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Ross Olivieri, the leading trainer in Western Australia eight times, and champion reinsman Chris Lewis have combined to win the Channel 7 Marathon Handicap a record four times and they are confident that they can notch a fifth victory in the 3309m stand at Gloucester Park on Friday night. They are pinning their faith in the New Zealand-bred five-year-old Motu Premier, who at his 50th start in a race, will be attempting to become the first horse in the 25-year history of the Marathon Handicap to win the race twice. Motu Premier is a proven stayer owned by Merv Butterworth, who raced Chief Thundercloud and Our Jericho, who won the Marathon for the Olivieri-Lewis team in 2015 and 2016, respectively.  Before that, Olivieri and Lewis were successful with the Neville Dewhurst-owned Nickelmeldon in 2009. Motu Premier was the 5-4 favourite in last year’s race when he started off the 30m mark. Lewis stole a march on his rivals when he set Motu Premier alight soon after the start and the gelding burst to the lead after a lap. Then, after sections of 29.6sec., 31.2sec. and 29.3sec., Motu Premier sprinted over the final 400m in 28.9sec. to win by just over a length from The Bucket List, who started from 40m and sustained a strong three-wide burst from ninth in the middle stages. This year Motu Premier will share the 40m mark with Runrunjimmydunn and Devendra and Lewis is likely to adopt the same aggression as he used so successfully 12 months ago. In a field of nine and with only one horse (Cracka Star) off the front and two (Always Arjay and Swimbetweentheflags) off 10m, drivers off the back marks are expected to make strong attacking moves in the early stages. Cracka Star relishes the role of pacemaker, but he rises a great deal in class and it is difficult to suggest he can succeed against several far-better credentialled rivals. He will be handled by Luke Edwards for trainer Debbie Padberg, who prepared Rocket Reign for his Marathon victory in 2014 when he started off 40m and surged home from eighth at the bell to beat This Time Dylan. Always Arjay is a standing-start specialist with a record of 23 starts in stands for seven wins, four seconds, two thirds and five fourths. Confident part-owner and trainer Matt Scott said that he expected Always Arjay to run a super race. “Stands are his forte and if he can lead he is capable of beating the backmarkers,” he predicted. Always Arjay is in splendid form. Although he has a losing sequence of 16, he has finished second at each of his past four starts. He raced three wide early and then in the one-out, one-back position before finishing strongly to be second to Courage Tells in a 2130m mobile last Friday night. Two starts before that Always Arjay finished with great determination to be second to The Bucket List in the BOTRA Cup, a 2503m stand. Motu Premier, at his second outing after a spell, finished third. Last Friday night Motu Premier warmed up for the Marathon in fine style with a close-up third behind Ideal Tyson and Vampiro in a 2130m mobile after working hard in the middle stages. Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr has sound prospects of winning the Marathon for the third time after successes with Im Themightyquinn off 80m in 2010 and Code Red, the sole frontmarker in 2012. He will be represented by Runrunjimmydunn (40m) and Lets Chase The Dream (20m). “The distance will suit Runrunjimmydunn and he’s a good each-way chance,” Hall said. ”He got home really well when a close third to Chicago Bull and Devendra last week and the distance won’t worry Lets Chase The Dream, who had a hard run before getting to the front and then finishing fourth behind Ideal Tyson last week.” Four-year-old Runrunjimmydunn’s only appearance in a stand from 26 starts in WA was when he began from 30m and finished a close third to Importer Exporter and Bettors Fire in the 2902m Easter Cup in March this year. Nathan Turvey, who set the pace with Baleybofey in 2013 and won the Marathon for trainer Ray Williams, said that Devendra’s frontrunning head second to Chicago Bull last Friday night was a good pointer to his prospects this week. “Devendra flies out from the stand and he must be considered,” said Turvey. The eight-year-old Devendra is an excellent stayer, who won five stands in Tasmania, including the 3020m Devenport Cup in March 2014. In the summer of 2015-16 he won two heats of the Inter Dominion championship at Gloucester Park before finishing second to My Hard Copy in the 2936m WA Pacing Cup. Star trainers Greg and Skye Bond will be looking for a strong performance from Vampiro, an up-and-coming four-year-old who has had 29 starts for 12 wins and nine placings. Ryan Warwick will handle Vampiro, the sole runner off the 30m mark. Vampiro was hampered for room in the home straight before flashing home on the inside to finish a half-head second to Ideal Tyson last Friday night.       Ken Casellas

