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Eight-year-old Machrie has turned the corner in the past few weeks with two eye-catching placings after a sequence of 15 unplaced efforts and the Chris King-trained gelding has sound prospects of ending a losing sequence of 32 when he starts from the coveted No. 1 barrier in the final event, the Westral Crimsafe Security Doors Pace over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Chris Voak is expected to be anxious to take full advantage of Machrie’s good gate speed in a bid to score an all-the-way win. Machrie is not a noted frontrunner, but he did lead from barrier one and win well from Hilo Rex over 2242m at Narrogin in March 2017. He was a $92 outsider two starts ago when he started from the inside of the back line and raced three back on the pegs in fifth position before running home strongly to be a one-length second to outstanding young mare Our Angel of Harlem. Then, he was a $29.20 chance from the outside barrier (No. 9) last Friday week when he raced in eighth position, four back on the pegs, before finishing powerfully, out wide, to be a close third behind Free To Air and Luis Alberto. One of Machrie’s main rivals is likely to be the somewhat disappointing Luis Alberto, who will be driven by Gary Hall jnr from the No. 2 barrier. Luis Alberto, who has a losing sequence of 13, has had 27 starts in WA for five wins and 13 placings. He has set the pace seven times in WA for three of his wins. However, he is generally regarded as a better prospect when held up for a late finishing burst. His was a sound effort last Friday night when he began out wide at barrier eight, settled in ninth and last position and sustained a strong three-wide last-lap burst to finish an 8m second to the pacemaker Beltane over 2130m. A week earlier Luis Alberto was tenth in the middle stages and sustained a three-wide run from the 1000m to take a narrow lead in the final 50m before wilting to finish second to the fast-finishing Free To Air, a stablemate of Machrie. Two of the better bets on the program should be The Art Form in the opening event, the Westral Roller Blinds Pace, and Jack Mac in the Westral Outdoor Patio Blinds Golden Nugget Prelude. The Art Form should have the class to overcome the disadvantage of starting out wide at barrier nine. He is sure to have derived considerable benefit from his solid second to the pacemaker Fizzing after working hard without cover throughout. Jack Mac, trained in Busselton by Barry Howlett, will have his final warm-up before contesting the Golden Nugget Championship the following Friday when he starts as the lone runner on the back line in the 2130m prelude. He resumed after a 25-day absence in the group 1 Yes Loans Four-Year-Old Classic last Friday night when he was at a disadvantage, starting from the outside barrier (No. 9). He covered extra ground in the first lap and moved into the breeze 1270m from home before wilting to sixth. Ken Casellas

New South Wales-bred square gaiter Rocknroll Baby is a highly unusual trotter, whose sire and dam were outstanding pacers. Rocknroll Baby, a recent addition to the Serpentine stables of champion trainer Gary Hall Snr, will create much interest when she makes her West Australian debut in the $18,000 Cowden Since 1972 Trot, a 2503m stand at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “She was sent over to me from Adelaide about three months ago and she goes good,” said Hall. “She was the South Australian Horse of the Year last season (against the pacers).” A five-year-old mare, Rocknroll Baby is an experienced trotter who has raced 64 times for 19 wins and 15 placings. She has had 27 starts in stands for 12 wins and has led in 13 of her 19 victories. Her American sire Rock N Roll Heaven was a world champion as a two and three-year-old before being retired to stud. He amassed $2,774,478 from 20 wins and eight placings from just 30 starts, winning at four of his nine starts as a two-year-old and at 16 of his 21 starts the following season. Rocknroll Baby’s dam is the Canadian-bred Our Ice Baby, who had 56 starts for eight wins and nine placings for earnings of $240,293. Hall will be starting a trotter for the first time for a couple of years but he has enjoyed great success with trotters, including Makati Maximus (nine wins from 13 starts), Tuhimati Glass (six wins, eight seconds and two thirds from 20 starts), Prince Eddie (11 wins from 22 starts) and Armed Force (11 wins, including five in succession in early 2016). Gary Hall Jnr will drive Rocknroll Baby, who is sure to be fully tested by Ross Olivieri’s Sunoflindenny, Jocelyn Young’s Our Summer Vacation, Bruce Stanley’s Lightning Calder and Tonia Stampalia’s Balmoral Boy. Sunoflindenny (Chris Lewis) resumed after a spell in fine style at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon when he led for much of the way and won from Lightning Calder. He is a standing-start specialist, with ten of his 11 wins coming in stands. Our Summer Vacation has won seven stands in his tally of 14 wins, five in New Zealand, seven at Menangle and two in Launceston. He is capable of surprising at his first appearance in WA. Lightning Calder, a winner of 25 races and in excellent form, looks set to fight out the finish. Ken Casellas

