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A meticulous plan by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond to acclimatise Mighty Conqueror to standing-start racing has excellent prospects of bearing fruit when the lightly-raced and highly talented four-year-old contests the $50,000 Easter Cup at Gloucester Park on Thursday night. With the Group 2 Easter Cup the target, the New Zealand-bred Mighty Conqueror has had a thorough education in stands, having contested stands at his past six starts, leading into this week's big race over the marathon trip of 2902m. He has not been faultless, but has shown a growing aptitude to this style of racing after his first ten starts were in mobiles --- which included a victory in the $50,000 Four-Year-Old Championship, third in the $125,000 Four-Year-Old Classic and a nose second to stablemate Ana Malak in the $200,000 Golden Nugget Championship late last year --- before beginning his well thought-out campaign in stands. These stands produced a desperately unlucky fourth in the Northam Cup (after hanging in and breaking 500m from home and going six wide on the home turn), four wins at Pinjarra (three over 2631m and one over 2116m) and a half-head second to Rocknroll Beachboy over 2631m at Pinjarra after breaking and working hard in the breeze. At his most recent appearance Mighty Conqueror started off the 20m mark and enjoyed an ideal trail in the one-out and one-back position before racing away to win by 14m from Bettor Be Lively, dashing over the final three quarters in 29.4sec., 28.7sec. and 27.9sec. and setting a track record for the distance of 1.56 last Monday week. Mighty Conqueror, the least experienced runner in Friday night's Cup, with 11 wins, two seconds and a third from just 16 starts, will start from the outside of the 20m line, which is virtually only a 10m handicap because there are no runners off the front line. He will again be driven by the State's leading reinsman Ryan Warwick, who guided the Steve Burton-trained Phar From A Fake to victory in the 2004 Easter Cup. The Bonds are following their successful plan of two years ago when they gave Assassinator three starts in stands leading into the Easter Cup. Assassinator, a 15/1 chance driven by Ryan Bell, led for the first lap before taking the sit behind the stablemate Galactic Star and then finishing fast to snatch a head victory from the 5/4 fancy. In an even field this year, several runners have winning prospects, with Mighty Conqueror's chief rivals likely to be Caviar Star, As Happy As Larry, Sarah Goody and Miss Sangrial. Caviar Star, trained by Gary Hall Snr and to be driven by Stuart McDonald, and As Happy As Larry, trained by Robbie Williams and to be driven by Chris Lewis, are in peak form and are the lone runners off the back mark of 30m. Caviar Star, an up-and-coming four-year-old, has won at 11 of his past 20 starts and was gallant in defeat last Friday night when he raced wide early and then in the breeze before finishing a close second to the pacemaker Kiwi Legend, who rated 1.54 over 1730m, with final quarters in 27.4sec. and 28.1sec. Two weeks earlier, Caviar Star was most impressive when he started off 30m and sustained a spirited three-wide burst from the 1050m to get to the front 550m from home and then race away to win by three lengths from Tuas Delight, rating 1.58.2 over 2503m. As Happy As Larry warmed up for the Cup in fine style last Friday week when he finished powerfully to win from Lady De La Renta over 2130m. Lewis is the most successful reinsman in the Easter Cup which was first run in 1912 when Golddust won at a 2.44 rate. Lewis has won the Cup with Pallaton (1980), Gold Rowan (1984), Village Kid (1987), Abmidas (1997), OK Windermere (who dead-heated with Patches in 2006) and Lovers Delight (2015). Gary Hall Jnr has won the Cup five times --- with The Falcon Strike (off the back mark of 20m) in 2003, Patches (off the back mark of 30m) in 2006, Uppy Son (10m) in 2012, Rebel Scooter (10m) in 2013, and Znana (off the front) in 2016. This year he will handle the Kevin Keys-trained mare Sarah Goody, who will start off 20m. Sarah Goody has won at 15 of her 40 starts and is in fine form, with two wins from three starts since resuming from a spell. She handled the stand well six starts ago when she finished boldly to be second to Eden Franco in the 2503m Race For Roses early in May last year. Twelve months before that Sarah Goody surged home from last at the bell to finish second to Maczaffair in the WA Oaks. Five-year-old Sarah Goody and four-year-old Miss Sangrial are the only mares in the field of 12. Party Date, trained and driven by Aiden Warwick, was the most recent Cup winner by a mare, when she beat Heez Ruthless and Faking It in 2005. Among the classy martes to have won the Easter Cup are Kola Girl (1920), Derby Fayette (1938), Portree (1959), Color Glo (1967), Miss Dundee (1971), Wee Cent (1974) and Via Valencia (1991). Miss Sangrial, to be driven by Michael Grantham for his uncle, trainer Michael Brennan, should be prominent throughout and is capable of causing a minor upset. The Colin Joss-trained Bettor Be Lively is racing keenly, particularly in stands, and reinsman Shannon Suvaljko is optimistic that the gelding will perform strongly.   Ken Casellas

