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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

Shannon Suvaljko, last season’s leading reinsman, has given punters a handy tip by electing to drive Regal Ambition in preference to Brookies Jet in the 1730m Garrards Horse And Hound Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Regal Ambition, trained at Wanneroo by Debbie Padberg, has managed just one placing from his past 11 starts. But Suvaljko chose him as his drive after the seven-year-old drew the coveted No. 1 barrier over the sprint journey. He drove Brookies Jet for Serpentine trainer Matt Scott last Friday night when the gelding set the pace before wilting over the final stages of the 2536m event to finish fifth behind Ace Bromac. Brookies Jet, a smart frontrunner who has been placed at four of his nine starts this season, will be handled by Chris Voak. Regal Ambition is an honest performer and a good frontrunner, and Suvaljko will be anxious to get the horse to jump in front and then dictate terms. He is proving a handy acquisition for Debbie and John Padberg, who outlaid $12,000 to purchase him 12 months ago after he had won nine minor events in Victoria. He has raced 30 times for the Padbergs for two wins, four placings and earnings of $20,814. Regal Ambition could be challenged for the early lead by the Graham Cummins-trained nine-year-old Blissntheblack, who has a losing sequence of 26, but has shown encouraging form in recent weeks with three placings from his past four starts. Blissntheblack was first out from barrier three in a 2130m event on Tuesday afternoon and then, after 200m, trailed the pacemaker Thisbeachrighthere before finishing a sound third to that pacer. Suvaljko will also drive Cracka Star (race one), Three Kings (two) and Bad Round (seven) for the Padbergs.  Cracka Star will appreciate a drop in class in a qualifying heat of the Retravision Kersley Pace, in which he will start from barrier No. 6. He raced three back on the pegs in sixth position before finishing solidly to be third behind Maczaffair and Eden Franco in the $30,000 York Cup last Friday night. He will clash with in-form pacers Our Max Phactor, Tyler Brett and Ace Bromac, but is capable of a bold showing. Our Max Phactor, a New Zealand-bred six-year-old is blossoming under the care of leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond and should prove hard to beat. He will start from the inside of the back line, with Ryan Warwick in the sulky. Our Max Phactor has raced 78 times for 17 wins and 21 placings. He is unbeaten in eight starts for the Bonds in WA (six in stands and two in mobiles) and his average winning margin is 5m. He is unbeaten at six appearances at Gloucester Park. Tyler Brett, trained and driven by Dylan Egerton-Green, has resumed after a spell in fine form with a first-up victory over Kerrin Joseph and Thereugo at Pinjarra and a second placing behind Saying Grace at Northam after covering a lot of extra ground. The Kyle Harper trained and driven Ace Bromac bounced back to his best form last Friday night when he was last in the middle stages before thundering home from eighth at the bell to win by two and a half lengths from Estocada over 2536m last Friday night. Ken Casellas

The Bond juggernaut looks set to sustain its relentless dominance of harness racing with crack sprinter Galactic Star poised to prove mighty hard to beat in the $25,000 Pat Cranley Memorial over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Some pacing aficionados contend that Galactic Star is a better stayer than a sprinter, pointing to his head second to Assassinator in the 2902m Easter Cup last year and six wins over distances ranging from 2503m to 2631m but the New Zealand-bred six-year-old is a splendid sprinter, having won twice over 1609m at Bunbury in 1.53.1 and 1.53.8 and twice over 1730m at Gloucester Park, rating 1.52 and 1.55.4. He is awkwardly drawn at barrier six in the field of nine across one line and Ryan Warwick will seriously consider giving Galactic Star time to settle before sending him forward. Galactic Star began off the 10m mark in a $30,000 standing-start feature event at Pinjarra on Monday of last week and he settled down in seventh place before he surged forward to take the lead after 800m. He covered the final quarters in 28.3sec. and 27.8sec. and won by a neck from stablemate Rock Diamonds. That was his first appearance since August 24 and he is sure to have derived great benefit from the outing.        Galactic Star and his smart stablemate Vampiro are still on track to contest the Interdominion championship in Victoria next month. Greg and Skye Bond, who prepare Galactic Star, will also be represented in Friday night’s event by evergreen veteran Our Jimmy Johnstone and up-and-coming five-year-old Rock Diamonds. Our Jimmy Johnstone is handily drawn at barrier three and will be driven by Dylan Egerton-Green. The ten-year-old resumed after a spell in fine style last Friday week when he raced wide early and then enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back, before running home strongly to be an eye-catching second to Vampiro in the 2130m James Brennan Memorial. A winner of 27 races, Our Jimmy Johnstone is a smart sprinter who rated 1.54.3 when he led from the No. 2 barrier and won the 1730m Members Sprint at Gloucester Park in May of last year, rating 1.54.3 and beating Beaudiene Boaz by one length. Another proven sprinter in this week’s race is Tricky Styx, who will be driven by Aiden de Campo from the prized No. 1 barrier. The Jesse Moore-trained seven-year-old mare is in good form and looks the likely leader. She has had eight starts over 1730m for four wins and has also won over 1609m, 1684m and 1780m. The Bond stable which was successful in the Cranley Memorial with Motu Treasure in 2010 and Midnight Dylan in 2013, is setting a cracking pace and leads the trainers’ premiership with 50 winners from 109 starters. This gives them a 26-win lead over Gary Hall Snr. Warwick also has a commanding lead on the drivers’ premiership table. He has driven 52 winners from 113 starters and leads by 18 from Chris Lewis. The Bonds also have strong claims in several events on Friday night. Apart from Galactic Star and Our Jimmy Johnstone, the Bond camp has excellent prospects with Our Max Phactor, Dodolicious, Mighty Conqueror, Lincs Tiger and Infinite Symbol. Ken Casellas

