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Serpentine trainer Matt Scott holds a strong hand in the Perth Plasterboard Centre Pace over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Thursday night with four runners in the field of 12. Remarkably, Scott’s four runners, eight-year-olds Brookies Jet and Charlie El, nine-year-old Qtown Rip Roaring and six-year-old Neighlor, have had a combined total of 588 starts, and, between them, the 12 runners have contested 1648 races which means that they have covered approximately 3705 kilometres which is more than a trip by plane between Perth and Sydney. Brookies Jet (barrier two) and Qtown Rip Roaring (barrier three) are likely to dominate betting on the race after last-start second placings and their favourable draws. Shannon Suvaljko had the choice of drives between Brookies Jet, Qtown Rip Roaring and Neighlor. And, somewhat surprisingly, he opted to handle Qtown Rip Roaring, whose most recent win in a 129-start career was 15 months ago. Suvaljko obviously was impressed by Qtown Rip Roaring’s effort in a 2130m event at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week when the gelding sat behind the pacemaker Quick Stride before finishing with a powerful burst out six wide to be second, a half-head behind Machlani. Suvaljko also must have been pleased with Brookies Jet’s fighting effort in finishing a half-head second to the fast-finishing Crocodile Kid over 2130m last Friday night when the oldtimer started from the outside of the back line and worked hard in the breeze for much of the way before clawing his way to the front 10 metres from the finishing post. Brookies Jet, who finished strongly when second to My Carbon Copy a week earlier, will be driven this week by the in-form Mitch Miller and looks set to fight out the finish. Charlie El will start from barrier six with Kyle Harper in the sulky. He has been unplaced at his past 20 starts and will be at long odds. Neighlor, who has a winning percentage of 22 (the best of the 12 runners), will start from the outside of the back line at his first appearance for six and a half months. Suvaljkjo has turned his back on him after having driven him at each of his past 16 starts and at 51 of his 62 WA starts for 14 wins and nine placings. Replacing Suvaljko in the sulky will be his daughter Emily. Punters, looking for value, should lean towards Neighlor, who certainly has an edge in class on his 11 rivals. Michael Grantham has given punters a good lead by deciding to drive Valbonne in preference to stablemate Countess Grace and Machlani in the opening event, the 2536m TABtouch Pace. Valbonne, trained by Mike Reed and a winner at nine of his 41 starts, is favourably drawn at barrier No. 3 and should prove hard to beat after his sound third behind My Carbon Copy in the $30,000 final of the Clarke Pace last Friday week. Countess Grace will be driven by Dylan Egerton-Green and has each-way prospects from the No. 2 barrier on the back line. The Michael Brennan-trained Machlani, a narrow winner over Qtown Rip Roaring at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week, will be handled by Aiden de Campo from barrier four on the front line. The most competitive event on the program promises to be race five, the Retravision Pace for fillies and mares over 2130m, in which star three-year-olds of last season in Balcatherine and Typhoon Tiff will resume after lengthy spells. They will clash with several talented and in-form mares, including Gotta Go Gabbana, Dracarys, Pick My Pocket, Millwood Molly and Parisian Partygirl. The outside barrier in the field of seven will test star performer Shockwave when he meets in-form pacers Galactic Star, Ocean Ridge, Im Soxy, Im Full of Excuses and Our Jimmy Johnstone, as well as speedy frontrunner Golden State, who has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier in the 1730m Simmonds Steel Free-For-All.   Ken Casellas

With a pacing colt named Machnificent, the expectations of success on the track are sure to be high and he looks set to live up to this hyperbole by making a bold bid for victory in the Happy Easter Pace for two-year-olds at Gloucester Park on Thursday night. Machnificent, to be driven by Gary Hall Jnr for Byford trainer Katja Warwick, will be making his first appearance for six weeks and his prospects improved when he drew the prized No. 1 barrier in a quality field of five in the 1730m event. He showed that he is ready for a powerful first-up performance with a dashing trial over 1750m at Byford on Sunday morning when he began speedily from the outside barrier, burst straight to the front and set the pace before sprinting over the final 400m in 27.6sec. to win, unextended, by ten metres from Robbie Rocket and Star of Willoughby at a 1.58 rate. His clash with the highly promising Lavra Joe is sure to be a highlight on the ten-event program. Lavra Joe, to be driven by Shane Young with Greenbushes owner-trainer Ray Jones, has been most impressive in scoring easy victories in fast time at his past two appearances, both over 1730 at Gloucester Park, rating 1.57.4 and 1.56.1. He will start from barrier three on Friday night. Lavra Joe revealed toughness as well as a sparkling turn of foot in both of those wins in which he worked hard in the breeze before forging away from the opposition in the closing stages. Star of Willoughby, to be driven by Chris Lewis for Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri, will start from the No. 2 barrier at his first appearance since running on from sixth at the bell to finish third behind Dominus Factum over 1684m at Pinjarra on January 13. He worked hard in the breeze in Sunday’s trial and is sure to have derived considerable benefit from the workout. Robbie Rocket, to be driven by Shannon Suvaljko for trainer Vicki Lea, faces a tough task from the outside barrier in the small field. He enjoyed a perfect trip behind Machnificent in the trial in which he found the pacemaker simply too strong. Lavra Joe was timed in 1.58 when he won a 1609m trial at Bunbury last Saturday night. He dashed over the final quarters in 28sec. and 27.2sec. and won by 2m from Classic Choice.     Ken Casellas

Promising New Zealand-bred stayer Forgotten Highway ticks all the boxes when looking for the winner of the $40,000 Easter Cup, a Group 2 standing-start feature event over the marathon trip of 2902m at Gloucester Park on Thursday night. The lightly-raced six-year-old, who is prepared by Michael Brennan, has raced 21 times in stands for four wins and 13 placings. He has won over 3000m and has been placed over 3000m and 3200m. Forgotten Highway, who will be driven for the first time by Nathan Turvey, is favourably drawn at barrier No. 3 on the front line of four runners. The only query is that the Bettors Delight gelding will be having only his second start after an absence of five months. He resumed in a 2116m stand at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon when he galloped out for a couple of strides from the 10m mark, losing two to three lengths. He settled in ninth position and was eighth at the bell before he followed a three-wide move from Vivere Damore with 500m to travel. After switching four wide on the home turn Forgotten Highway took a narrow lead 100m from the post and went on to win by a narrow margin from Vivere Damore, rating 1.58.4, with final quarters of 27.7sec. and 29.5sec. Described by Brennan as a big, gross horse whose ideal racing pattern is as a sit-sprinter, Forgotten Highway is a top-class pacer with a sparkling turn of foot. He has appeared only once at Gloucester Park and that was when he started from barrier two in a 2130m mobile event last October when he dashed to an early lead, set the pace, sprinted the final 400m sections in 28.4sec. and 27.9sec. and won easily at a 1.56.2 rate from Art Tudor.   Michael Grantham has driven Forgotten Highway in all of his seven starts in Western Australia for two wins, four seconds and one third. But he has opted to handle classy stablemate Miss Sangrial, the only mare in the Cup, who will start off the 30m mark. Grantham drove Miss Sangrial in last year’s Easter Cup in which she met with interference and did not show up, finishing eighth behind Mighty Conqueror. Miss Sangrial has won three times in stands and is capable if unwinding a powerful finishing burst when held up for a late charge. Brennan is hoping that history repeats itself, with Forgotten Highway starting from the No. 3 barrier on the front line. He prepared four-year-old Anvils Big Punt for his all-the-way victory over Ohoka du Nord and Waikawa Bay when he started from barrier three on the front line in the 2011 Easter Cup. Star Boyanup trainer Justin Prentice drove Anvils Big Punt in the 2011 Easter Cup and he is hoping for another win this year when Gary Hall Jnr drives his nomination Always An Honour off the 30m mark. Always An Honour has scored effortless victories in mobiles over 2536m and 2130m at his past two outings, but is also an outstanding standing-start performer, with his ten appearances in stands producing six wins and one placing. Hall is seeking his sixth driving success in the Easter Cup after wins behind The Falcon Strike (2003), Patches (2006), Uppy Son (2012), Rebel Scooter (2013) and Znana (2016). The backmarker off 50m is As Happy As Larry, who started off 30m (virtually 20m because there were no frontmarkers) in last year’s Easter Cup. As Happy As Larry overcame early interference and ran home powerfully from tenth in the middle stages to finish a nose second behind the $1.95 favourite Mighty Conqueror, who took up the frontrunning after a lap. Mighty Conqueror was trained by Greg and Skye Bond and driven by Ryan Warwick for his win in last year’s Easter Cup, and the Bonds hold a strong hand in this year’s Cup, with Where Ya Bin (Dylan Egerton-Green) starting from the No. 1 barrier on the front line and Taroona Bromac (Warwick) starting from the 20m mark. The Bonds prepared Assassinator (Ryan Bell) for his win in the 2017 Easter Cup. Where Ya Bin is a good frontrunner whose 13 starts in stands in WA have produced three wins and five placings. He and other four-year-olds Taroona Bromac and Always An Honour are the youngest runners in the race. It is interesting to note that Taroona Bromac, who has a winning record of 77 per cent from ten wins from just 13 starts, has not contested a standing-start event. He qualified to race in a stand when he finished third in a six-horse trial in Ashburton, New Zealand, in December 2018.   Ken Casellas