It’s a mixed bag from members of the WA Trotting Media Guild as far as best bets go for Friday night’s meeting at Gloucester Park. Only two tipsters - last season’s competition winner Stuart Lowe and longshot guru Pat Harding - have settled on the same horse, Our Angel Of Harlem, as their best for the night. Lowe believes the Mike Reed-trained filly can follow on from her easy victory at Pinjarra late last month. “My best bet is Our Angel of Harlem, who crushed her rivals at Pinjarra by 20 metres in fast time,” Lowe said. “Was an easy Pinjarra winner three starts ago and then covered heaps of extra ground when narrowly beaten here at her next start. Hard to beat.” And Harding agrees with Lowe. “My best bet for the night comes up late in the program in race nine in the shape of Our Angel Of Harlem,” Harding said. “She will come out of barrier six and has been racing very consistently. I think that in this small field of seven, driver Mark Reed should be able to guide this filly to victory.” TABradio’s Matt Young is keen on the Ross Olivieri-trained Motu Premier. “Motu Premier has returned with little luck and meets a good field to return to winning form,” Young said. “I think he’s knocking on the door.” The West Australian’s Ernie Manning believes the inside draw could prove pivotal to Robert The Bruce’s chances. “Robert The Bruce gets his chance to bounce back into the winners’ list after drawing the pole,” Manning said. “The New Zealand import impressed when last year winning at seven of his first 10 WA starts. He has been beaten at his past seven appearances but showed a glimpse of earlier form when coming from a second-row draw to finish fourth at GP last Friday night.” GPTV’s Ken Casellas is a fan of Lightning Jolt, another horse who has drawn the pole in his race. “Lightning Jolt has bright prospects of ending a losing sequence of 12 when he contests the seventh event at headquarters on Friday night,” Casellas said. “I marked him down as my best bet when he drew the prized No. 1 barrier after he was not suited from wide draws at his previous two starts. The John Oldroyd-trained five-year-old has good gate speed and I expect Clint Hall to attempt an all-the-way victory.”  The West Australian’s racing co-ordinator Ryan Havercroft has kept the pole-draw specials coming with Courage Tells. “Courage Tells grows a leg from the inside draw and though he possesses a losing sequence of 21 starts, expect him to be well thought of for this assignment and he will take catching,” Havercroft said. Media Guild president Wayne Currall likes the chances of the Colin Reeves-trained mare Catastrophic Event in the eighth race on the card. “Catastrophic Event has found some winning form of late and with champion reinsman Chris Lewis in the bike she should prove the testing material,” Currall said. “She’s drawn perfectly in gate three and Lewis will be looking to send her to an early lead and then dictate in front.” VALUE BETS Stuart: My value bet is the luckless Budd Sidewinder, who was a solid third at Bunbury in a strong field two starts ago. Couldn’t get into the race last start when seventh here. Looks down in class and is well drawn. Should figure in the finish. Pat: Robert The Bruce has come up with the best draw he’s had in recent times. From barrier one I expect trainer/driver Nathan Turvey to send him to an early lead and win. Matt: The Great Dane in the last has showed good signs of ability. Freshened up he could be a good price and a big run wouldn’t surprise. Ernie: Lightning Jolt is on a 12-start losing run. But the gelding, a Champagne Classic runner-up at his debut, looks capable of using barrier one to advantage. Ken: For plenty of value I suggest Soho Wonder in race three, in which he is somewhat awkwardly drawn at barrier six. His recent efforts for trainer-reinsman Kaiden Hayter have been encouraging. Ryan: Whenmechief has only won once in WA, but it was at this track and from this draw when he found plenty. His numerical form does not read well, but the barrier brings him into consideration. Wayne: Good Times Ahead ran a creditable race when he finished three lengths behind Tyler Brett at headquarters last week. From gate three and with Junior in the cart, expect him to be about the place here. To view all of the Media Guild tips click here. Good Punting   Wayne Currall

