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Veteran pacer The Bucket List has finished in eighth position in 2130m mobile events on the past two Friday nights, but he should relish a return to standing-start conditions and a considerable drop in class when he begins off the back mark of 30 metres in the TABtouch Better Your Industry Handicap over 2503m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The New Zealand-bred nine-year-old has the credentials to bounce back to winning form: He has won eight stands in Western Australia and is the track record-holder for a 2503m stand. The Bucket List rated 1.57.2 when he started off the 50m mark and came from tenth at the bell and went five wide at the 400m to charge to the front 110m from home and win the BOTRA Cup from Always Arjay and Motu Premier last July. This gave him the track record for a 2503m stand, beating the 1.57.9 rate recorded by superstar Im Themightyquinn when he began from 30m and beat Christopher Three and Our Mercurio in July 2010. The Bucket List was not suited by the fast early tempo in a 2130m mobile event last Friday night when he started from the No. 4 barrier, raced three wide early and then in the breeze before gaining the one-out, one-back sit after a lap. He was left without any sting when the final quarters went by in 28.4sec. and 29.4sec., but he finished less than three lengths behind the winner Im Full of Excuses, who won from smart pacers Gotta Go Gabbana and Simba Bromac. The Bucket List, to be handled by Michael Grantham (who has won seven races with the Christian Cullen gelding), is sure to appreciate much inferior opposition this week. His most serious rivals loom as Always Arjay (20m) and frontmarkers Carrera Mach, Bright Diamond and Destined To Rule. The Matt Scott-trained Always Arjay is in splendid form and will take a power of beating. He impressed in a 2503m stand two starts ago when he worked hard in the breeze and finished determinedly to get up and win from the pacemaking Carrera Mach and Bettor Not Bitter. That followed Always Arjay’s fast-finishing second to Lord Willoughby in a 2130m mobile event a week earlier. His two previous runs were in stands at Narrogin (for a hard-working win by four lengths over dead-heaters Keeper of Keys and Gaz Wannabet) and a strong third from the breeze behind Crime Scene at Bunbury. Carrera Mach, a small New Zealand-bred four-year-old trained by Ross Olivieri, is extremely consistent, with seven wins and nine placings from 25 starts. He makes strong appeal as the likely pacemaker and will take beating if left alone in front. Bright Diamond, a four-year-old in the Greg and Skye Bond stables, returns to standing-start racing after a series of excellent efforts against quality opposition in mobile events. This will be his first appearance in a stand at Gloucester Park, but he has impressed at his two standing-starts runs in WA both off the 30m mark last October when he worked forward early to set the pace and win from Rum Delight and Rafaello at Bunbury and when a close second to Cut For An Ace, after final quarters of 27.7sec. and 27.1sec.   Ken Casellas

Champion horseman Tim Butt, who has prepared more grand circuit winners than any other harness racing trainer in Australasia, is poised to set more records when his brilliant seven-year-old My Field Marshal contests the $450,000 TABtouch WA Pacing Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The 51-year-old New Zealand-born Butt, who relocated from Christchurch to Menangle in New South Wales early last year, is confident that My Field Marshal will prove the best stayer and win the testing 2936m mobile group 1 classic in the stallion’s first attempt over a distance beyond 2700m. “He’s fantastic and has come through his wins in the Village Kid Sprint and Fremantle Cup absolutely terrific,” he said. Asked if the 2936m was a concern, Butt said: “It’s only 400m longer than last week’s Cup and I couldn’t be happier with the barrier draw (No. 3 on the front line).” Queried about the likely driving tactics to be employed by his elder brother Anthony, he said: “We haven’t done the form yet, but we’ve got options from that draw. “The horse hasn’t done a lot since he led and won the Fremantle Cup. He had a hoppled run this morning (Tuesday) and I just ticked him over like I normally do. He’s bright and he loves it here.” The Butt brothers are full of hope that they will be able to go one better than they did when Flashing Red finished second to Tealsby Karita in the 2007 WA Pacing Cup. Flashing Red, second favourite at 3/1 from barrier five, raced wide early and three wide again in the middle stages before working hard in the breeze. He fought on doggedly behind Tealsby Karita, the 11/4 favourite who made most of the running. “Flashing Red was a great horse and a great stayer, but My Field Marshal has got a bit more brilliance,” Tim Butt said. If My Field Marshal is successful this week, it will give the famous Butt family a special record, with the first set of brothers training a WA Pacing Cup winner. Roddy Butt, the youngest of the three Butt brothers, prepared Justaboyden, who was driven by Fred Kersley jnr