Patronus Star explodes Four weeks ago, Patronus Star was in New Zealand, a winner at two of his seven starts for a modest $14,020. He is now happily settled in Western Australia and $132,484 richer. Leading WA trainer Greg Bond and his major racing partner Rob Gartrell, keen judges of horseflesh, made a wise decision to buy the inexperienced gelding, who looks destined for big things in harness racing after he exploded into action with a whirlwind burst which carried him to a thrilling last-stride victory in an action-packed $200,000 Sky Racing WA Derby at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Bond prepares Patronus Star in partnership with his wife Skye and this gave him his fourth success in the group 1 classic, after wins with Richard Henry (2005), In The Force (2009) and Seel N Print (2011). Patronus Star rated 1.56.4 over the 2536m trip which equalled Chicago Bull’s race record set when he defeated Lets Chase The Dream in 2016. Patronus Star, by American Ideal, is the sixth foal out of the unraced In The Pocket mare Star Command. He is a full-brother to Billies A Star, who won 12 races, including wins at seven of his first 11 starts in WA in 2014 and 2015, as well as finishing third behind Libertybelle Midfrew and Waylade in the Golden Nugget championship in December 2014. Star Command is a half-sister to Anvils Star, who earned $470,115 from 17 wins and 33 placings. In 1997, Anvils Star finished a neck second to Desperate Command in the Victoria Cup and a half-head second to Surprise Packet in the Hunter Cup at Moonee Valley before finishing fourth behind Our Sir Vancelot in the final of the Interdominion Championship at Globe Derby Park.  Petronus Star is also closely related to former star pacer Our Ian Mac, winner of the 1987 WA Pacing Cup. He made an impressive Australian debut in a 1609m event at Bunbury last Saturday week when Ryan Warwick drove him to an all-the-way victory in 1.53.2. On Friday night he was a well-supported $7.50 chance from the inside of the back line, with Dylan Egerton-Green in the sulky. Warwick drove Petronus Star’s stablemate Howard Hughes, a winner at six of his eight starts who was the $2.50 favourite from the prized No. 1 barrier.  Howard Hughes was first out and Egerton-Green settled Petronus Star immediately behind his stablemate. However, wide runners Mach Da Vinci (barrier nine) and Hampton Banner (eight) began with great alacrity and Jocelyn Young sent Hampton Banner to the front after 220m. Franco Ecuador settled in sixth position before Kim Prentice dashed him forward to wrest the lead from Hampton Banner after 700m had been covered. Warwick moved Howard Hughes off the pegs and into the breeze in the first circuit. Major Martini, the $2.70 favourite, was travelling strongly in the one-out, two-back position in seventh place before Gary Hall jnr set the gelding alight with a spirited three-wide burst 900m from home. Major Martini sustained his three-wide sprint before surging past Franco Ecuador and into the lead with 500m to travel. Major Martini led by one and a half lengths at the 250m mark, with Petronus Star being eased off the pegs. Petronus Star was still in fifth place 150m from the post but finishing with a tremendous burst. He flew over the final stages and got up to score by a neck from Major Martini, with Franco Ecuador ($13) fighting on grandly to be third. The Derby victory gave the 27-year-old Egerton-Green his fourth group 1 success, following wins behind Patrickthepiranha in the Westbred Classic for three-year-old colts and gelding last June, Mighty Conqueror in the WA Pacing Cup in January and Talks Up A Storm in the Sales Classic for two-year-old colts and gelding in February. Happy memories for Suvaljko Fond memories of Shannon Suvaljko driving Terrifying to several wins ten and 11 years ago were revived when he guided two-year-old filly Benesari Lane to a smart all-the-way victory in the 2130m Skyracing.com.au Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Benesari Lane (named after a well-known street in Bali) is the first foal out of Terrifying, who won at two of her four runs as a two-year-old in 2009 and went on to earn $131,200 from 19 wins and 16 placings from 104 starts. Suvaljko, owned, trained and drove Terrifying for much of her career and was in the sulky for seven of her wins, including her narrow victory over Lucky Angel on her debut at Pinjarra in April 2009. Benesari Lane, after a fourth and two thirds from her first three starts, was second favourite at $2.60 from the No. 2 barrier on Friday night, with the polemarker Secret Reaction favourite at $2.25. Suvaljko stole a march when he sent Benesari Lane straight to the front. Aiden de Campo took the sit behind Benesari Lane with Secret Reaction before he eased the filly off the pegs inside the final 350m to issue a challenge to the pacemaker. However, Benesari Lane sprinted over the final 400m in 28sec. and won by more than a length from Secret Reaction. Benesari Lane, who will be set for the rich feature events for two-year-old fillies later this season, was purchased at the 2019 APG yearling sales in Perth by Ron Huston and trainer Vicki Lea for $16,000. The filly has already earned $20,122 in stakes. El Jacko warms up for Easter Cup Consistent open-class pacer El Jacko warmed up for the $40,000 Easter Cup on Thursday night when he bounced back to form with a strong all-the-way win in the $22,000 Inthegig Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The New Zealand-bred seven-year-old, a $3.60 chance, ended a losing sequence of 11 when he started from the No. 1 barrier and ambled through the lead time of 37.8sec. and opening quarters of 31.6sec. and 30.1sec. before a reasonable third quarter in 29.3sec. and a final 400m sprint in 27.2sec. to withstand a spirited late challenge from Im Soxy to win by a neck at a 1.57.3 rate over 2130m. This completed a double for leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond and reinsman Dylan Egerton-Green, who had combined 35 minutes earlier to win the $200,000 Sky Channel WA Derby with Patronus Star. The Bond stable’s other runner, Galactic Star, favourite at $1.65, finished a close third after racing three back on the pegs in third place before moving to the breeze with 1000m to travel. He fought on doggedly, but at no stage appeared likely to overhaul El Jacko. El Jacko, a winner at two of his seven starts in New Zealand, has had 66 starts in WA for 21 wins and 21 placings. A half-brother to VC Manoeuvre, who had 20 starts in WA for ten wins, five seconds and one third placing, El Jacko now has amassed $425,151 in stakes. Padberg’s quinella result Wanneroo trainer Debbie Padberg had no concerns when the judge at Gloucester Park on Friday night called for a photo to decide the winner of the $18,000 Sky Sports Radio Pace over 2130m after La Suleiman and Allwood Peacemaker crossed the finishing line locked together. She didn’t care whether the photo revealed La Suleiman, a $13.70 chance, or Allwood Peacemaker, the rank outsider at $126, had been successful. The reason was simple: She owns both pacers in partnership with her husband John. The photo revealed that La Suleiman, driven by Luke Edwards, had beaten Allwood Peacemaker, driven by Dylan Egerton-Green, by a head, with Our Virtuoso, a half-head away in third place. The quinella returned a dividend of $537 and Allwood Peacemaker paid $15.70 for a place. It was a vastly different story when La Suleiman and Allwood Peacemaker had raced at Gloucester Park four days earlier, when La Suleiman broke into a gallop on the first turn and finished last 209 metres behind My Sweet Deal and Allwood Peacemaker finished seventh in a field of nine behind Art Tudor. From the No. 1 barrier on Friday night La Suleiman enjoyed a perfect passage behind the pacemaker Our Virtuoso before finishing solidly to get to the front 10 metres from the post. Allwood Peacemaker started from the outside barrier (No. 12) on the back line and finished strongly from eighth at the bell. Twenty minutes before driving La Suleiman to victory Edwards had the satisfaction of watching Leap of Faith, a promising four-year-old mare he trains, set the pace and score a smart win over Rockinthebox in a 2503m stand at Bunbury. The New Zealand-bred Leap of Faith was handled by Edwards’s younger brother Isaac for the first time in a race. The mare is now unbeaten at her five starts in Western Australia. Millwood Molly shines Seven-year-old New Zealand-bred mare Millwood Molly is showing some of the ability which made her full-sister Millwood Meg a superstar a decade ago. At her second appearance after a nine-week absence, Millwood Molly finished strongly to score a convincing victory over her stablemate Delightful Reaction and Countess Grace in the 2130m $20,000 Skyharness Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Trained and driven by Capel horseman Aiden de Campo, Millwood Molly, a $11.20 chance from barrier No. 12 (the outside of the back line), quickly settled into a commanding position, one-out and two-back, while Talkerup overraced in the breeze and kept the pacemaker and $1.50 favourite Madame Meilland under pressure. De Campo switched Millwood Molly three wide 300m from home and the mare burst to the front 80m later and went on to score in convincing fashion at a 1.57.1 rate. Millwood Molly, owned by Craig Lynn, arrived in Australia from New Zealand as a yearling and has raced only 35 times for ten wins, six seconds, three thirds and $94,821 in stakes. Millwood Meg, a winner of five races in New Zealand, won the 2010 WA Oaks and Queensland Oaks and was retired after 19 wins and 15 placings from 68 starts for $415,667 in prizemoney. Fifteen minutes after Millwood Molly’s win on Friday night, de Campo was represented by Keptain Courageous, also from the No. 12 barrier in the third event over 1609m at Bunbury’s Donaldson Park. Keptain Courageous, a $4.50 chance, was driven by Mark Johnson and impressed in finishing strongly from the rear to win from The Boxer. Argyle Red likes No. 1 barrier Veteran pacer Argyle Red, placed only once from his previous 15 starts, again showed his liking for the No. 1 barrier when Morgan Woodley drove him to narrow victory over outsider Tommy Be Good, who flew home along the pegs in the $25,000 Sky Racing Active Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Argyle Red had led and won from barrier one six times previously, but this time he led for the first 200m before Woodley took the sit behind the speedy $1.70 favourite Talktomumattjesty. After a fast lead time of 35.7sec., followed by quarters of 28.3sec. and 28.9sec., the pace slackened and Talktomeurmattjesty wilted over the final stages. Argyle Red hit the front on the home turn and held on to beat Tommy Be Good by a half-head, with that pacer running on strongly from fifth at the bell. My Carbon Copy, who raced in fourth place, came home strongly to be a close third, with Talktomeurmattjesty fading to sixth. The eight-year-old Argyle Red has enjoyed a wonderful career for Pinjarra breeder-owner-trainer Rob Macdonald of 135 starts for 18 wins, 31 placings and $268,583 in prizemoney. The gelding, by American sire Dawn Of A New Day, is the first foal out of Dekker Diamond, who earned $63,249 from eight wins and 16 placings from 109 starts. Easy for Soho Thunderstruck The much-travelled four-year-old Soho Thunderstruck was not extended in setting the pace and winning by two and a half lengths from the fast-finishing Miracle Moose in the 2536m Racing Replays Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Trainer-reinsman Kim Prentice resisted an early challenge from Bettor Be Oscar and Soho Thunderstruck had an easy time in front before sprinting over the final 400m sections in 27.6sec. and 28.3sec. This took the son of Art Major’s record to 38 starts for nine wins, 13 placings and $89,231 in stakes. Soho Thunderstruck’s first eight starts were as a two-year-old in Victoria for one win and six placings. His next three starts were in WA for a third and two fourths before he returned to the eastern states to race five times in Victoria, Canberra and New South Wales for wins at Ballarat and Maryborough (two). His WA record now stands at five wins and seven placings from 23 starts. He is the only foal out of the New Zealand-bred mare Hear No Secret to have raced. Hear No Secret raced in WA between 2009 and 2013 and was retired with a record of 113 starts for 11 wins, 33 placings and stakes of $96,464. Crocodile Kid gets up Victorian-bred six-year-old Crocodile Kid ended a losing sequence of 13 when he started from the inside of the back line and trailed the pacemaker and hot favourite Marquisard before Michael Grantham brought him home with a well-timed burst to gain a last-stride victory over Brookies Jet (who had raced in the breeze and taken the lead ten metres from the post) in the 2130m In The Gig On Sky Racing Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.. Grantham eased Crocodile Kid, a $5.90 chance, off the pegs 220m from home, with Marquisard beginning to show signs of tiring. Crocodile Kid, trained at Wanneroo by Craig Saligari and raced by him and his partner Chris Plozza, is the only foal to have raced out of the Safely Kept mare Crocodile Tears, who won only four times from 66 starts. Crocodile Kid, purchased for $30,000 by Saligari and Plozza, now has had 17 starts for them for three wins, five placings and stakes of $53,407.  Drop in class suits Happy Consistent eight-year-old As Happy As Larry appreciated a massive drop in class when he contested the $20,000 Follow Sky Racing On Twitter Pace over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Driven by Henley Brook trainer Robbie Williams, Happy As Larry, hot favourite at $1.10, jumped straight to the front from barrier two and was not extended in coasting to victory over Aussie Delight and Bee Seventeen, rating 1.57.7. A winner of two races from 17 starts as a three-year-old in New Zealand, As Happy As Larry has had 52 starts in WA for 13 wins and 22 placings. His overall record stands at 69 starts for 15 wins, 28 placings and $194,364. As Happy As Larry is the third (and last) foal out of Smart Shelley, who won once from five starts before being retired to stud. Always An Honour’s 50% record Promising four-year-old Always An Honour maintained his excellent form and improved his winning record to 50 per cent when he outclassed his rivals in the Sky Racing Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Starting from the No. 6 barrier and at $3.70 on the tote, the New Zealand-bred Always An Honour stole a march on his rivals when he began brilliantly and burst straight to the front before Gary Hall jnr dictated terms in front. Final quarters of 28.5sec. and 28.3sec. gave his rivals little hope and Always An Honour, trained by Justin Prentice, beat Sergeant Oats by just under four lengths at a 1.58.1 rate. Always An Honour, by Art Major, now has won at 11 of his 22 starts and looks destined for further successes.   Ken Casellas