Inexperienced New Zealand-bred gelding Mighty Conqueror will make his first appearance at Gloucester Park when he contests the $50,000 Four-Year-Old Championship on Friday night and owner-trainers Greg and Skye Bond have high hopes that he will extend his winning sequence to four to strengthen his claims for a start in the $125,000 Yes Loans Four-Year-Old Classic in a fortnight and the $200,000 Retravision Golden Nugget two weeks after that. Mighty Conqueror arrived in Western Australia five months ago and has scored an effortless victory at Kellerberrin and two stylish wins at Pinjarra in considerably weaker company than he will meet this week. This will be a serious test for the son of American Ideal who has won at six of his seven starts. He will be handled by Ryan Warwick and has drawn favourably at barrier two on the front line of the 2130m event. Mighty Conqueror possesses excellent gate speed, but so does several of his handily-drawn opponents, Think About Me (barrier one), Bechers Brook (three) and Golden State (five). Mighty Conqueror led and won by more than six lengths at Kellerberrin before leading and sprinting the final 400m in 27sec. to beat Carrera Mach by a length at Pinjarra. He revealed his versatility at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon when Warwick restrained him from barrier six and the gelding settled down in tenth position before he showed sparkling speed to dash forward and take up the running about 1200m from home and then cover the final three quarters in 29.1sec., 29.1sec. and 26.9sec. He won by 19.6m from Danny Del Vito. Mighty Conqueror showed splendid gate speed at his final appearance in New Zealand, in a 2200m event at Invercargill on May 26 when he was first out from barrier four. He was restrained after 200m to take the sit behind Smooth Mara and was eased off the pegs 300m from home, took the lead 150m from the post and won from the fast-finishing Young Conqueror, his elder half-brother. The Bonds will also be represented in Friday night’s race by Bright Diamond, who will be driven by Chris Lewis from barrier six. Bright Diamond is in fine form, with his past ten starts producing six wins, three seconds and one third. Mighty Conqueror’s toughest rivals loom large as the Mike Reed-trained pair of Bechers Brook and Golden State and the polemarker Think About Me, who has won at each of his past four starts and will be driven by Stuart McDonald. He is prepared by Gary Hall snr, who is in New Zealand. Dylan Egerton-Green will handle Bechers Brook, who has raced 19 times for ten wins, seven placings and $143,143 in stakes. Bechers Brook warmed up for his important assignment this week when he finished stoutly from sixth at the bell to be second to the brilliant Jack Mack over 2185m at Pinjarra on Monday of last week. He is generally recognised as a powerful sit-sprinter, but he also possesses excellent gate speed. Golden State, a winner at seven of his 16 starts, has wonderful potential and has impressed with his sizzling gate speed. He will be driven by Mark Reed, who could well attempt to steal a march on his rivals by using the horse’s early brilliance. Pinjarra trainer Aiden Warwick has two runners, Shadow Maker (Nathan Turvey) and Sweet N Fast (Aldo Cortopassi). Each show considerable promise, but they face hard tasks this week from wide draws. Our Corelli’s prospects also slumped when he drew the outside barrier (No. 9) and the Justin Prentice trained and driven gelding will lead a lot of luck to overcome this significant disadvantage. Our Corelli has set the pace and won at three of his past four outings, one at Gloucester Park and two at Pinjarra, but he will be at liberal odds from his poor draw. Ken Casellas 

