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Harness racing driver Shannon Suvaljko, leading the West Australian drivers’ premiership table, has labelled Maczaffair as the best of his seven drives at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He firmly believes that the New Zealand-bred four-year-old has the class to overcome the disadvantage of starting from the outside barrier (No. 9) in the Retravision Your Air Conditioning Specialist Pace, a 2536m event for mares. Maczaffair, trained by Mike Reed and the winner at 15 of her 33 starts, has had the luxury of leading from favourable barriers (two and three) and winning comfortably over 2130m at her past two starts. “You would think that Friday night’s race is a drop in grade compared to the Fremantle Cup, a race she was aiming at,” Suvaljko said. “The 2536m is her cup of tea and she will run a great race. The distance won’t worry her. She has won over 2536 in the WA Oaks last May and finished a half-head second to Mitch Maguire in the 2536m Western Gateway two months before that and last month she finished second to Ultimate Machete in the 2536m Golden Nugget. “On Friday night she can either go forward or go back at the start. I’ll listen to Mike and see what he wants me to do. Last Friday night she did it easily and went to the line powerfully.” Maczaffair should be able to prove too good for Nathan Turvey’s smart mare Bettor Boa, Sarah Suvaljko’s evergreen eight-year-old Auctioneers Elsu and Clint Hall’s promising Ladys Are Ideal. Bettor Boa led when a wilting third to Glow Bright and Handsandwheels over 2130m last Friday night and she may be better suited when held up for a late burst. Auctioneers Elsu, a veteran of 190 starts, trailed the pacemaking Maczaffair and fought on gamely when second to that mare over 2130m last Friday week. Ladys Are Ideal should be handy throughout after starting from the inside of the back line. She covered a good deal of extra ground and showed a good turn of foot in the last lap when an easy winner over Four Legged Frenzy at Albany last Saturday night. Shannon Suvaljko is also enthusiastic about the prospects of the Matt Scott-trained nine-year-old Another Arjay in the Retravision Joondalup Superstore Handicap, a stand over 2503m. Another Arjay, an all-the-way winner in a stand over 2030m at Busselton two starts ago, will start from the inside barrier on the front line and Suvajko plans to set the pace. “He’ll lead and will be hard to beat,” Suvaljko said. “He’s had four country runs after a resuming from a spell and is ready to win in town. “He would have won easily at Busselton last week, but I couldn’t get out. He won well at his previous start. “Always Arjay is a really fast beginner and Idealindiamonds probably will have to sit outside of him. Idealindiamonds sat outside of Assassinator and couldn’t get over him, and I think that Always Arjay is as good as Assassinator. Idealindiamonds is racing keenly for leading trainer Skye Bond and looks set to fight out the finish. The six-year-old who has won at five of his seven starts this season will begin from the 10m mark and Ryan Warwick will be anxious to keep him in front of Assassinator, who also will begin off 10m. Chris Voak gave punters a good lead by opting to drive the Ross Olivieri-trained Assassinator in preference to talented four-year-old Im Rockaria. Im Rockaria will be handled by Michael Grantham at his first appearance in a stand and trainer Michael Brennan is confident the gelding will prove hard to beat. “He performed well when he qualified at trials to run in a stand,” Brennan said. “Nothing seems to bother him and I expect him to run a very good race.” Brennan also has high hopes for Sangrial in the Retravision Pace for three-year-old fillies. She is favourably drawn at barrier two on the front line. Grantham returns after serving a suspension and Grantham advised punters to give the filly another chance after she had disappointed as favourite at her past two starts. Little went right when Miss Sangrial finished third behind Cott Beach and sixth behind Marquisard. “Last week she didn’t get out of the gate all that good and subsequently probably choked down a little bit,” Brennan said. “I trialled her again on Sunday and she felt absolutely amazing when she crossed from seven in a stride. I think from No. 2 she can cross Cimorene but it’s not the end of the world if she doesn’t find the front she’s got a wonderful sit and sprint capacity.” Brennan said that Grantham had a special affinity with Miss Sangrial. He has driven the filly ten times for all her six wins in Western Australia, as well as finishing seconds in the Group 2 Champagne Classic and Group 1 Diamond Classic. Ken Casellas