Veteran mare Talkerup snapped a losing sequence of 30 when she gave a tough staying performance to win over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Tuesday evening and she looks to have excellent prospects of notching another victory when she contests the 2130m Skyharness Pace on Friday night. The seven-year-old, trained at Byford by Tony Svilicich, will again be handled by outstanding young driver Emily Suvaljko, who notched her 52nd win for the season with Tuesday’s success. Talkerup, a hardy campaigner with 109 starts for nine wins and 22 placings, will start from the No. 4 barrier on the front line and has the natural speed and tenacity to hold her obvious main rival Madame Meilland at bay. Talkerup started out wide at barrier nine on Tuesday, and after racing three wide in the early stages she worked hard in the breeze outside the pacemaker Captain Mannering before surging to the front 400m from home and going on to win by a length from Baylan Jett at a 1.58.7 rate after solid quarters of the final mile in 29.8sec., 29.7sec., 28.6sec. and 28.4sec. She paid $65.50 on the tote and $88.50 on the New South Wales tote. There will be no fancy prices about her on Friday night, but she should give punters a great run for their money. Talkerup showed wonderful early promise in New Zealand for trainer Cran Dalgety and reinsman Dexter Dunn, winning at each of her first three starts, two at Ashburton and one at Addington. On debut, over 2400m at Ashburton on December 26, 2015, Talkerup settled in tenth position before getting to the front 600m from home and winning comfortably from Kotare Yael, with the final 800m in 55.2sec. She ran home in 27.1sec. and 27.2sec. to win at her next two outings.  After 11 starts in New Zealand for three wins and four placings Talkerup came to Western Australia where she won at her first start, by four lengths at Kalgoorlie on October 23, 2016. She also won at her first appearance at both Pinjarra and Bunbury later that year, but then she went 25 months before her next win when she ended a losing sequence of 41 with a victory at Gloucester Park last July, with Suvaljko driving her for the first time. Talkerup is by Changeover and her dam Raconteur (by Bettors Delight) was unplaced at her three starts, all at Forbury Park in late 2010. Raconteur is a half-sister to Machtu and Eloquent Mach. Machtu won 14 races for champion trainer Gary Hall Snr, including the 2015 Winter Cup (beating David Hercules). He finished second in the Caduceus Club Classic, was third behind Three Blind Mice in the 2014 WA Derby, finished third in the Nights of Thunder in 2015 and 2016 and was third behind David Hercules in the 2015 Pinjarra Cup. He then had a successful career in America and was retired with earnings of $430,116 from 34 wins and 41 placings. Eloquent Mach, also trained by Hall, has already earned $171,169 from 11 wins and six placings from 25 starts. The Ross Olivieri-trained Madame Meilland looks Talkerup’s main rival, and from the No. 2 barrier and with Chris Lewis in the sulky, she will have many admirers, even though she has a losing sequence of 18. Madame Meilland the pacemaker Pick My Pocket and finished a sound sixth behind that mare in the $50,000 Empress Stakes last Friday night. Madame Meilland will certainly appreciate a considerable drop in class this week.   Ken Casellas

Double Expresso has won more races (11), has earned more stakemony ($272,179) and has the best winning percentage (79%) in the field of twelve three-year-olds in the $200,000 Sky Racing WA Derby at Gloucester Park on Friday night. But she faces a moment of truth and a serious test in the 2536m classic in which she is awkwardly drawn at barrier six on the front line. Double Expresso, trained by Ross Olivieri and to be driven by Chris Lewis, is one of two fillies in the race, the other being the Peter Anderson-trained Star Fromthepalace, who will start out wide at barrier seven, with Aldo Cortopassi in the sulky. History reveals that Double Expresso and Star Fromthepalace face a very difficult task against the colts and gelding. Only five fillies Happy Mint (1950), Swahili (1962), Hill Oro (1969), Via Vista (1981) and Whitbys Miss Penny (1991) have won the WA Derby in the past 70 years. The inaugural WA Derby in 1917 was won by Freckles at a 3.3.3 rate and the classic has been dominated by colts and geldings except for an 18-year period between 1923 and 1941 when fillies were successful on ten occasions. Double Expresso has not raced since March 6 when she was an easy all-the-way winner of the 2130m Group 2 Sales Classic for fillies. She warmed up for this week’s assignment in fine style when she dashed to an early lead, set the pace and won a 2150m trial at Byford on Sunday morning by just under ten lengths, rating 1.56.9. Admirers of Double Expresso will point out that she has proven herself against male rivals when she raced in fifth position on the pegs and charged home from fifth at the 250m mark to win from the fast-finishing Major Martini in the 2130m Caduceus Club Classic on February 21. She set a race record with a mile rate of 1.55.4 and became the first filly to win this event since Whitbys Miss Penny in 1991. Star Fromthepalace has been a consistent and reliable performer, with three wins and nine placings from 20 starts. She maintained her sound form when she raced four back on the pegs before finishing fast on the inside to be third behind Major Martini and Gardys Legacy in the Western Gateway Pace last Friday week. Chris Voak will be the new driver for Mach Da Vinci, with Dylan Egerton-Green choosing to handle the Bond-trained Patronus Star from the inside of the back line. Egerton-Green drove Mach Da Vinci when the New Zealand-bred colt covered a lot of extra ground before fighting in determinedly to score a narrow victory over One For Dave Andme last Friday night. Mach Da Vinci’s prospects slumped when he drew the outside (No. 9), with Hampton Banner, a recent arrival from New Zealand, also drawing poorly at barrier eight for trainer Debra Lewis. Chris Lewis has decided to drive Double Expresso in preference to Hampton Banner, who will be driven by Jocelyn Young. Hampton Banner made his Australian debut at Gloucester Park last Friday night when he began from barrier eight and finished solidly from eighth at the bell to be a neck second to Harley Zest. Harley Zest, trained and driven by Brad Stampalia, earned a start in the Derby with his victory last week when he enjoyed the one-out, one-back trail before sustaining a strong three-wide run over the final 650m. Franco Ecuador, an early fancy for the Derby, is likely to be at double figure odds from barrier No. 5. He has excellent potential but is still learning to race. He is the least experienced runner in the field, with three wins from five starts.   Ken Casellas