Mighty Conqueror has emerged as the horse to beat for the Group 1 Golden Nugget on December 14, following his dominant win in the Group 2 Four-Year-Old Championship at Gloucester Park last night. Despite WA Derby winner King Of Swing and last week’s Pinjarra Four-Year-Old Classic winner Jack Mac both missing last night’s event, Mighty Conqueror produced a performance that put his Nugget rivals on notice. The Gary Hall Snr-trained Think About Me was sent out a $2.35 TABtouch favourite from barrier one, but Ryan Warwick drove aggressively on Mighty Conqueror to find the front in the early stages. Think About Me was forced to settle on the back of Mighty Conqueror, while Golden State settled in the breeze. Bechers Brook enjoyed a perfect run throughout and was left as the final challenger to Mighty Conqueror on the home turn, but the Greg and Skye Bond-trained gelding fought off Bechers Brook to win by 7m. A winner at six of his seven starts now, Mighty Conqueror ran home in 57.1 and maintained his unbeaten record in Australia. Bechers Brook and Think About Me filled the minor placings, while the other Bond runner Bright Diamond was fourth. As impressive as the performance was from Mighty Conqueror, Greg Bond suggested post-race his most exciting four-year-old, and potentially his best, was yet to run in Australia. Ana Malak lines up at Pinjarra on Monday over 2185m, where he will be looking to enhance his Golden Nugget credentials, as will Bettor Aim, the only pacer to beat Jack Mac in Perth. Mighty Conqueror was the second leg of a feature double on the night for the Bond team, after Galactic Star took out the Pat Cranley Memorial (1730m). The Bond stable have expressed their interest in getting the six-year-old to Melbourne for next month’s Inter Dominion Series and he showed last night he would be more than competitive against some of Australasia’s best pacers. The race panned out perfectly for Galactic Star, who was second-up from a spell, with Warwick able to find the one out one back position from barrier six, while Tricky Styx held the front from barrier one. Galactic Star was well poised coming into the home straight and went on to win by 3m to Devendra and Our Jimmy Johnstone. Arguably the most impressive winner of the night was Our Angel Of Harlem in the Glenroy Chaff Pace (2130m). The mare was first-up without a trial last night and subsequently drifted to $2.05 second favourite with TABtouch, while Infinite Symbol was $1.70. Infinite Symbol led throughout, while Our Angel Of Harlem sat in the breeze, but when reinsman Mark Reed called upon the mare to make her run she responded brilliantly to win by 3m. Reed said there was still plenty of improvement left in the four-year-old. “She’s still very big in condition,” he said. “I knew she’d benefit from whatever she does tonight but she just got a little bit keen in the run.” Trainer Mike Reed said he would consider running Our Angel Of Harlem in the Golden Nugget as well as the Mares Classic a week earlier. It was also a landmark night trainer-reinsman Kaiden Hayter, who recorded his first Gloucester Park Friday night winning double in the sulky.   Tim Walker

Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr is delighted at the progress being made by lightly-raced four-year-old Benhope Rulz and said the gelding was firmly on track for a start in the $200,000 Golden Nugget next month. Hall expects Benhope Rulz, the youngest and least experienced runner in the field, to maintain his splendid form by proving too talented for his rivals in the $20,000 Book Your Xmas Function at the Beau Rivage Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Benhope Rulz won for the fifth time from seven starts in his current preparation when he started from barrier five, dashed to the lead after 300m and sprinted over the final sections in 28.5sec. and 28.1sec. to win from stablemate Luis Alberto at a 1.56.8 rate last Friday night. With Gary Hall Jnr in New Zealand, Stuart McDonald will again be in the sulky behind Benhope Rulz, who is handily drawn at No. 2 on the back line. “He’s a pretty good horse and only bad luck will beat him this week,” said Hall Snr. “Danieljohn looks the one to beat, and Suspicious Life also has claims. Hall produced another Nugget hopeful at Gloucester Park on Tuesday evening when McDonald drove former Victorian performer Think About Me to victory by a head over Shadow Maker, dashing over the final 400m in 27.8sec. and rating 1.57.4 over 2130m. “At the moment I have Nugget contenders in Benhope Rulz, Speed Man, King of Swing, Think About Me and another one I haven’t produced,” Hall said. Mundijong trainer Kristian Hawkins has three runners up against Benhope Rulz in Friday night’s race over 2130m. He will drive veteran Danieljohn from barrier one, Ryan Warwick will handle Bettor Not Bitter (barrier three) and Corey Peterson will be in the sulky behind Runaway Three at barrier five. “I’ll be desperately disappointed if Danieljohn leads and gets beaten, given the way he is going,” Hawkins said. “He is a much superior horse in front. He is just a freak of a horse who loves being in work. He tries really hard and is always eager to please.” The ten-year-old Danieljohn certainly looks the leader on Friday night and should take catching. He is still racing enthusiastically after 145 race starts for 34 wins and 44 placings for earnings of $312,379. Hawkins also has sound prospects on Friday night with several stable runners, including The Trilogy, Dontstopbelievin, Stroganoff and Starlight Brigade. Dontstopbelievin, a winner at seven of her past ten starts, is poorly drawn at barrier seven in the 2536m Book Your Next Conference at Gloucester Park Pace. “I know she won well last Friday, but her past two runs haven’t left me as happy as I would have liked,” Hawkins said. “It was just in the manner in which she raced, sort of dour. Now I want to give her one run over 2536m before the classic races come up. After this week’s race she’ll probably have three and a half weeks off until the $125,000Four-Year-Old Classic on December 30. “That will mean she will miss a couple of $50,000 races, but I think that will be better for her. “From barrier six on Friday night I’ll probably driver her with a sit, something I haven’t driven her before, apart from the time I butchered it. I daresay my hand probably will be forced on Friday and it will be more of a learning curve on how she will go, sitting up. I’ll probably have one crack at them, whether we go at the bell or at another stage of the race; it depends on the tempo of the race.” Hawkins said he had good prospects with Stroganoff in race six and Starlight Brigade in the seventh event. Both are favourably drawn at barrier two on the front line. “I’ll be doing my best to find the front with Stroganoff,” Hawkins said. “When we get serious out of the gate he’s always had plenty of toe. If he finds the front, he’s a big show. Starlight Brigade should find the front and should go well in his race. At his latest start, at Kellerberrin, he sat in the breeze which is not his go and was just beaten (by a head) by Patrickthepiranha, rating 1.59.3 which was a quicker time than that recorded by The Trilogy in the main race that day.” Ken Casellas