THE two biggest names in Aussie pacing are close to comeback races. This season’s open-class ranks were cruelled when firstly Soho Tribeca and then Chicago Bull were sidelined with serious injuries. But the pair are at the same stage of comeback preparations and only three to four weeks away from the racetrack. “All is going well at this stage. He’s about a month away, so the Len Smith is a big chance. We’d love to get there,” Soho Tribeca’s trainer-driver Stanley said. Hall Sr said: “Chicago Bull sounds like he’s at about the same stage as Soho Tribeca. He’ll be ready for a trial in three weeks or so.” There is talk about a possible Gloucester Park match race, but Stanley said his sole target for now was the Group 1 Len Smith Mile on June 30. That said, owner Rob Watson is a big picture man and will ultimately call the shots on where Soho Tribeca heads. “There’s a lot to consider and get through, but it would be amazing for the sport if a match-race happened,” Watson said. “I’d love to see and would certainly throw some money behind it.” _____________________________________________________________________________ EXCITING former Kiwi trotter McLovin capped his preparation for a return “home” with an easy Melton win last night. The Andy and Kate Gath-trained six-year-old will now head to Auckland for the Anzac and Rowe Cups. McLovin worked to the front, dictated terms and won the $24,000 Group 3 Sundons Gift Trotters’ free-for-all (2240m). He’s won six of seven starts since being bought by Norm Jenkin and joining the Gaths. _____________________________________________________________________________ FORMER young Kiwi star Ana Malak is seeing plenty of Australia. The four-year-old made a huge splash, including winning the Group 1 Golden Nugget, in his first Aussie campaign in WA for trainers Greg and Skye Bond. Worried by his handicap status in WA, the Bonds negotiated with Victorian trainer Dean Braun to take Ana Malak for a stint in Victoria. Braun has set his sights on more travel, this time to Tasmania for the $75,000 Easter Cup at Launceston on April 20. As soon as word got out Ana Malak was being set for the race, he was installed a $3 favourite. It promises to be a strong race with other mainlanders like Kerryn Manning’s exciting four-year-old Duke Of Wellington and recent Charlton Cup winner Cant Refuse are others being set for a Tassie raid. Ana Malak won four of six NZ starts before being unbeaten in three runs for the Bonds. The son of Bettors Delight hasn’t raced since winning the Nugget at Gloucester Park on December 14. _____________________________________________________________________________ COULD exciting juvenile colt Pandering be a “sneaky” for the Harness Jewels? The son of Courage Under Fire won on debut for Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin by 35.5m at Ballarat last Friday and is raced by Justin Baker, the managing owner of brilliant three-year-old trotter Alpha Male. Stewart is on record as saying if, as expected, Alpha Male heads to the Jewels she would like to take one or two juvenile pacers with the trotter to Addington. Stewart also has Victoria’s best juvenile so far this season, Be Happy Mach. Another Ballarat winner going places after a sparkling win last Friday is Andy and Kate Gath’s three-year-old trotter Majestuoso. It’s clear he’s in the top few trotters of his age in Australia after posting his fourth win of the season and scoring by 20.3m. _____________________________________________________________________________ ELLMERS Image showed he has the potential to take the next step with a gritty win in blazing time at Menangle last night. Trainer-driver Amanda Turnbull gave him a crack at the Melbourne Inter Dominion last year, but he just battled through the heats before brilliantly winning the consolation. Ellmers Image also ran a strong second to the classy Our Uncle Sam in the Group 1 Bohemia Crystal on Miracle Mile night. Last night he made a midrace move to sit parked outside the speedy Majordan, who did work hard in a 26.1sec opening quarter from a wide draw. The pair hit the line together with the photo showing a nostril margin to Ellmers Image in a 1min49.6sec mile. Former Kiwi pacer Cash N Flow was third. The win was Ellmers Image’s 14th from 52 starts and edged him close to $170,000 in earnings. Another winner of note at Menangle was former Great Southern Star winner Glenferrie Typhoon, who won his first race since being bought from Western Australia. Glenferrie Typhoon reached the top for Andy and Kate Gath before connections took him to WA for a stint. Now a nine-year-old with trainer Roy Roots Jr, Glenferrie Typhoon posted his 32nd win in a 1min59sec mile rate for 2300m. It was his first win since last October.   by Adam Hamilton

Eight-time WA leading trainer Ross Olivieri and Hall of Fame reinsman Chris Lewis have formed a powerful combination over the past 35 years and they are poised to record another Group 1 success by winning the $100,000 WA Sales Classic for two-year-old fillies at Gloucester park on Friday night. They have teamed together for wins in this feature event with Parthenon (1994), Backin A Jiffy (2000) and Hindu Sitara (2003), and for good measure Lewis has also been successful behind Miss Booth (1991), Amongst Royalty (2006), Fidelius Charm (2008) and Tenniele Erin (2017). This week Olivieri and Lewis (who have combined for 21 Group 1 successes) will join forces with brilliant filly Double Expresso, who looks outstanding from barrier four. “She is a very laid-back filly and the fastest two-year-old I have ever trained,” declared a confident Olivieri. Double Expresso has not been extended in scoring effortless victories at Bunbury and Gloucester Park. She raced wide early and then in the breeze before winning in 1.57.3 by three lengths from Sports Package. The final quarters were run in 28.1sec. and 27.4sec. Then Double Expresso, from barrier seven, raced wide early before taking the lead after 550m and rating 1.55.7 in beating Brave Lady by just under four lengths in a 1730m qualifying heat at Gloucester Park. Double Expresso, bred by Kevin and Annette Charles, was sold for $22,000 at the 2018 APG yearling sale in Perth. She is by American stallion Sweet Lou and is out of the Rich And Spoilt mare Here For The Money. Here For The Money raced 79 times for seven wins (three at Bunbury, three at Narrogin and one at Pinjarra) and 18 placings for earnings of $81,874. She was placed at nine of her 38 starts at Gloucester Park. Here For The Money finished second to Soho Cannes in the 2011 Sales Classic for two-year-old fillies and Double Expresso should go one better in the classic this week. She is owned by Olivieri’s wife Jemma Hayman in partnership with first-time owners Brian Miller, Roslyn Carbon and her brother Peter Carbon, a top-flight golfer from the Fremantle Golf Club who combined with his brother Glenn to win the Australian foursomes title many years ago. Peter Carbon’s only involvement in harness racing was when he toiled as a penciller for good friend and on-course Gloucester Park bookmaker Brett Lenton, also many years ago. Double Expresso’s rise to stardom revives wonderful memories of former star New South Wales pacing mare Wickawack. She traces her breeding back to the Lawrie Moulds-trained and driven Wickawack, who finished second to Redwin and to James Scott in the 1962 Interdominion championship series in Perth before being unplaced behind James Scott in the final. Wickawack had a strong connection with WA pacing. Her dam Brunswick Girl’s first four foals were bred in WA and Brunswick Jack, Lawnwick, Comedian and Countess Brun were winners in WA in the 1950s. The other heat winner in this year’s classic is $6500 yearling Moon Goddess, who revealed excellent gate speed from barrier seven for trainer-driver Ryan Bell before setting the pace and beating Major Think Twice at a 1.58.2 rate. Her gross time of 2min. 7sec. was considerably slower than the 2min. 4.4sec. recorded by Double Expresso. Fifo, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, warmed up for the classic with an easy all-the-way win over 1684m at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon. She is the first foal out of Major Flirt, who finished fourth behind Artistic Copper in the 2013 Sales Classic. Fifo, to be handled by Ryan Warwick, faces a tough task from barrier six.   Ken Casellas