Forrestdale trainer Greg Bond has enjoyed outstanding success over the past 20 years with pacers he has purchased from New Zealand and he is hoping history will repeat itself when he starts handsome colt Howard Hughes in the $200,000 Sky Racing WA Derby at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Bond, who prepares the lightly-raced Howard Hughes in partnership with his wife Skye, has won the Group 1 WA Derby with Richard Henry (2005), In The Force (2009) and Seel N Print (2011) after they were unplaced in the major Derby lead-up event, the Western Gateway Pace. Richard Henry was sixth in the Western Gateway Pace, In The Force finished fourth and Seel N Print was eighth. Howard Hughes had a very tough run when a wilting eighth in the Western Gateway Pace last Friday week, but he has the class to bounce back in the Derby, particularly after drawing the prized No. 1 barrier in the 2536m classic. He started out wide at barrier No. 9 at his most recent appearance when he raced three wide for about 600m before moving to the breeze outside the pacemaker Major Martini and then dropping back in the final stages. Howard Hughes, whose eight starts have produced six wins and one second placing, is the eleventh foal out of the Falcon Seelster mare Heavenly Franco and is bred to be a Derby winner. His maternal great granddam Heather Franco produced star pacers Franco Hat Trick and Franco Heir. Franco Hat Trick won the New South Wales Derby at Harold Park in April 1997 and was also successful in the Chariots of Fire 12 months after that and retired with earnings of $659,210 from 30 wins and 64 placings. Franco Heir won the NSW Derby in May 2001 and earned $392,272 from 19 wins and 16 placings. On Friday night Howard Hughes will have the luxury of starting from the No. 1 barrier for the first time in his brief career. He possesses excellent gate speed and Ryan Warwick is sure to attempt to take full advantage of the inside draw. Howard Hughes started from barrier two at his WA debut, in a 2185m event at Pinjarra on January 13 this year when he set the pace and romped home an easy winner by just under five lengths from Lord Rosco. He then won at each of his next four outings when he started from barriers six, five (twice) and nine. He did not race as a two-year-old and had two starts in New Zealand late last year for an easy debut victory over 2000m at Addington on October 18 and a head second to four-year-old Ascalabus over 1980m on the same track on November 12. On debut, he started from barrier eight, settled in fourth place five lengths from the leader before dashing to the front 1150m from home and winning by almost two lengths from four-year-old The Guild. At his next start, he wasn’t bustled early from barrier seven before surging forward to move into the breeze after 450m. He got to the front 500m from home and fought on grandly when second to Ascalabus, who rated 1.56.6. The Bond stable will also be represented in Friday night’s Derby by Patronus Star, a winner at three of his eight starts who will be driven by Dylan Egerton-Green from the advantageous draw on the inside of the back line, immediately behind Howard Hughes.     Patronus Star made a fine Australian debut when he started from barrier two, set the pace and sprinted over the final 800m in 55.3sec. to win by just over two lengths from Hes Royal Blue at a 1.53.2 rate over 1609m at Bunbury last Saturday week.   Looming as a massive threat to Howard Hughes and Patronus Star is the brilliant Major Martini, who is in devastating form for Boyanup trainer Justin Prentice and is favourably drawn at barrier two on the back line. Major Martini has won in dashing style at his past two starts and will be handled by champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr, who has won five of the past seven WA Derbies scoring with Alta Christiano, Beaudiene Boaz, Chicago Bull, King of Swing and Major Trojan. Major Martini, driven by Prentice, ran a tremendous Derby trial last Friday night when he started from the No. 2 barrier in the Group 2 Western Gateway Pace, set the pace and won by three and a half lengths from his stablemate Gardys Legacy. Two weeks before that, Major Martini also started from barrier two in the Group 2 Sales Classic when he raced in third position, three back on the pegs, before being eased off the pegs at the bell,, hitting the front 380m from home and racing away to win by five lengths from stablemate Manning. Major Martini is a superb sit-sprinter who is sure to prove very hard to beat. Prentice will also be represented in the Derby by Gardys Legacy and Aristocratic Star. Aiden de Campo will handle Gardys Legacy (a winner at five of his ten starts) from the No. 2 barrier on the front line, while Aristocratic Star (a winner at five of his 17 starts) will start from the No. 4 barrier, with Stuart McDonald in the sulky. Aristocratic Star warmed up in style for this week’s classic with a strong finishing effort to win the $30,000 Country Derby over 2569m from the pacemaker Bee Jays Boy at Bunbury on Saturday night. He sprinted over the final 400m in 27.7sec.   Ken Casellas

Prentice reigns supreme Ace Boyanup trainer Justin Prentice maintained his recent dominance of the Simmonds Steel Empress Stakes when he drove Pick My Pocket to an impressive all-the-way victory in the $50,000 classic for mares at Gloucester Park on Friday night. It was his third win in the past five runnings of the group 2 feature after successes with Major Reality (driven by Brayden Green) in 2016 and The Parade (driven by Gary Hall jnr) in 2017. Well supported and starting a $3.80 fancy, Pick My Pocket ended a losing sequence of eight and boosted her prizemoney to $150,284 from ten wins and 14 placings from 40 starts. Prentice took full advantage of the prized No. 1 barrier and he was able to coast through the first two quarters of the final mile in 30.7sec. and 30.4sec. before sprinting the final 400m sections in 28.3sec. and 28.8sec. Pick My Pocket fought on tenaciously in the final stages to keep $10 chance Gotta Go Gabbana at bay and score by a head at a 1.59.3 rate over 2536m. Gotta Go Gabbana, who started from the outside barrier (No. 9) dashed forward in the first circuit and raced in the breeze for more than two laps. Dracarys, a stablemate of the winner, charged home, six wide, from ninth at the bell to be an eye-catching third, with Parisian Partygirl, the winner of the Golden Girls Mile at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon, running home strongly from seventh at the bell to be fourth. American Delight, last at the bell, finished fifth. The well-fancied Our Alfie Romeo enjoyed little luck and finished tenth after being blocked for a clear passage in the final lap. Pick My Pocket, raced by Bob Fowler’s Allwood Stud Farm, is bred to be a winner. After one win from five starts in New Zealand, the six-year-old has raced 35 times in Western Australia for nine wins and 13 placings. Pick My Pocket, by superstar stallion Bettors Delight, is out of the In The Pocket mare La Filou, who won just one race from eights starts in New Zealand before producing The Dip, who had 203 starts for 20 wins, 44 placings and $191,503. La Filou is out of Scuse Me (25 starts for eight wins, eight placings and $126,841) who is the dam of 13 winners, including star performers Adore Me (36 starts for 26 wins, seven placings and $1,667,029) and Have Faith In Me (81 starts for 27 wins, 23 placings and $1,693,187). Friday night’s victory gave Fowler his second success in the Empress Stakes. He raced Benetar Star, who was trained and driven by Fred Kersley jnr when she won the big race from Gold Duchess and Cap Sensitive in 1990. Mach Da Vinci does it tough New Zealand-bred colt Mach Da Vinci enhanced his claims for a start in the $200,000 WA Derby next Friday night when he revealed excellent fighting qualities to win the 2130m Worldwide Printing Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Favourite at $1.90, Mach Da Vinci started from the back line and Dylan Egerton-Green quickly had him in sixth position, three back in the one-wide line, with polemarker Crocodile Kid setting the pace from Lord Rosco in the breeze after failing in a spirited bid to get to an early lead. Mach Da Vinci started a three-wide run approaching the bell and he worked hard in the final lap before he finally got the better of Crocodile Kid in the closing stages. And then he held off $8 chance One For Dave Andme, who finished strongly along the pegs and went down by just a short half-head, with Crocodile Kid ($8.50) a neck away in third place. The final quarters were run in 28.2sec. and 29.1sec. and the winner rated 1.56.6 in notching his fifth win from 19 starts. The Stephen Reed-trained Lord Rosco will pay to follow. He showed abundant early speed when the lead time was run in a slick 35.6sec. and he fought on grandly to finish a close-up fourth. Late bid by Harley Zest New Zealand-bred gelding Harley Zest made a belated bid for inclusion in the field for the $200,000 WA Derby at Gloucester Park next Friday night when he scored a fighting victory over other Derby hopefuls in the Community TAB Pace over 2130m on Friday night. Harley Zest, part-owned, trained and driven by Brad Stampalia, was a $39.40 outsider despite a strong-finishing effort to win from Intheskyrocket at Gloucester Park eight days earlier. Harley Zest enjoyed a perfect passage in the one-out, one-back position before Stampalia sent him forward, with a three-wide burst 650m from home. The gelding moved on terms with the pacemaker Pocket The Cash and the breeze horse Manifestly Excesiv at the 350m mark. He gradually edged ahead and won by a neck from the $2.75 favourite Hampton Banner, who raced in eighth position before starting a three-wide move 750m from home. He then followed Harley Zest over the final 650m. Pocket The Cash held on for third and Caveman (who trailed the leader) was fourth. Harley Zest is by Art Major and is out of the Christian Cullen mare Zest Philly, whose only win from 15 starts was when, as a five-year-old, she finished strongly from twelfth on the home turn to beat Cracklin Rosie by a neck in the modest time of 2.1.8 over 1609m at Winton in September 2012. Zest Philly is a half-sister to the injury plagued Zennart, who has had only 31 starts for 12 wins, five placings and $128,332 in stakes. Shockwave notches hat-trick Blossoming star pacer Shockwave brought up a winning hat-trick when he overcame the disadvantage of the outside barrier (No. 8) to do all the bullocking work in the breeze and beat the $1.20 favourite Galactic Star in the $25,000 Direct Trades Supply Pace over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Galactic Star, widely fancied after drawing the coveted No. 1 barrier, survived an early challenge for the lead from As Happy As Larry and relished his pacemaking role.     Aiden de Campo restrained Shockwave at the start and the four-year-old was last in the field of eight 250m after the start when he began a three-wide move which took him outside the pacemaking Galactic Star 200m later. Shockwave got his nose in front about 250m from the finish and he and Galactic Star raced  stride for stride in the home straight, with Shockwave prevailing by a head, rating 1.57.4 after final quarters of 27.3sec. and 27.7sec. Shockwave now has had 35 starts for 13 wins, 11 placings and $360,930 in prizemoney. Miracle Moose flies home Lightly-raced four-year-old Miracle Moose looks set for a highly successful career in Western Australia after he gave an outstanding performance to thunder home from last at the bell in a field of twelve to win the 2130m Abbott and Co. Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Trained by Nathan Turvey and driven by Emily Suvaljko, the New Zealand-bred gelding was an outside at $40.70 from barrier seven and he caused an upset in getting up in the final stride to win by a half-head from the $1.60 favourite Bettor Be Oscar, rating 1.57.9. The 13 part-owners of Miracle Moose can look forward with confidence for further successes with the Mach Three gelding’s first eight starts in WA producing four wins and two thirds after having 15 starts in New Zealand for two wins and four placings. Trained and driven by Tony Herlihy, Miracle Moose showed wonderful early promise when, as a three-year-old and at his second start, he raced three back on the pegs and finished solidly to be third behind Major Trojan in a 2200m event at Alexandra Park in September 2018 in which the final 800m was covered in 56.9sec. Major Trojan has gone from strength to strength since then and now has raced 13 times for six wins (including the WA Derby in April of last year), five placings and $204,6898 in stakes. Miracle Moose has inherited much of the ability of his dam, the Bettors Delight mare Minnie Moose, who was trained by Mark Purdon before being retired with earnings of $142,791 from eight wins and 21 placings from 55 starts. Minnie Moose’s final start was in the inaugural Five-Year-Old Diamond at Ashburton when she finished second to champion mare Bettor Cover Lover. Miracle Moose won at his first two starts in WA when he set the pace at Bridgetown and Albany in February this year. He also led when a winner at Narrogin at his fourth WA appearance.   My Carbon Copy is on the rise New Zealand-bred four-year-old My Carbon Copy gave further proof at Gloucester Park on Friday night that he is set for a bright career when he finished solidly to score an easy victory in the $30,000  Clarke final over 2130m. Driven by Stuart McDonald for champion trainer Gary Hall snr, My Carbon Copy was the second fancy at $7.10 behind another New Zealand-bred four-year-old, The Bird Dance, who was a hot favourite at $1.12 after winning at each of his previous nine starts, including eight wins from eight starts in WA. After a fast lead time of 34.9sec., American Brave eventually got to the front from the polemarker The Bird Dance, with My Carbon Copy settling in third position on the pegs. The Bird Dance regained the lead 600m from home but had no answer when My Carbon Copy swept to the front with 120m to travel. The Bird Dance faded to eighth. My Carbon Copy, placed at three of his six starts in New Zealand, has raced 15 times in WA for nine wins and three placings. Classics beckon Lavra Joe Upstanding West Australian-bred colt Lavra Joe is rapidly developing into a leading candidate for the rich two-year-old classics later this season. Driven by Shane Young for Greenbushes trainer Ray Jones, Lavra Joe, the $2.30 favourite, was most impressive in scoring an easy victory in the 1730m Off The Track Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He started from the outside in the field of seven and settled in third place on the pegs, with polemarker Rich American setting the pace from Adda Something. Young, not wanting any possibility of Lavra Joe being held in a pocket on the pegs, moved Lavra Joe into the breeze position after 450m. He did not ask Lavra Joe for an effort until leaving the back straight in the final lap. Lavra Joe responded in fine style and burst to the front 220m from the finish before dashing away to win by seven metres from Adda Something, rating 1.56.1. Firsts all round It was a case of firsts all round when Upper Swan trainer Michael Munro, at his first appearance in the sulky at Gloucester Park, guided War Spirit, at his first start in Western Australia, to a runaway victory in the $30,000 Mondo Doro Smallgoods Trotters Sprint on Friday night. War Spirit, a six-year-old by American stallion Monarchy, was a $9.20 chance, with Mr Sundon all the rage as the $1.40 favourite from barrier three after winning at seven of his ten starts in the State. But when Mr Sundon galloped badly in the score-up Munro sent War Spirit straight to the front from the No. 4 barrier. War Spirit was unchallenged in front and after final quarters of 29.2sec. and 29.1sec., he strolled to a 13-metre victory over another newcomer in Princess Mila, with Rock Tonight a nose away in third place. The winner’s rate was a smart 1.58.2. War Spirit, a winner of two races in New Zealand, was a solid performer in Victoria where he had 37 starts for eight wins and 12 placings. He showed early promise when he won the group 1 Breeders Crown for three-year-old trotters at Melton in August 2017. Three starts before his WA debut on Friday night War Spirit set a track record when he won a 2570m stand at Geelong, rating 2.2.4 last November. Iceenothink comes from last South Australian-bred pacer Iceenothink continues to excite with his sprinting ability and he impressed at Gloucester Park on Friday night when he sustained a powerful burst from last in the middle stages to win the 2130m TABtouch Pace. Stablemates Mighty Santana ($1.95) and Justasec ($4.40) from the Forrestdale stables of leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond dominated betting, with Iceenothink the third fancy at $6.70. From the No. 4 barrier, Mitch Miller restrained Iceenothink to the rear, with Mighty Santana (Dylan Egerton-Green) leading for the first lap before Ryan Warwick sent Justasec to the front. Miller sent Iceenothink forward approaching the bell and the gelding moved to sixth, out three wide, with a lap to travel. Iceenothink got on terms, out three wide, with Justasec and Jack William 300m to travel before taking a clear lead 40m from  the post and winning by two metres from the unlucky Mighty Santana, who was badly blocked for a clear run until the final stages, when he sprouted wings. Fifty Five Reborn is Oaks bound Lightly-raced filly Fifty Five Reborn staked her claims for the $150,000 WA Oaks on May 1 when she produced a whirlwind finish to win the Perth Plasterboard Centre Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Trained and driven by Colin Brown in a bright green sulky, Fifty Five Reborn was a $4.80 chance from the No. 7 barrier. She was four wide for the first 150m before Brown restrained her to race in eighth position in the one-wide line. She was sixth at the 400m before she sprinted strongly to burst to the front about 50m from the post and race away to beat Blockjorg by one and a half lengths at a 1.57.4 rate over 2130m. This was Fifty Five Reborn’s second outing after a spell and her fourth win from ten starts. She is sure to be improved when she contests the Oaks. Blockjorg, trained by Colin Reeves and driven by Jocelyn Young, also looks to be an excellent Oaks prospect. She had a tough run in the breeze outside the pacemaker Soho Whisper before hitting the front with 320m to travel. A stroll in the park for Taroona Bromac Leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond produced smart New Zealand-bred four-year-old Taroona Bromac in splendid fettle for his first-up appearance after an absence of almost four months when he was sent out as a $1.30 favourite for the 2130m Etch Coating Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Ryan Warwick dashed Taroona Bromac straight to the front from the No. 3 barrier and the Western Ideal gelding relished his pacemaking role and winning by one and a half lengths from Sergeant Oats, who trailed him throughout. Taroona Bromac dashed over the final 800m in 56sec. and rated 1.57.9. This improved his record to 13 starts for ten wins and one second placing.   Ken Casellas