A FAVOURABLE draw has Australian Pacing Gold purchase Bechers Brook in a strong position to add another feature to his growing tally. Engaged in the Four-Year-Old Championship at Gloucester Park tomorrow night, Bechers Brook will begin from barrier three for trainer Mike Reed. As such the entire has been listed at the top of the betting market at $2.80. A last-start second behind the state’s premier performer of his crop – Jack Mac - Bechers Brook is in peal condition according to Reed. “He will be very hard to beat,” Reed said. “He put in a good run behind Jack Mac, which is a superstar, last time around and has trained on well since. “It’s a small, but very strong field, but he’s certainly ready for it.” By top stallion Somebeachsomewhere from grand producer Cyclone Betty, the Bechers Brook is the brother of former freakish youngster Waikiki Beach. Waikiki Beach won 20 of his first 21 starts, with his victories including the APG Final, New South Wales Breeders’ Challenge, New South Wales Derby and two Breeders’ Crowns before being sold to American interests. As for Bechers Brook, his record sits on 10 wins and seven placings from 19 starts for earnings of $143,143. “He is building a pretty solid record of his own,” Reed said. “He’s got plenty of potential and should keep getting better as he goes along.”   APG Media

Born just a week before the Gloucester Park track opened in December 1929, Roald Ainsworth (Rolly) Smith was an unsung hero to countless drivers and jockeys over more than 50 years. Rolly Smith, who was buried today in his home town of Harvey, seemed destined to make his mark as a horseman from the day his father lifted him into the saddle as a 3yo tyke. Rolly was raised on the family dairy farm at Wokalup near Harvey and rode his pony to and from school and then took up polocrosse as a sport and became extremely proficient at the demaning pursuit. Rolly was heavily involved in polocrosse for more than 25 years and even took on the job as Manager for the WA State Team when they competed in Queensland. In the early 1950’s Rolly was approached and asked to take on the role of Clerk of the Course/Catcher at trotting meetings in Harvey and this later expanded to other tracks across the South West of the State before he took up similar duties at the galloping tracks of Bunbury and Pinjarra. Rolly also answered the call filling in as Clerk of the Course at Gloucester Park on occasions. Rolly and his one-eyed grey Commanche, who had a fan club a lot of musicians would die for, were a regular sight across the South West before Commanche suffered a heart attack at a race-meeting. On the verge of giving up his Clerk of Course duties with the loss of his equine best friend Rolly was offered the retired race-horse Silver Medal by a polocrosse mate and decided to continue to provide a service to the racing industry. In addition to running the family dairy farm, Rolly also ran a cartage contracting business and stood a couple of Standardbred stallions at stud including Yankee Rhythm which won a heat of the 1973 Sydney Inter Dominion. He was ringmaster at the annual Harvey Show for many years and also filled that role at the Perth Royal Show for a time as well as being an active member of his local drama and music clubs. Naturally enough the role as Catcher has an inherent danger attached to it and in 1995 Rolly was badly injured when his horse Silver Medal took fright at a strange noise at the Bunbury trots and Rolly was thrown and Silver Medal landed on top of him fracturing ribs and rupturing Rolly’s spleen. If nothing else Rolly Smith was tough and the septuagenarian was back in the saddle some three months after his spell in intensive care at the Bunbury Hospital, resplendent in his red jacket and R M Williams hat. Rolly Smith was not only an outstanding horseman he was an outstanding bloke as evidenced by the large turnout at his funeral this morning where the coffin was adorned by his saddle, red jacket and trademark hat. As Rolly so often said to the drivers “Take up your numbers please” and lets go,     Alan Parker

The Mike Reed-trained Maczaffair has stamped herself as one of the mares to beat for upcoming feature races, with a strong win in the Listed York Cup (2130m) at Gloucester Park last night. The five-year-old finished powerfully over her rivals, to record her first win since the Group 2 Breeders Stakes in May. Reinsman Mark Reed gave the mare a lovely trip throughout the feature event, settling one off the fence on the back of race favourite El Jacko. Another talented mare Eden Franco hit the front at the top of the home straight, but she couldn’t hold off Maczaffair, who went on to win by 2.7m. Eden Franco held on for second, while outsider Cracka Star was third. Reed said he thought Maczaffair would find it tough to beat El Jacko, but knew he was a chance on the final lap. “The way the race was run, I was a bit surprised early and Overboard Again found the front,” he said. “They turned it on early and we got a bit of luck when El Jacko locked wheels down the back. “To her credit, to round up Eden Franco, she has done a big job.” Maczaffair will now be aimed towards the Group 1 Mares Classic on December 7 and Reed forecasted further improvement from the mare. “She’s still a bit big in condition,” he said. “She should only strip fitter and fitter from here on in.” It was a win which may have surprised Reed in more ways than one, after he suffered a significant health scare a fortnight ago and saw him taken off drives on Gloucester Park’s Italian night. Reed said he was now back to full health. Another mare that could also be on her way to the Mares Classic is the Justin Prentice-trained and driven Pick My Pocket, who was too good for her rivals in the Cellarbrations York Fillies And Mares Pace (2130m). Prentice had to do a bit of work early on the five-year-old and eventually found the breeze in the home straight the first time. Pick My Pocket found the lead on the turn for home as leader Suzies Gem faded, and went on to win by 2.7m to Gunna Get Lucky and Parisian Partygirl. Prentice said he felt the mare deserved a chance to record a Group 1 win next month. “That’s the aim,” he said. “I definitely think she’s good enough to be in them, whether she’s good enough to win one will depend barrier draws and how good she is on the night. “There’s plenty of ability there and I think she’s still learning the caper.” Kyle Harper also enjoyed a successful night at Gloucester Park, training and driving a winning double. Harper’s first winner on the evening was the speedy Thereugo, who was able to cross to the lead from barrier seven and hold off a game Carter Michael by a short half-head. He then teamed up with enigmatic pacer Ace Bromac later in the evening, who came with a swooping run around the outside and score a 7m win.   Tim Walker