Remarkable high-achieving horsewoman Natalie Rasmussen makes a nostalgic return to Perth this week determined to add another chapter to her illustrious career as a harness racing driver of the highest quality. She will drive one of her favourite pacers, Ultimate Machete, in the $300,000 Retravision Fremantle Cup at Gloucester Park when she hopes to land her second winner in Western Australia. Keen harness racing fans will remember her as an 18-year-old who represented Queensland in the Australasian Young Drivers Championship series at Harvey, Pinjarra and Gloucester Park in March 1996. She did not fare very well in the ballot for drives and did well to finish fifth behind WA’s Craig Goldfinch in the field of ten drivers. She finished third with Just A Joker (8/1) and fifth behind Son of Song (10/1) at Harvey, fourth with Blake Apollo (33/1) and fifth with Confide In Me (14/1) at Pinjarra and had sixth placings with Be Be Brosnik (16/1) and Bessarlie (11/2) at Gloucester Park. Then on her second and most recent visit to Perth she was successful in a $10,500 invitation 1740m event for mares and restricted to female drivers at Gloucester Park in May 2004. She drove the David Pyburne-trained five-year-old Whitehouse Whisper, the solitary runner on the back line in a field of ten.  Whitehouse Whisper, second favourite at 5/2, raced without cover in the first circuit before gaining an ideal passage and then finishing strongly to defeat Cee Jay Blaze (Emma Turnbull) by a neck. Rasmussen has an outstanding record in the sulky behind four-year-old Ultimate Machete, having driven him 14 times for nine wins and five seconds. Ultimate Machete, a powerfully-built stallion and unbeaten in three starts at Gloucester Park, is favourably drawn at the No. 2 barrier on the front line and is generally considered one of the main dangers to his champion stablemate Lazarus. Rasmussen, the co-trainer with Mark Purdon at the All Stars establishment in Christchurch, has an outstanding record in the sulky in New Zealand where she has had 547 drives for 204 wins, 103 seconds and 69 thirds for $6,286,467 in prizemoney. Born in Townsville in 1977, she is best known as the trainer and driver of Blacks A Fake, the winner of four Interdominion pacing championships in Hobart (2006), Globe Derby Park (2007), Moonee Valley (2008) and Menangle (2010). Rasmussen also trained and drove Blacks A Fake when he finished a close second to Mr Feelgood in the 2009 Inters on the Gold Coast. Blacks A Fake, the winner of eleven Group 1 and ten Group 2 and 3 feature events for Rasmussen, retired with earnings of $4,575,438 from 72 wins, 19 seconds and five thirds from 105 starts. New Zealand-bred pacers have dominated the Fremantle Cup in recent years and nine of the 12 runners in Friday night’s race were bred in New Zealand, the exceptions being the WA-bred Vultan Tin and Soho Tribeca and the Tasmania-bred Devendra. The past 12 Fremantle Cup winners were bred in New Zealand. Sandy Bay, bred in New South Wales, won the Cup in 2005 and the most recent WA-bred winners have been Golden Gears (2000) and Smooth Business (1994). WA businessman Rob Watson bred and owns Soho Tribeca, who faces a stern test from the outside (No. 9) on the front line. Watson paid $20,000 for Pixel Perfect as a yearling in Tasmania. Pixel Perfect did not race, but Soho Tribeca has shone on the racetrack, earning $588,609 from 18 wins and 21 placings from 48 starts. Kim Prentice, who drives Soho Tribeca, said that the five-year-old had worked superbly on Tuesday morning. He hinted strongly that he was unlikely to charge forward from the outside barrier with the stallion. “In saying that, it could still happen,” he said. “We’ll just have to wait and see.” Coolup trainer Phil Costello bred Vultan Tin, who will start from barrier three with Chris Voak in the sulky. “I think he has the job ahead of him, but I’m hoping he will land in a good position in the running line, either one-out and one-back or one-out and two-back.” Champion WA reinsman Chris Lewis, fresh from four winners at Gloucester Park on Tuesday evening and a treble at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon, has won the Fremantle Cup six times but he faces an extremely difficult assignment with Motu Premier, who will start from the outside of the back line. Michael Brennan, who prepared Im Victorious for his Fremantle Cup victory in 2014, said that The Bucket List had a perfect draw at No. 2 on the back line. “I’m really happy with him and he should be able to lob three back on the pegs and do no work before being a sniper,” he said. “I’m pretty confident of a top-six finish.”     Ken Casellas

Harness racing 'Hall of Fame' trainer Gary Hall Snr reports that West Australia’s best pacer Chicago Bull is spot on for a tilt at the $300,000 Retravision Fremantle Pacing Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night and he has hopes of winning the big race for a record eighth time. Chicago Bull has drawn somewhat awkwardly at barrier four on the front line and Hall said that his son, Gary Hall Jnr, planned to drive the diminutive five-year-old aggressively “Going forward, that’s the plan,” Hall Snr said. “Well, that’s what Junior is saying. So, Chicago Bull will go forward and if Bettors Fire (barrier one) doesn’t hand up, we will keep the breeze and keep Lazarus three wide when he comes. “Everyone has got Lazarus past the post and If we just let him go to the breeze, the race will develop into a walk with a sprint home and Chicago Bull can’t win then. We can’t make it easy for Lazarus. My owners don’t want to make it easy for him. I think Chicago Bull can win, but he will need a lot of luck. “I would have liked Chicago Bull to have drawn where he could lead and I reckon that leading, he would go close. He is a better horse now than when he won the Fremantle Cup last year. He’s stronger.” Chicago Bull, who finished a splendid second to Lazarus in the Inter Dominion championship final five Fridays ago, maintained his excellent form when he ran home strongly from sixth at the bell to finish a half-length second to Bettors Fire in the 1730m Village Kid Sprint last Friday week. The powerful Hall stable will also be represented in Friday night’s Cup by eight-year-olds Ohoka Punter and My Hard Copy, who will start from barriers six and seven, respectively. Stuart McDonald will handle Ohoka Punter and Clint Hall will be in the sulky behind dual WA Pacing Cup winner My Hard Copy, who started from barrier nine when he finished strongly to be second to Beaudiene Boaz in the 2016 Fremantle Cup. “My Hard Copy is absolutely flying and is working as good as Chicago Bull,” said Hall Snr “From barrier six he will go back at the start. Don’t forget that he has won two WA Pacing Cups from barrier nine. ”Barrier seven won’t help Ohoka Punter. However, he’s going all right, even though he might be a bit past it.” Clint Hall said that My Hard Copy would need plenty of speed in the race to be a realistic chance. “If things get silly, he could certainly knock them out, late,” he said. “I’m pretty excited about his prospects. “He led and won first-up, beating Bettors Fire and A Piccadilly Princess and then at his next start he was unlucky when he finished right on the back of them in the Village Kid Sprint when he didn’t get clear and still had something to offer.” Clint Hall has yet to win a Fremantle Cup, a race that has been won eight times by his younger brother Gary. Gary Hall Snr has won the Cup seven times with The Falcon Strike (2002 and 2004), Im Themightyquinn (2010-11-12), Beaudiene Boaz (2016) and Chicago Bull (2017). For good measure, Hall has also trained the second placegetter in the Fremantle Cup on eight occasions with Tricky Bey (1993), Our London Pride (2001), De Galdearno (2006), Kotare Flame (2007), Alzona (2010), Im Themightyquinn (2013), Northview Punter (2015) and My Hard Copy (2016). He has also trained three third placegetters Fac Et Spiro (2008), Dartmoor (2010) and Im Themightyquinn (2009). Ken Casellas