Few horses in any code in recent years can boast such remarkable consistency as ten-year-old square-gaiter Lord Liam, whose clash with Mr Sundon, Tenno Sho and Rock Tonight in the $30,000 Mondo Doro Smallgoods Trotters Sprint over 1730m promises to be a highlight on the 11-event program at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “He’s done a good job,” was the laconic understatement from Waroona trainer Bob Mellsop, who can lay claim as the West Australian maestro of preparing and racing trotters. Lord Liam was sent to WA to be trained by Mellsop after the powerfully-built, barrel-chested gelding had raced in Victoria and New South Wales 57 times for 13 wins and 18 placings. Now, Lord Liam has had 45 starts for Mellsop for the incredible record of 19 wins, 16 seconds, four thirds, three fourths, one fifth, one seventh and one eighth. In the space of four months last year Lord Liam won eight races in a row and since then his 11 starts have produced one win, seven seconds and three thirds. Mellsop certainly has been a trendsetter and pathfinder in trotting in the past two decades in WA. Among a succession of square gaiters under his care in that time have been Dave Star (43 starts for 17 wins and nine placings), Drop of Gin (25 starts for nine wins and 11 placings), The Beau Brummel (20 starts for four wins, including the 2014 WA Trotters Cup, and seven placings), Sun of Zola (19 starts for 11 wins and five placings), Baby Jack (40 starts for six wins and 17 placings), Gee Invasion (ten starts for five wins and one placing), Our Shoe In (18 starts for five wins and five placings) and Sammy Charles (19 starts for six wins and 11 placings). Lord Liam, with regular driver Maddison Brown in the sulky, is somewhat awkwardly drawn at barrier five in this week’s sprint event. But he should be in the firing line throughout and is capable of extending the warm favourite, the Ross Olivieri-trained Mr Sundon, who will be driven by Chris Lewis from a more favourable barrier at No. 3. Tenno Sho, trained at Pinjarra by Tracy Reay and to be driven by Nathan Turvey, is a smart frontrunner who is ideally drawn at barrier No. 2. Tenno Sho gave a bold frontrunning display when he beat Rock Tonight and Lord Liam over 2130m on Thursday of last week.  Rock Tonight, in the Waroona stables of Nigel Johns, is brilliant but unreliable and unpredictable. He will start from the outside barrier (No. 9) with Morgan Woodley in the sulky. Rock Tonight followed a fast-finishing victory over Mr Sundon at Pinjarra with a strong-finishing last-0start second to Tenno Sho. Johns, a stalwart and trailblazer in trotting in WA, will also be represented by the immensely popular 12-year-old Diamond Geezer, who delights trotgoers with his enthusiastic high-stepping action. The Victorian-bred Diamond Geezer has raced exclusively in WA where his 236 starts have produced 17 wins 30 seconds and 39 thirds. He will be handled by Donald Harper from out wide at barrier eight and will be at liberal odds. Adding interest to this week’s race will be the first appearance in the State of former Victorian performers War Spirit and Princess Mila. War Spirit, trained at Upper Swan by Michael Munro, will start from the No. 4 barrier. A winner of two races in New Zealand, War Spirit raced 37 times in Victoria for eight wins and 12 placings. He has been unplaced at his past two starts, at Melton and Globe Derby Park, but before those failures he set a track record of 2.2.4 in a 2570m stand at Geelong last November.  Five-year-old Princess Mila, trained by Gary Hall Snr, is the only mare and youngest runner in the race. She will be driven by Gary Hall Jnr from barrier two on the back line. She has not appeared since she finished third in a field of six in a 2190m stand at Mildura in April of last year.   Ken Casellas