“He can do it again,” declared trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper when assessing the prospects of Saleahs Comand in the $25,000 Kerry Clarke Westbred final for four and five-year-olds at Gloucester Park on Friday night. That was Harper’s verdict when queried whether Saleahs Comand was capable of defeating the better-performed Lord Willoughby in the 2130m event. Saleahs Comand was a 40-1 outsider when he began speedily from barrier four and sped to the front after 120m before setting a solid pace and winning a qualifying heat from Kasey John, Tradie and Lord Willoughby last Saturday week. Lord Willoughby, a 10-9 chance, started from the No. 2 barrier and was unable to match Saleahs Comand’s early speed. He worked hard in the breeze and finished five lengths from Saleahs Comand. Saleahs Comand entered Harper’s East Martin stables just over five months ago and the five-year-old has thrived under Harper’s care, winning at three of his five starts for him. Lord Willoughby, to be driven by Shannon Suvaljko for Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri, will start from the No. 4 barrier on the front line in Friday night’s race, with Saleahs Comand at barrier six. “Saleahs Comand beat Lord Willoughby the last time we met,” said Harper. “We crossed him and won and I guess he can do it again. Saleahs Comand is at his best when leading, but he can also sit and kick and has won races after sitting. He’s my best chance on Friday night, with stablemate Thereugo starting from the outside of the back line.” Thereugo, who is a brilliant frontrunner, faces a tough task from the back line. A winner at 15 of his 36 starts, Thereugo will be driven by Harper’s elder brother Donald. Olivieri is confident that Lord Willoughby can turn the tables on Saleahs Comand and return to the winning list. The four-year-old was having his first start for a month when a last-start fourth behind Saleahs Comand. He has been wonderfully consistent this season, with his 24 starts producing nine wins, nine seconds and four thirds. Lord Willoughby is an M3-class performer with a superior record over his 11 rivals. Kasey John has an M2 assessment and Kerrin Joseph is an M1-class pacer, with the remainder of the field all on an M0 mark. Chris Voak gave punters a valuable lead when he chose to drive Kasey John in preference to Anvil Rollover and Rocknroll Beachboy. Voak was impressed with Kasey John’s strong finishing effort when a head second to Saleahs Comand last Saturday week. Kasey John, an all-the-way winner over New World Order and Always Arjay two starts ago, will start from barrier two on the back line and is capable of fighting out the finish. Anvil Rollover, trained at Pinjarra by Russell Eddy, has been driven by Voak at five of his seven wins. The grey gelding is perfectly drawn at the No. 1 barrier on the front line and will be driven by Colin Brown. Rocknroll Beachboy, trained by Terry Ferguson, was driven by Voak when he worked hard in the breeze and won from Bravo Tex over 2100m at Bunbury two starts ago, will be handled from barrier two by master reinsman Chris Lewis. Kasey John is prepared by Michael Brennan, who will also be represented by The Kings Assassin, who will be driven by Gary Hall Jnr from out wide at barrier eight. The Kings Assassin has won in good style at Bunbury at his past two outings and will have plenty of admirers. Ken Casellas

Champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr has received an unexpected opportunity to win the Garrards Horse And Hound BOTRA Cup for a record fifth time when he drives The Bucket List, the sole backmarker off 50 metres in the 2503m feature event at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Trainer Michael Brennan engaged Hall after The Bucket List’s regular reinsman Michael Grantham was suspended for seven days for causing interference in a race last Friday night. Grantham has driven The Bucket List to victory seven times and Hall has handled the eight-year-old only twice for a second placing behind Hectorjayjay in a 2536m mobile heat of the Inter Dominion championship at Gloucester Park in December 2016 and for a ninth in a field of nine in a 2503m stand on April 20 this year. The Bucket List gave a remarkable performance when ninth, only five lengths behind the winner Rock Diamonds. He started off 40m, broke into a gallop after 75m and settled down 130m behind the pacemaker The Real Nadal. The Bucket List made up an enormous amount of ground in the final circuit. He is a capable standing-start performer, with his 16 starts in stands in Western Australia producing seven wins, five seconds, two thirds, one fourth and one ninth. He had seven starts in stands in New Zealand for three wins (over 2500m, 2700m and 3000m), a second, two thirds and a sixth. History shows that it is extremely difficult to win off back marks in stands at Gloucester Park. The BOTRA Cup has been run 38 times and only one pacer, Highest Honour in 2005, has been successful after starting off the 50m mark. Three horses (Hilton Adonis, Spirit of Shard and Albert Jaccka) have won from 40m and the two winners from 30m were Speedy Cheval (1991) and Shattering Class (2000). Hall has driven the winner of the BOTRA Cup four times, scoring with Strike A Blow (2002), Spirit of Shard (2008), Classic American (2015) and the Brennan-trained Naughty Maravau in 2016. The only other driver to have won the BOTRA Cup four times is Chris Lewis, who scored with Village Kid (1985), Elteei (1986), Mach Ruler (2009) and Tartary Gladiator (20011). Lewis will drive the Ross Olivieri-trained Motu Premier, who will start off 40m in Friday night’s Cup. Olivieri was successful with Speedy Cheval in the 1991 BOTRA Cup. Sharing the 40m mark with Motu Premier is the highly-promising four-year-old Rock Diamonds, who is trained by Greg and Skye Bond and will be driven by Ryan Warwick. Rock Diamonds notched his 15th win from 35 starts when he began off 30m in a field of eight and finished with a powerful burst from sixth at the bell to beat the pacemaker Always Arjay by a half-length, with an impressive final 800m in 56.3sec. last Friday night. Warwick and the Bonds will be hoping to go one better this year than they did 12 months ago when 10/1 chance Bettor Not Bitter dashed to the front after 600m, set a solid pace and was a neck second to the fast-finishing Sky Art. Motu Premier has the class to fight out the finish at his second outing after a spell, following his first-up ninth in a field of nine behind Galactic Star in a 1730m mobile event last Friday week when he was restrained from barrier seven at the start and raced at the rear. It is well worth remembering that at his previous outing Motu Premier ran on from seventh at the bell to finish fifth behind Soho Tribeca, Chicago Bull, The Bucket List and American Boy in the group 1 2936m WA Pacing Cup on January 19. Major Catastrophe is a tough stayer and the David Young-trained and driven gelding will have admirers even though the nine-year-old will start off 30m. His past 16 runs have been in mobiles, but keen students of form will point out that Major Catastrophe was successful at his two most recent appearances in stands, both over 2503m in February this year. His 34 starts in stands have resulted in five wins, seven seconds, four thirds and 18 unplaced efforts.   Ken Casellas

Talented pacer Motu Premier will resume racing after a beneficial spell when he contests the Choices Flooring Joondalup Pace over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The New Zealand-bred five-year-old fared poorly in the random draw and faces a stern first-up test from barrier eight against veteran pacer Bettors Fire, who is in superb form, with six wins from his past eight starts. Motu Premier, who has not raced since finishing fifth behind Soho Tribeca and Chicago Bull in the 2936m WA Pacing Cup on January 19 this year, warmed up for his return to action in impressive fashion when he dashed to an early lead from barrier five, set the pace and dashed over the final 800m in 57.5sec. to easily beat stablemate Costa Del Magnifico at a 1.56.8 rate in a 2150m trial at Byford on Sunday morning. “He’s a lazy horse who