Veteran pacer A Boy Named Rosie caught the eye with an impressive return to racing at Bunbury last Saturday night and the eight-year-old looks a sound prospect at good odds in the 1730m Choices Flooring Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He galloped out at the start of a 2503m stand at Bunbury’s Donaldson Park and settled in last position in a field of eleven, a good twelve lengths from the leader. He was still last with 350m to travel before he finished with great determination, five and six wide, to be second to Captain Proud, with the final 400m section whizzing by in 27.5sec. That was A Boy Named Rosie’s first appearance for four months when he ran on well from three back on the pegs to finish fourth behind Overboard Again and Eden Franco over 2130m. Punters will certainly be interested to note that A Boy Named Rosie’s most recent success was 11 months ago when he beat Rocknroll Lincoln at a 1.55.1 rate over 2130m at Gloucester Park. Rocknroll Lincoln has gone from strength after that defeat and he has won the $450,000 WA Pacing Cup and the $50,000 Governor’s Cup at his past two outings. Eleven-year-old Courage Tells and ten-year-old Bronze Seeker are racing keenly and will have admirers. So, too, will six-year-old Touch of Success, who has outstanding prospects as the solitary runner off the back line. Five-year-old Waimac Attack, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, has managed just one placing from his past nine starts, but he makes strong appeal from the favourable No. 2 barrier in the 2130m Channel 7 Pace. Waimac Attack, driven by leading reinsman Ryan Warwick, warmed up in style for this week’s assignment when he thundered home, out wide, from tenth at the bell to finish fourth behind the speedy James Butt last Friday night when the final quarters went by in 28.8sec., 29.5sec., 28.1sec. and 28.6sec. He should carry too many guns for his chief rivals, Destined To Rule and All Jokes Aside.   Ken Casellas

New Zealand-bred pacers Hasani and Caviar Star were two of the most impressive winners last Friday night and their clash in the $30,000 Cowden The Insurance Brokers Im Themightyquinn Pace should provide one of the highlights on Friday night’s ten-event program at Gloucester Park. Neither pacer was extended in winning over 2130m, with Caviar Star giving a brilliant performance to race three wide for the first 600m and then in the breeze before careering away to win by two lengths from Touch of Success. His time of 2min. 34.5sec. was superior than the 2min. 35.1sec. recorded by Hasani.  However, Hasani makes strong appeal as the winner this week, given the fact that he has drawn perfectly at barrier one on the front line, with Caviar Star drawn at the No. 2 barrier on the back line. Ryan Warwick, who drives Hasani for the powerful Greg and Skye Bond stable, is sure to take full advantage of the superior barrier by giving the lightly-raced Courage Under Fire gelding the task of leading all the way. Hasani possesses excellent gate speed and should be capable of holding out  Roman Aviator (barrier three) after the mobile barrier releases the field. Hasani is a five-year-old who has raced only 13 times for seven wins, four seconds and a third and he looks set for a bright career. Caviar Star, trained by Gary Hall Snr, is a four-year-old who has won at seven of his 19 starts and reinsman Gary Hall jnr was full of praise after his victory last week, saying: “He’s still a bity of a baby in the head, but he’s got speed and toughness and that will get him a long way.” Four-year-old Roman Aviator, trained and driven by Aldo Cortopassi, boasts a splendid record of 30 starts for nine wins, seven seconds and a third and he should be prominent. Eight-year-old Machrie is racing enthusiastically for Pinjarra trainer Chris King, and though he has a losing sequence of 38, he has sound place prospects from the inside of the back line. He ran home strongly from last at the bell when third behind Hasani and Anime last Friday night. Ken Casellas

All-conquering trainers Greg and Skye Bond are full of hope that history will repeat itself when they send Saying Grace, Our Jimmy Johnstone and Our Max Phactor out to do battle in the $25,000 Glenroy Chaff Ray Duffy Memorial over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. They are hoping that they will get a trifecta result to replicate their performance when they last had three runners in the Duffy Memorial in April 2013 when Russley Rascal, the 9/4 favourite from the No. 1 barrier and driven by Morgan Woodley, set the pace and won from stablemates Can Return Fire (Nathan Turvey) and Ima Rocket Star (Ryan Warwick).    This week the Bonds have excellent prospects of a 1-2-3 finish with Warwick in the sulky behind Saying Grace, Dylan Egerton-Green driving veteran Our Jimmy Johnstone from the No. 2 barrier and Colin Brown handling Our Max Phactor from an ideal draw at No. 2 on the back line. The New Zealand-bred Saying Grace is the least experienced runner in the field, with a record of 11 wins and five placings from 27 starts. He drops considerably in class after stout-hearted efforts in the Fremantle Cup and WA Pacing Cup on the past two Fridays and he should be capable of setting the pace and notching another victory. Saying Grace raced in seventh position in the one-wide line for much of the way in the 21936m Pacing Cup and battled on gamely to finish seventh, less than three lengths from the winner Rocknroll Lincoln. In the 2536m Fremantle Cup the previous week, he trailed the pacemaker My Field Marshal and was hopelessly blocked for a clear passage when a close and unlucky fourth being My Field Marshal. Our Jimmy Johnstone impressed in the Pacing Cup when he ran home solidly from last at the bell to finish fifth, while Our Max Phactor was always at the rear and was forced to cover a lot of extra ground in the final circuit. Our Max Phactor gave a sample of his class three starts ago when he raced wide early and then in the breeze before finishing second to My Field Marshal in the 1730m Village Kid Sprint. His previous 13 starts in Western Australia resulted in 12 wins and one second placing. Trainer Ross Olivieri and reinsman Chris Lewis combined to win the Duffy Memorial with Sensational Gabby in 2014 and Flaming Flutter in 2017 and they will be looking for Mr Mojito to cause an upset from barrier five. Olivieri will also be represented by Itz Bettor To Win, who will start from barrier six with Mitch Miller in the sulky. Handsandwheels, Vultan Tin and Runrunjimmydunn are racing with plenty of spirit, but will need luck from wide barriers. Handsandwheels warmed up for the race by starting from 60 metres over 2503m at Bunbury last Saturday night. He sustained a spirited burst, out wide, from the rear to win by a half-length from Attack On Command. He is a noted frontrunner, but reinsman Aiden de Campo contends that the powerful five-year-old will develop into a strong sit-sprinter. The Matt Scott-trained Always Arjay steps up in class, but has place prospects from the inside of the back line. The seven-year-old won for the fifth time this season when he started from 20m, raced three wide early and then without cover before finishing determinedly to snatch victory from Carrera Mach last Friday night.   Ken Casellas