Champion pacer Chicago Bull will resume racing after an absence of nine months and Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr said that the seven-year-old was ready for a strong first-up performance when he starts from out wide, at barrier eight in the $25,000 Direct Trades Supply Pace over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “He’s run three minutes and has run home in 55 seconds on the track at home,” Hall said. “But he’s got to run those times; that’s what Free-For-All horses have to run. He’s porky; he’s big and racing will make him better. “I don’t think he will get back to what he was. He has been in work for three months and there’s no problem with his wither. But his off-side fetlock has been troubling him a bit.” Chicago Bull was badly injured in a freak stable accident in New Zealand in October 2018, just a few days before he was due to have contested the New Zealand Cup at Addington. He fractured several bones in his wither when he flipped himself over backwards. He had an anaphylactic reaction to an injection. This kept him out of action for seven months and since that accident he has raced five times at Gloucester Park for three wins, a second and a last-start fourth behind Golden State on June 28 last year when he raced wide early and then in the breeze. Gary Hall Jnr will drive Chicago Bull, who is expected to receive stiff opposition from the up-and-coming star four-year-old Shockwave (who will start from  the outside barrier in the field of nine) and the talented Greg and Skye Bond-trained seven-year-old Galactic Star, who will have many admirers, particularly because of his perfect draw at No. 1. This will be an acid test for the Ryan Bell-trained Shockwave, who has scored effortless victories over 2130m at his past two starts.   Ken Casellas

The aptly-named two-year-old colt Mighty Ronaldo is poised to open his winning account by proving the master of his four opponents in the $25,000 Intersport Slater Gartrell Western Crown Classic for colts and geldings at Gloucester Park on Friday night. By former champion pacer Alta Christiano, he has been named after Portuguese world soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo whose net worth is estimated at $460 million. Mighty Ronaldo, who is trained and driven by Justin Prentice, has earned $1581 from his first two starts that produced a first-up fifth at Gloucester Park followed by an impressive close-up second to The Good Life over 1609m at Bunbury on March 3. A win this week would boost his earnings by $15,113. “His was a good run last start,” said Prentice. “He sat in the breeze and the final quarter was run in 26.9sec. He couldn’t have gone much better; he was just beaten by a good one. This race on Friday night looks a good one for him.” Mighty Ronaldo will start from barrier three and is sure to be prominent throughout in the small field. His chief rivals appear to be the polemarker and Glenn Elliott-trained Soho Gigolo and the Mike Reed-trained Our Shelley Beach. Soho Gigolo, to be driven by Chris Voak, should be improved by his debut performance last Friday night when he raced three back on the pegs in fourth place before fighting on to finish second, eight lengths behind the flying pacemaker Black Jack Baby. Our Shelley Beach also made his debut in last week’s race in which he raced in seventh and last position before improving to finish a well-beaten fourth. Black Jack Baby, trained at Pinjarra by David Young and unbeaten at her four starts, has sound prospects improving her record by winning the $25,000 Intersport Slater Gartrell Western Crown for two-year-old fillies. Driven by Chris Voak, Black Jack Baby began brilliantly from barrier three and sped over the final quarters in 28.6sec. and 28.2sec. when she won in effortless fashion last Friday night. She will start from barrier five this week and is likely to be tested by the Debra Lewis-trained Rumour Has It, who will be driven by Chris Lewis from the outside barrier in the field of six. Rumour Has It gave an impressive frontrunning display to win by seven and a half lengths from Letsdancetonight at a 1.56.3 rate over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week. That followed a first-up fifth to Black Jack Baby at Pinjarra and a fast-finishing second to Cheddar Is Better over 1684m at Pinjarra.   Ken Casellas

The all-conquering training partnership of Greg and Skye Bond continues at full throttle and punters will be keen to support two runners from their Forrestdale establishment who will be out to maintain their unbeaten records at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Ryan Warwick will drive The Bird Dance from barrier four in race six and Captain Kirk from barrier six in race eight. Neither pacer has tasted defeat at Gloucester Park, with The Bird Dance winning at his three appearances at the track and Captain Kirk being successful at his four starts there. The Bird Dance, a lightly-raced four-year-old, will be resuming after an absence of 12 weeks. After winning at two of his five starts in New Zealand The Bird Dance has won at each of his seven starts in Western Australia and his clash with the extremely promising and inexperienced six-year-old Sir Galahad promises to be a highlight of the ten-event program. Sir Galahad, prepared at Serpentine by Gary Hall Snr, will start from the No. 6 barrier with Stuart McDonald in the sulky and is sure to prove very hard to beat. The gelding was untroubled to win from Sergeant Oats at a 1.55.3 rate over 1730m last Friday night when he worked in the breeze outside the pacemaker Dominate The Dojo before racing clear in the final stages. That was his eighth win from only 13 starts.   Five-year-old Captain Kirk has the ability to overcome the disadvantage of an awkward draw in a 2536m event in which he looks set to receive plenty of opposition in an even field. His 14 starts in WA have produced six wins and five placings. His four Gloucester Park appearances have resulted in three wins over 1730m and an all-the-way victory from Grinny Vinnie over 2536m. The Bonds hold a substantial lead in the WA trainers’ premiership table, with 105 winners this season well ahead of Ross Olivieri (66 winners), Hall (53) and Aiden de Campo (44). Hall has bright prospects of making a flying start to Friday night’s meeting by winning the opening event with the up-and-coming four-year-old My Carbon Copy, who will be driven by McDonald from the prized No. 1 barrier. The New Zealand-bred gelding is a smart beginner who should be capable of winning the start and setting the pace over the 1730m journey. Hes Royal Blue has good gate speed and is favourably drawn at barrier two. He has led at 17 of his 34 starts for six wins, four seconds and three thirds. But he is unlikely to be able to muster sufficient early speed to cross My Carbon Copy.   Ken Casellas

Exciting pacer Major Martini is a brilliant sit-sprinter who has thrilled harness racing fans with his dazzling finishing bursts, but his trainer-reinsman Justin Prentice is predicting the WA-bred gelding will be seen in a different role when he contests the $50,000 Intersport Slater Gartrell Western Gateway Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Major Martini has drawn favourably at barrier two on the front line and Prentice is planning to burst straight to the front and attempt an all-the-way victory in the Group 2 feature event for three-year-olds. “It’s a good draw and I’ll be doing everything I can to lead,” Prentice said. “He certainly can lead. “Since winning the Sales Classic last Friday week his work has been good. Junior (Gary Hall Jnr) was really happy with that run and Major Martini worked well with Gardys Legacy this morning (Tuesday) and both went through the line really good. I’m happy with both of them.” Gardys Legacy, who has had nine starts for Prentice for five wins, has drawn the coveted No. 1 barrier on the front line and he will be handled by Aiden de Campo. Major Martini notched his fifth win from 12 starts when he began from the No. 2 barrier and raced in third position in an Indian file 2130m Sales Classic at his most recent outing. Hall eased the gelding off the pegs at the bell and he then raced outside the pacemaker Caveman before getting to the front 380m from home. He careered away from his rivals in the home straight and won by five lengths from stablemate Manning, rating 1.56.6 after sprinting over the final quarters in 27sec. and 27.7sec. At his previous start Major Martini gave a sample of his sizzling sprinting ability when he thundered home, out four wide, from eleventh at the bell to finish second, a short half-head behind the winner Double Expresso, who rated 1.55.4 over the 2130m to set a race record. Manning, a smart Sportswriter gelding who has won four races, will be Prentice’s third runner in Friday night’s 2536m race. He is in sound form, with excellent placings at his past two outings. He will start from the No. 7 barrier and will be driven by Chris Lewis, who has won the Western Gateway five times with Flashing Star (1993), Pro Armbro (1995), Saab (1998), Talladega (2001) and Alberta Retreat (2005). Prentice has also been successful in the Western Gateway. He drove the John Graham-trained Lively Royce to victory in 2008 and  was in the sulky behind the Michael Brennan-trained Im Victorious, who started from barrier three and took the front after 700m before going on to win from Gracias Para Nada in April 2012. Major Martini, by Art Major, is the only foal out of the Sutter Hanover mare Gaetana Nicole to have raced. Gaetana Nicole is a half-sister to Fake Embrace, who won at 11 of his 26 starts in WA before going to America where he won another 26 times. Prentice has happy memories of Fake Embrace, whom he drove to victory in an event for junior drivers at Gloucester Park in May 2006. Adding considerable interest to Friday night’s race will be the first appearance in WA of Mach Da Vinci, a New Zealand-bred colt who is prepared by New Zealand trainer Paul Court and will be driven by 25-year-old New Zealand-born reinsman Jack Trainor, who has been highly successful in New South Wales in recent years. Trainor has driven 56 winners this season and is in sixth place on the NSW drivers’ premiership table. Mach Da Vinci faces a stern test from out wide at barrier eight. But he possesses excellent gate speed, like he showed at his latest outing, in a 1609m event at Menangle last Saturday week. He was unable to cross Ohoka Johnny and then made a determined bid for the lead after 200m. He got a half-length in front over the next 250m before Trainor restrained and took the sit behind the pacemaker. Mach Da Vinci moved off the pegs 350m from home and got to a narrow lead 220m from the post before being swamped and he finished a gallant fourth behind Leonidas. Two starts before that Mach Da Vinci led from barrier two and won by two lengths from Macheasy at a 1.54.7 rate over 2300m at Menangle when he dashed over the final 800m in 53.2sec. Eleven days before that Mach Da Vinci began brilliantly from out wide at barrier nine when he led and won over 1609m at Menangle with flying quarters of 27.3sec., 29.6sec., 27.1sec. and 27.3sec. Howard Hughes, a handsome black colt prepared by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, fared badly in the random draw and will need a shade of luck from barrier No. 9. The New Zealand-bred Howard Hughes, unraced as a two-year-old, won once from two starts in New Zealand and is unbeaten in five starts in WA, with an average winning margin of three lengths. Howard Hughes also started from the outside barrier in a 2130m race on Tuesday of last week. He settled down in sixth position in the one-wide line and began a three-wide move with 1050m to travel before getting to the front 150m from the finish and winning easily from the pacemaker Hes Royal Blue. Ryan Warwick, who drives Howard Hughes, teamed with the Bond stable to win the Western Gateway with Mitch Maguire in 2017. Greg Bond also prepared Ohokas Bondy for his win in this event in 2011. The Bond stable also will be represented in this year’s classic by Manifestly Excesiv, who will be driven by Colin Brown from the inside of the back line. The Kim Prentice-trained and driven Franco Ecuador is the least experienced runner in the race, with three stylish victories from his four starts. He will start from the outside of the back line is as capable of a bold showing. Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed, who has won the Western Gateway with Manageable in 1988 and Bechers Brook in 2018, will be pinning his faith this year on Valentines Brook (barrier three) and Caveman (six), while Michael Brennan has a high opinion of Withoutthetuh (barrier four) and Serpentine trainer Kyle Anderson has Al Guerroro (five) in peak form. The only filly in the race is the Peter Anderson-trained Star Fromthepalace, who will be driven by Aldo Cortopassi from barrier two on the back line. Star Fromthepalace, who has won three races and been placed eight times from 19 starts, will be at long odds. The only fillies to have won in the 48-year history of the Western Gateway are Omista (1972), Via Vista (1981) and Whitbys Miss Penny (1991).   Ken Casellas