Most members of the WA Trotting Media Guild expect punters to start Friday night’s meeting at Gloucester Park on a winning note if they invest their hard-earned on Walkinshaw in the opening event. Veteran tipster Stuart Lowe has made the Ray Williams-trained six-year-old his best bet for the night. “Walkinshaw, who resumes after four months off has won three times and been placed second twice from last his six starts,” Lowe said. “Classy type who is drawn to lead.” Longshot king Pat Harding and The West Australian’s racing co-ordinator Ryan Havercroft believe El Jacko will make a winning return to the track in the York Cup. “My best bet of the night comes up in the fifth with El Jacko coming out of barrier one,” Harding said. “He is resuming after a spell for the Bond camp but had some good placings before a spell. I think first up with Ryan Warwick aboard he can deliver the goods.” Havercroft agrees. “El Jacko had an outstanding last season, winning six races and being placed another 10 times,” Havercroft said. “He resumes in the York Cup and having drawn the pole, he should be hard to hold out.” GPTV’s Ken Casellas and last season’s leading tipster Matt Young are keen on the consistent Chiaroscuro as their best. “The Murray Lindau-trained five-year-old Chiaroscuro will start from barrier one in the second qualifying heat of the Kersley Pace and I expect him to have the pace to hold up, even against the brilliant beginner Thereugo,” Casellas said. “And even if Dylan Egerton-Green decides to take the sit, I’m confident that Chiaroscuro will sprint home fast and notch his 11th win from 31 starts.” Young is of the same opinion. “Chiaroscuro has drawn the ace and is a superior frontrunner, he's likely to win well from the ace on Friday,” Young said. The West Australian’s Ernie Manning believes punters should give the disappointing Bettor Finish one more chance. “Bettor Finish has drawn barrier one and gets his chance to break a 10-start losing run,” Manning said. “A winner twice at Gloucester Park, he was placed there in 2130m events last month and showed glimpses of his best. He faced the breeze before finishing fifth last Friday night.” Budding racecaller Hayden King has opted for Scoobys Delight as his best. “Scoobys Delight went down fighting to the talented American Dynasty on Sunday at Bunbury when first-up from a spell,” King said. “I fancy this an easier assignment and he will lead once more. He should take all the beating.” Guild president Wayne Currall is keen on Pick My Pocket. “This Justin Prentice-trained and reined mare should be cherry ripe after two placed runs after a spell,” Currall said. “She’s found a race where she can dominate from the breeze or just sitting off the pace.” VALUE BETS Stuart: The value bet is Brotha Ofa Gangsta, who could not get into the race last week from barrier eight. Prior fourth was good. Drawn to play a part in the finish. Pat: Leftrightgoodnight  from barrier three stands as good a chance as any in this race and could get home at pretty good odds. Ryan: Scoobys Delight resumed on Sunday from an eight-month break when just run down by American Dynasty. Drawn to lead again, he will be fitter for that outing and this isn’t a strong field. Ken: For value, I suggest the rejuvenated Im Soxy in the TABtouch Pace in which he has drawn perfectly at barrier one and should be in a commanding position throughout. Matt: Firebrace is racing well and the distance suits, a genuine tempo should see him sailing home to be a major player. Ernie: Estocada can be prominent when he returns to Gloucester Park after having raced in the country at his past 25 starts. There was plenty of merit in his performance when he overcame a wide run to win at Bunbury last Sunday. Hayden: Armbro Bliss is racing in career best form and he looks set to enjoy a run just behind the pace. With one-paced types ahead of him, there should be sufficient pace for him to get out and show his late finishing burst to win. Wayne: Jaxon Fella is drawn to get the perfect run behind likely leader Sightseeing Anvil. He looks an excellent each-way chance in the fourth on the card. To view all of the Media Guild tips click here. Good Punting   Wayne Currall