and produced one of the most spectacular bursts of speed in a Pacing Cup when he was ninth at the 400m and sprouted wings to charge to the front at the 250m mark and career away to beat Southern Knight by more than three lengths in the big race in 1995. The WA Pacing Cup was first run in 1913 and the inaugural Fremantle Cup was in 1928 and, if successful, My Field Marshal will become only the eighth pacer to have won the WA Pacing Cup-Fremantle Cup double in the one season, a feat that has been performed by Black Bertha (1942), Pure Steel (1980), Village Kid (1988 and 1989), The Falcon Strike (2002 and 2004), Baltic Eagle (2003), Im Themightyquinn (2011 and 2012) and Chicago Bull (2017). My Field Marshal, bred and owned by Syd and Shona Brown (who also bred and owned the horse’s dam Foreal, a winner of 18 races and $664,800 in stakes. My Field Marshal has earned $1,324,712 from 26 wins and 21 placings from 61 starts, has won six group 1 features --- the Taylor Mile and Messenger Championship at Alexandra Park, the Four-Year-Old Emerald at Cambridge (in successive starts in 2016), the Len Smith Mile at Menangle in 2017, the Miracle Mile in 1.46.9 on the same track last February and last week’s Fremantle Cup at Gloucester Park. Anthony Butt, who will return to Perth from Sydney on Friday, was full of praise for My Field Marshal after the horse’s exciting all-the-way victory in the 2536m Fremantle Cup last Friday night, saying: “To lead and cop that pressure just shows what a great horse he is. He did a mighty job; he had to burn out of the gate and then never got any peace. “He kept running fast quarters and it was a great effort. It won’t be easy this week when I’m sure it will again be a truly-run affair. But he has got that class on his side and no matter what race he’s in, he’s always hard to beat.” Tim Butt said that My Field Marshal would not contest the $500,000 Hunter Cup at Melton on February 2 and that the horse’s main mission after the WA Pacing Cup would be the Miracle Mile at Menangle on March 3. “My Field Marshal will return to Sydney next Wednesday and he’ll probably have one lead-up run before the Miracle Mile.” With My Field Marshal starting from barrier three on Friday night, Anthony Butt will be ready to make snap decisions after the mobile barrier releases the quality field of 12 runners. He knows that Maczaffair (barrier one) and Rocknroll Lincoln (two) will come out flying in bids to take the early lead. Whether the speedy My Field Marshal can burst straight to the front is highly problematical. Sharing the Butt camp’s confidence is Mike Reed, the trainer of Maczaffair, and Gary Hall Jnr, who will be in the sulky behind the Justin Prentice-trained Rocknroll Lincoln. Maczaffair is the only mare in the field and Reed is bullish about her prospects of becoming the first of her sex to win the WA Pacing Cup since Pyramus beat Chief Attain and Sir Alex in 1972. She will again be handled by Reed’s son Mark, who was most impressed with her effort when an unlucky sixth in the Fremantle Cup, only one and a half lengths behind the winner. She was ninth at the bell and was badly blocked for a clear passage before flying home along the pegs in the final few strides. Maczaffair, the winner of five group feature events, showed her class against all-male opposition when second to Ultimate Machete in the group 1 2536m Golden Nugget championship in December 2017. Hall, who has driven the winner of seven WA Pacing Cups, said that Rocknroll Lincoln was travelling strongly and was a sound winning chance before being badly checked approaching the home turn in the Fremantle Cup. Rocknroll Lincoln broke into a gallop and finished 11th. Hall said that the 2936m journey this week would not worry Rocknroll Lincoln. “Barrier two looks good on paper and he’s got genuine gate speed,” he said. “If we get to the front, and I think he can, I won’t consider handing up.” Galactic Star, a gallant second in the Fremantle Cup, is in peak form and must be considered, despite drawing awkwardly at barrier seven. Ryan Warwick looks certain to opt out of any early speed battle and is likely to drive conservatively before deciding when to send the six-year-old forward. Galactic Star raced in eighth position in the one-wide line in the Fremantle Cup before Warwick sent the gelding forward, with a three-wide, burst approaching the bell. He sustained the effort and his performance was full of merit. Galactic Star is prepared by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, who will also be represented in the Cup by Our Max Phactor (Dylan Egerton-Green), Vampiro (Colin Brown), Our Jimmy Johnstone (Michael Grantham), El Jacko (Aiden de Campo) and Saying Grace (Chris Lewis). El Jacko and Saying Grace will start from the back line and have sound place prospects after unlucky runs in the Fremantle Cup in which El Jacko, a smart sit-sprinter, was badly blocked for a clear passage in the final circuit before going across the line, full of running, in seventh position. Saying Grace, who trailed the pacemaking My Field Marshal throughout, went to the line, bolting under lock and key, in fourth place. Champion trainer Gary