Miracle Mile plans for Vampiro New Zealand-bred Vampiro, a pacer blessed with dazzling gate speed, will be set for the $1 million Miracle Mile at Menangle next March if he maintains his superb form, said buoyant part-owner Rob Gartrell after Colin Brown had driven the six-year-old to a superb all-the-way victory in the $25,000 Direct Trades Supply Pace over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Vampiro, who possesses dazzling gate speed, is a brilliant sprinter, having won the 1730m Mount Eden Sprint, rating 1.55.2 when he beat Maczaffair and Rocknroll Lincoln at Gloucester Park in October 2018, as well as winning the 1730m Village Kid Sprint from Herrick Roosevelt and Galactic Star at a 1.52.9 rate last December.  “Probably, since Has The Answers a decade ago, Vampiro is the fastest beginner in WA,” said Gartrell, who races the New Zealand-bred gelding in partnership with trainer Skye Bond, who prepares the pacer with her husband Greg. “We tossed up this year whether to take Vampiro to Menangle in a bid to qualify for the Miracle Mile. We ended up taking Galactic Star. But next year we’ll probably have a crack with Vampiro. “We had a chance to sell Vampiro to America a couple of years ago when Skye said: ‘No, no, this horse will continue to improve. So, we hung on to him and he has got better with every preparation. We bought him as a three-year-old for a pretty reasonable price, mainly because he hadn’t done anything sensational in New Zealand.” Vampiro has certainly vindicated Skye Bond’s faith in the Rocknroll Hanover gelding, who managed just one win and one placing from seven starts in New Zealand. His 53 starts in Western Australia have produced 23 wins and 17 placings for $521,724 in prizemoney. He is out the unraced Artsplace mare Fortune Lover, whose dam Under Cover Lover amassed $864,923 in stakes from 21 wins and 22 placings from 70 starts. Vampiro, who set the pace and finished second to Caviar Star in the 2536m Fremantle Cup and led when second to Mighty Conqueror in the 2936m WA Pacing Cup in January, led and won the 2692m Pinjarra Cup last Monday week. He began from the outside barrier (No. 9) in both the Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups and from barrier six in the Pinjarra Cup. Again, he began brilliantly from barrier nine on Friday night and burst straight to the front before setting a solid pace. He dashed over the final four 400m sections in 29.2sec., 27.7sec., 28.7sec. and 28.1sec. Her rated 1.56 and beat his fast-finishing stablemate Our Jimmy Johnstone, with trainer Ross Olivieri’s Im Full of Excuses third and another Bond-trained pacer El Jacko, an unlucky fourth after being badly hampered for room for most of the final circuit. “The only question mark on Vampiro has always been whether he can find when it gets really tough,” Gartrell said. “Tonight, he showed his toughness when seriously tested by Im Full of Excuses approaching the home turn and was able to repel the challenge.” Shockwave is on the rise Star four-year-old Shockwave, untroubled to crush his rivals in the $50,000 Direct Trades Supply Four and Five-Year-Old Championship at Gloucester Park on Friday night, is vying for the accolade as Western Australia’s best pacer, according to his managing owner Kevin Jeavons. “I have no doubt that he is right up there with the best horses here,” Jeavons declared. “Time will tell how he measures up with the best in Australia. We will find out when he gets a chance.” At his first appearance for two months, Shockwave was a dominant $1.20 favourite from the No. 1 barrier in the group 2 2130m feature event. Aiden de Campo jumped Shockwave straight to the front and the horse coasted through the first three quarters of the final mile before sprinting the last 400m in 27.3sec. to beat Bletchley Park by just under five metres at a 1.56.5 rate. This gave de Campo his second success in this event, after scoring an effortless victory with Handsandwheels 12 months ago. Jeavons, who races Shockwave in partnership with his son Kyle and Howard King, outlaid $46,000 to buy Shockwave at the 2017 APG yearling sale and the son of Canadian sire Mach Three now has earned $330,704 from 11 wins and 11 placings from 33 starts. “He was the best looking and best conformed colt at the sale in my opinion and in the opinion of trainer Ryan Bell,” Jeavons said. “He was a great looking horse and has developed into a great looking stallion. He is a very quiet, well-mannered horse. “At the moment, Shockwave will be staying in WA and will race in Free-For-Alls every couple of weeks. We’re planning to go to Queensland for him to contest two major group 1 feature events in July. But with the problems with the world-wide virus, who knows what will happen. We won ‘t be over-racing him and will be keeping him for the big races.” Young targets a feature double Pinjarra trainer-reinsman Shane Young praised Rosies Ideal for her spirited performance to win the DTS Farm Fence Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night and said that the five-year-old was being set for a feature double in the space of five days later this month. “Rosies Ideal is one of the best mares in the State, in my opinion, and she’s starting to prove that, winning in sub 1.57 mile rates at each of her past three starts at Gloucester Park,” he said. Young plans to run Rosies Ideal in the group 3 $30,000 Golden Girls Mile at Pinjarra on Monday week and the group 2 $50,000 Empress Stakes at Gloucester Park the following Friday. “She’s got to back up to two starts in the week,” Young said. “She’s tough enough and it shouldn’t bother her. In a normal week, she has a hoppled run on a Wednesday and races on the Friday.” Rosies Ideal was a warm favourite at $2.15 from out wide at barrier No. 8 and Young said that he didn’t go into the race with a set plan. “I thought I might go forward, but when I heard Aiden (de Campo) say in a pre-race interview that he intended to have a good crack for the lead with American Delight, I thought I would just let Rosies Ideal settle in the field,” Young said. “But, at barrier rise, Aiden’s horse broke, so I asked Rosies Ideal to go forward. Miss Sangrial (four and five wide) got a neck in front of us early, but she was never going to cross Rosies Ideal once I asked her to run forward. “She probably overraced a bit and that’s why she got a bit tired at the end. She went 29.1sec. from the 1200m to the 800m which she didn’t need to, but she wanted to. She’s a quality mare and has a great record. If she can jag one of the feature events for mares in the summer, it will be the icing on the cake. At the moment, we’re enjoying the ride.” Rosies Ideal held on gamely to defeat the fast-finishing 40/1 outside Mileys Desire by a head, rating 1.56.4 over the 2130m. This took her record to 39 starts for 14 wins, nine placings and $228,663 in prizemoney. Rosies Ideal was bred and is owned by Craig Lynn and his father Alan. Craig Lynn raced Rosies Ideal’s dam the New Zealand-bred Rosie Malone, who won four races from 38 starts in WA after winning three times in New Zealand. Highlights of Rosies Ideal’s career have been her victories in the two-year-old Gold Bracelet and the three-year-old Westbred Classic, as well as her head second to Our Alfie Romeo in the WASBA Breeders Stakes for four-year-olds in May of last year. Black Jack Baby sparkles Black Jack Baby, a Follow The Stars filly bred and owned by Shane Quadrio, will be a major player in feature events for two-year-olds this season, judged by the effortless ease in which she scored a runaway victory in the 1730m Direct Trades Supply Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Trained at Pinjarra by David Young, Black Jack Baby was driven with extreme confidence by Chris Voak and she gave a superb frontrunning exhibition to win by eight lengths from Soho Gigolo at a 1.58.6 rate. This gave Black Jack Baby her fourth win from four starts and she looms as a strong chance in the rich feature events for two-year-olds. She is likely to have her next start in the $25,000 Western Crown for fillies next Friday night. Voak likes Run For Mercy Chris Voak, who heads the WA drivers’ premiership table this season, was full of praise for the Ross Olivieri-trained Run For Mercy, who scored an easy victory  in the 2130m Direct Trades Supply Pace for three-year-old fillies at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Run For Mercy, an odds-on favourite from barrier one, is a stablemate of the outstanding filly Double Expresso, and she was not extended in setting the pace and winning from Sports Package and Blockjorg. “It was trackwork, really,” said Voak. “Basically, I think that everyone conceded. We got the barrier (No. 1) and it was her race to lose. It was a procession. “She won, but I don’t think that’s the way to rate her, slow like that. This filly can beat Double Expresso. But we need to be conservative, whereas Double Expresso can do the bullocking work in races and run on. “In the WA Oaks over 2536m, Run For Mercy is better on a genuine tempo. If Double Expresso is posted in the breeze and we get a soft trip and all of a sudden we get home in 57.8sec. we can definitely get over them. But, is Run For Mercy able to lead and beat Double Expresso, I don’t think so.” Justasec justifies Warwick’s confidence Inexperienced New Zealand-bred four-year-old Justasec, the $2.70 favourite, justified reinsman Ryan Warwick’s confidence when he worked hard without cover and scored a narrow victory in the 2130m www.DTSWA.com.au Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “I told Greg (Greg Bond, who prepares the gelding in partnership with his wife Skye) that we would sit outside the leader (Saleahs Comand) and win,” Warwick said after Justasec had forged to the front 100m from the post and held on to win by a head from the fast-finishing Lord Rosco. “He’s a pretty good horse and can do it every each way. So, he’s a pretty adaptable little horse who has got a good motor. He was just a grade better than them tonight. He’s got a few lurks, but we’ll just let him do the talking.” Justasec, by American sire Big Jim, won once from two New Zealand starts and now has had 11 starts in WA for eight wins and two seconds. It’s Dennis all the way A change of tactics by reinsman Mitch Miller paved the way for a strong all-the-way victory by Dennis in the 2130m DTS Farmlock Fence Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. A week earlier, Dennis started from the No. 1 barrier and Miller was content to sit behind the pacemaker Dominate The Dojo when Dennis was blocked for a run until the final 50 metres and ran on when fourth behind Jack William. Mitchell was determined to take full advantage of the No. 1 barrier on Friday night and Dennis held the fancied Grinny Vinnie at bay when that pacer made a strong challenge for the early lead. Dennis then covered the first two quarters of the final mile in 31.6sec. and 30.2sec. before sprinting the final sections in 28.4sec. and 27.6sec.    Dennis, trained by Ross Olivieri, went on to win by just under a length from Grinny Vinnie, rating 1.56.7 to notch his ninth win from 57 starts. “Dennis has always had good gate speed, but in the past whenever you used him at the start, you would lose at the finish,” said Miller. “We drove him quiet from barrier one last week and paid the price. So, drawing one, you’ve got to make the most of it.” Sir Galahad sizzles Inexperienced New Zealand-bred six-year-old Sir Galahad continues to impress and he revealed abundant speed and plenty of toughness when he raced wide early and then in the breeze before getting to the front 100m from the post and winning the 1730m DTS All Your Civil and Construction Supply Needs Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Trained by Gary Hall snr and driven by Stuart McDonald, Sir Galahad, the $2.40 favourite from barrier five raced outside the pacemaker Dominate The Dojo before exerting his superiority in the home straight. H smart 1.55.3 and improved his record to eight wins and three placings from 13 starts. Treble for the Bonds Leading trainers Greg and Sky Bond extended their lead on the WA trainers’ premiership table when Ryan Warwick drove Where Ya Bin to a narrow victory in the DTS Handicap over 2503m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The Bonds now have prepared 103 winners this season and lead the table from Ross Olivieri (64 wins) and Gary Hall snr (53). Where Ya Bin, a New Zealand-bred four-year-old and a $5.70 chance, raced without cover early and ran on solidly from sixth in the one-wide line at the line to win by a half-head from Burning Shadows and On My Oath, who dead-heated for second. Leading suits You Gotta Have Faith Noted frontrunner You Gotta Have Faith excelled in the role of pacemaker and overcame the disadvantage of casting a shoe in running when he held on to win the 2130m Get The Best Service Only At DTS Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Driven by Maddison Brown for Waroona trainer Bob Mellsop, You Gotta Have Faith, the $3 favourite, made the most of the coveted No. 1 barrier by setting the pace and holding on to win by a neck from Mister Bushido, who trailed the pacemaker throughout. The Justin Prentice-trained Pick My Pocket showed that she will pay to follow by fighting on grimly to be a close third after working hard in the breeze, while Crocodile Kid showed a welcome return to form by charging home out wide to finish fourth. No trouble for Dreamy Nights Smart six-year-old Dreamy Nights completed a winning hat-trick when Aldo Cortopassi drove the Ray Williams-trained six-year-old to an effortless victory in the 2130m DTS Security Fence Specialists Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “The danger (Jack William) was parked on the helmet (behind us) and I made sure he was hemmed in until it was over,” said Cortopassi. “There was no pressure on us, and I treated it just like trackwork.” Jack William maintained his excellent form in finishing second, with Iceenothink flashing home from tenth at the bell to be an eye-catching third.   Ken Casellas