Two strong performances in recent trials are a firm indication that Gotta Go Gabbana is poised for a forward showing at her return to racing in the second event, the TABtouch Pace, at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Gotta Go Gabbana, trained at Banjup by Annie Belton and bred and owned by her and her husband Colin, will start from the No. 5 barrier, with regular reinsman Chris Voak in the sulky. The five-year-old with an imposing record of 33 starts for ten wins, eight seconds and five thirds, has completed a solid preparation for her first-up assignment with three trials, two at Pinjarra and one at Byford. At Pinjarra on October 14, Gotta Go Gabbana broke 30m after the start and made up several lengths to be a nose second to the pacemaker Walkabout Creek. A fortnight later at Byford, Gotta Go Gabbana raced without cover in the middle stages and took the lead with 500m to travel before winning from the fast-finishing Brotha Ofa Gangsta, rating 1.59.2 over 2150m. At Pinjarra on Sunday morning, Gotta Go Gabbana rated 1.57.2 over 2185m when a nose second to Bettor Reward. She raced in the breeze over the final 1400m and sprinted over the third 400m section of the final mile in 27.6sec. before a final quarter in 29.3sec. She got to the front 50m from the post and was joined on the line by the experienced campaigner Bettor Reward. Gotta Go Gabbana, a last-start winner at Gloucester Park on June 29, will start from the No. 5 barrier on Friday night and will meet with stiff opposition from Im Soxy, Soho Chelsea, Maxentius, Arthur Lowe, Always Arjay and Forever Remembered. Maxentius is sure to fight out the finish and deserves a change of fortune after very unlucky seconds at his past two starts. However, he will need all the breaks from an awkward draw at barrier six. Maxentius, trained and driven by Colin Brown, settled in seventh position, started a three-wide burst with 1100m to travel and then raced in the breeze before getting to the front at the 450m and then being outgunned in the final stages by Khun Ratha, who had enjoyed a perfect passage behind the pacemaker Handsandwheels. Maxentius had torrid run and covered a lot of extra ground when an unlucky second to Bechers Brook at his previous appearance, a fortnight earlier. Im Soxy will also have many admirers after drawing the No. 1 barrier. He led early from barrier one and then took the sit behind Thereugo before finishing fast to win from Carter Micheal and Thereugo last Friday night.   Ken Casellas

Bettor Finish is proving costly to punters, but he has bright prospects of breaking a losing sequence of ten by winning the ninth event, the Better Your Bet With TABtouch Pace, at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The Barry Howlett-trained five-year-old has been strongly fancied in several recent starts and will again be driven by Chris Lewis. From his perfect draw at barrier one this week he looks set to lead and is sure to take plenty of catching. He started from the No. 1 barrier three starts ago, but was surprisingly beaten out by Ultimate Major (barrier five) and Thereugo (seven). He then raced three back on the pegs in fifth position before running home strongly, out five wide, to be third behind Thereugo and Chiaroscuro, with the final 800m being covered in a smart 55.9sec. The previous time Bettor Finish started from the No. 1 barrier was 11 starts ago when he set the pace and dashed over the final 800m in 56.3sec. to win from Righteous Brother and Forever Faster over 2130m last May. Howlett has a good second string in Hes Royal Blue, who fought on gamely when a well-beaten third behind the talented Our Corelli over 2185m at Pinjarra three Mondays ago. Challenging the Howlett pair will be The Arsonist and Luis Alberto, from the stables of champion trainer Gary Hall Snr. The Arsonist (Micheal Ferguson) will start from barrier six and Lauren Jones will drive Luis Alberto from barrier four. The Arsonist, at his second appearance after a 25-month absence, gave an encouraging performance last Friday night when he started out wide at barrier eight and came from last in the middle stages to finish third behind Wesley over 1730m. In the same event Luis Alberto disappointed as the 10/9 on favourite when he lacked sparkle and finished seventh. That followed his sound first-up second to stablemate Benhope Rulz when he enjoyed a soft run behind the pacemaker.   Another good winning prospect from the Howlett stable in Busselton will be Major Stare in race six, the HLB Mann Judd Pace, in which the lightly-raced New Zealand-bred seven-year-old will start from the outside of the back line and will be driven for the first time by Aiden de Campo. Major Stare will be having his first start for six months, but is capable of a bold first-up showing. He has raced only 33 times for ten wins, seven seconds and seven thirds. He is a half-brother to Chancellor Cullen, a winner of $327,973 from 38 starts in Australia and New Zealand for 13 wins and nine placings. Chancellor Cullen won the group 1 McInerney Ford Classic for four-year-olds at Gloucester Park in November 2012, beating Bronze Seeker in a desperately close finish by a half-head. Major Stare gave a sample of his ability when he set the pace for Lang Inwood and won the Albany Cup last February from classy pacers Galactic Star and Handsandwheels.     Ken Casellas