Up-and-coming harness racing star Ultimate Machete is an inexperienced four-year-old who has raced only 23 times but he should overcome a wide barrier and prove too strong for his 11 rivals in the Retravision Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The powerful stallion has an impressive record of 11 wins, six seconds and four thirds for earnings of $781,827 and his lack of experience should prove no problem in his battle against his 11 rivals who have chalked up a combined total of 1443 starts. Ultimate Machete, to be driven by master trainer Mark Purdon, has not been extended and has been most impressive in winning at his only two appearances at Gloucester Park beating Handsandwheels and Rock Diamonds in the $125,000 Yes Loans Classic and Maczaffair and Herrick Roosevelt in the $200,000 Retravision Golden Nugget. He is being set for the Retravision Fremantle Cup on Friday week and the TABtouch WA Pacing Cup the following Friday night, races in which he will clash with his star stablemate and Inter Dominion champion Lazarus. Purdon is riding on the crest of a wave. He and his co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen dominated the meeting at Auckland’s Alexandra Park last Sunday when they prepared six winners, including a trifecta result with their three runners, Vincent, Titan Banner and Heaven Rocks, in the $250,000 Auckland Cup, a 3200m stand-start event. The stable also produced a trifecta result in the $224,250 listed classic for three-year-old colts and geldings, with Chase Auckland beating All U Need Is Faith and Spankem. The trainers also were successful with Elle Mac in the Group 1 Sires Stakes for three-year-old fillies. In Friday night’s race at Gloucester Park, Ultimate Machete will start from barrier eight on the front line and Purdon is expected to waste little time in sending the stallion forward to challenge the likely pacemaker Johnny Disco, a speedy frontrunner who is ideally drawn at barrier two. Johnny Disco set the pace from barrier two and won from Zach Maguire six starts ago. But it is difficult to suggest that Johnny Disco has the speed and strength to seriously challenge Ultimate Machete. Ken Casellas

Chris Voak, one of the State’s most accomplished and aggressive harness racing reinsmen, has thrown down the gauntlet to New Zealand superstar and Inter Dominion champion Lazarus, declaring that he was not intimidated by Vultan Tin’s task against the sensational five-year-old in the $22,000 Princi Smallgoods Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Voak is in no mood to surrender the advantage of Vultan Tin’s No. 1 barrier and he is determined to set a solid pace, leaving Mark Purdon the job of driving Lazarus in the breeze. Voak said that he had spoken to Vultan Tin’s part-owner and trainer Phil Costello before the fields were declared on Tuesday afternoon and that Costello said that the gelding had improved after his latest start (working hard without cover and winning from Motu Premier and Ohoka Punter over 2536m three Fridays ago). “Phil said that Vultan Tin had improved in leaps and bounds and that he would be leading on Friday night, and if possible, won’t be handing up to Lazarus,” Voak said. “I don’t think that Vultan Tin has been beaten when he has led. “There is no doubt that Lazarus is a great horse and should be winning, but it is not impossible for Vultan Tin to beat him. Phil is of the opinion that Lazarus can sit outside Vultan Tin and beat him, but he certainly wants me to set the pace. “Therefore, the son of Dawn Ofa New Day won’t be handing up, and this will make it a more interesting and genuine race. If Lazarus was able to get to the front from barrier two it would be likely that he would then walk and sprint home. “Phil is happy with Vultan Tin’s progress leading into the Fremantle Cup and WA Pacing Cup and he believes that he is now lengths better than he was during the Inter Dominion championship series. He says that Vultan Tin’s work has been tenfold better than what he was doing leading into the Inters.” Vultan Tin further strengthened his claims as Western Australia’s most improved pacer when he started at 85/1 and raced three back on the pegs in sixth position before finishing strongly to be fourth behind Lazarus in the Inter Dominion final. “The final wasn’t really run to suit Vultan Tin,” Voak said. “He needs the pace on and would have been better suited if the pace was faster. “He then sat in the breeze at his next start and won at a 1.56.1 rate over 2536m. In front this week, I’d expect him to go 1.55.5. I think it would hurt Vultan Tin’s chances more if he handed up the lead and Lazarus slowed the pace. “I’m not sure whether Vultan Tin can produce a miracle, but when Lazarus came to WA I guess everybody over east expected him to destroy our horses. However, Lazarus was beaten in his first two Inters heats (finishing seconds to Soho Tribeca and Tiger Tara). He had tough runs, but was still beaten. It’s a lot tougher in the breeze and this week he will be having his first run for four weeks.” Voak was nominated to drive Vultan Tin, Devendra, Jambiani and Costa Del Magnifico in Friday night’s 2536m event and he boiled his choice down to Vultan Tin and Devendra before opting for Vultan Tin. “The barrier draw strengthened my decision, with Vultan Tin drawing No. 1 and Devendra No. 6,” he said. Voak handled Devendra for the first time when the Tasmanian eight-year-old enjoyed a perfect trail behind the pacemaker Tricky Styx before finishing fast to win from A Piccadilly Princess and Our Jimmy Johnstone over 2130m last Friday night. “Devendra is a very nice horse and I expect him to perform well this week,” Voak said. “Lazarus most probably will win and I think that Vultan Tin and Devendra will fill the placings.” Devendra will be driven by Nathan Turvey, Stuart McDonald will handle Jambiani and Shannon Suvaljko has been engaged for Costa Del Magnifico. Ken Casellas