A freakish injury to Chicago Bull has turned his connection’s New Zealand Trotting Cup dream into a nightmare. The brave little pacer surged to Cup favouritism with an incredible victory at Alexandra Park last Friday but an injury suffered just hours later means he won’t race again this season. The prolific pacing pony flipped over backwards when being treated on Saturday morning and fell on his back, ultimately suffering six or eight fractures to his whither region. “It didn’t look great but he seemed fine afterwards and we were able to jog him on Sunday and Monday,” says driver and caretaker trainer Gary Hall junior. “But then it got worse and his movement got worse so we took him to the vets where they discovered the fractures. “It is something I have heard of but never seen a horse get injured like that before. And the vet said he had seen a horse suffered a couple of fractures like that before but not six or eight. “The most important news is the long-term prognosis is good and they are confident he will be able to race again. “So he will have two months in a box here in Pukekohe, then two more months spelling and then maybe start jogging again. But this season is gone.” While Chicago Bull had numerous feature race options this season the one that burned brightest for the Halls was the New Zealand Cup in 13 days time. It is a race trainer Gary Hall senior has always cherished but been unable to get his best horses to for one reason or another. Now he has found the cruellest way of all to be ruled out of it. The way he won last Friday night Chicago Bull deserved favouritism for the Cup, especially in a year when the New Zealand open class ranks are lacking a genuine superstar. Instead for Team Hall the New Zealand Cup 2018 will forever be the one that got away. He joins a remarkable list of open class pacers who will be missing from this year’s Cup due to injury, sale or retirement. Of the biggest names who contested the Cups, Inter Dominion and/or the Miracle Mile carnival last season Lazarus, Vincent, Heaven Rocks, Soho Tribeca, My Field Marshal, Jilliby Kung Fu and Lennytheshark will not be around for the pivotal next six weeks during which the Cup and Inter Dominion will be decided. It is rare case of the Cup non-starters far outweighing the star power of those left in the great race, held for $800,000 at Addington on November 13. Tiger Tara is now the only Australian-trained pacer in the Cup and could well start favourite depending what happens at Addington on Friday night. One-time Cup favourite Ultimate Machete could snare that role back if he wins his final lead-up race over 2600m standing start in which he meets stablemate Dream About Me. But much like the Dominion Trot on November 16, which has been shorn of injured champion trotter Monbet, the Cup is the most open in years. One horse who won’t be coming to Cup week is in-form Victorian trotter Tornado Valley, with trainer Andy Gath deciding to stay home and concentrate on the Inter Dominion starting December 1 as the gelding doesn’t travel well. Michael Guerin