Hall Snr, who has won the WA Pacing Cup a record 11 times, is pinning his faith on Runrunjimmydunn, who will be driven by Clint Hall from barrier five. Runrunjimmydunn fought on from tenth in the middle stages to be a sound fifth in the Fremantle Cup. The WA-bred Vultan Tin, trained in Coolup by Phil Costello, is the only non-New Zealand-bred runner in the race. He will be driven by Chris Voak and will start from the outside of the back line. Vultan Tin was seventh at the bell in the Fremantle Cup before finishing fast, out six wide, to be an eye-catching third. Ace trainer Ross Olivieri, who prepared Saab for his WA Pacing Cup victory in 1999, has engaged Shannon Suvaljko to drive Im Full of Excuses from the awkward No. 6 barrier. Im Full of Excuses bounced back to form and ended a 22-month drought when he charged home with as three-wide burst from eighth at the bell to win narrowly from Gotta Go Gabbana in a 2130m mobile event last Friday night. He will again be at long odds this week.   Ken Casellas

Mister Bushido, a lightly-raced six-year-old, will make his Australian debut when he starts from barrier six on the front line in the $20,000 TABtouch Race Replays Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He arrived in Perth from New Zealand just over four months ago and is being prepared by Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr for his breeders and owners Syd and Shona Brown, who race champion pacer and Fremantle Cup favourite My Field Marshall. Mister Bushido was trained in New Zealand by Tim Butt, who said that the Bettors Delight gelding’s strength was his ability to produce a powerful finishing burst. “He’s a pretty handy sort of horse, is good and honest and should pay his way here,” said Butt. “He’s probably more of a finisher late in the race.” Mister Bushido, who will be driven by Stuart McDonald, has not been produced at trials. His latest appearance was in a 1980m event at Addington on August 17 last year when he was trained and driven by Jonny Cox. He was restrained from barrier seven, raced in seventh position and went five wide on the home turn before finishing sixth in a field of eight behind the brilliant pacer Ana Malak. His most recent win in a career of 21 starts for four wins and five placings was six starts ago when he rated 1.55.5 in beating Joey Maguire by a half-head over 1950m at Addington. It was a most impressive victory. He started from barrier 14 the outside of the back line and was a $23.80 outsider. He was 12th at the bell and 11th with 600m to travel before he charged home, out six wide, to get up and win in the final stride. He won at his previous start, also over 1950m at Addington, when he was restrained at the start from barrier eight, was eighth at the bell and seventh on the home bend before surging home, four wide, to get up and beat the favourite Cindy Bromac by a neck, rating 1.57.6, with a final; quarter in 27.7sec. Mister Bushido’s chief rivals on Friday night appear to be his stablemate Liberty Rose and the Colin Joss-trained eight-year-old Lagoon Stride. Liberty Rose was an odds-on favourite last Friday night when she started from the No. 2 barrier, set the pace, but was kept under pressure by Mary Catherine, who overraced in the breeze. She wilted after final quarters of 27.6sec. and 28.1sec. to finish third behind the fast-finishing Lady De La Renta and Mary Catherine. Liberty Rose is sure to enjoy a much more comfortable run this week and will take plenty of beating. Lagoon Stride has not been successful for 34 months, but he should pay to follow after he set the pace and refused to give in when a fighting second to Bronze Seeker over 2185m at Pinjarra on Monday of last week.   Ken Casellas

Champion trainer Tim Butt hotly disputes persistent suggestions that millionaire pacer My Field Marshal is purely a brilliant sprinter who will struggle to win the $300,000 Retravision Fremantle Cup over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. There is no doubting that the New Zealand-bred seven-year-old is a magnificent speedster over short trips, but Butt said that he had no concerns whatsoever that the stallion would be found wanting over the 2536m journey. “It takes a strong stayer to excel over sprint trips,” said Butt, who is bubbling with confidence that his brother Anthony will guide My Field Marshal to victory on Friday night, particularly after drawing favourably at barrier two on the front line. “My Field Marshal has done everything right and has pleased me with his work since he led and won the Village Kid Sprint two Fridays ago. He is showing no breathing problems after two successful wind operations.” My Field Marshal, who rated 1.54 when he was untroubled to win the 1730m Village Kid Sprint, became the fastest pacer in Australasia when he won the Miracle Mile in 1.46.9 at Menangle in February last year. He has raced 60 times for 25 wins, 15 seconds and six thirds for earnings of $1,132,712. His wins have been over 1609m (11), 1650m (one), 1700m (one), 1730m (one), 1950m (five), 2000m (one), 2200m (one), 2240m (two), 2400m (one) and 2700m (one). His 2700m victory was as a four-year-old at Alexandra Park in the group 1 Messenger Championship when he started from barrier four and enjoyed a perfect trip, one-out and two-back in sixth position before finishing strongly out wide to convincingly beat My Kiwi Mate at a 1.56.6 rate in April 2017.     “His runs over middle distances in Australia have been good,” said Butt. My Field Marshal finished a one-metre second to Hectorjayjay in the 2680m Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship at Albion Park in July 2017 when Tiger Tara was third and Lennytheshark fourth. The winner rated 1.56.1. In October 2017 My Field Marshal was a one-length second to San Carlo (1.56.6) in the group 3 Maryborough Gold Cup over 2690m and two weeks after that he was a wonderful 4m second to Lennytheshark, who rated 1.55.4 to smash Restrepo’s track record. My Field Marshal started from the back line and he raced in sixth position before moving into the breeze 1200m from home. He fought on with admirable determination, with the final quarters whizzing by in 26.9sec. and 27.3sec. My Field Marshal finished his 19-start campaign as a six-year-old with a well-beaten ninth behind Let It Ride in the 2680m Blacks A Fake Championship last July. He started from the back line, raced at the rear and three wide in the final circuit. Her resumed after a spell with an easy 1609m victory in 1.50.9 at Menangle on December 17 before his impressive win in the Village Kid Sprint 11 nights later. The Butt brothers are aiming to make amends for Raglan’s splendid second to champion Im Themightyquinn in the 2012 Fremantle Cup when Raglan surged home from last at the bell. They first campaigned in Western Australia in 2004 when Mister D G won two heats and finished second in another before finishing a desperately close fourth behind Jofess in a four-way photo finish in the final of the Inter Dominion championship. Tim Butt decided just over a year ago to move from his property in Christchurch to set up stables at the Menangle complex and he is currently preparing My Field Marshal at leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond’s stables in Forrestdale. My Field Marshal faces strong challenges from the Bond camp, which dominates the Fremantle Cup with a record of seven of the 12 runners, the New Zealand-bred band of Galactic Star, Saying Grace, El Jacko, Our Jimmy Johnstone, Our Max Phactor, Mitch Maguire and Vampiro, who between them have won 142 races and amassed $2,135,457 in prizemoney. Greg Bond has fond memories of his first runner in a Fremantle Cup Money Magnet, who was an 8/1 chance and was driven to an easy all-the-way victory by Colin Brown in a 2907m stand in January 2006, a week after he started at 14/1 and came from last to win the Australian Pacing Championship consolation, a mobile over 2143m. Not surprisingly, Greg Bond rates Galactic Star as the stable’s best winning prospect 12 months after the gelding was the rank outsider at tote odds of $228 and finished 11th behind My Hard Copy, who charged home to win the Fremantle Cup in a thrilling finish from Lazarus and Chicago Bull. Then, in February, Galactic Star was beaten into second place in the Albany Cup by Major Stare. Galactic Star’s form this season has been outstanding. He started with wins in the group 3 Don Randall Cup over 2631m at Pinjarra and the Cranley Memorial, a listed classic over 1730m at Gloucester Park in November, before winning a heat and being placed in two other heats of the Inter Dominion championship in Victoria in December before finishing an unlucky sixth in the final after he was badly checked and lost valuable ground soon after the start. Ryan Warwick, the State’s leading reinsman with 88 winners this season, has chosen to drive Galactic Star, who will start from the inside of the back line. The winner of 25 races and $417,335, he possesses dazzling point-to-point speed and has outstanding winning prospects. Brown has been engaged to drive Vampiro, whose prospects slumped when he drew the outside barrier (No. 9) on the front line. Mitch Maguire (Aiden de Campo) also faces a tough test from barrier eight and ten-year-old warhorse Our Jimmy Johnstone (Michael Grantham) will need luck from the No. 7 barrier. Our Jimmy Johnstone finished solidly along the inside when third behind Chicago Bull and Soho Tribeca in the 2017 Fremantle Cup. El Jacko (Nathan Turvey) has sprinted home fast to win on the past two Friday nights and he is capable of a bold showing from barrier two on the back line. Our Max Phactor (Dylan Egerton-Green) will start from the outside (barrier three) on the back line and will be at liberal odds despite his splendid second to My Field Marshall in the Village Kid Sprint after working hard in the breeze. He boasts a remarkable record in WA of 14 starts for 12 wins and two seconds. Bond considers lightly-raced five-year-old Saying Grace a realistic chance from the prized No. 1 barrier. The American Ideal gelding who has had only 25 starts for 11 wins and six placings will be driven by Chris Lewis, who has won the Fremantle Cup six times with Black Irish (1983), Village Kid (1988 and 1989), John Albert (1995), Sandy Bay (2005) and Dasher VC (2013). Saying Grace also