Star filly Cott Beach is thriving after her brilliant victory last Friday night and harness racing trainer Kristy Elson is quietly confident that she will maintain her winning form when she contests the Perth Plasterboard Centre Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Cott Beach was untroubled to defeat her ten rivals in last week’s event restricted to three-year-old fillies, but is sure to find the going somewhat more testing this week when she comes up against six colts and geldings and one filly (Miss Sangrial). “It will be tougher against the boys,” Elson said. “However, she should go okay. She has worked well this week and is feeling good within herself.” Cott Beach, who has earned $176,568 from nine wins and five placings from 15 starts, will begin from the outside barrier in the field of eight on Friday night. The Advance Attack filly revealed dazzling gate speed from the outside barrier (No. 9) last week and burst to the front after 150m before setting a brisk pace and winning by more than a length from Beaudiene Beach Babe, with Miss Sangrial 5m farther back in third place. Elson said that she would leave the tactics up to reinsman Nathan Turvey, who appears certain to make full use of Cott Beach’s sparkling early speed. Miss Sangrial, trained by Michael Brennan, has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier and Chris Voak plans to take advantage of her good gate speed. In last week’s race, Miss Sangrial, from barrier four, was a hot 5/2 on favourite, with Cott Beach at 4/1. However, Miss Sangrial was sluggish at the start and was easily passed in the early stages by Ella Gant Player and Cott Beach. She then had to work hard in the breeze before battling on into third place. Voak is of the firm opinion that a false start was the reason for Miss Sangrial’s defeat. “At the first attempt at a start she felt a million dollars and felt as though she was going to lead,” he explained. “The second time, she wasn’t the same horse. She obviously was unsettled by the false start and didn’t want to get going. “She didn’t feel like the same horse 50 metres from the release point. I don’t believe she’ll get crossed this week. If she leads I reckon she’ll be right in the finish and even if she does get crossed, she is a good sit-sprinter who is still capable of winning.” There is also plenty of talent among the six colts and geldings, with the Mike Reed-trained Bechers Brook a winner at three of his four starts and Mistahmistah, trained and driven by Kyle Harper, looking set for a bright career after stylish wins at his only two starts. Bechers Brook reappeared after a spell in fine style when he set the pace and won by more than two lengths from Extradite over 2190m at Northam last Saturday night. He dashed over the final quarters in 28.4sec. and 27.8sec. He will start from barrier four and will have many admirers. Mistahmistah, a winner at Addington in July, made an impressive Australian debut at Gloucester Park three Fridays ago when he led from barrier one and sped over the final quarters in 28.1sec. and 27.8sec. to beat Speed Man and Cott Beach. Ken Casellas

Shannon Suvaljko, fresh from landing the first five winners on the program at Albany on Sunday night, has given harness racing punters a significant lead by opting to drive Highview Sadler in preference to Burning Shadows, Our Jaccka Mara and Three Kings in the $20,000 Worldwide Printing Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Suvaljko chose Highview Sadler despite the six-year-old boasting a losing sequence of 18 and having notched only one win from his past 45 starts. He was influenced by the gelding drawing the prized No. 1 barrier and by his encouraging performance at Bunbury on Sunday night when he raced three back on the pegs before finishing solidly along the sprint lane to be a close second to the pacemaker Wesley.  Highview Sadler, trained at Byford by Peter Anderson, has a winning record of only seven per cent (five wins from 69 starts). However, he is a handy frontrunner who set the pace and won from Cyclonedomic at Gloucester Park in mid-September. Highview Sadler is the lowest assessed pacer in the field of 12 with a C1 classification and his chief rival looms as James Galleon, a C8/M1-class performer who will be driven by Stuart McDonald from out wide at barrier seven on the front line. James Galleon, trained by Gary Hall Snr, has been unplaced at his past seven outings, but he has the ability to bounce back to form at his third appearance after an absence of six months. He has won at nine of his 29 starts. Suvaljko also has high hopes of taking full advantage of the No. 1 barrier by leading all the way with the Debbie Padberg-trained Bad Round in the Garrards Horse And Hound Pace over 2130m. Bad Round showed a welcome sign of better things to come when he raced in the one-out and one-back position before finishing gamely to be third behind Carter Micheal over 2190m at Northam last Saturday night. One of Bad Round’s main rivals appears to be the Anderson-trained Bronze Seeker, who is handily drawn on the inside of the back line. The previous time that Bad Round and Bronze Seeker clashed was over 2130m at Gloucester Park on December, Bad Round started from the No. 1 barrier and set the pace before fading to finish ninth behind Bronze Seeker, who started out wide at barrier eight and sprinted home fast from the rear to win from Abraxas Blues, rating 1.56.4. Suvaljko is driving in peak form and has raced away to be the State’s leading driver after four months of the 2017-18 season, with 63 wins. He leads from Chris Voak (56 wins), Chris Lewis (55), Gary Hall Jnr (52) and Ryan Warwick (48). Suvaljko’s best prospect on Friday night is outstanding four-year-old mare Maczaffair in the first qualifying heat of the Im Themightyquinn Pace. Maczaffair notched her 14th win from 32 starts when she led and beat Auctioneers Elsu by three lengths last Friday night. Another victory this week would come as an excellent present to trainer Mike Reed, who will celebrate his 63rd birthday on Saturday. Ken Casellas

Noted frontrunner Skippy Rascal fared the best in the random draw and Byford harness racing trainer Callan Suvaljko is set to take full advantage of the No. 1 barrier by attempting an all-the-way victory in the 2130m Book A Private Box At Gloucester Park Pace on Friday night. Punters should take little notice of Skippy Rascal’s ninth placing behind Herrick Roosevelt in the Group 2 Christmas Gift last Friday night when the experienced eight-year-old was restrained from barrier seven and raced in eleventh position on the pegs. A week earlier he led from the No. 2 barrier and was beaten into second place by the fast-finishing Zach Maguire. That followed his impressive win at a 1.55.2 rate over 2130m the previous week when he started from barrier one and trailed the pacemaker Simba Bromac before finishing fast to beat that pacer. Skippy Rascal has a winning record of just 12 per cent (17 wins from 137 starts), but is in the best form of his career with four wins and five placings from 17 starts this season. The John Ellis-trained Three Pints possesses good gate speed, but it is difficult to suggest he will be able to muster sufficient speed from barrier two to burst past Skippy Rascal and take up the running in the early stages. Dodolicious, who will start from the outside of the front line, is the quality runner in the field, with earnings of $477,139 from 18 wins and 12 placings from 36 starts. She should appreciate a considerable drop in class and looks set to fight out the finish. The No. 1 barrier should also prove a decisive factor in the opening event, the 2130m Book Into The Beau Rivage Restaurant Pace, with last season’s WA Derby winner Handsandwheels sure to be hard to beat from the prized pole position. The four-year-old, to be driven by Aiden de Campo for his father, Capel trainer Andrew de Campo, notched his ninth win from 30 starts when he set the pace from barrier four and defeated Major Stare by two lengths at a 1.56.5 rate over 2100m at Bunbury’s Donaldson Park. He gave his rivals little chance by sprinting over the final 800m in 56.6sec.    His chief rival is expected to be the Skye Bond-trained El Jacko, who will start immediately behind him from barrier one on the back line. El Jacko has won at 12 of his 25 starts and his last-start second to Mista Shark was full of merit. He surged home with a three-wide burst from eighth at the bell. Ken Casellas

