a little, tiny horse and even though he has been phenomenal, you look at him and get overawed looking at all the other horses against him. “He should have the last crack at his rivals and I think that there will be a few people (drivers) in the race who will be looking over their right shoulder.” There is little doubt that Chicago Bull is the best sit-sprinter in the $1.1 million TABtouch Inter Dominion championship final over the 2936m journey. Hall Jnr said that he was planning to take the sit behind the likely pacemaker Tiger Tara, who has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier and that it was simply a matter of when and how he would be able to get the gelding off the pegs and into the clear to issue a serious challenge. Chicago Bull began the series with a convincing all-the-way victory over 2130m on the opening night and then started from the back line in a 2100m heat at Bunbury’s Donaldson Park before having to turn sideways 120m from the post to get clear when he flashed home to finish a splendid third behind Soho Tribeca. He then was not extended in setting the pace and sprinting over the final two quarters in 26.8sec. and 27.7sec. to beat Tiger Tara in a 2536m heat at Gloucester Park last Friday night. “That last run gave me so much confidence, the way he hit the line,” said Hall Jnr. “Going back three months ago he was just a rough chance, at best, I thought but I have been very pleased with his form in the series. The 26.8sec. he ran for the third quarter was done on his ear. He was really relaxed and had plenty left on the line. He’s the one horse in the final who maybe can win from anywhere.” Hall Snr explained that Chicago Bull had been in danger of losing his damaged eye. “And I’m still not confident that his vision is unimpaired,” he said. “After he got over the operation I brought him back and he was unbelievable, with four wins from four starts in the space of five weeks in June and July. We were very happy with him and I spelled him before getting him ready for the Inters. “I think that was a mistake and he was a first-up fourth behind Jambiani early in September when he was a bit big (in condition) and then he tied up one day. I have hardly ever had a horse who has tied up. So, we had our concerns but it has been smooth sailing lately and he has had the right draws in the heats and I think he’s got the right draw in the final.” Hall Snr said that he thought that he would never win an Inter Dominion championship after The Falcon Strike, the warm favourite, raced without cover and finished a nose second to the pacemaker Jofess in the Inters final at Gloucester Park in 2004. However, that was not to be the case and Hall and his son have won the big event three times --- with Im Themightyquinn, in Auckland, Sydney and Perth. “There is no comparison between Im Themightyquinn and Chicago Bull,” said Hall Snr “We thought that Quinny would win all three of them. Chicago Bull is not as good as Quinny, but he can win this year’s title.” Im Themightyquinn, who retired with a record of 111 starts for 58 wins, 21 seconds, 13 thirds and $4,567,456 in prizemoney, will lead the field out on to the track on Friday night. Five-year-old Chicago Bull, who was a $110,000 purchase, has already amassed $1,112,069 in stakes from 27 wins and ten placings from 42 starts. The ten runners in Friday night’s Group 1 event have won a combined total of 224 races and have notched 159 placings for combined earnings of $10,746,880. Retaining favouritism is the New Zealand star five-year-old Lazarus, who is favourably drawn at the No. 2 barrier for champion New Zealand trainer-reinsman Mark Purdon, who has won the big race with Mark Hanover (Alexandra Park in 1991) and Smolda, at Gloucester Park 12 months ago. Lazarus is a grand stayer who has won at 32 of his 39 starts and was at his imperious best at Gloucester Park last Friday night when he started out wide at barrier seven and settled down in eighth position before surging forward to take up the running 1450m from home. He was not extended in winning from his stablemate Have Faith In Me, rating 1.54.5 which broke Im Themightyquinn’s track record for 2536m by 0.2sec. This followed excellent seconds to Soho Tribeca and Tiger Tara from wide barriers in the first two rounds of qualifying heats. “He’s come through the heats well,” said Purdon. “And I’m happy with his barrier. I think it is an ideal draw for him. It’s better than being out wide and he’s going to be handier than he has been in the heats. “I will play it by ear at the start. There will be plenty of speed on and the connections of Tiger Tara (No. 1 barrier) have made it quite clear that they intend to hold the lead. So, rather than getting into any speed duels, I’ll just try to be handy. If we’re caught in the breeze it won’t worry me, no. Lazarus can win from the breeze. I think that if I’ve got a horse capable of winning from the breeze, it is this horse.” Purdon said that he was far more confident of winning with Lazarus than he was with 12/1 chance Smolda last December. “I wasn’t really confident of taking it out last year, but you never know how a race is going to be run on the night. The speed was so torrid up front last year