does just what he has to do,” said trainer Ross Olivieri. “He went to the line with something in hand. Bettors Fire is at the top of his game right now and I would suggest that Motu Premier is a couple of runs off his best but he’s a pretty clever horse and I wouldn’t disregard him this week, although he’s probably just a place chance and an outside winning hope.” Motu Premier, who has raced 45 times for 16 wins, 13 seconds and four thirds for $322,278 in stakes, was unplaced in three heats of the Interdominion championship series at Gloucester Park last November and December. If he regains his best form in the coming months Olivieri will consider taking him to Melbourne for the Inter Dominion series at Melton in early December. “He wasn’t at his best in the last Inters when he was at the end of a long preparation,” said Olivieri, who added: “It would be nice to have him on the up instead of on the wane.” Shannon Suvaljko, who handled Motu Premier in the Byford trial, will drive the Bettors Delight gelding in a race for the first time on Friday night. Chris Lewis, who has driven Motu Premier at 17 of his 18 West Australian starts, will handle Eagle Rox, who will start from the outside (No. 9) on the front line. Eagle Rox is in brilliant form and has scored in impressive style at each of her past three starts. Bettors Fire will start from barrier five and will be a short-priced favourite. He completed a winning hat-trick last Friday week when he started out wide at barrier eight and settled in last position before charging forward to take up the running 1450m from home on his way to winning the 2536m Winter Cup at a 1.56.6 rate, with a final quarter in 27.3sec. “We will push the Go button as we try to take the front,” said trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper. “The old horse is doing a wonderful job.” Galactic Star, trained by Greg and Skye Bond and driven by Ryan Warwick, will have admirers after his dashing return to form last Friday night when he settled at the rear, burst to the front at the 1200m and won the 2130m Past Presidents Cup by more than four lengths from The Bucket List. He will start from barrier six. Champion trainer Gary Hall Snr, who recorded his 2500th winner as a trainer when two-year-old Robbie Easton was successful at Gloucester Park on Tuesday evening, said he expected a strong forward showing from Whozideawasthis, who will start from the No. 3 barrier. Whozideawasthis was ninth at the bell and finished powerfully, out six wide, to be a close-up fourth behind Bettors Fire last Friday night. Ken Casellas

Mach Three colt Shockwave has contested two Group 1 events and has finished second on each occasion. He has drawn the No. 2 barrier on the back line in the $100,000 Group 1 Owners Only Westbred Classic for two-year-old colts and geldings at Gloucester Park on Friday night and gets an excellent chance to notch his first victory in a rich feature event. The clash between Shockwave and the richly-talented Its Rock And Roll promises to be a highlight on the ten-event program. Its Rock And Roll won the Group 1 Sales Classic seven weeks ago when he defeated Shockwave by a head and last Friday week Shockwave turned the tables on Its Rock And Roll when he finished second to the brilliant New Zealand-bred colt Franco Edward in the Pearl Classic, with Its Rock And Roll finishing third. They were two of the stand-out youngsters at the 2017 APG yearling sale in Perth when Shockwave was sold for $46,000 and Its Rock And Roll for $37,500. Shockwave, raced by Kevin Jeavons and Howard King, has won at three of his eight starts for earnings of $49,799. Its Rock And Roll, raced by Liam O’Connor and Jim Currie, has won three times from seven starts for $115,188 in prizemoney. He will start from the No. 5 barrier on the front line on Friday night. Both two-year-olds performed in grand style in the Pearl Classic when Shockwave (barrier seven) and Its Rock And Roll (nine) settled at the rear. Shockwave, trained and driven by Ryan Bell, started a three-wide move 1350m from home and impressed in sustaining the strong burst to finish a length from the pacemaker Franco Edward, who dashed over the final three 400m sections in 28.3sec., 28.8sec. and 28sec. Its Rock And Roll, trained and driven by Colin Brown, ran home powerfully from tenth at the bell to finish third, two lengths behind