Evergreen harness racing mare Tricky Styx has started from the No. 1 barrier at three of her 60 starts (all in mobiles) in Western Australia and she has set the pace and won each time, at Gloucester Park in December 2014, at Pinjarra in August 2015 and at Gloucester Park in June this year. She will start from the coveted No. 1 barrier on the front line in the 2130m Follow Gloucester Park On Facebook Pace on Friday night and although she has been unplaced at her past six outings she deserves to come under serious consideration, particularly after her runaway win in a 2150m trial at Byford on Sunday morning. The Jeremes Jet mare started from the outside barrier in the trial and was restrained to last in the field of eight. She was sixth at the bell before starting a three-wide move 650m from home. She sprinted fast and took the lead 420m from the finish. She careered away from her rivals and won the trial by just under twelve lengths from the pacemaker Extreme Prince, rating 1.57 after final quarters in 29.4sec. and 28.5sec. Aiden de Campo has driven Tricky Styx for 18 of her 21 wins. But he has opted to handle cracking New Zealand mare A Piccadilly Princess, who will start from the No. 2 barrier on the back line in Friday night’s race. Northam trainer Jesse Moore has engaged Dylan Egerton-Green to drive Tricky Styx. Egerton-Green has handled the six-year-old three times for an all-the-way victory from barrier one, a second and a fourth. Tricky Styx has proved a real bargain. Moore outlaid just $NZ5000 for her at the New Zealand premier yearling sale in Christchurch in 2013 and she has amassed $422,528 from 21 wins and 12 placings from 63 starts. Tricky Styx and A Piccadilly Princess are the only mares in the field of 12 on Friday night and they are likely to be supported solidly. A Piccadilly Princess, who has had 40 starts for 16 wins, eight seconds and two thirds for stakes of $686,311, impressed last Friday night when she started out wide at barrier eight, raced three wide early and then in the breeze for more than two laps before fighting on to finish third behind My Hard Copy and Bettors Fire over 2130m. She won the Group 3 Parliamentarians Cup over 2130m at a 1.55.8 rate two starts before that when she led after 400m and scored easily from Ideal Alice and Ameretto. The powerful Bond stable holds a strong hand in Friday night’s event, with Skye Bond the trainer of Delightful Offer, Condrieu and Simply Susational, and her husband Greg the trainer of Our Jimmy Johnstone. All are capable of a winning effort, with Ryan Warwick, the stable’s No. 1 driver, giving punters a valuable lead by opting to handle nine-year-old Our Jimmy Johnstone, who will start from barrier six on the front line. Colin Brown will handle Delightful Offer, Michael Blakemore will drive Condrieu and Nathan Turvey will be in the sulky behind Simply Susational. Ken Casellas

Classy New Zealand-bred mare Maczaffair, surprisingly beaten as a 5/2 on favourite by Dior Mia More two Fridays ago, is poised to make amends and return to the winning list by proving too speedy for her seven harness racing rivals in the $25,000 final of the Coulson Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Her prospects improved greatly when she drew the favourable No. 2 barrier and Shannon Suvaljko is certain to make full use of her sparkling gate speed in a concerted bid to set the pace. She started out wide at barrier eight in a qualifying heat at her latest appearance and raced three wide for much of the first lap before racing without cover. She fought on doggedly to finish a 2m second to the pacemaker Dior Mia More, who sprinted over the final quarters in 27.4sec. and 28.4sec. Maczaffair, prepared by astute Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed, gave a superb performance as a 90/1 outsider at her previous outing when she began brilliantly from barrier six and led for the first 450m before sitting behind the pacemaker and 10/1 favourite Ultimate Machete. She ran home in grand style to finish second to Ultimate Machete. The Mach Three mare has been a wonderful performer for owners Albert and Julie Walmsley and looks set to improve on her already impressive record of 13 wins, seven seconds and two thirds from 31 starts for stakes of $301,668. Dior Mia More, prepared by Annie Belton, followed her victory over Maczaffair with a shock defeat at 25/1 on last Friday night when she set the pace and weakened to finish third behind Khun Ratha and Glow Bright over 2130m. She will be tested from barrier six this week. Mon Lillies is racing enthusiastically and has explosive gate speed but from the No. 3 barrier, it is problematic whether she will be able to cross Maczaffair and take the early lead.                 Auctioneers Elsu, a hardy eight-year-old, has sound place prospects from the No. 1 barrier. A winner at 18 of her 189 starts, Auctioneers Elsu rarely performs below par for Cardup trainer Sarah Suvaljko, and Jocelyn Young should give her a favourable passage behind the pacemaker. Gotta Go Gabbana, a stablemate of Dior Mia More, is in good form, with her five starts in her current preparation producing two wins and two seconds. She will start from the No. 5 barrier and will again have the services of in-former reinsman Chris Voak. The Matt Scott-trained C C Chevron was an all-the-way winner from barrier one when she beat Gotta Go Gabbana and Mon Lillies last Friday night. But she faces a far tougher task this week from the No. 7 barrier. Ken Casellas