Champion trainers Greg and Skye Bond are poised to set a record by preparing the first horse to win the $50,000 The West Australian Nights of Thunder at Gloucester Park on Friday night from the outside barrier. They are pinning their hopes on classy four-year-old Bettor Aim, the least experienced runner in the Group 2 feature event whose prospects diminished slightly when he drew the outside (No. 9) barrier. No pacer has been successful from either barrier eight or nine in the 12-year history of the 1730m event but Bettor Aim was so dominant in winning one of the three qualifying heats last Friday night that he should be able to overcome the significant disadvantage of the wide draw. Bettor Aim started from the No. 2 barrier, dashed to the front after 200m and gave his rivals little chance when he set a scorching pace in his heat in which he won by just over three lengths from Bettor Be Lively, rating 1.52.4, a time faster than that recorded by the winner of the 12 finals. The 400m sections of the heat whizzed by in 27.6sec., 27.8sec., 27.9sec. and 29.3sec. The race record rate of 1.53 was set by Mohegan Sun when he enjoyed the one-out, one-back trail and finished strongly to beat the pacemaker Ti Amo Franco three years ago. The Bonds have an excellent record in the Nights of Thunder, winning the race from awkward draws with Quick Draw McCaw from barrier five in 2008 and with Ohokas Bondy from barrier seven in 2012. Both those winners started at 13/2 and were driven by Colin Brown.   Quick Draw McCaw, trained by Greg Bond, began speedily and set the pace before winning by a neck from Glitzy Miss. Four years later, Ohokas Bondy, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, was restrained at the start, was seventh with 600m to travel and fifth on the home turn before finishing powerfully to win by a half-length from stablemate Dundee Three, with other stablemates Seel N Print (barrier four) and Nimrod (barrier three) finishing eighth and ninth, respectively. Bettor Aim, to be driven by leading reinsman Ryan Warwick, raced four times in New Zealand for one win. That victory was as a three-year-old in his final appearance in New Zealand when he revealed his undoubted ability as a sprinter when he led early from barrier one, then raced three back on the pegs and moved to the breeze with 900m to travel before bursting to the front at the 150m mark and easily beating the favourite Ohanzee, rating 1.56.7 over 1950m at Addington in April of last year, with a final quarter in 27.9sec. He boasts an outstanding record in Western Australia seven wins, one second and one fifth (behind stablemate Ana Malak in the Golden Nugget championship last month). A wide barrier in the Nights of Thunder in 2015 contributed to the disappointment for the Bond camp when Our Jimmy Johnstone started favourite at 6/4 from barrier No. 6 and finished sixth behind Soho Lennon after racing four wide early and then in the breeze. In the final the following year, the Bond-trained Phoenix Warrior was a 2/1 favourite from the No. 1 barrier. But he broke in the early stages and finished last. The stable also has had two third placegetters in the Nights of Thunder final --- Pablito in 2009 and Bettor Offer in 2017. One of Bettor Aim’s toughest opponents on Friday night is likely to be Benhope Rulz, the only other four-year-old in the race. Benhope Rulz, prepared by Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr, has won at nine of his 24 starts and impressed in a qualifying heat last week when he began out wide at barrier seven, raced wide early and then in the one-out, one-back position before finishing strongly to be second to Mattjestic Star. Benhope Rulz will be handled by Gary Hall Jnr who is in dazzling form and has driven ten winners in the past week. Hall Snr will also be represented by Bettor Vision (Stuart McDonald) who led early and then trailed the pacemaker when a fighting third to Bettor Aim last Friday night. The five-year-old boasts a fine record of 30 starts for nine wins, seven seconds and five thirds.           The master trainer has a wonderful record in the Nights of Thunder with four winners (Tealsby Karita, Hokonui Ben, Soho Lennon and Mohegan Sun) as well as two second and three third placegetters. The oldest and most experienced runner in Friday night’s final is the Julie O’Neill-trained eight-year-old Mattjestic Star, who notched his 17th victory from 127 starts when he charged home from fifth at the 100m mark to win convincingly from Benhope Rulz and As Happy As Larry in the opening qualifying heat, rating 1.53.4. Mattjestic Star will begin from the No. 6 barrier and Darren Kerr will employ similar sit-sprint tactics on Friday night. Kerr has happy memories of driving Scan Air to a thrilling victory over hot favourite Scruncher in the 2010 Nights of Thunder final. Scan Air was eighth at the bell and flew home to overhaul the pacemaking Scruncher in the final 25 metres. Henley Brook trainer-reinsman Robbie Williams has high hopes of winning with As Happy As Larry, who has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier. As Happy As Larry revealed great gate speed from barrier three last week before setting a scorching pace and wilting only over the final stages. Williams is sure to take full advantage of the inside draw and As Happy As Larry will take plenty of catching.   Ken Casellas

Reigning Miracle Mile champion My Field Marshal is looking to join a select group. The fastest pacer in Australasia (1:46.9) is set to join an exclusive club by winning the Miracle Mile one year followed by the WA Pacing Cup the following year. The members include Our Sir Vancelot (1997/98), Westburn Grant (1990/91) and Village Kid (1987/88) - three of the all-time greats with 179 combined victories and prizemoney in excess of $6.3 million. Another great in Preux Chevalier (40 wins - $790,331) achieved the feat in reverse, he won the Miracle Mile in 1984 before winning the WA Pacing Cup in 1985. And My Field Marshal is drawn to advantage after landing gate three for the 2936m mobile start feature. Fresh from his commanding victory in last week’s Fremantle Cup, the Art Major entire is looking to provide master horsemen Tim and Anthony Butt another Grand Circuit triumph. The Canterbury born brothers have won in excess of 100 Grand Circuit events, pacers and trotters combined! Interestingly, they’re yet to strike Grand Circuit event in Perth. Chicago Bull was the last horse to complete the Fremantle/WA Pacing Cups double (2017). The last time a winner came outside of the state’s border was Washakie back in 2010, prepared by then Queensland based John McCarthy. My Field Marshal is the only interstate trained runner contesting this year’s feature. The Gr.1 $450,000 TABtouch WA Pacing Cup is the fifth leg of the 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit, the staying feature is steeped in history after first being staged back in 1913 when Letty Lind proved victorious. The great race has been won by the likes of Beau Don, Radiant Oro, James Eden, Just Too Good, Don’t Retreat, Pure Steel, San Simeon, Gammalite, Preux Chevalier and Village Kid among others. In recent times, names like Westburn Grant, Our Sir Vancelot, The Falcon Strike, Baltic Eagle, Im Themightyquinn and My Hard Copy are listed as winners. Many of these great names listed above have won the Cup more than once. Last year, Soho Tribeca defeated Chicago Bull in an enthralling battle but sadly, neither pacer will start this year. Since 2002, the Hall stable have won the staying feature 11 times. The master conditioner has triumphed with The Falcon Strike (x3), Tealsby Karita, Im Themightyquinn (x3), Hokonui Ben, My Hard Copy (x2) and Chicago Bull. This year, the Hall stable will be represented by Runrunjimmydunn. Team Bond, the leading stable in the state has weight in numbers and provide half the field, 6 of the 12 runners. Greg and Skye Bond will be represented by Our Max Phactor (Dylan Egerton-Green), Galactic Star (Ryan Warwick), Vampiro (Colin Brown), Our Jimmy Johnstone (Michael Grantham), El Jacko (Aiden De Campo) and Saying Grace (Chris Lewis). The impressive stable is chasing their maiden success in the Cup. Astute mentor Ross Olivieri, a winner of the Cup in 1999 with Saab, is represented by last start winner Im Full Of Excuses. Shannon Suvaljko, a winner of the Cup in 2008 with Vanlo Yorker is engaged to drive Im Full Of Excuses. Father/son combination of Mike and Mark Reed are chasing their first win in the Cup and line-up classy mare Maczaffair who starts from the inside gate. The last mare to win the state’s showcase event was Pyramus back in 1972 while Dainty’s Daughter won in 1970. Emerging open class force Rocknroll Lincoln will have plenty of followers after his unlucky effort last week in the Fremantle Cup. Prepared by brilliant young horseman Justin Prentice, Rocknroll Lincoln will be handled by champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr. Hall Jnr has won the Cup seven times previously. Rugged pacer Vultan Tin starts in the Cup for the second time for trainer Phil Costello and regular driver Chris Voak. Last year, they finished 10th. If My Field Marshal proves successful, he gains an excellent chance of being a major player for the title of Grand Circuit champion with a number of features still to come this term back on the east coast. Inter Dominion hero Tiger Tara currently leads the race with 260 points. The TABtouch WA Pacing Cup is scheduled as race 5 and listed to start at 7.58pm local time.   Chris Barsby