Shockwave. Shockwave and Its Rock And Roll have inherited much of their ability from their dams. Shockwave is out of Here For The Money, who earned $81,874 from seven wins and 18 placings from 79 starts and Its Rock And Roll’s dam Miss Worthy Whitby, won at Bathurst, Albion Park and Gloucester Park as a two-year-old before being retired with $40,154 in stakes from three wins and three seconds from 14 starts. Outstanding trainers Greg and Skye Bond, who prepared Baylan Jett when he finished third behind The Real Ideal and Major Pocket in this event two years ago, are pinning their hopes on the promising Bitcoin, a winner at Pinjarra and Bunbury. Bitcoin is the first foal out of Am Opulent, who earned $269,515 from 18 wins and 24 placings from 85 starts. The Bond stable will also be represented by $30,000 yearling Sports Central, who has yet to win a race. He will start from barrier three and will be driven by Chris Lewis, who has won this classic event with Johnny Disco in 2015 and The Real Ideal a year later. To Fast To Serious, a $10,000 yearling, adds considerable interest to the race. He is the only runner in the race who has not appeared at Gloucester Park, but has shown great promise in winning easily at his only three starts two at Bunbury and one at Narrogin for trainer Aiden Warwick and reinsman Aldo Cortopassi. He possesses good gate speed and is favourably drawn at the No. 2 barrier. His dam Smile With Me raced 40 times for ten wins, 15 placings and $80,819 in stakes. Watch Me React, trained at Collie by Dale Jackson, will be at long odds, despite drawing the coveted No. 1 barrier. He is a last-start winner at Narrogin and won a trial in good style at Pinjarra on Sunday morning. Watch Me React’s reinsman Trent Wheeler is hoping that history repeats itself. The previous time he drove a pacer from barrier one in a Group 1 event was in 2015 when he was successful with 12/1 chance Once Bitten, who trailed the pacemaker and 10/9 favourite Delightful Jade before getting up to beat that filly in the Westbred Classic for three-year-old fillies. Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri’s Babyface Adda will start from the inside of the back line and will have admirers. Babyface Adda gave a tough staying performance last Friday night when he worked hard in the breeze before finishing determinedly to win from My Prayer and Sheza Spoilt Miss. Kyle Harper, successful with the Robert Wood-trained All Aussie Boy in the inaugural running of this classic in 2014, will drive Errol Ashcroft’s consistent Euphoric Moment from barrier eight. Justin Prentice trained and drove last year’s winner Highroller Joe and he will be in the sulky on Friday night behind Chetak, who has yet to win from ten starts and faces a difficult assignment from the outside of the back line. Ken Casellas

Five-year-old Sheer Rocknroll has run her final race and has been retired to the stud, with eight-time premier trainer Ross Olivieri declaring that the Rocknroll Hanover mare was in the top ten mares he has prepared over the past 40 years. And to mark Sheer Rocknroll’s retirement, her half-sister Veiled Secret scored a brilliant victory at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon, beating last month’s WA Oaks winner Our Maja Mama at a 1.53.6 rate over 1684m, with a final 800m in 55.4sec. Sheer Rocknroll, bred and owned by Bob Fowler, is out of Sheer Royalty, who earned $248,904 from nine wins and seven placings from just 33 starts. Her victories included the Group 1 State Sires Series for three-year-old fillies and the Group 1 WA Oaks in 2009. Sheer Rocknroll, the first of Sheer Royalty’s progeny, raced 74 times for 22 wins, 14 placings and stakes of $303,715. She won six times as a two-year-old, including successes in the Western Crown Classic at Gloucester Park and the de Campo Memorial at Bunbury. She also finished third behind Sprinter and Dodolicious in the Golden Slipper. In May 2017 she won the Group 3 WASBA Breeders Stakes at Gloucester Park. Olivieri, who has prepared 95 winners this season, said that Veiled Secret was developing into a good late three-year-old and showed all the signs of developing into a really nice four-year-old. Among the best mares he has trained are Tebaldi, Gliding Princess, Ima Spicey Lombo, Lady Willoughby, Arctic Fire, Sensational Gabby and Miss Bo Scott. Tebaldi won the New South Wales Oaks