Star harness racing trainer-reinsman Kim Prentice is fully aware that the pacemaker has won the past four Village Kid Sprints and that the leader has won in six of the past seven years. Therefore, he will be extremely anxious to take advantage of the favourable barrier No. 2 and attempt to lead all the way with Soho Tribeca in the $50,000 Group 2, 1730m event at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Soho Tribeca, the only Australian-bred pacer in the quality field of ten, has raced only once over 1730m when he finished a head second to the brilliant Chicago Bull in the Mount Eden Sprint six starts ago, on October 20 when he worked hard on the outside of the pacemaker Ohoka Punter before getting to the front on the home turn. The winner rated 1.51.6 to smash the track record for the journey. Since that wholehearted effort, Soho Tribeca has enhanced his reputation with two commanding wins and a close second to San Carlo in heats of the Inter Dominion Championship before finishing with a determined burst to be sixth behind Lazarus in the $1.1 million final of the series. Prentice knows what it takes to win a Village Kid Sprint (originally known as the Celebrity Sprint), having been successful with Baltic Eagle in 2004 and Rakarebel in 2011. He trained Baltic Eagle, a 3/1 chance who raced without cover before taking the lead in the first lap and going on to win from La Valiente and the 7/4 on favourite The Falcon Strike. He drove Rakarbel for leading trainer Gary Hall Snr when the 9/2 chance led from barrier one and defeated Real Life and Tartary Gladiator. This year Prentice is certain to find Hall an extremely tough opponent. Hall, who is holidaying in New Zealand, prepares five of the ten runners --- Chicago Bull, My Hard Copy, Ohoka Punter, Norvic Nightowl and Zach Maguire. Hall has won the Village Kid Sprint five times --- with The Falcon Strike (2003), Rakarebel (2011), Hokonui Ben (2013) and Beaudiene Boaz (January 2016 and December 2016). He landed the quinella last December when 3/1 on favourite Beaudiene Boaz led from barrier two and held on to defeat Chicago Bull (a 7/1 chance from barrier four) by a head. The previous January he prepared the first three placegetters, Beaudiene Boaz (7/4 on), My Hard Copy (11/2) and Waylade (14/1). Soho Tribeca possesses excellent gate speed and relishes the role of pacemaker. He should be able to cross the polemarker Zach Maguire, who will have the experience of starting from the No. 1 barrier for the first time in 17 mobile events in Western Australia. Zach Maguire, who is in good form with two wins and three seconds from six starts in his current campaign, has good, but not exceptional, gate speed. He started from the No. 4 barrier and led after 90m before going on to win by a half-length from Motu Premier over 2130m in July this year.  Zach Maguire will be driven by Lauren Jones. He started from barrier five and got to the front after 150m when he won from The Spinster over 2130m six months earlier. At his only appearance over 1730m, he started out wide at barrier seven and impressed in finishing powerfully from seventh at the bell to win by six lengths from Frostyflyer at a 1.52.6 rate. Chicago Bull is handily drawn at barrier three and is sure to prove hard to beat. He has won at each of his past four appearances over 1730m and maintained his wonderful form when he trailed the pacemaker Tiger Tara and finished strongly to be second to Lazarus in the 2936m final of the Inter Dominion championship three Fridays ago. Chicago Bull will be driven by Stuart McDonald, who replaces the suspended Gary Hall Jnr. Inter Dominion finalists Galactic Star and Have Faith In Me, like Chicago Bull, are brilliant sprinters and should be prominent on Friday night. Galactic Star, trained by Skye Bond and driven by Ryan Warwick, has raced once over 1730m for a win and his two starts over 1609m at Bunbury resulted in another two wins. He excels at Gloucester Park where his 14 starts have produced seven wins, two seconds and one third. Galactic Star is closely related to former millionaire pacer Iraklis, winner of the 1996 Miracle Mile at Harold Park. He won a heat of the Inters in Bunbury last month and caught the eye with a fast-finishing fifth at 90/1 in the final. He will start from the No. 4 barrier on Friday night. Aiden de Campo has been engaged to drive millionaire six-year-old Have Faith In Me (barrier five). He won four Group 1 classics as a three-year-old in New Zealand and as a four-year-old he won the Group 1 Auckland Cup and had four starts, all over 1609m at Menangle in January and February 2016 for four wins --- in 1.52.1, 1.53.2 (Group 2 Paleface Adios Stakes), 1.48.8 (Chariots of Fire) and 1.47.5 (Miracle Mile). Chris Lewis has been engaged to drive Ohoka Punter, Nathan Turvey will be in the sulky behind Norvic Nightowl and Clint Hall will handle dual WA Pacing Cup winner My Hard Copy. Ken Casellas

Banjup harness racing owner-trainer Annie Belton has bright prospects of landing a double at Gloucester Park on Friday night with promising, lightly-raced young mares Dior Mia More and Gotta Go Gabbana. Kim Prentice will be all out to score an all-the-way win with five-year-old Dior Mia More, whom is perfectly drawn at barrier one in the Win Boost On TABtouch Westbred Pace over 2130m and Chris Voak will drive four-year-old Gotta Go Gabbana in the third heat of the 2130m Get The Touch With TABtouch Coulson Pace for mares. Prentice was full of praise after driving Dior Mia More to a surprise victory over top-flight mare Maczaffair last Friday night, saying: “She is getting better all the time and is capable of graduating to top mares’ company. She definitely has the raw ability to get there.” Dior Mia More gave a sample of her ability last week when she sprinted over the final quarters in 27.4sec. and 28.4sec. That was her sixth win from just 11 starts. She is unlikely to have things all her own way this week when she clashes with in-form pacers Khun Ratha, New World Order and Bettor Not Bitter. The Andrew de Campo-trained Khun Ratha has a losing sequence of 17, but is knocking on the door and is poised to return to winning form. He has had unwound spirited finishing bursts at each of his past four starts for three fourths and an extremely close second to Aussie Delight. New World Order has excellent potential and looks set for a successful campaign for Mt Helena trainer Ray Williams and reinsman Nathan Turvey. He has been placed at each of his four starts since resuming from a winter spell. Gotta Go Gabbana is handily drawn at the No. 2 barrier on Friday night. Her four runs since resuming after an absence of six months have produced two wins at Pinjarra and a most encouraging head second to Full Package over 2185m at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon. Ima Rocknroll Legend, trained by Gary Hall Snr, looks one of the night’s best bets. He has the ability to overcome the disadvantage of starting from the outside (No. 9) in the Merry Christmas From Gloucester Park Pace. He warmed up for this week’s assignment by running home powerfully from 11th at the bell to dead-heat for second behind Ruling Gold last Friday night. Ken Casellas