Consistent pacer El Jacko has added to trainer Greg and Skye Bond’s strong artillery for the upcoming Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups, taking out the Direct Trades Supply Free-For-All at Gloucester Park last night. With Inter Dominion champion Tiger Tara being scratched earlier in the week from both Cups, along with the Bond’s star four-year-olds Ana Malak and Mighty Conqueror, together with El Jacko’s two consecutive Free-For-All wins, means the gelding is now well placed for the features. El Jacko was perfectly driven by Dylan Egerton-Green, settling on the back of Runrunjimmydunn, who was in the breeze, while short price favourite Vultan Tin led throughout. In similar circumstances to last week though, El Jacko was well poised on the turn and showed a tremendous finishing burst to win by a head to Vultan Tin. Egerton-Green said El Jacko had a few key traits that would hold him in good stead for next week’s feature. “It was a good win and he probably had that little bit of luck go his way at his last two starts,” he said. “He’s capitalised on it and his quick turn-of-foot probably pays dividends at the end of the day.” Greg Bond said he had seven runners nominated for next week’s Fremantle Cup, headlined by last month’s Inter Dominion Final runner Galactic Star and consistent performer Vampiro. My Field Marshal remains the favourite for both races, following his win in the Village Kid Sprint last week. In the other feature event of the night, trainer-reinsman Justin Prentice was able to steer Sun Of Anarchy to victory in the $50,000 Trotters Cup. Tenno Sho opened up a big lead throughout the running of the 2503m event and looked the winner for much of the home straight, before Sun Of Anarchy eventually got passed him in the final 50m. Elsewhere on the night, trainer-reinsman combination Mike and Mark Reed teamed up with half-siblings Golden State and Maczaffair to score a winning double. Tim Walker

Vultan Tin, firmly on track to contest the rich summer carnival cups this month, will be the odd horse out when he starts from the prized No. 1 barrier in the $25,000 Direct Trades Supply Free-For-All over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The West Australian-bred seven-year-old will be clashing with nine New Zealand-bred pacers and has bright prospects of leading all the way. Trained at Coolup by Phil Costello, Vultan Tin will be driven by Chris Voak, who is sure to make full use of the gelding’s good gate speed and ability as a frontrunner. Eight of his 18 victories have been achieved when he has set the pace. It will pay to completely disregard Vultan Tin’s last-start eighth behind My Field Marshal in the 1730m Village Kid Sprint last Friday night when he started out wide at barrier No. 8 and was restrained to the rear before starting a three-wide move about 550m from home. He was then forced extremely wide and had no chance of making ground on the leaders. At his previous outing, a fortnight earlier, Vultan Tin started from the outside barrier in a field of nine and quickly dropped back to the rear before Voak sent him forward to challenge Rocknroll Lincoln for the lead. He was unable to get to the front and then overraced in the breeze before hanging on grimly to finish second to Rocknroll Lincoln, with final quarters in 27.5sec. and 28.4sec. A week before that, Vultan Tin started from barrier four in a field of six and he raced in fifth position on the pegs before finishing strongly to dead-heat for first with Runrunjimmydunn in the 2130m event. The final sections were covered in 27.6sec. and 27.8sec. Runrunjimmydunn looms large as a serious rival for Vultan Tin. The five-year-old who is prepared by Gary Hall Snr, maintained his good form when he enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back, before fighting on gamely to finish third behind My Field Marshal. Leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond hold a strong hand in this week’s event, with four of the ten runners El Jacko, Rock Diamonds, Vampiro and Mitch Maguire --- with the State’s leading reinsman and the stable’s No. 1 driver Ryan Warwick giving punters a lead by opting to handle Mitch Maguire, the solitary runner off the back line. Mitch Maguire raced three back on the pegs and fought on well when fourth in the Village Kid Sprint at his first appearance since finishing strongly to win a 2503m stand from As Happy As Larry a month earlier. El Jacko, a fast-finishing last-start winner, will begin from barrier three with Dylan Egerton-Green in the sulky; Aiden de Campo will drive Rock Diamonds from barrier seven and Colin Brown will handle Vampiro from the outside barrier (No. 9). Bettor Not Bitter gets his chance Locally-bred six-year-old Bettor Not Bitter has bright prospects of ending a losing sequence of 23 and a 15-month drought when he starts from the 10m mark in the 2503m Better Your Bet With TABtouch Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night. His past two runs have been a firm indication that he is ready to return to the winning list. He started from the outside of the back line in a 2130m mobile event last Friday night and impressed in finishing a close fourth behind Carter Micheal. He raced three wide for the first 300m and then worked hard in the breeze before taking a narrow lead 200m from home and fighting on grimly over the final stages. A week before that he began out wide from barrier seven and raced without cover in the first circuit before enjoying a good sit, one-out and one-back, and then ran home gamely to finish second to the pacemaker Machiatto in a 2130m mobile. Bettor Not Bitter, to be driven by Ryan Warwick for star trainers Greg and Skye Bond, is a capable standing-start performer who has had 12 runs in stands for three wins, three seconds, one third and two fourths. His main rival appears to be the Ross Olivieri-trained Carrera Mach, who is ideally suited from barrier two on the front line, with Chris Lewis in the sulky. Carrera Mach has struck a purple patch with four wins from his past five starts. He enjoyed a perfect sit in the one-out, one-back position before fighting on doggedly to snatch a half-head victory from Lightning Jolt in a 2130m mobile event on Monday night. Carrera Mach set the pace and won easily from Trust My Judgement in a 2560m stand at Northam nine nights earlier. Four-year-old Carrera Mach, the youngest and least experienced runner in the field, with seven wins, seven seconds and one third from 24 starts, boasts a record in stands of four starts for two wins and two seconds. At the other end of the scale and at the other end of the scale are seasoned campaigners Courage Tells and Tanaka Eagle. Courage Tells, an evergreen 11-year-old trained by the Bonds, will be driven by Dylan Egerton-Green from the 10m mark. He won for the 34th time from 203 starts when he set the pace and beat Bettor Be Lively and Mighty Flying Thomas in a 2130m mobile on Monday night. Tanaka Eagle, an eight-year-old trained by Reg Phillips, has won at 23 of his 211 starts. He caught the eye two starts ago when he ran home solidly from sixth at the bell to finish second to Our Max Phactor in a 2503m stand at Gloucester Park and two starts before that he made most of the running to win a 2631m stand at Pinjarra, beating Importer Exporter and Courage Tells.   Ken Casellas  