started from barrier one at his latest appearance, over 2130m last Friday week, when he was first out and then broke into a gallop and lost six lengths. He settled in fifth position before quickly dashing forward to the breeze and finished a close-up fifth behind El Jacko. Gary Hall Jnr, who has won the Fremantle Cup a record eight times, will drive Rocknroll Lincoln for Boyanup trainer Justin Prentice. Rocknroll Lincoln, a smart winner at two of his past three starts, will begin from barrier four and should be prominent. Gary Hall Snr, who has trained the winner of the Cup eight times, will be pinning his faith in the tough and consistent Runrunjimmydunn, who will start from an awkward draw at No. 5 with Clint Hall in the sulky. The Mike Reed-trained Maczaffair (barrier six) is the only mare in the Cup and the only non-New Zealand-bred runner is the WA-bred Vultan Tin, who is prepared at Coolup by Phil Costello and will be handled by Chris Voak. Vultan Tin, who set the pace and finished second to El Jacko over 2130m last Friday night, will start from the No. 3 barrier. Ken Casellas

Champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr has given punters a strong lead by opting to drive Bronze Seeker in the opening event, the $20,000 Retravision.com.au Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Hall chose to handle the Peter Anderson-trained Bronze Seeker in preference to smart performer Kimani, who is prepared by his father Gary Hall Snr. He made that decision after driving Bronze Seeker to victory over 2185m at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon and after Bronze Seeker drew the coveted No. 1 barrier and Kimani drew out wide at barrier eight. Kimani will be driven by Stuart McDonald, whose previous drive behind the gelding was eight starts ago when he began from barrier eight and impressed in charging home from eighth at the bell to win easily from Starlight Brigade, after final quarters of 28.7sec. and 28.8sec. in a 2130m event at Gloucester Park. Hall, one of 25 drivers to have handled Bronze Seeker in his 191 starts in Western Australia, will be driving the versatile ten-year-old for only the fifth time. His record behind the gelding is a win, a second and two fourths. Bronze Seeker broke an 11-month drought and ended a losing sequence of 26 at Pinjarra on Monday when he began speedily from barrier three to take up the running after 50m. Hall then opted to take a sit behind Lagoon Stride and Bronze Seeker finished strongly along the sprint lane to win from Lagoon Stride and Thisbeachrighthere, rating 1.57.4. At his previous start, over 2130m on New Year’s Eve, Bronze Seeker (driven by Hall) was restrained from barrier seven and was not suited by the dawdling pace over the first 1200m. He was ninth at the bell and impressed when he sustained a powerful three-wide burst from the 700m to finish a very close fourth behind Carrera Mach. Bronze Seeker has been a credit to Anderson, who has given the Mach Three gelding 191 starts for 15 wins and 35 placings. Bronze Seeker, who had 26 starts in New Zealand for 11 wins (one as a two-year-old and ten as a three-year-old), has earned $407,424 from 26 wins and 39 placings from 217 starts. Among Bronze Seeker’s rivals this week are three from the Hall stable Kimani, Benhope Rulz and Campora. Benhope Rulz, to be driven by Corey Peterson from barrier six, is in splendid form and will have many admirers. He was an excellent second to star four-year-old Jack Mac four starts ago and was an effortless all-the-way winner at a 1.55.1 rate over 1730m two starts ago. Another fancied runner will be the evergreen Mister Ardee, who will again be driven by Madeleine Young for Pinjarra trainer Matt Saw. Mister Ardee is sure to figure prominently from barrier two on the front line.   Ken Casellas

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

Champion reinsman Chris Lewis has given punters a strong pointer by choosing to drive Bettor Finish in preference to Beltane, Innocent Affair and Destined To Rule in the Retravision Lowest Price Guarantee Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He has handled the Barry Howlett-trained Bettor Finish in 28 races for six wins, ten seconds and two thirds and he will be aiming to take full advantage of the prized No. 1 barrier on the front line by attempting an all-the-way victory. Bettor Finish has good gate speed and is a noted frontrunner. The five-year-old led from barrier one when a fighting second to crack three-year-old Bletchley Park in a 2185m event at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon. Two starts before that Bettor Finish led from barrier one and won from Northern Emperor and Luis Alberto over 2130m at Gloucester Park. Lewis drove four-year-old Beltane to a decisive 8m victory over Luis Alberto at Gloucester Park two starts ago and at Gloucester Park last Saturday night trainer Nathan Turvey was in the sulky when Beltane impressed greatly when he charged home from the rear to finish a nose second to Major Rush. Turvey will again drive Beltane on Friday night. Lewis has driven Innocent Affair, a four-year-old mare trained by his wife Debra, at 22 of her 