in 1982 (one of her nine wins from 12 starts at Harold Park), Gliding Princess won the NSW Oaks and Derby in 1983 and Ima Spicey Lombo was retired with a record of 57 starts for 24 wins, 13 placings and stakes of $483,686. Lady Willoughby earned $167,293 from 16 wins and 14 placings from 53 starts and her four-year-old half-brother Lord Willoughby has been a model of consistency, with his 48 starts producing 12 wins, 15 seconds and seven thirds. This season Lord Willoughby has raced 20 times for eight wins, eight seconds and four thirds and he has sound each-way prospects in the RH Trotter and Company Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He will start from barrier three on the front line with Shannon Suvaljko in the sulky. Lord Willoughby finished ninth in the WA Derby in April of last year. “He took a little time to come to hand as a three-year-old,” Olivieri said. “He had a break and has come back really good. He’s matured. He’s always had speed, and now he can carry the speed a lot better. He is a good racehorse and is very versatile. He’s an each-way chance in a very strong field on Friday night.” Ken Casellas

Cracking reinsman Chris Voak is riding on the crest of a wave and has already landed 128 winners this season. He has no hesitation in declaring that Gotta Go Gabbana is his best winning prospect at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The Annie Belton-trained Gotta Go Gabbana has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier in the 2536m Australian Marine Complex Pace and Voak is anxious to use the four-year-old’s good gate speed in a bid for an all-the-way victory. “She’s sharp and in the zone,” Voak said. “She’s in a really good head space and she wants to be out there, racing. If she shows the speed she did last week, she will hold up comfortably. And if she leads, she’ll be mighty hard to beat.” Gotta Go Gabbana has been gallant in defeat at four of her past five starts when she was forced to work hard in the breeze. Three starts ago, she led from barrier two and scored a comfortable victory over 2130m. Voak named Detroit Lily (six wins from 14 starts) and Pick My Pocket (seven wins from 20 starts) as two of the hardest for Gotta Go Gabbana to beat. But he said that the Justin Prentice-trained Pick My Pocket (No. 3 barrier) would face a very difficult task if she was forced to race without cover. Detroit Lily, second to Our Maja Mama in last month’s WA Oaks, will start from the inside of the back line. “If Detroit Lily stays on the pegs she is likely to have difficulty in getting a clear run in the late stages,” Voak said. “When Gotta Go Gabbana leads she doesn’t kick away, she just does what she has to do.” Voak also has sound prospects with Iceenothink in the Kari Forest Motel Pace, in which the lightly-raced five-year-old is handily drawn at barrier three on the front line in the 2130m event. “I see Iceenothink as my best winning prospect on the night,” said trainer Ross Olivieri. Voak said that the gelding’s form was hard to gauge. “I drove him first-up in WA and he was awful,” Voak said. “Then I drove him again two starts after that and he led from barrier one and won at Northam when he no horse challenged him or put any pressure on him. I reckon he goes well on the pace, and from barrier three on Friday night he should be prominent.” At his most recent appearance, at Northam on Tuesday of last week he was restrained from barrier seven and raced wide in the final circuit before finishing last in a field of nine.   Ken Casellas

It says a lot about the competitive nature of harness racing at Gloucester Park when the experts clash over their best bets for a meeting. Such is the case at headquarters on Friday night when members of the WA Trotting Media Guild have locked horns on their selections in the ninth race on the card. Last season’s leading tipster Stuart Lowe and The West Australian’s Ernie Manning have declared WA Oaks runner-up Detroit Lily as their star bet on an intriguing 10-event program. But this season’s leading tipster Matt Young disagrees with his colleagues. TABradio’s Young has made She Could Be Good his best bet for the night. One of the two horses - both shooting for hat-tricks - should be victorious on the night, but which one? Lowe believes Detroit Lily’s class will get her home. “My best is Detroit Lily, who has been an easy winner