Gary Hall knows two things heading into Chicago Bull’s Alexandra Park debut tonight — he has the best horse in the race, and that may still not be enough to win. Hall is one of the biggest stars in Australian harness racing, doing most of the driving for the superstar team trained in West Australia by his father Gary senior.  “Junior” as he is universally known has unofficially taken over the training duties as Chicago Bull counts down to the New Zealand Cup in two and a half weeks, with tonight’s race a chance to keep him fit and get some much-needed standing start experience.  But while Hall is happy with the last-start Victoria Cup runner-up he admits there are some concerns tonight.  “I don’t really like the idea of a 20m back mark over the 2200m,” he says.  “It could make he race really tricky and it is also his first standing start, so while I’d be surprised if he blew it, he could settle last.  “That means we could be chasing for a while in his first start right-handed so there are a few things against us.” Hall says last season’s Inter Dominion runner-up has been working well right-handed and if this race was at his home track of Gloucester Park he would be red hot but the reality is punters should be careful with him tonight.  A crucial stage of the race will be the start because if Jack’s Legend can step safely from his 10m handicap and stay in front of Chicago Bull then he has a tactical advantage, especially if the field slows at any stage and it looks the lead is there.  Two runs back into his Cup campaign, Jack’s Legend should be fit enough to win and looks the best bet if Chicago Bull’s presence pushes him toward $3-$3.50.  Chicago Bull isn’t the only group one winner facing a stiff handicap tonight as Lemond and Temporale share a 50m backmark in the main trot but such has been their dual dominance of similar races in the past whoever settles in front of the other will probably still win.   Michael Guerin

Western Australia’s superstar pacer Chicago Bull will break fresh ground when he makes his first appearance in a standing-start event, in a $17,000 stand over 2200m at Auckland’s Alexandra Park on Friday night. The champion six-year-old, to be driven by Gary Hall Jnr, looks vastly superior to his six rivals and should notch his 40th victory at his 61st start in a race. Chicago Bull will start from the maximum back mark of 20m, with his chief rivals Lets Elope and Jacks Legend the two off the 10m line. Chicago Bull is a well-behaved and laid-back character who has begun smoothly in his only two appearances in standing-start trials and Hall is confident the brilliant gelding will be on his best behaviour behind the barrier strands. This will be a valuable lead-up for Chicago Bull before he contests the $800,000 New Zealand Cup, a stand over 3200m at Addington in Christchurch on Tuesday November 13. Lets Elope and Jacks Legend are also nominated for the big race. One of Chicago Bull’s toughest opponents in the New Zealand Cup will be Tiger Tara, who led all the way and beat Chicago Bull into second place in the 2200m Victoria Cup at Melton two Saturdays ago. Lets Elope is a ten-year-old in the twilight of his career of 158 starts for 25 wins and 45 placings for earnings of $559,129, while five-year-old Jacks Legend has raced 28 times for six wins and 12 placings for stakes of $329,131. Lets Elope and Jacks Legend clashed in a 2700m stand at Alexandra Park on October 12 when Lets Elope, a 16/1 chance off 10m, raced in third place on the pegs for the first lap before dashing to the front and going on to win at a 2.1.6 rate from the fast-finishing Jacks Legend. The final 800m was covered in 55.4sec. and the last 400m in 27.5sec. This ended a losing sequence of 33 fort Lets Elope, whose previous victory was in a $20,000 Free-For-All over 2190m at Mildura on April 8, 2017. Jacks Legend has a losing sequence of ten, with his most recent victory being in a 2700m stand at Alexandra Park in October last year. Two starts before that, Jacks Legend won the Group 1 Emerald for three-year-old colts and geldings, starting at 45/1 and beating hot favourite Ultimate Machete.   Ken Casellas

On the eve of his return to racing in New Zealand Chicago Bull’s managing owner Beth Richardson was last night awarded Life Membership of the WA Trotting Association at the 2018 Annual General Meeting. Chicago Bull is scheduled to start at Auckland’s Alexandra Park tomorrow night on his way to next month’s New Zealand Cup in Christchurch. Chicago Bull’s last start in New Zealand was on 30th May 2015 when he finished seventh in the Group One 2yo Emerald won by Lazarus. Mrs Richardson has raced horses since the mid 1960’s and Beth has now owned or part-owned 971 winners (127 individual horses). To date 702 of those winners have been in Perth at Gloucester Park and Richmond Raceway with 107 individual horses involved and Mrs Richardson owned her first Gloucester Park winner some 54 years ago courtesy of Pukka Sahib. Mrs Richardson has had 30 individual trainers of her 971 winners with Gary Hall training 855 of them. The first winner Hall trained for Mrs Richardson was Wilby Rich at Northam on 23rd May 1987. Wilby Rich was bred by Mrs Richardson in partnership with her husband John. The 855 winners trained by Gary Hall for Beth Richardson includes a remarkable 26 at Group One level,  32 at Group Two level and 19 at Group Three level, The first of those Group One winners was Tealsby Karita which won the WA Pacing Cup on 23rd March 2007 which means the 26 Group One wins have come in just 11 years. The balance of Mrs Richardson’s Group One winners comprises three-time Inter Dominion winner Im Themightyquinn, Chicago Bull, Beaudiene Boaz, Alta Christiano and the 2018 WA Derby winner King Of Swing. An emotional Mrs Richardson, in accepting her Life Member’s badge from Gloucester Park President John Burt, described the great joy her and her husband have got from harness racing and the thrills of racing Im Themightyquinn. Mrs Richardson is just the second woman to be made a Life Member of the WA Trotting Association which was formed in 1910 and currently trades under the name of Gloucester Park Harness Racing.   Alan Parker    