23 starts for seven wins and eight placings. Innocent Affair is in top form, with her past five starts producing three wins and two placings. Jocelyn Young will drive Innocent Affair, who will start from barrier five. Deni Roberts will drive Destined To Rule for her mother, Millendon trainer Sonia Zucchiatti. Lewis has enjoyed a successful association with Destined To Rule, with his 33 drives on her producing six wins, two seconds and six thirds. One of the best bets on the ten-event program should be Our Angel of Harlem, who will enjoy the luxury of starting from the No. 1 barrier for the first time in 16 starts in Western Australia when she contests a heat of the Coulson Pace. The New Zealand-bred four-year-old has yet to lead all the way in any of her races, but trainer Mike Reed is confident she will lead and win on Friday night. Her chief rival will be the Justin Prentice-trained Our Major Mama, an effortless first-up winner at Pinjarra on November 12. Ken Casellas

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

Star reinsman Ryan Warwick has fond memories of his first Group 1 driving success when he brought 8/1 chance Gee Whiz Fizz home with a sizzling late burst to snatch a thrilling last-stride, half-head victory over the 2/1 favourite Precious Dylan in the Golden Nugget championship on December 16, 2005. Gee Whiz Fizz, trained in Bunbury by Steve Burton, started from the No. 1 barrier, but was outgunned in the early stages by Precious Dylan and Warwick had to be content to take the trail behind the pacemaker before Gee Whiz Fizz, veering out wide on the track, stormed to the front in a dramatic finish. Warwick, now 40 and at the peak of his powers as a top-flight reinsman, is quite understandably thrilled that Ana Malak has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier for the $200,000 Retravision Golden Nugget for four-year-olds at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The lightly-raced and comparatively inexperienced New Zealand-bred horse, prepared by the State’s leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, is in superb form and Warwick will be looking for an all-the-way success over the 2536m trip and hoping for a less traumatic and spine-tingling finish than he experienced with Gee Whiz Fizz. Ana Malak, who has been successful at six of his eight starts, revealed excellent gate speed from barrier one when he comfortably resisted an early challenge from the speedy Golden State in the $125,000 Yes Loans Four-Year-Old Classic over 2130m last Friday week. Ana Malak dashed over the first quarter of the final mile in 28.8sec. before an easy 30.1sec. second section, followed by two final quarters of 28.4sec. He defied a strong late burst from the fast-finishing Ideal Liner to beat that gelding by a half-neck, with the classy Mighty Conqueror, a stablemate of the winner, surging home with a powerful three-wide burst from second-last in the middle stages to be an eye-catching third. Warwick, the Bonds and part-owner Rob Gartrell will be hoping for an Ana Malak victory before Warwick drives Galactic Star, from the coveted No. 1 barrier in the $500,000 Inter Dominion championship final at Melton on Saturday night. Galactic Star has excellent winning prospects. The Bonds hold a powerful hand in the Golden Nugget. Apart from Ana Malak, they will be represented by Bettor Aim, Mighty Conqueror, Fizzing, Thisbeachrighthere and Bright Diamond. The only previous time a trainer had six runners in a Golden Nugget championship was in 2014 when Gary Hall Snr was represented by Waylade, Majorly Foxy Styx, Classic American, Soho Lennon, A Boy Named Rosie and VC Manoeuvre. Waylade, the 11/8 favourite, raced in 11th position and met with interference in the final circuit before finishing with great determination to be a 2m second to Libertybelle Midfrew. Mighty Conqueror, to be driven by Dylan Egerton-Green from barrier three, has won at seven of his nine starts and is certainly capable of testing Ana Malak. Colin Brown will drive Bettor Aim, a winner at six of his nine starts, from the No. 2 barrier. He possesses great gate speed and is a brilliant frontrunner, but he is unlikely to muster enough early speed to get past Ana Malak and take up the running. Aiden de Campo has been engaged to handle the consistent and improving Fizzing from barrier four, Nathan Turvey will drive Thisbeachrighthere from the outside (No. 9) on the front line and Chris Lewis will be in the sulky behind Bright Diamond, who looks set to enjoy an ideal passage after starting from the inside of the back line. Lewis has been successful in the Golden Nugget with Vero Prince (1987), Flashing Star (1994), Saab (1998) and Dasher VC (2010). Hall has won the Nugget with Valley Champ (as a driver in 1993), The Gold Ace (2011) and Beaudiene Boaz (2015) and he will need plenty of luck with his three runners, Ideal Liner (Gary Hall Jnr), Think About Me (Stuart McDonald) and Benhope Rulz (Clint Hall), all of whom have drawn poorly. Ideal Liner, the least experienced runner in the race, with two wins and a close second to Ana Malak from three starts, has wonderful potential, but his prospects slumped when he drew out wide at barrier eight. Think About Me will be at long odds from the No. 6 barrier and Benhope Rulz faces a massive task from the outside of the back line. Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed has prepared three Nugget winners Tricky Vic (2002), Bonavista Bay (2009) and Libertybelle Midfrew (2014) and he refuses to concede defeat, despite his runner, Golden State, drawing barrier two on the back line, which robs the horse of his greatest asset, his dazzling gate speed. “Golden State can also produce a sparkling sprint,” Reed said. Golden State was shuffled back to ninth at the bell and was 11th at the 250m mark before being hampered for room until the final stages, when he finished full of running to be a splendid fifth behind Ana Malak in the Four-Year-Old Championship. Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri, who has won the Nugget with Saab and Dasher VC, is pinning his faith on Stefsbest, a winner at five of his 20 starts. Stefsbest will start from the No. 5 barrier and will be at liberal odds. The only mare in the race is the Kristian Hawkins trained Dontstopbelievin, who faces a monumental task from barrier seven. This week’s classic has been robbed of considerable interest by the absence of the brilliant Jack Mac, who notched his 16thvictory from 18 starts in Western Australia when he scored a stylish win in a Nugget prelude last Friday night. Jack Mac is suffering from a fractured near fore pedal bone. Ken Casellas

Former outstanding young pacer Kiwi Legend has recovered from a serious tendon injury and will resume racing after an absence of 638 days when he contests the Retravision Your Air Conditioning Specialist Free-For-All over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Now a seven-year-old, Kiwi Legend has responded to the diligent and patient care of Bunbury trainer Stephen Reed. Constant wading in the Leschenaultia estuary has contributed to the gelding’s successful rehabilitation. Kiwi Legend has not raced since he set the pace and won easily from Ideal Tyson and Risk in the Four and Five-Year-Old Championship at Gloucester Park in March 2017. That took his record to 31 starts for 12 wins, nine seconds and two thirds for $191,230 in stakes. He finished second to Beaudiene Boaz in the Golden Nugget in December 2015 and led and won the Lord Mayor’s Cup in January 2017. Kiwi Legend warmed up for his return to racing with a smart win in a three-horse 2116m standing-start trial at Pinjarra five Sundays ago. After a leisurely opening quarter of the final mile in 32.3sec., Kiwi Legend took the lead after 900m and dashed over the final three quarters in 28.6sec., 28.8sec. and 28.6sec. He was not extended in defeating ten-year-old Batali by five lengths at a 2.1.9 rate. Mark Reed will drive Kiwi Legend, who will start from the No. 4 barrier in the field of nine. The gelding is sure to derive considerable benefit from his first-up run. Reed is the regular driver of talented mare Maczaffair, who is trained by his father Mike and will start from barrier six. Mark Reed has enjoyed a great association with Maczaffair, having driven her 14 times for seven wins, one second, two thirds, two fourths and two unplaced runs. Maczaffair, an all-the-way winner over Gotta Go Gabbana and Tricky Styx two starts ago, will be handled by Dylan Egerton-Green. Champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr has given punters a strong lead by choosing to drive the Justin Prentice-trained Rocknroll Lincoln in preference to the well-performed Runrunjimmydunn, who is trained by Gary Hall Snr. Hall Jnr drove Runrunjimmydunn when the five-year-old bounced back to strong form last Friday night when he worked hard without cover before hitting the front 100m from the post and dead-heating for first with Vultan Tin. Clint Hall will drive Runrunjimmydunn this week. Rocknroll Lincoln will be hard to beat from the No. 2 barrier after his strong finishing effort to win the 2569m Bunbury Cup from Vampiro and Im Soxy last Saturday week. One of his chief rivals appears to be the polemarker Talktomeurmattjesty, who looks the likely pacemaker from the coveted No. 1 barrier. Talktomeurmattjesty, trained in Busselton by Barry Howlett, showed a welcome return to form last Friday night when he took the lead after 320m, set a solid pace and covered the final quarters in 27.7sec. and 28.7sec. and finished a close second to Im Soxy. Vultan Tin, trained at Coolup by Phil Costello, should also be prominent after he finished strongly from the rear to dead-heat with Runrunjimmydunn last week. Ken Casellas

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