Capel horseman Aiden de Campo drove an inspired race to land Mileys Desire a superb winner at Gloucester Park last Saturday night, but he has caused a minor surprise by opting to handle Parisian Partygirl in preference to Mileys Desire in a heat of the NYE Brought To You By Retravision Coulson Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Mileys Desire, trained by de Campo’s father Andrew, will be driven by Mark Johnson from barrier two in the 2130m event for mares. Parisian Partygirl, trained at Bindoon by Bernie James, will start from the coveted No. 1 barrier in the field of eight. Aiden de Campo has driven Mileys Desire 38 times for five wins, nine seconds and five thirds. Johnson has handled the mare eight times for one win, a second and a third. De Campo has driven Parisian Partygirl 27 times for three wins, ten seconds, six thirds, four fourths, three fifths and one sixth placing. Mileys Desire began speedily from barrier four in a 2130m event last Saturday night and de Campo drove her hard in a concerted bid to wrest the lead from Ayana. Mileys Desire got to the front after a hectic first 300m and the lead time whizzed by in a fast 35.8sec. Mileys Desire gained a well-needed breather with an opening 400m section of the final mile in 32.6sec., followed by a 30.7sec. quarter before final quarters in 28.9sec. and 29.4sec. She held on resolutely to win by a half-length from Rock N Roll Delight, rating 1.58.9. Parisian Partygirl has a modest winning record of just 11 per cent from her eight wins from 71 starts. But she has been extremely consistent, notching 24 seconds and 11 thirds. She impressed last Friday night when she started out wide at barrier eight and was tenth at the bell before sprinting home strongly from seventh at the 100m to finish a well-beaten fourth behind the outstanding four-year-old Our Angel of Harlem. Parisian Partygirl and Mileys Desire should fight out the finish with the Greg and Skye Bond-trained Infinite Symbol, who will start from the No. 6 barrier. Infinite Symbol has won at seven of her past 14 starts and boasts a career record of 11 wins and ten placings from 36 starts. One of the best bets on the program should be the Paula Petricevich-trained four-year-old Bettor B Abeliever, who will be driven by Kyle Harper from the favourable No. 2 barrier in the Fun For the Whole Family at GP on NYE Pace. Bettor B Abeliever has resumed after a spell in fine fettle with a first-up all-the-way win over 2185m at Pinjarra and a splendid last-start second to Franco Edward over 2130m at Gloucester Park last Saturday night.   Ken Casellas

Talented young reinsman Dylan Egerton-Green has been engaged by star trainers and part-owners Greg and Skye Bond to drive promising four-year-old Fizzing in the Potbelleez Live at GP on New Year’s Eve Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night after the stable’s No. 1 reinsman Ryan Warwick opted to handle the vastly improved Im Soxy. Fizzing maintained his excellent form when he raced in sixth position in the one-wide line before finishing strongly into third place behind stablemates Ana Malak and Mighty Conqueror in the Group 1 Golden Nugget last Friday night. That followed an all-the-way victory over The Art Form at his previous start, a fortnight earlier. The New Zealand-bred Fizzing has had 19 starts in WA for seven wins and seven placings. Egerton-Green has driven the Mach Three horse once six starts ago when he finished a one and a half length second to stablemate Our Max Phactor in a 2503m stand at Gloucester Park. From barrier two on the front line, Fizzing should be prominent throughout Friday night’s race either leading or sitting behind speedy beginner Argyle Red.  Im Soxy, trained in Bunbury by Brian Clemens, will start from the No. 2 barrier on the back line and will be hard to beat. He has struck a purple patch in recent months, with his past 11 starts producing four wins, four seconds, two thirds and one fourth. Warwick has driven the six-year-old at 11 of his 55 starts for four wins, four seconds and a third placing. Im Soxy, who was unplaced at his first eight starts (on country tracks in 2016), is proving extremely competitive and versatile, revealing excellent gate speed and excelling as a frontrunner as well as proving a smart sit-sprinter. Im Soxy is just one of several good winning prospects for Warwick on Friday night. His best hopes appear to lie with Saying Grace, Our Max Phactor, Bettor Aim, Bright Diamond and Infinite Symbol. Our Max Phactor, an experienced campaigner, is in brilliant form and looks outstanding off the 10m mark in the 2503m Book Into the Beau Rivage For New Year’s Eve Handicap. He has raced 12 times in WA for 11 wins and a close second placing. He is unbeaten in seven stands in the State. Four-year-olds Bettor Aim, Bright Diamond and Infinite Symbol are racing keenly and have excellent prospects in their respective races. Ken Casellas