In-form reinsman Ado Cortopassi, with 20 wins in the first two months of the 2018-19 season, has been engaged to drive Walkinshaw for the first time when the New Zealand-bred six-year-old stallion starts from the prized No. 1 barrier in the opening event, the Ballantyne Showcase Jewellers Pace, at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Walkinshaw, trained at Mt Helena by Ray Williams, will resume his rivalry with the exciting Kimani and their clash should be one of the highlights on the ten-event program. Kimani showed that he will win many more races with a dashing performance last Friday night when he started from barrier eight and thundered home from eighth at the bell to hit the front 120m from the post and win easily from Starlight Brigade, rating 1.57.5 over 2130m. That was Kimani’s second outing after a spell (following his excellent second to Chiaroscuro) and he looms large as the chief rival for Walkinshaw, who will be resuming racing after an absence of 15 weeks. Walkinshaw made his debut when he started in a heat of the Young Guns (for two-year-olds) at Alexandra Park on December 31, 2014 and finished a sound fifth behind Lazarus and just a neck behind Kimani in fourth place. The two pacers met again in two heats of the three-year-old Sires, with Kimani holding the upper hand with a second and a third to Walkinshaw’s fifth and fourth placings. Then they clashed again, with Walkinshaw finishing third behind Lazarus and Chase The Dream in the Group 1 Great Northern Derby at Alexandra Park, and Kimani finishing ninth. Walkinshaw won at six of his 17 starts in New Zealand and his 16 starts in Western Australia have produced seven wins and five placings. He has an impeccable first-up record for Williams, having scored strong victories at each of his two first WA runs after a spell. This will be the first time in WA that Walkinshaw will start from the No. 1 barrier. He has started three times from the No. 8 barrier for two seconds and a sixth, five times from barrier six for four wins and a sixth, twice from barrier five for a first and a second, twice from barrier four for a win and a fourth and four times from the back line for a first, second, third and a fourth placing. Young Banjup trainer-reinsman Dylan Egerton-Green will be anxious to be the fly in the ointment by upstaging Walkinshaw and Kimani with his smart, lightly-raced seven-year-old Suspicious Life, who is ideally drawn at barrier two on the front line. Suspicious Life has sparkling gate speed and Egerton-Green will be strongly tempted to make a spirited bid for the early lead. Egerton-Green restrained Suspicious Life from barrier six last Friday night and the gelding raced in ninth position before he sustained a powerful three-wide burst from eighth at the bell to finish third behind Danieljohn and Bettor Not Bitter. Suspicious Life was hampered by a flat tyre over the final 400m. At his previous appearance, Suspicious Life began from the inside of the back line and impressed when he finished fast to win from Scotlynn Beach at a 1.55.6 rate over 1730m. Serpentine trainer Clint Hall has engaged Michael Blakemore to drive Mattjestic Star to take advantage of Blakemore’s claim as a novice. Mattjestic Star ended a losing sequence of 38 when he raced fiercely in the breeze for the first 1000m before charging to the front and racing away to win by almost seven lengths over 2130m. He is the solitary runner off the back line this week. Ken Casellas

It's not often in Harness Racing that a first starter winning a mid-week race could throw a spanner in a Gr.1 market; but thats exactly what happened today when Gary Hall Snr produced Ideal Liner to victory in a C0 only event at Gloucester Park. Hall is confident that the 4yo will "just keep winning" giving handicappers no choice but to give the lightly raced NZ import a birth in the prestigious Golden Nugget. We also catch up on the recovery of WA champion pacer Chicago Bull, Snr's NZ Sires Series hopeful Major Trojan AND each of the Hall camp runners on York Cup night at Gloucester Park.   Ken Casellas  