Mt Helena trainer Ray Williams has brought Dreamy Nights back from a spell in splendid form and the New Zealand-bred six-year-old has excellent prospects of completing a winning hat-trick by setting the pace and holding his rivals at bay in the 2130m DTS Security fence Specialists Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Reinsman Aldo Cortopassi was delighted when Dreamy Nights drew the prized No. 1 barrier and he plans to jump the gelding straight to the front and then dictate the terms of the race. “From No. 1 he won’t have to use a lot of speed,” Cortopassi said. “There’s no horse quicker than him off the arm; nothing will cross him off the gate. His past two runs have been very good and his main danger this week looks to be Jack William, who from barrier ten should be sitting on his back.” Jack William revealed strong staying virtues when he raced in the breeze and won from the fast-finishing One For Dave Andme over 2130m last Friday night when he covered the final 800m in 56.5sec. and rated 1.57.6. He also won from the breeze, beating Three Bears at Pinjarra at his previous outing. The Ross Olivieri-trained Iceenothink (barrier seven) also has claims. He is a talented sit-sprinter who has impressed with his strong finishing bursts at several recent outings. The in-form Cortopassi has several other good drives on the 11-event program, including Naval Aviator (race two), Im Soxy (race five), Oneonthewood (race eight) and Our Shelley Beach (race 11). “From barrier two on the back line I’ll have options with Naval Aviator,” said Cortopassi. He is capable of winning, with a bit of luck. I’ll have options --- whether to kick through early (in the one-wide line) or race three back on the fence. “I’ll be driving Im Soxy for the first time and he has not a bad draw at barrier two on the back line. He should get a nice soft run; he went to the line well when third behind Talktomeurmattjesty last week. Olivieri said that he was confident that Im Full of Excuses would prove hard to beat in that event. He will be driven by Chris Voak from the No. 3 barrier. “He has been knocking on the door and his run (when second to Vampiro) in the Pinjarra Cup was huge,” Olivieri said. Olivieri also has sound claims in the opening event, the DTS Farmnlock Fence Pace, with the enigmatic Dennis, who will start from the No. 1 barrier with Mitch Miller in the sulky. Dennis was a most unlucky fourth behind Jack William last week when he was hopelessly blocked for a clear passage until the final 50 metres. “Dennis is a capable frontrunner and he might try to lead this week,” Olivieri said. Cortopassi was engaged to drive Oneonthewood for trainer Joshua Dunn after Chris Voak opted to handle Jason Woodworth’s ten-year-old Attack On Command in the 2503m DTS 40,000 Stock Lines Under One Roof Handicap. Voak drove Oneonthewood, an 11-year-old veteran of 221 starts, when he caught the eye in a 2130m mobile event on Tuesday evening in which he was restrained  early and finished strongly, out six wide, from eleventh 300m from home to be fifth behind Bettor Be Oscar. He is also a good standing-start performer who is capable of a bold showing from the 20m mark. Voak drove Attack On Command when the gelding started from 30m and ran home solidly to win from The Lightning Strike over 2631m at Pinjarra two starts ago. Cortopassi is looking forward to driving the Mike Reed-trained regally-bred Our Shelley Beach from barrier six in the final event, the Direct Trades Supply Pace for two-year-olds. The New Zealand-bred Our Shelley Beach will be making his debut and should be prominent. “He gives promise of being a nice horse,” said Cortopassi. “I know what he can do, and he can only get better from the experience. “John Oldroyd broke him in and educated him and got me to drive him in trials. He’s got a lot of speed, but I’ll probably drive him quietly and see what happens. Mike has been good enough to leave me on.   Ken Casellas

Ross Olivieri, an eight-time premiership trainer in WA, is confident that he has an excellent second string runner in the $150,000 WA Oaks on May 1 in Run For Mercy, who looks a good bet from the No. 1 barrier in the Direct Trades Supply Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Olivieri, who prepares the brilliant Double Expresso, the favourite for the Oaks after winning 11 times from just 14 starts, said: “One-on-one, Run For Mercy is not as good as Double Expresso. But you saw how close she got when third behind Double Expresso and Starfromthepalace in the Daintys Daughter Classic last month. “That was her coming out moment, and she’s gone on with the job since then. At Pinjarra on Monday Run For Mercy jumped to the front and bolted in. You would think that would be the plan again on Friday night. She won in a similar field, and there were colts in the race, and on Friday night there are some classy fillies in the field. “She’s got more than a couple to beat, but she has the barrier draw advantage. She’s got the gate speed to use this advantage.” Run For Mercy, to be driven by Chris Voak, is favoured to win from Sports Package (barrier two) and Miss Lamarr (three), with most of the other fillies in the race capable of figuring strongly in the finish. The Terry Ferguson-trained Sports Package flew home, five wide, from seventh at the bell to win narrowly from My Sweet Deal and the pacemaker Run For Mercy at a 1.57.3 rate over 2130m last Friday week before she raced without cover and finished second to All The Bells over 2265m at Albany last Saturday night. Miss Lamarr finished strongly from three back on the pegs to win from Soho Whisper at a 1.57.9 rate over 2185m at Pinjarra on Monday, with trainer Michael Brennan saying: “She was very good at Pinjarra and also at her previous start when fourth in a four-way photo behind Sports Package at Gloucester Park. “From barrier three I’d say we’ll drop back to three back on the fence with Miss Lamarr.” Brennan also is setting Sweet Maddison for the Oaks. She followed smart wins at Narrogin and Pinjarra with a comfortable all-the-way victory from Faiselle over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Tuesday evening when she sprinted over the final quarters in 28.6sec. and 28.1sec. “Sweet Maddison is a long, long way from being wound up,” said Brennan. “We’ve had the Oaks in mind from the time we got her. She did everything right on Tuesday; she relaxed and did everything easily.” Brennan is also looking for a strong performance from Miss Sangrial, who will start from the outside (No. 9) on the front line in the DTS Farm Fence Made in WA Pace over 2130m. “Miss Sangrial and Rosies Ideal (trained and driven by Shane Young) are the two class mares in the field, with American Delight (Aiden de Campo) also a very smart mare who was impressive two starts ago when she led and finished third to Miss Sangrial and Fake News at Gloucester Park,” Brennan said. Rosies Ideal was impressive first-up last Friday week when she raced in the breeze before winning from Miss Sangrial over 2130m.   Ken Casellas

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