The Warwick family, famous in harness racing, has a strong affinity with the Christmas Gift and at Gloucester Park on Friday night Ryan Warwick will be all out to join his late grandfather, his father, uncle and cousin on the honour board of the Group 2 feature event. The 40-year-old Warwick will drive Saying Grace, an up-and-coming star who is prepared by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond and is sure to start a short-priced favourite after drawing favourably at barrier No. 2 on the front line in the 2130m $50,000 Christmas Gift. Saying Grace arrived in Western Australia from New Zealand just three months ago and has established an enviable reputation, with his first eight starts in the State producing five wins and two seconds after a first-up failure when he was finishing powerfully to move into second place and was looking the winner before he broke into a fierce gallop 220m from home. He has won eight of his past 11 starts, including victories at his final three appearances in New Zealand in August this year. Warwick is in dazzling form in the sulky with 83 wins from 176 drives in WA this season to hold a lead of 30 over his nearest rival Chris Lewis in the Statewide drivers’ premiership table. His grandfather Bill Warwick trained Swanky Lobell, who was driven by his (Ryan’s) father Colin when he won the 1986 Christmas Gift from Prince Feisal and Maxwell Hook. Colin also was in the sulky when Trunkey Limousine, trained by his brother Trevor (Ryan’s uncle), won the Christmas Gift from The Prospectus and Simeon Bay in 1989. Trevor Warwick also won the Christmas Gift as a trainer and driver with Innocent Mac (1995) and Hy Falutin (1999). Justin Warwick, Trevor’s son and Ryan’s cousin, trained and drove Ted Barry when he won the 1998 Christmas Gift from Michael Leslie and Plenty of Cash. Justin then drove Lord Miles to victory over The Die Is Cast and Chivalrous Fella in the 2001 Gift. Saying Grace warmed up for Friday night’s race in superb style last Friday night when he started out wide at barrier eight in a heat of the Gift. He raced three wide for the first 300m and then in the breeze outside the pacemaker and 5/2 on favourite Kimani before slipping into overdrive and forging to the front 380m from home. He sprinted over the final quarters in 27.7sec. and 27.8sec. and was not extended in winning by 4m from Kimani. The powerful Bond stable will also be represented in this year’s Christmas Gift by evergreen 11-year-old Courage Tells, who will start from the inside of the back line with Dylan Egerton-Green in the sulky. A veteran of 201 starts, Courage Tells is racing enthusiastically and should enjoy a perfect passage throughout. The Bonds have won the Christmas Gift with Motu Treasure in 2010 and Russley Rascal in 2011. Russley Rascal, a 7/2 chance driven by Colin Brown, beat stablemates Dundee Three (13/4) and Talk It Up (a $95 tote outsider). The Christmas Gift, first run in 1963, is one of very few feature events that has eluded champion reinsman Chris Lewis. He will drive smart mare Madame Meilland, who is prepared by Ross Olivieri, who has won the race with Savette in 1992 and Im A Peregrine in 2015.  Madame Meilland, an excellent third to Saying Grace and Kimani last week, is awkwardly drawn at barrier six. Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr has won the event a record six times with Nixons Creed (1993), Allioop (2004), McRaes Mate (2007), Livingontheinterest (2012), Toretto (2013) and Herrick Roosevelt (2017). His only runner this year, Kimani, has had seven starts in his current campaign for one win and five seconds. He faces a stern test from out wide at barrier eight. Walkinshaw, trained at Mt Helena by Ray Williams, was an unlucky short half-head second to Herrick Roosevelt in last year’s Gift and he is sure to prove one of Saying Grace’s toughest rivals on Friday night. A winner of six races from 37 starts in New Zealand and nine from 20 starts in WA, Walkinshaw is sure to be prominent from barrier five. He sustained a powerful three-wide burst over the final 1000m to snatch victory from Debt Free Charlie last Friday night. The Mike Reed-trained The Art Form and the Annie Belton-trained Gotta Go Gabbana are racing keenly, but will need plenty of luck from awkward draws.   Ken Casellas

SURE it was Inter Dominion weekend in Melbourne, but the most remarkable training performance took place on the other side of Australia. Greg and Skye Bond produced a truly remarkable result with the first five – yes, five – placegetters in Australia’s second biggest four-year-old feature, the $200,000 Group 1 Golden Nugget at Gloucester Park last Friday. They had half the field with the Bonds sixth runner, Thisbeachrighthere, finishing 10th. It was hugely-hyped Kiwi import Ana Malak who took first prize, with driver Ryan Warwick taking advantage of the pole draw to lead, dictate terms and rip home in 55.6 and 28.2sec to win by a whisker. But the run of the race without doubt came from stablemate Mighty Conqueror, who sat parked for driver Dylan Egerton-Green and just kept coming. He’d have won in another half a stride and in a slick 1 min57.5sec mile rate for the long 2536m trip. “He could be the real deal,” co-trainer Greg Bond said. “He’s a big fella still filling into himself, so there’s probably still some upside with him which is exciting.” There should be upside to Ana Malak as well. He battled a minor, but niggling hoof issue which limited his racing preparation for the Nugget. He won the big won at just his third start for Team Bond. The next three home for the Bonds were Fizzing, Bright Diamond and Bettor Aim. “We really like this batch of horses and it’s great to get a result like this,” Greg Bond said. With WA’s best pacer, Chicago Bull, sidelined, Bond is looking at running the cream of his four-year-old crop against the older horses in the Group 1 open-class features, the Fremantle and WA Cups, next month. _______________________________________________________________________________________ GRANT Dixon has his sights set on next year’s Auckland Inter Dominion with Queensland’s best pacer, Colt Thirty One. Dixon toyed with running in this year’s Melbourne series, but opted to stay home to ease his stable star into open-class racing through some home state features. And Colt Thirty One completed the double, following last week’s easy Xmas Cup win with a narrow but fantastic Group 2 Queensland Cup win last night. The son of Mach Three came from an outside back row draw, did all the work and dug deep to win a whisker in a slick 1min55sec mile rate for 2138m, beating stablemates Smooth Showgirl and Avonnova. “We did think about taking him to Melbourne, but I’m glad we stayed here and went through these races,” Dixon said. “I know Kevin (Seymour, owner) will want to chase the Inter Dominion next year if he’s going well enough.” Next stop is a trip to Sydney to target Australia’s biggest four-year-old race, the Chariots Of Fire, which promises to be an epic this year. Think of horses like Chase Auckland, Spankem, Im Pats Delight, Ride High, Poster Boy, Ignatius and maybe even WA pacers like Ana Malak and Mighty Conqueror. _______________________________________________________________________________________ WHAT a night it was for the girls at Melton on Inter Dominion final night. Kate Gath took centre stage with the Trotting Final win aboard Tornado Valley, but females won six of the 11 races on the card. They were: Kima Frenning (race two, Pizza Queen), Amanda Turnbull (races four and five on Conviction and Ellmers Image), Gath (races six and seven on Star Of Memphis and Tornado Valley) and Jodi Quinlan (race nine, Glenferrie Blade). Turnbull turned around an otherwise frustrating Inter Dominion series to win the consolation in gritty fashion with Ellmers Image and the free-for-all with Conviction. Conviction’s win was one of the runs of the night, simply running his rivals ragged in front in blistering times. His splits were 28.9, 28.2, 28.5 and 28.3sec for a 1min53.5sec mile rate over 2240m. Let It Ride finished strongly, but had his chance when second, while Buster Brady simply worked too hard outside the leader in the blistering times and did well to fight on for third. It was great to see Quinlan, one of the pioneering females at the top level, snare the Group 3 Richmond Lass win aboard Glenferrie Blade for partner, Craig Demmler. Glenferrie Blade trailed the leader and got clear when favourite Delight Me crushed the leader, My Harmony Blue, and kicked-away, but couldn’t sustain the sprint. They ran a 1min54.4sec mile rate for 1720m and it was a sprint home in a 54.4sec last half and 27.1sec last quarter. _______________________________________________________________________________________ MIRACLE Mile winner My Field Marshal will have to head to Perth without a lead-up race. A deluge of rain caused the abandonment of the Menangle meeting last night where My Field Marshal was due to return. Trainer Tim Butt is keen to get My Field Marshal across to Perth early for a lead-up run the Celebrity Sprint on December 28 ahead of the big Fremantle and WA Cup double in January. In a coup for Gloucester Park, Mark Purdon said he was “seriously considering” sending one of the All Stars’ open-class stars across for the Fremantle and WA Cups as well. “Nat and I need to sit down and think through it, but there is a flight which makes it attractive,” he said. _______________________________________________________________________________________ IT was great to see one-time budding star Mr Mojito returned to winning form at Gloucester Park last Friday. It was the now six-year-old’s first win since scoring at Melton on September 17, last year, when trained and driven by Kerryn Manning. Now with Ross Olivieri, Mr Mojito boasts a win and two seconds from three starts back from an injury which sidelined him for almost a year. He’s still very lightly-raced with 30 starts netting 12 wins, five seconds and two thirds. The free-for-all on the same night went to Kiwi import Rocknroll Lincoln in impressive style after leading and copping plenty of pressure in a sharp 1min54sec mile rate for 2130m, including closing splits of 55.9 and 28.4sec. Rocnkroll Lincoln’s win was his ninth from just 19 starts for trainer Justin Warwick. Another winner with a strong Kiwi flavour on the card was Our Angel Of Harlem, who dropped sharply in grade, led from the pole and thrashed a moderate field by almost 17m in a 1min57.3sec mile rate for 2130m.   Adam Hamilton