Six-year-old New Zealand-bred stallion Idealindiamonds is the least experienced runner in the Mount Eden-No Dill Christmas Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night, but has a vastly superior winning percentage to all his 11 harness racing rivals in the 2503m stand. Idealindiamonds has a winning record of 52 per cent after scoring at 12 of his 23 starts. He also boasts an outstanding record in standing-start events --- with seven victories. Prepared at Forrestdale by leading trainer Skye Bond, Idealindiamonds will be driven by Ryan Warwick, who was in the sulky when the horse worked hard in the breeze for much of the way before winning a 2130m mobile event at Gloucester Park last Saturday week. He led when an easy mobile winner over stablemate Messi two starts before that. His only appearance in a stand in Western Australia was four starts ago when he began from 10m and dashed forward in the first circuit to take up the running on the way to an easy victory over Pacific Playboy and A Bit Ruthless over 2503m in mid-September. He is a half-brother to Opulent, who earned $269,515 from 18 wins and 24 placings. As s two-year-old Opulent won the $114,000 Group 1 Caduceus Club Classic for fillies at Alexandra Park. She did most of her racing as Am Opulent for part-owners and trainers Greg and Skye Bond and won 15 times in WA, with Warwick in the sulky for eight of those victories. Idealindiamonds will start from the 10m mark on Friday night and Warwick will be anxious for a clean getaway before going forward in a bid for the lead or for a commanding position on the outside of the pacemaker. Tommy Be Good, who will share the back mark of 30m with veteran Mysta Magical Mach, and Major Catastrophe (10m) are strong stayers capable of fully testing Idealindiamonds. Tommy Be Good was unlucky when he started off 30m in a 2530m stand last Friday night. He raced at the rear and was badly hampered for room in the final lap before getting clear in the final 50m when he finished full of running to be sixth behind the pacemaker Always Arjay. Two starts earlier, the Katja Warwick-trained Tommy Be Good gave a sample of his ability when he finished powerfully to win a 2631m stand at Pinjarra, beating open-class pacers The Bucket List and Ohoka Punter. Nine-year-old Major Catastrophe was produced in fine fettle by owner-trainer David Young when, at his first start for almost 12 months, he worked hard without cover before winning a 2242m mobile at Narrogin on Tuesday of last week. Always Arjay, trained by Matt Scott and driven by Shannon Suvaljko, notched his 16th win from 50 starts when he set the pace and beat Char Do Neigh and Assassinator in a 2503m stand last Friday night. He will start from 20m on Friday night, but cannot be disregarded as a winning chance. Blythewood trainer Michael Brennan and star reinsman Gary Hall Jnr, who were successful with 30m backmarker This Time Dylan in last year’s Mount Eden-No Dillon Christmas Handicap, will be pinning their hopes on eight-year-old frontmarker Jus Livinthedream, who started from 40m and finished solidly to win a 2503m stand at Bunbury two starts ago. The Ross Olivieri-trained Ruling Gold also has claims after charging home from ninth at the bell to win easily from Ima Rocknroll Legend and Glenferrie Rustler in a 2130m mobile event last Friday night.  Ken Casellas

The Christmas Gift is one of the very few feature events in Western Australia to have eluded champion harness racing reinsman Chris Lewis, who has bright prospects of breaking this hoodoo by guiding Wrappers Delight to victory in the $50,000 Gift final at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Wrappers Delight was the fastest of the three heat winners last week and Lewis’s prospects rose sharply when drew favourable at barrier two on the front line in the 2130m event. Lewis finished third in the Christmas Gift with Pallaton in 1979 and since 1990 he has had a drive in the final of the Gift 26 times for five seconds (with Nippy Rendina, Downtown Boy, Regunya Boy, Michael Leslie and Heez On Fire), one third (Grand Canyon) and seven fourths. “His run was exceptional and he has run a very good time on a track that is not particularly quick,” Lewis said after driving Wrappers Delight to an impressive all-the-way victory over Abraxas Blues and Herrick Roosevelt in a qualifying heat last Friday night. Wrappers Delight, a Victorian-bred four-year-old, rated 1.56.3 which was faster than the rates recorded by the other heat winners, Zach Maguire (1.56.5) and Rock Diamonds (1.58.3). The stallion is a smart beginner and it is significant that he has set the pace and won six times in a 31-start career of ten wins and nine placings. Herrick Roosevelt, trained by Gary Hall Snr, looms as one of Wrappers Delight’s main rivals. He started from barrier four and worked hard in the breeze when a wilting third behind Wrappers Delight last Friday night. This week Herrick Roosevelt will start from the No. 1 barrier and Gary Hall Jnr is sure to be anxious to use the gelding’s excellent gate speed in a bid to set the pace. Herrick Roosevelt has made all the running in five of his nine wins in Western Australia. Hall Jnr has opted to drive Herrick Roosevelt in preference to smart stablemate Zach Maguire, who raced in sixth position, one-out and two-back, before sprinting home strongly from fifth on the home turn to beat the pacemaker Skippy Rascal in a qualifying heat. “He’s one of my favourites and is still on the way up,” said Hall after the win. Zach Maguire will start from barrier six on the front line with Stuart McDonald in the sulky. The third heat winner, the Skye Bond-trained Rock Diamonds, will start from the No. 2 barrier on the back line, immediately behind Wrappers Delight. A winner at 13 of his 27 starts, he should obtain a good passage and is capable of producing a powerful finish. He led comfortably from barrier three and set a moderate pace for the first 1200m before sprinting over the final quarters in 28.1sec. and 27.6sec. One of the most impressive performances in the qualifying heats was that of six-year-old Argyle Red, who was tenth at the bell and still tenth with 550m to travel before going five wide on the home turn and charging down the straight to finish fourth behind Rock Diamonds. The Rob MacDonald-trained Argyle Red will start from barrier five with Morgan Woodley in the sulky. The Kim Prentice-trained Abraxas Blues also impressed in the heats with his fast-finishing second to Wrappers Delight. He will start from barrier four. Ken Casellas