that it took a toll of the horses doing the early work --- and this played into our hands. The level of confidence as far as Lazarus is concerned is much higher than it was with Smolda.” Purdon said that he was pleased with the way Have Faith In Me was progressing. “He’s improving with every run and he might be getting back to his four-year-old form,” he said. “He will go back at the start from the outside barrier and then I’ll leave the tactics up to Chris (Lewis). He knows the track as good as anyone, probably better than most, so I’ll leave the tactics up to him.” Lewis has won the Inter Dominion championship twice --- with Carclew (Adelaide, 1976) and Village Kid (Brisbane, 1986). West Australian Kim Prentice, who trained and drove Baltic Eagle to victory in the championship final at Addington in 2003, has high hopes of victory with five-year-old Soho Tribeca, the leading points scorer after two wins and a close second to San Carlo in the qualifying heats. Soho Tribeca will start from barrier four and Prentice said that he did not intend to get involved in a battle for the early lead. “Hopefully, we’ll be one-out and one-back or one-two,” he said. “Three or four of the ten finalists might not front up the way they started the series, whereas my horse has pulled up an absolute treat after three runs in a week. “I know that I’ve got a very, very special horse and if luck goes our way we can definitely win. To get an easy run in the final heat was very good. I wasn’t out there to break any records or peel off a 27sec. flat quarter.” Trainer David Aiken said that the 2015 Inters champion Lennytheshark was primed for a bold showing in the final after winning an opening-round heat followed by thirds behind Galactic Star and San Carlo. “He has pulled up really well after his last run,” said Aiken. “I don’t know where he is going to end up, really. A few things that are going to happen early will determine how the race is going to be run. Lenny is versatile and is a tough horse capable of doing it tough. “If they go really hard and it develops into a war, he’ll come off pace and run home well. Six is a tricky draw for Chris (Alford), but I think that a lot of drivers have to contend with a tricky draw. I’m not going to take any part in determining tactics. I’ll let Chris work it out for himself. “Listening to all the experts, they still don’t know how the race is going to be run. Chicago Bull has a great draw, but if Tiger Tara gets crossed, then it’s not so good.” New South Wales trainer Kevin Pizzuto was ecstatic when tough and talented seven-year-old Tiger Tara drew the No. 1 barrier and reinsman Todd McCarthy will be determined to jump straight to the front and attempt an all-the-way victory. “He’s been massive and I’ve been booming him all the way,” Pizzuto said. “I can’t ask any more of the horse. He has been prepared for this race and he’s getting better and better with every run.” Twenty-six-year-old Rebecca Bartley, the youngest driver and the only female driver in the final, is confident the inexperienced seven-year-old San Carlo will overcome his wide barrier (seven) and figure prominently in the final stages. San Carlo raced without cover for much of the way when a fighting third to Tiger Tara and Lazarus in a 2100m heat in Bunbury before his strong all-the-way win over Soho Tribeca and Lennytheshark in a final-round 2536m heat. “He’s a strong stayer and the distance will really suit him,” she said. “He hit the line really well last Friday and as long as the speed is genuine he shouldn’t be too far away.” Ryan Warwick will drive the Skye Bond-trained Galactic Star, who unwound a spirited finishing burst to win a 2100m heat at Bunbury from Yayas Hot Spot and Lennytheshark. He will start from the No. 5 barrier and Warwick will have the option of taking advantage of the five-year-old’s excellent gate speed or preferring to angle toward the pegs and rely on a strong finishing burst. Ken Casellas

Going into the Perth Inter Dominion series Gary Hall Sr thought he was a fringe player with Chicago Bull, but just days out from the final he’s buzzing with confidence.  And an ideal barrier draw has only fuelled his enthusiasm.  “I know he’s good, but I just wasn’t sure quite where we sould stack-up, especially against a horse as good as Lazarus,” Hall Sr said.  “Don’t get me wrong, Lazarus it the best horse here and clearly, but he’s meeting us on our terms and it looks like he have to do his share of work to win the final now Tiger Tara has drawn inside him.  “If he drew to lead, we’d all have been racing for second, but we’ve got a chance now. He’s obviously not as comfortable around our smaller tracks when he’s not on the pegs.”  Chicago Bull cruised through his heats with two all-the-way wins and a desperately unlucky third to Soho Tribeca when held-up until too late on the middle night at Bunbury.  And now he’s drawn ideally in gate 10 as the lone back row runner and to trail through behind Tiger Tara, who looks the leader from gate one.  Throw in the fact driver Gary Hall Jr is in a league of his own for experience and genius around Gloucester Park and it’s all come together well.  “A couple of months back he was going well, but not at his absolute top and it worried me as the Inter Doms got closer,” Hall Sr said.  “His work really picked-up that week or two before the first round of heats and Gaz (Gary Jr) and I both agreed we had him back to his best.  “It was great to see him win so well on the first night, it really boosted our confidence. Then we went actually left Bunbury even more confident, just in the way he was able to break 26sec for his last quarter and take so much ground of Soho Tribeca even though he’d dictated in front.  “Then last Friday he just jogged it in and he’s been fantastic at home since.”  So what about the draw?  “It’s really taken any decision we might have had to make out of it,” Hall Sr said. “Gaz just follows through behind Tiger Tara and stays there as long as Tiger holds them out early, which you’d think he would.  “Then it’s a case of hoping they go hard up front and looking for the gaps at the right time, which Gaz is better than anybody else around Gloucester Park.”  Does Gary Hall Jr share the confidence?  “I’m like Dad, I’ve become more and more confident we can win the whole thing as it’s gone along,” he said. “I think we’ve got as good a chance as any, especially now the way the barriers have landed. “This little horse’s turn of speed is amazing. It’s a real weapon he has over most others in the final.” Adam Hamilton

The King of Gloucester Park has a plan to beat Kiwi champ Lazarus in Saturday's $1.1 million Inter Dominion final in Perth. And it involves going to sleep and then waking up mid-race. That is what Gary Hall believes is his only real option in the hottest harness race of the year on a track he has ruled for the last decade. Hall, who drives predominantly for his trainer father Gary senior, has won three Inter Dominions driving I'm Themightyquinn but his domination of Gloucester Park's major races extends to near-embarrassing levels.   He has driven the winner of the state's premier race, the WA Cup, seven times and thinks nothing of bagging five winners at a metropolitan Friday night Gloucester Park meeting. And beating the Kiwis is nothing new to Hall, he has won more Grand Circuit pacing races than any other driver, his 22 victories eclipsing Lazarus's trainer-driver Mark Purdon's 20 wins. But for all his skills, Hall thinks they won't be required for much of the great race after his charge Chicago Bull drew one on the second line behind likely leader Tiger Tara. "It looks like I will be in the trail and I can just sit there and go to sleep for a couple of laps," says Hall. "There really won't be many decisions to be made until they start to up the ante over the last 1200m and then I have to work out when I try and get off the marker pegs. "If Tiger Tara stays in front and horses like Lazarus, Lennytheshark and Soho Tribeca all do some work around each other in those first two laps, then we have a great chance." Michael Guerin

Western Australian harness racing trainer Gary Hall added further to his training record in Perth Inter Dominions with his brilliant 5yo Chicago Bull qualifying for the 2017 TABtouch Inter Dominion final with wins in heats on the first and last nights of the Championship. Chicago Bull qualified in second position behind fellow West Australian Soho Tribeca. Since the first Perth Inter Dominion in 1936 there have been 156 individual starters in a Perth Inter Dominion final and these horses have been trained by 122 individual trainers. Perth trainer Gary Hall heads the list with a total of seven starters in a Perth Inter Dominion final per medium of The Falcon Strike (2nd in 2004), Faking It (12th in 2004), Im Themightyquinn (1st in 2012), My Hard Copy (6th in 2015), Waylade (7th in 2015), Beaudiene Boaz (3rd in 2016) and Run Oneover (10th in 2016). Champion New South Wales horseman Brian Hancock has had six starters in a Perth Inter Dominion final with Jikk Adios (10th in 1982), Tallowood Pursuit (7th in 1996), Our Sir Vancelot (retired from race in 1996), Country Ways (5th in 2004), Peggy Dale (9th in 2004) and Selby Bromac (10th in 2004). The three finalists trained by Brian Hancock in the 2004 final is the record for one trainer in a Perth Inter Dominion final. Three members of the Kersley family have had a total of twelve starters in a Perth Inter Dominion per medium of Fred R Kersley (5 starters), Fred Kersley Snr (4) and Frank Kersley (3). A total of five women have previously been involved in the training of a Perth Inter Dominion finalist with four of them as individuals and one, Skye Bond, as part of the training partnership of Greg and Skye Bond. The five Perth Inter Dominion finalists trained by women are as follows: 1982       Lehigh Lad (2nd) trained by Fran Donohue and driven by Cyril Caffyn 1996       Sunshine Band (2nd) trained by Alison Smith and driven by Chris Gleeson 2004       All Hart (8th) trained by Debra Lewis and driven by her husband Chris Lewis 2012       Can Return Fire (5th) trained by Greg and Skye Bond and driven by Colin Brown 2015       Philadelphia Man (8th) trained by Emma Stewart and driven by Gavin Lang Skye Bond will have a representative in the 2017 Final in her own right per medium of Galactic Star. Alan Parker

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