Gary Hall is hoping a change of trainer can transform Chicago Bull from a Victoria Cup runner-up to a New Zealand Cup winner. The pride of Perth arrives in New Zealand on Thursday and is likely to stay a month with the $800,000 Cup at Addington on November 13 his main aim. Had Chicago Bull won the Victoria Cup at Melton last Saturday he could well have threatened for favouritism in New Zealand’s greatest harness race but he had to settle for a well-beaten second behind Tiger Tara, who is also bound for Addington but will race at Menangle this Saturday first. Hall’s usually unshakable confidence was initially dented by the Victoria Cup defeat. “I first glance I thought he was disappointing,” he admits. “But then when I analyzed it and the lead time was so slow, it was like sitting parked outside Tiger Tara over a mile. “You are not going to win doing that and obviously we didn’t. But at the top of the straight our fella was all done and he still fought on really well for second. “So he can still win the New Zealand Cup.” Not that Hall will have as much input as usual into Chicago Bull’s preparation with his son and regular driver Gary junior taking over the hands-on training for almost all the New Zealand campaign, albeit in an unofficial capacity. “Gary is going over with him this week and staying right through until after the New Zealand Cup, he won’t be coming back to drive here in Perth. “Gary actually did most of the training with Quinny (I’m Themightyquinn) when he raced in the Inter Dominion in Auckland in 2011, which we ended up winning after Smoken Up was disqualified.  “So he thinks he is the man for the job so I will only come over a few days before the Cup,” laughs Hall. Chicago Bull flies into Auckland in the hope the Auckland Trotting Club will hold the programmed open class race at Alexandra Park next Friday as his final lead-up to the Cup.  With Star Galleria already in the south and Northview Hustler and No Doctor Needed nominated for the Flying Stakes at Ashburton on Monday the northern open class stocks will be getting pretty thin by next week.  But Let’s Elope and Jacks Legend, who quinellaed last Friday’s Holmes D G, are likely to accept for next Friday along with a few others and the Auckland Trotting Club have been keen to support pre-NZ Cup open class racing in recent years so the race should get off the ground.  “That would be ideal for us because he needs the standing start practice, he has never been from one in a race,” says Hall.  “He has had a couple of trials over here from a stand but that is a lot diferent from a race.” Chicago Bull versus Jacks Legend is very much a spring treat for Alexandra Park regulars as they were both runner-ups to Lazarus at the highest level last season, Jacks Legend in the New Zealand Cup and Chicago Bull in the Inter Dominion.  The pair staying in the north for their final lead-up races also adds to the intrigue of an already fascinating New Zealand Cup, which in recent years has seen most of the top chances race each other and establish a clear pecking order before they get to Addington.  That won’t be the case this season because while some of the Cup favourites like Ultimate Machete and Dream About Me will head to Ashburton on Monday others like Star Galleria and Methven Cup winner Cruz Bromac will bypass that race, ensuring lots of varying formlines heading into the Cup.   Michael Guerin

The Justin Prentice-trained Rocknroll Lincoln has made it back-to-back wins to start the new season, taking out the Fred Doy Memorial (2130m) at Gloucester Park last night. Reinsman Gary Hall Jnr fired the $2.50 TABtouch favourite Rocknroll Lincoln to the lead early in the race, a move which proved to be a race winner. Rocknroll Lincoln’s closest rival in the market was Mister Versace ($2.80), who was forced to settle directly behind Hall Jnr after the early move. The five-year-old came home in 56.5 to hold off a game Kasey John and Soky’s Bigbullet, while Mister Versace was couldn’t get clear running and had to settle for fourth. Trainer Justin Prentice said he left it up to Hall Jnr to decide how he would drive the son of Rocknroll Hanover and was pleased with how the race panned out. “It was good,” he said. “Junior changed his mind on the track and decided to go forward. “He showed really good speed and he got a got breather in the middle which he probably needed. “It was good for him to hit the line strongly.” It was one of three wins on the night for Hall Jnr, who also teamed up with King Of Swing in the Retravision Online Pace (2130m) and You Gotta Have Faith in the Kelvinator Pace (2130m). King Of Swing kept his Golden Nugget preparation firmly on track with his sixth win from seven starts this campaign. Hall Jnr went to the front from barrier three and never looked in danger of being beaten, despite a game effort from his stablemate Extreme Prince, who got within a metre over the closing stages. Meanwhile, Tanaka Eagle has recorded his first Friday night win at Gloucester Park since January, taking out the Electrolux Pace (2130m). Reinsman Mark Reed had little problem finding the front with Tanaka Eagle and he was able to control the tempo of the race from there. Tanaka Eagle, who competed in the Inter Dominion series last year, recorded his 20th win from 196 starts last night, much to the delight of his trainer Reg Phillips. Elsewhere at Gloucester Park, star mare Eden Franco made a strong return to the track in the Pace, where she defeated Mitch Maguire. Kyle Harper also drove a double on the night, one he trained in Thereugo, before he teamed up with the Errol Ashcroft-trained Kissmecougar in the penultimate event of the night. Tim Walker