Outstanding pacer Bettors Fire will reappear after a nine-month absence when he contests the WA Pacing Cup Fireworks Night January 19 Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night and harness racing trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper reports that the nine-year-old is fit and firmly on track for a tilt at the Fremantle Cup and WA Pacing Cup next month. “I’m really pleased with him and he should go pretty close, first-up,” Harper said. Bettors Fire, a winner of 32 races and $636,622 in prizemoney, is favourably drawn at barrier three on Friday night and he should be capable of surging to an early lead and setting the pace in the 2130m event. “Unfortunately, Bettors Fire had a setback a couple of months ago, so I decided, as hard as it was, to bypass the Inter Dominion and set him for the two big Cups,” Harper said. “With his excellent gate speed, he should find the front this week and take catching.” Bettors Fire has looked a picture in trials at Byford on the past two Sunday mornings when he was untroubled and not extended in winning against moderate opposition and without setting fast times. In both trials Bettors Fire began from the outside barrier and was restrained at the start before finishing full of running. In the first of the 2150m trials Bettors Fire rated 1:58.6 after quarters of 30.1sec., 28.9sec., 29.3sec. and 30.2sec. A week later, the early speed was extremely slow and after sections of 32.8sec. and 30.5sec., Harper sent the gelding forward with a sharp burst to take up the running at the bell before coasting over the final quarters in 28.9sec. and 28.6sec. Betters Fire won very easily from Erskine Range, rating a modest 2:00.7. “I was happy to follow them around and just let him find his fitness in the trials,” Harper said. “The first trial was good, but in the next trial they wanted to run trackwork times, so I was forced to take off a bit earlier than I would have liked. “I was happy with both trials. The first trial was the first time for about eight months that he had hopples on. I just gallop him and he’s got plenty of miles in his legs. He has been working really well at home and I can’t fault him. Whether he comes back as a racehorse now that he’s getting older is the only query. That will be the key factor. Whatever he does on Friday night, he’ll improve on. “Motu Premier is racing very well and looks the main danger. He has an advantage in race fitness. But we should be in front, and leading at Gloucester Park is a big advantage.” The Ross Olivieri-trained Motu Premier (Chris Lewis) will start from the No. 6 barrier and will have many admirers, particularly after his splendid performance last Friday night when he was eighth and last at the bell before finishing powerfully to be a head second to Vultan Tin at a 1:56.1 rate over 2536m. Adding further interest to the race will be the return of dual WA Pacing Cup winner My Hard Copy, who will be fancied from the coveted No. barrier. My Hard Copy, to be handled by Gary Hall Jnr, will be having his first start since his fading eighth behind Chicago Bull in the 1730m Mount Eden Sprint nine weeks ago. Victory would boost My Hard Copy’s earnings past the $1 million mark. Champion trainer Gary Hall Snr will also be represented by Norvic Nightowl, who will be driven by Stuart McDonald from barrier No. 5.  The eight-year-old last appeared when he covered a lot of extra ground and finished powerfully from ninth at the bell to be a desperately close third in a three-way photo behind Simply Susational and Tricky Styx in the Media Guild Cup on September 29. Olivieri holds a strong hand in Friday night’s race with Motu Premier, Costa Del Magnifico (Chris Voak) and Im Full of Excuses (Shannon Suvaljko) and Aiden de Campo has been engaged to drive star New Zealand mare A Piccadilly Princess, who will start from the outside in a field of eight. Ken Casellas

Vampiro was a $56.20 outsider last Friday night when he produced an eye-catching and unlucky fifth behind star New Zealander Ultimate Machete in the harness racing $200,000 Group 1 Retravision Golden Nugget. The Rocknroll Hanover gelding, who is prepared by leading trainer Skye Bond and boasts a 44 per cent winning record, should make amends for that performance by winning the Gannon’s Racing Colours Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He is handily drawn at barrier three on the front line and Ryan Warwick should have him in front or in a commanding position throughout. He was driven by Todd McCarthy in the Nugget and was forced three wide on the first turn before being checked in the back straight in the first circuit. He was eighth at the bell in the one-wide line before unwinding a powerful burst to finish fifth. His previous eight appearances in his current campaign produced six wins and two second placings. This week he is poised for a showdown with another talented four-year-old in Runrunjimmydunn, a winner at eight of his 22 starts. Runrunjimmydunn, to be driven by Gary Hall Jnr for top trainer Gary Hall Snr, will start from barrier four on the front line and looks the only serious threat to Vampiro. Runrunjimmydunn started from the inside barrier and was not extended in leading all the way when he beat Sarah Goody by four lengths over 2185m at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon, with final quarters in 28.5sec. and 27.4sec. Another pacer who contested the Golden Nugget and looks a star bet on Friday night is the Mike Reed-trained Maczaffair, who has the speed and class to overcome the disadvantage of starting from the outside barrier in a field of eight in the second heat of the 2130m Free Entry With Your Ashes Cricket Ticket Coulson Pace. Shannon Suvaljko will be tempted to use Maczaffair’s sparkling gate speed in a bid to burst to an early lead. Maczaffair began brilliantly from barrier six when she led for the first 450m and then sat behind the pacemaker Ultimate Machete before running home solidly to be an excellent second to that star pacer. Maczaffair was a $91.60 outsider last week, but will be at a considerably shorter quote this week as she attempts to notch her 13th win from 31 starts. Ken Casellas

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