Two classy former Kiwi pacers will be the backbone Team Bond’s Melbourne Inter Dominion assault. Greg Bond said he and wife, Skye, had mapped-out plans for the emerging Vampiro and established open-class player Galactic Star to tackle the series. Vampiro continued his rise through the ranks with a victory in last Friday night’s Group 2 James Brennan Memorial at Gloucester Park, while Galactic Star resumes from a let-up at Pinjarra today (Monday). “Unless something changes, they’ll be going across,” Bond said. “The worry was getting a flight back to Perth after the series, but we’ve put plans in place to float them back because we’ve got the big races here in January. “Flights can be hard to get from Melbourne to Perth that close to Christmas. We’ll fly them if we can, but the transporter is in place to take them home back home on the Sunday or Monday after the final (December 15). “We need them back home quickly to have time for a little freshen-up, then have them spot on for the Fremantle and WA Cups.” Bond said the lure of the Inter Dominion’s history and prestige carried plenty of weight. “The stakemoney is well down on last year and the heats aren’t worth a lot at $30,000 when you think our Gloucester Park free-for-alls at $25,000, but it is still the Inter Dominion,” he said. “We’re taking two horses across who will need luck and are opportunists rather than being able to dominate their races, but we think will be competitive with the right luck. “Galactic Star went across (to Melton) and ran fifth in the Victoria Cup last year and he finished fifth in last year’s Inter Dominion final as well.” Galactic Star also won a heat of last year’s Perth Inter Dominion at Bunbury. “Vampiro has just kept getting better for us. He hasn’t finished further back than fifth in his 30 starts for us and won 15 of them. Even that fifth was in the Golden Nugget when he had to face the breeze for part of the race,” Bond said. In other stable news, Bond said buzz Kiwi import and early Golden Nugget favourite Ana Malak was close to racing. He hasn’t raced since a huge Addington win for then trainer Ken Barron and driver Blair Orange on August 17. “We found a quarter crack so he’s taken more time to get to the races than we expected, but he’s very fit now and we’ve still gone some time up our sleeve for the big 4YO races,” Bond said. “He looks and give you the feel or a really nice horse at home, but we’re keen to see him at the races.” Although Team Bond’s down on numbers, the quality is strong. “We’ve had up to 50 in work and about 40 is the right, but we’re only at around 25 now. That said, we’ve got some nice horse like Saving Grace, who ran a 55.8sec half at Northam to win easily last night (Saturday), Mitch Maguire is very fast and making his way through the grades,” Bond said. “Even Mighty Conqueror, who runs at Pinjarra tomorrow (Monday) shows us plenty at home and could be a Nugget horse as well.” Adam Hamilton

Up and coming driver Corey Peterson has recorded his first Friday night double at Gloucester Park, producing two impressive drives on Always Arjay and Kuhn Ratha. Peterson had to be patient with the Matt Scott-trained Always Arjay in the Book Your Next Conference At Gloucester Park Pace (2536m), where there was a strong early pace on. Always Arjay settled four back on the pegs for much of the race, as Livura set the pace in front of race favourite Bravo Tex, while another of the race favourites Tisadream was left in the breeze. Peterson was able to get to the outside on Always Arjay and finish over the top of Forever Remembered and Livura. Peterson said he was never concerned during the run, despite being a long way off the leaders approaching the turn. “He’s been racing well and the 2500m suits him to a tee,” he said. “When the speed was on early, I was quite confident.” Peterson then teamed up with Khun Ratha in the New Year’s Eve At Gloucester Park Pace (2130m), where he was happy to relinquish the lead to Handsandwheels in the early stages. Khun Ratha was able to settle on the back of the leader, while race favourite Maxentius made his way to the breeze. The eight-year-old loomed up to the leading pair on the turn and eventually wore down Maxentius in the closing stages and seal the double for Peterson. “I was happy to sit on Handsandwheels and Maxentius because they were the best in the race,” Peterson said. “Then they went hard from the bell, so I was happy camped over them.” Elsewhere, Vampiro booked himself a trip to Melbourne for the Inter Dominion after taking out the Group 2 James Brennan Memorial (2130m). Reinsman Ryan Warwick had few issues finding the front on Vampiro from barrier three and went on to win by 2.3m. Vampiro’s stablemate Our Jimmy Johnstone produced an encouraging return to finish second, while Tricky Styx was third. Trainers Greg and Skye Bond will take Galactic Star to Melbourne as well as Vampiro. Galactic Star is ranked 12th in the Inter Dominion, while Vampiro is 17th. Another horse the Bond team contemplated taking to Melbourne for the Inter Dominion was Mitch Maguire, who showed he wouldn’t be out of place in the series with a comfortable win in the Book A Private Box At Gloucester Park Conditioned Handicap (2503m). Owner Rob Gartrell said a lot of thought was given to taking Mitch Maguire to Melbourne, but felt it may have come a year to soon. Gartrell didn’t rule out giving Mitch Maguire a shot at the Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups in January. “We tossed up whether to take him across for it,” he said. “He’s a nice horse, he had some time off as a juvenile with injury but he has come back really strong. “This year, he will tell us, but if he can hold together he’s probably a chance to go in our better quality races.”   Tim Walker