Trainer Gary Hall Sr couldn’t have scripted Chicago Bull’s build-up to tomorrow night’s $200,000 Group 1 Victoria Cup (2240m) any better. Well, maybe he’d have drawn the pole and not barrier three, but everything else has been world perfect. “I won’t have any excuse in the world if he’s beaten,” Hall Sr said. “He’s had a perfect build-up, handled the trip across really well on Wednesday, settled in superbly and the draw is certainly good enough. “This has been his first major target for six months now and everything has fallen into place. “It’s now just a matter of whether he’s good enough and we certainly think he is.” Chicago Bull has eased slightly from $2.20 to $2.25 with the Aussie TAB since Tuesday’s barrier draw, mainly because of strong support for rivals Shadow Sax ($6.50 to $5.50) and Mach Doro ($26 to $10) along with talk barrier three could prove tricky. “Of course we’ve looked long and hard at the draw and thought of all the possibilities, but it’s over to Junior (driver Gary Hall Jr). That’s his job and there’s nobody better at it in these big races,” Hall Sr said. “He’s got more speed than a lot people realise, but the danger in going too hard early is how much petrol we have to spend and the risk of not finding the lead.” Hall Sr did, however, hint at his preferred driving tactics. “My horses traditionally go better when they’re not used too hard at the start. It’s always been the case. It must be the way I train them,” he said. “Ultimately it’s Junior’s call what he does at the start, but this little bloke is versatile enough to win a few different ways. I even think he could win sitting parked as long as the leader had to do some early work to hold the front.” Hall Sr conceded tomorrow night was an obvious class rise from Chicago Bull’s recent WA dominance which has seen him win past nine starts and 12 of his past 13. “You could say he’s been beaten glorified claimers at home, but it’s the way he’s been doing it and the sectional times he’s been running,” he said. “And let’s not forget he competed so well against the best of the best in the Inter Dominion last year. “I’ve got no doubt, none at all, that’s he’s a better horse now than when he ran second to Lazarus in last year’s Inter final. “And I couldn’t have asked for a better preparation. I’ve left something in tank along the way, but I’ve wound him up for this and then it’s onto NZ.” Chicago Bull is booked on a flight from Melbourne to Auckland next Thursday and plans remain for him to tackle a 2200m standing-start race at Alexandra Park on October 26 ahead of going south for the NZ Cup. “He’ll thrive on this hard racing. Look how well he handled the Inter Dominion series last year,” Hall Sr said.   Adam Hamilton

Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr has no hesitation in declaring Im Themightyquinn as the best horse he has prepared. The retired champion won 58 races, including three Inter Dominion Championships and earned $4,567,456 in prizemoney. But Hall was unable to win the prestigious Victoria Cup with three attempts with Im Themightyquinn. “He didn’t have any luck in his three Victoria Cup runs and now I’m hoping it will be fourth-time lucky with Chicago Bull in the Cup on Saturday night,” Hall said. Chicago Bull has won at 39 of his 59 starts and is in peak form after effortless wins at his past nine starts. He is handily drawn at the No. 3 barrier on the front line in this week’s $200,000 Victoria Cup over 2240m. He possesses excellent gate speed, but it is problematic that he will be able to cross the speedy Tiger Tara, who begins from the No. 2 barrier. Champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr said “There’s a bit of speed on the inside and the outside and I’ll have a few decisions to make early. But he’s good enough to win.” Tiger Tara, trained by Kevin Pizzuto and to be handled by Todd McCarthy, appeals as the toughest for Chicago Bull to beat. Tiger Tara and Chicago Bull last clashed when they met in the final of the Inter Dominion Championship over 2936m at Gloucester Park last December. Tiger Tara led from the No. 1 barrier and was still in front on the home turn.  He fought on grandly to finish third behind Lazarus and Chicago Bull. Before that, he raced in the breeze when second to Chicago Bull in a 2536m qualifying heat, led and won a 2100m heat from Lazarus (at Bunbury) and had a tough run in the breeze when second to Lennytheshark over 2130m. Im Themightyquinn contested the Victoria Cup at Melton in 2010, 2011 and 2012. He was favourite at $3.50 in 2010 when he was in 11th place in the one-wide line, under lock and key with 500m to travel before getting clear approaching the home turn and thundering home, six wide, to finish third to Mr Feelgood. In 2011, Im Themightyquinn was the $4.20 second favourite from the No. 2 barrier. He raced in sixth position in the one-out, two-back position and was held up for most of the final circuit before finishing last behind Smoken Up. Then a year later he was the $1.60 favourite from barrier three. He led for the first 500m and then trailed the pacemaker Terrorway before getting clear 300m from home and after going three wide on the home turn and hitting the front 130m from the post he wilted slightly and finished third behind Caribbean Blaster. Ken Casellas