Star four-year-old Ana Malak has delivered trainers Greg and Skye Bond their first win in the Group 1 Retravision-Golden Nugget (2536m) and led home a first five for the in-form trainers. Following his tough win in the 4YO Classic a fortnight ago, Ana Malak was again the one to beat for last night’s feature after he drew barrier one earlier in the week. With six runners in the race, the Bond stable were able to dictate how the race was run and had the first four in running for much of the event. Ana Malak had a comfortable time in front, while Mighty Conqueror sat outside of him in the breeze, with Bettor Aim and Bright Diamond the next pair in running. The son of Bettors Delight held off a game Mighty Conqueror in the run to the finish, winning by a short half-head and rated 1.57.5. The outsider of the six Bond runners Fizzing ran home strongly for third, ahead of Bright Diamond and Bettor Aim. Golden State was the first of the non-Bond runners across the line in sixth position. Winning reinsman Ryan Warwick, who brought up his second success in the Group 1 feature last night, paid tribute to Ana Malak’s toughness. “Around the corner I was going really well and I thought I had the other horse off the bit,” he said. “I probably tried to kick away too early. “Because he hasn’t done a lot of racing, he probably gets caught looking around…the other horse (Mighty Conqueror) was really game. “If you flip the draws around, you flip the result around.” WATCH: Ana Malak's Nugget Win Here Ana Malak is now expected to progress towards next month’s Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups, where he may be joined by Galactic Star, who is engaged in tonight’s Inter Dominion Final. Warwick takes the drive on the six-year-old from barrier one and said he’s yet to make his mind up on whether he would try and hold the front or hand up to one of his rivals. Saying Grace was the Bond’s other winner on the evening, taking out the third heat of the Christmas Gift. Meanwhile, Rocknroll Lincoln showed why he would be a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming Pacing Cups, taking out the Retravision Free-For-All Pace (2130m). Fresh from his win in the Bunbury Cup a fortnight ago, Rocknroll Lincoln was able to find the front comfortably from barrier two. Vultan Tin ensured the Justin Prentice-trained pacer wouldn’t get it his own way in front, putting pressure on his outside. Rocknroll Lincoln showed his class in the closing stages though, pulling away to win by 5m to Vultan Tin. Reinsman Gary Hall Jnr said he was confident the five-year-old would measure up in the feature events next month and gave a strong indication he would stick with him, given Chicago Bull would be absent from those races. “He’s got a great characteristic where can do what I tell him to do and drop the bit,” he said. “When you really ask him, the speed is there and the toughness is there. “They say everything happens for a reason, so I’m hoping that this guy is the reason behind Bull’s demise. “As unfortunate as that was, I’m pretty happy to team up with this guy.” Tim Walker

Ryan Warwick is driving with wonderful aggression and skill and punters who believe in omens will support him to win the opening event, the Retravision Christmas Gift first heat, at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He will handle evergreen veteran Courage Tells, who is favourably drawn at the No. 2 barrier in the field of nine in the 2130m event. Warwick was also in the sulky behind Courage Tells in the corresponding meeting 12 months ago when the gelding, a rank outsider at $114.50, finished boldly from four back on the pegs at the bell to win from Johnny Disco and Three Blind Mice. The 11-year-old Courage Tells, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, has been a consistent performer throughout his 200-start career which has produced 33 wins (two in New Zealand, eight in Victoria, seven in New South Wales and 16 in Western Australia) as well as 50 placings for earnings of $339,093. Courage Tells was far from disgraced in a 2631m stand at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon when he raced five back on the pegs and finished strongly to be third behind Tanaka Eagle and Importer Exporter. At Pinjarra the previous Monday Courage Tells took the lead in the middle stages and won by almost three lengths from Sweet N Fast, with a final 800m in 56.7sec. Warwick is enjoying an outstanding season and has already chalked up 81 wins from 171 drives to be the State’s leading driver, 34 wins ahead of Chris Lewis. The Bonds also are setting a cracking pace on the trainers’ premiership table, with 78 winners from 168 starters a lead of 51 over their nearest rival, Gary Hall Snr. Courage Tells cannot be disregarded on Friday night, despite the presence of several in-form pacers, including The Art Form, Gotta Go Gabbana, Carter Micheal and Livura. The Mike Reed-trained The Art Form deserves favouritism and should prove hard to beat from barrier six. The six-year-old has been gallant in defeat at his past two starts when second to Fizzing and second to Tisadream, two excellent efforts following a sequence of six successive victories. The Art Form started from barrier nine last week and settled down in eighth position before he commenced a three-wide run after a lap. He quickly moved into the breeze and fought on determinedly to finish a neck second to the pacemaking Tisadream. Gotta Go Gabbana, the only mare in the field, is racing with tremendous heart for trainer Annie Belton and reinsman Chris Voak and looks set to fight out the finish. The Nathan Turvey-trained pair of Carter Micheal and Livura are racing keenly and are sure to be prominent. Turvey will handle Livura and Jocelyn Young will drive Carter Micheal, who is overdue for a change of fortune after several recent excellent performances. Ken Casellas

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