GPTV’s form guru Ken Casellas and yours truly rarely agree on anything, but at Gloucester Park on Friday night we’ll be joining forces to cheer home You Gotta Have Faith. The Bob Mellsop-trained five-year-old gelding has drawn the pole in the sixth and we both think he’s capable of scoring an all-the-way victory for the in-form Jocelyn Young. Casellas summed it up best. “You Gotta Have Faith’s recent form has been rather topsy-turvy, but he should relish starting from the prized No. 1 barrier,” he said. “He showed his liking for pacemaking with two all-the-way wins over 2100m at Geelong last year and he has started from barrier one only once in 18 starts in WA when he set the pace and went on to win over 2100m at Bunbury late last December. I’m confident Jocelyn Young will make every post a winner by jumping in front and then setting a steady pace.” The West Australian’s racing co-ordinator Ryan Havercroft and last year’s leading tipster Matt Young are keen on Vampiro from the leading yard of Greg and Skye Bond. “Vampiro sat outside Maczaffair and wore her down in the Mount Eden Sprint two weeks ago,” Havercroft said. “He is racing in exceptional form, and on that effort he’ll take beating in the James Brennan Memorial.” Young agrees. “Vampiro has stepped right up this preparation and can make his own luck in the feature this Friday,” he said. TABradio’s Matt McDermott, The West Australian’s Ernie Manning and longshot king Pat Harding believe 2017 WA Derby winner Handsandwheels can continue on his merry way. “Tough, versatile, Group 1 wins and placings under his belt ... Handsandwheels should be too strong,” McDermott said. Manning and Harding are of a like mind. “Handsandwheels’ wins at five of his past six starts indicates he is back to the form which enabled him to triumph in last year’s WA Derby,” he said. “The five-year-old, not out of a place in his last 15 appearances, was most impressive when he led and scored first-up on October 19. He looks a top prospect for the Fremantle Pacing Cup and WA Pacing Cup.” “My best bet of the night is with Handsandwheels for the De Campos,” Harding said. “His first run after a spell resulted in an impressive win and I think he can make it two in a row.” Veteran tipster Stuart Lowe believes classy  mare Infinite Symbol can chalk-up a hat-trick of wins in the second last. “My best bet is Infinite Symbol, who has had two starts this season for two wins, including last week’s Merredin Cup,” he said. “Rises in class, but still looks to have an edge on her rivals.” The newest member of the WA Trotting Media Guild - RWWA’s Tim Walker - bagged five winners at his maiden attempt last Friday night and gets a berth in this week’s racebook for his efforts. Walker has taken a shine to Mitch Maguire in the stand. “Mitch Maguire drops back in class this week and has shown good form at the standing start this campaign,” he said. Budding racecaller Hayden King (hear there’s a gig up for grabs calling the Pony Trots) is pinning his hopes on the baldy-faced Im Soxy. “Providing Im Soxy can hold the lead in the early stages, I think he will win,” he said. “He has proven potent when leading in the past and should record his second metropolitan win.” VALUE BETS Ken: Starlight Brigade has been out of the winning list for 21 months, but he impressed at Kellerberrin last Sunday week when he raced wide early and then in the breeze before fighting on grandly to be a head second to Patrickthepiranha. Wayne: I’m sounding like a broken record, but I refuse to let Forever Remembered get under my guard again. She always steps out at a big price and will do so again on Friday night. Can run into the money off a strong pace. Ryan: Khun Ratha dropped out at the start and was not knocked around when resuming at Gloucester Park last Friday. Good draw gives him place prospects. Matt Y: Carter Micheal will be sitting in a nice position with a likely hot early tempo and if the frontrunners undo themselves early, he's the pony I’d like to be on. Matt M: Like his namesake, Luis Alberto is hoping to kick some goals this season after a good return last start when beaten only a metre.  Ernie: Wesley is showing glimpses of ability which he displayed in wins at five of his first seven starts. The five-year-old is ready for a return to city racing after five country victories in his past 11 races. Pat: Brookies Jet has had a number of third placings and I believe he is knocking on the door for a win. This is not a particularly strong field and I think he’s value for money. Stuart: Bravo Tex’s recent form is from wide draws, including a win here from barrier 12 four starts ago. Has the pole draw here which brings him in with strong each-way claims. Tim: Danieljohn has barrier one again this week, after a game second in the Parliamentarians Cup last week. Benhope Rulz is the danger here, but Danieljohn can go one better this week. Hayden: I think Tisadream can cross and lead with not a great deal of speed inside of him. From that position he would be hardest to beat. To view all of the Media Guild tips click here. Good Punting   Wayne Currall

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

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