Five-year-old New Zealand-bred gelding Simba Bromac boasts a winning record of 61 per cent and he has good prospects of making a successful return to racing after a spell when he starts from the No. 2 barrier in the $25,000 Westral Vertical and Panel Blinds Free-For-All at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He will be driven by Chris Lewis for Ravenswood trainer Nathan Turvey and should be prominent against stiff opposition from the three smart pacers from the Forrestdale stables of Greg and Skye Bond, Our Jimmy Johnstone, El Jacko and Rock Diamonds. Simba Bromac, whose 31 starts have produced 19 wins, six seconds and three thirds, warmed up for his first-up assignment in fine style with a dashing win over Chiaroscuro in a 2185m trial at Pinjarra last Sunday morning when he was not asked for an effort until the final stages when he sprinted over the final 400m in 27.7sec. This will be Simba Bromac’s first appearance since he began speedily from barrier seven, set the pace and sprinted over the final quarters in 27.9sec. and 27.3sec. to win by three lengths from Mitch Maguire at a 1.57 rate over 2130m on August 31. Ten-year-old Our Jimmy Johnstone, to be handled by Dylan Egerton-Green, still possesses excellent gate speed and a strong competitive attitude. He will begin from barrier four and looks set to fight out the finish. So, too, does the enigmatic, but highly talented El Jacko, who will be driven by Ryan Warwick from the coveted No. 1 barrier. El Jacko notched his 17th victory from 42 starts last Friday week when he started from the outside of the back line and charged to the front after 550m on his way to a stylish victory over Kimani. Turvey also holds a strong hand in the Westral Timber Blinds Pace in which he will be represented by the polemarker Livura and Carter Micheal at barrier two in the 2130m event. He will handle Carter Micheal and Chris Lewis will be in the sulky behind Livura. Lewis drove Livura to an effortless victory over Bad Round and El Machine, rating 1.57.3 over 2130 at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week. That ended a losing sequence of 16 and was the seven-year-old’s 20th win from 87 starts. Carter Micheal is racing with refreshing enthusiasm and looks hard to beat. He raced in seventh position on the pegs and was eighth 100m from the post before he sprinted fast to finish an eye-catching third behind Our Max Phactor over 2130m last Friday night. In what appears to be a highly competitive race, the Greg and Skye Bond-trained Saying Grace will have many admirers after winning at six of his past nine starts. He began off 40m and worked forward in the middle stages to race in the breeze when a close second to Carrera Mach over 2503m at Bunbury last Saturday night. He won easily at Kellerberrin and Pinjarra at his two previous outings.     Ken Casellas

Six-year-old Our Max Phactor arrived in Western Australia completely unheralded at the end of August and has been a revelation under the care of leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, with his 11 starts in the State producing ten wins and a close second placing. And this remarkable run of success follows his modest career in New Zealand where he managed just nine wins from 70 starts. He has also shown exceptional qualities here as a standing-start specialist, with six wins from six stands, whereas he had ten runs in stands in New Zealand for one victory by a nose over the marathon trip of 3150m on the grass track at the spacious Hawera circuit. Ryan Warwick, in dazzling form in the sulky, has driven Our Max Phactor in all his races for the Bond camp and he is hoping that the Art Major gelding will maintain his winning ways when he starts off 20m (virtually 10m because there are no runners off the front) in the Mount Eden-No Dill Christmas Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night. However, it is unlikely to be simply a walk in the park for Our Max Phactor, who will clash with other smart New Zealand-bred pacers in Mr Mojito and As Happy As Larry. Mr Mojito, to be driven by Chris Lewis for Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri, will start off 20m at his second appearance after a year’s absence. The six-year-old has raced only 28 times for 11 wins (seven in New Zealand, one in WA and three in Victoria). He resumed racing when he began off the 40m mark in a 2631m event at Pinjarra on Monday of last week when he moved forward in the first lap and then worked hard in the breeze before finishing an excellent first-up second to Saying Grace, with final quarters in 27.8sec. and 27.9sec. Mr Mojito was brought to Perth by ace New Zealand trainer-reinsman Mark Purdon at the end of 2016 when the gelding won the $50,000 Four-Year-Old Championship, beating Nathans Courage at a 1.56.2 rate over 2130m. A week later he was the 2/1 favourite in the Group 1 Golden Nugget, but wrecked his chances by hanging badly and he finished fifth behind Soho Tribeca, Nathans Courage, Chicago Bull and Natural Disaster. Victorian trainer-driver Kerryn Manning brought Mr Mojito to Perth late last year to contest the Inter Dominion Championship series in which he was unplaced in three heats. He has spent the past year in rehabilitation with Olivieri and he has the class to seriously test Our Max Phactor on Friday night. Seven-year-old As Happy As Larry is prepared and driven by Robbie Williams and he has been impressive in four outings since resuming from a spell. He raced wide in the early stages and then had a tough passage in the breeze when a fighting second to Mitch Maguire in a 2503m stand last Friday night. Ken Casellas

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