Sparks are likely to fly in the early stages of the $22,000 Fred Doy Memorial at Gloucester Park on Friday night when polemarker Mister Versace and veteran pacer Sokys Big Bullet are expected to be locked in a battle for the early lead. If that transpires and the early speed is fast, it will play into the hands of classy five-year-old Rocknroll Lincoln, who faces a testing time from the outside barrier (No. 9) on the front line in the 2130m event. Rocknroll Lincoln is an M4-class pacer and the best-assessed runner in the race and the Justin Prentice-trained stallion will have the services of champion reinsman Gary Hall jnr who drove the horse four times as a four-year-old for two wins (including the group 3 Narrogin Cup in which he beat Our Jimmy Johnstone). Prentice produced Rocknroll Lincoln in fine fettle for his first-up run at Gloucester Park last Friday week when Jocelyn Young was in the sulky. Rocknroll Lincoln started from barrier six and enjoyed a perfect passage, one-out and one-back, before sprinting home brilliantly to get up and win from the pacemaker Speed Man, with final quarters in 28.3sec. and 27.7sec. Chris Voak will drive Mister Versace for Banjup trainer Annie Belton and he is sure to seriously contemplate attempting an all-the-way victory. Voak took full advantage of the No. 1 barrier four starts ago when he guided Mister Versace to a strong all-the-way win over Madame Meilland. However, Mister Versace is likely to be challenged hard for the lead by nine-year-old Sokys Big Bullet, who will start from the No. 2 barrier. Reinsman Giles Inwood said that he was sure that the gelding’s trainer Tony Svilicich would instruct him to attempt to get to an early lead and then set a solid pace. Sokys Big Bullet’s three runs since resuming from a spell have been encouraging. He followed his third to Speed Man and fourth to Argyle Red with a fighting second to the pacemaker Overboard Again last Friday night when he worked hard three wide early (from barrier six) and then in the breeze. The Errol Ashcroft-trained Forever Remembered ran a splendid trial for this week’s race when she started from barrier seven and was last in a field of 11 at the bell before dashing home from eighth at the 400m and going six wide on the home turn to get up and win from Neighlor. Forever Remembered will again be driven by Kyle Harper, who is hoping that the eight-year-old will become only the second mare to win the Doy Memorial, which was first run in 2006. The only mare to have won the race was the Victorian-bred Smooth Hayley, who was driven by Chris Lewis and defeated Mon Gee and Master Beaudale. Lewis, who has also won this event with Tee Pee Village (2008), Sneakyn Down Under (2013) and Our Jericho (2016), will drive the Svilicich-trained Cyclone Mitch from barrier seven. The ten-year-old’s most recent success was in March 2016. Ken Casellas

The time for talk is over. Following the departure of superstar pacer and reigning Grand Circuit champion Lazarus to the northern hemisphere earlier this year, the debate has raged. Who holds the mantle as the best pacer in this part of the world? And everybody has an opinion. Many believe pint-sized Perth based pacer Chicago Bull is the heir apparent, his form is without doubt sensational in his home state but he’s yet to prove himself on the eastern seaboard. Until now. The ‘Wonder from The West’ has arrived in Melbourne in preparation for Saturday night’s Gr.1 $200,000 Pryde’s Easifeed Victoria Cup, the opening leg of the 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit series. Prepared by the masterful father/son combination of Gary Hall Snr and Jnr, the Bettors Delight six-year-old has won his past 9 starts - all at his home track of Gloucester Park. But history is against the millionaire pacer. Since first being staged back in 1974 when Kings Mead scored, only once has a sandgroper proven triumphant and that was the mighty Preux Chevalier back in 1984. And since the turn of the millennium, Perth trained pacers haven’t fired in the Garden State feature. That list also includes champion pacer Im Themightyquinn (58 wins - $ 4,567,456). Six runners have attempted to grab glory but the best result is a 6th placing (twice). 2015 - David Hercules - 6th behind Christen Me 2013 - Im Victorious - 12th behind For A Reason 2011 - Im Themightyquinn - 12th behind Smoken Up 2005 - Ohoka Ace - 8th behind Be Good Johnny 2003 - Baltic Eagle - 9th behind Young Rufus 2000 - Saab - 6th behind Breenys Fella So, can the ‘Bull’ etch his name into the record books? Can Snr and Jnr claim more Grand Circuit glory? As it stands, Snr has trained 26 Grand Circuit winners while Jnr has driven 22 Grand Circuit winners. Standing in their way is 11 rivals boasting outstanding credentials headlined by local ace Shadow Sax, prepared by record breaking Emma Stewart, fresh from her 309 win season last term. Triple Victoria Cup winning reinsman Chris Alford will partner Shadow Sax and aims for his 19th Grand Circuit victory. The late Vin Knight remains the most winningest driver of the Victoria Cup with 5 victories. Fellow Victorian based trainer David Aiken, a dual Cup winner with recently retired Lennytheshark, prepares both Im The Boss and Wrappers Delight. Im The Boss, a winner of the Cobram, Mildura, Shepparton and Kilmore Cups will be handled by Greg Sugars while Kima Frenning sticks with in-form pacer and last start Smoken Up Sprint winner Wrappers Delight. The last female driver to land success in the Victoria Cup was Kate Gath (Caribbean Blaster) back in 2012. Three female drivers have won the Victoria Cup – Kate Gath, Amy Tubbs and Natalie Rasmussen. Speaking of the fairer sex, both Carlas Pixel and Ameretto are both looking to become the first mare to win the Victoria Cup. The Dean Braun trained Carlas Pixel, the recently crowned Australian Mare of the Year; finished an eye-catching 5th last week while the Kerryn Manning prepared Ameretto finished a close-up second behind Wrappers Delight after sitting in the trail. But both mares have drawn awkwardly off the second-line. The state of New South Wales has a proud and strong history in the Victoria Cup and head south with strength in numbers this year. Winners that have come from north of the Murray River include Don’t Retreat (1976), Paleface Adios (1977), Koala King (1978, 79 & 80), Frosty Imp (1981), Jofess (2002), Double Identity (2003), Mr Feelgood (2010) and For a Reason (2013). Koala King remains the only pacer to have claimed three Victoria Cups. The team from the Harbour City this year has five representatives including a trio from the Shane and Lauren Tritton stable with Gotta Go Ya Hu, Franco Nelson and My Alpha Rock as they chase their biggest victory. Lauren Tritton will partner Franco Nelson and like Kima Frenning, is aiming to become the latest female to drive a winner of the Victoria Cup. Kevin Pizzuto is duly represented with millionaire Tiger Tara and last start Paul Fitzpatrick FFA winner Majordan stepping out while Craig Cross will start last start Les Chant Cup winner Mach Doro. Dual Victorian Cup winning driver Luke McCarthy will take the drive behind the speedy beginner. Surprisingly, there is no representation from New Zealand this year. The 2018 Victorian Cup field has won 263 races collectively while amassing more than $6.7 million in stakes. The Australian Pacers Grand Circuit began in 1977 and was designed to be the showpiece of the Australian Harness Racing Industry with horses competing from every State within Australia.  In 1992 New Zealand was admitted and the Circuit was renamed the Australasian Grand Circuit.   The best horses available are brought together to race for very attractive prizemoney.  With the associated opportunities for promotion and marketing, this benefits owners and harness racing clubs as well as the industry overall.  In its first season in 1977, total stakemoney for the eight races forming the Circuit was $554,020.  Now, the Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit series is racing for total stakemoney of $3.65 million. Points are awarded during the Circuit, 100 points for a win, 60 points for second, 40 points for third, and so on, to last placing. The horse with the greatest number of points is crowned Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit Champion. So, who will strike the first blow in the new season of Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit racing? Time will tell.   Chris Barsby

There's no shortage of scratched heads throughout Australian trotting stables as some of the sport's greatest minds try to break down the Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup post-barrier draw, including the man many think is in the box seat. Trainer Gary Hall Snr's favourite Chicago Bull makes his interstate debut in Saturday night's Group 1 at Tabcorp Park Melton, and the proud West Australian joined RSN 927 today to share his thoughts. "It's a bit tricky," Hall said. "Barrier three - where does (Chicago Bull) go? He's got good gate speed, but I wouldn't imagine Tiger Tara (gate 2) will let him cross him. "Nobody's sure what the one (Gotta Go Ya Hu) is going to do, whether it will hold up or whether it will hand over to Tiger Tara. You can't afford to do too much speed battling early because it doesn't matter how good you are you are going to be left wide open at the end." Hall said much of the deciding would be left in the hands of reinsman Gary Hall Jnr. "Junior's got a little bit of a tricky draw and he'll probably come out and have a look at what's going on and assess," he said. "As you know there's probably no one better in the game at doing that than he is. I've left it all in his hands. "There's quite a few different scenarios. If Mach Doro comes out a 100 mile an hour and crosses, Chicago Bull may even find the front. If Mach Doro doesn't come out, then I think Tiger Tara will find the front. Then it depends on if the one hands over and then it depends how fast horses like Franco Nelson and Im The Boss and all those horses go. It's a very hard race to read what's actually going to happen." Read more here!   Trots Media

See how Chicago Bull's driver, Gary Hall Jnr, rates his #VictoriaCup barrier draw; as the mighty #ChicagoBull heads off on his whirlwind Gr.1 tour of Australasia! PLUS: King of Swing, Rocknroll Lincoln AND a very nice pick-up drive for Jnr on NZ Cup day!   Ken Casellas

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