in fast time at her last two Pinjarra starts,” he said. “She’s a class filly who should be able to overcome an awkward draw here and win.” Manning also is in the Detroit Lily camp. “Detroit Lily possesses the class to overcome a second-row draw and beat older rivals,” he said. “The WA Oaks runner-up has recorded four wins and two seconds in her past six starts. She blossomed after a Narrogin victory was the only win in her first five starts following arrival from New Zealand last summer.” However, Young disagrees with Lowe and Manning and points to the engagement of leading driver Gary Hall Jr as a major positive for She Could Be Good’s prospects. “She Could Be Good has drawn beautifully and has excelled in the Kristian Hawkins stable,” he said. “She should lead and Junior will drive a canny race to keep main danger Detroit Lily on his back.” Thankfully for punters, the remaining members are in agreement over their star bets or have found their best bets in different races. The West Australian’s racing co-ordinator Ryan Havercroft and longshot maestro Pat Harding believe punters can get the night off to a flyer by supporting Luis Alberto in the opening event. Havercroft said punters should give the costly Luis Alberto another chance. “I’m prepared to give Luis Alberto another chance after being a beaten $1.30 favourite two starts ago from the same barrier and conditions,” he said. “Forget his last run when sitting parked outside of the leader over 2536m.” And Harding is of a similar frame of mind. “Luis Alberto from barrier one should get an excellent run,” he said. “Although he’s likely to be favourite, he should give punters an excellent start to the night after his unlucky fifth last week.” GP on-course announcer Ken Casellas is a fan of Skippy Rascal. “Veteran pacer Skippy Rascal should appreciate a considerable drop in class and looks to have excellent prospects in the seventh event on Friday night,” he said. “He will be driven for the first time in his 149-start career by Jocelyn Young and the Callan Suvaljko-trained eight-year-old is my best bet on a challenging program. He has been unplaced at his past seven starts, but from barrier four Young should have him in a prominent position throughout the 2130m event.” Guild president Wayne Currall was impressed with Better Scoot’s return to racing a fortnight ago. “Better Scoot showed enough at his first run back from a seven-month spell when a gallant third behind Lord Willoughby to suggest he can break back into the winners’ list in the stand,” he said. “If Ryan Warwick can step him safely from the tapes and take up the running then he’ll prove mighty hard to gun down.”   VALUE BETS Stuart: The value bet is Skippy Rascal, who drops in class here with a concession driver aboard. Form better than it reads and with a relatively good draw should have each-way claims. Ernie: Bronze Seeker is a veteran who has not won in his past 12 starts, but gate one should bring him right into calculations. He had difficulty getting clear before finishing ninth last Friday night. Matt: Soho Leviathan comes up with a decent draw, can speed across and lead and be cheeky in front at each-way odds. Ryan: The Spinster drops in class on her last outing when she made some late ground chasing home Major Reality. Could run into the money with the right run. Pat: Back To The Beach, for Ross Olivieri and Shannon Suvaljko, should bring home the bacon. From barrier one he won’t be great odds, but he should lead all the way and give punters an excellent finish to the night. Ken: For value, I suggest the Barry Howlett-trained Fanci A Dance from barrier three in the final event. This will be his first appearance for six months, but I am predicting a bold first-up showing from the five-year-old who boasts a winning record of 28 per cent. Wayne: Fernleigh Rebel hasn’t won for some time, but with Junior in the bike and a great trailing draw behind likely leader and stablemate Mattjestic Star, he looks a great each-way chance. To view all of the Media Guild tips click here. Good Punting   Wayne Currall  

Shannon Suvaljko, who holds a convincing lead on the Statewide drivers’ premiership, has given punters a massive lead by opting to handle star mare Maczaffair in preference to Lord Willoughby in the Book A Private Box at Gloucester Park Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Suvaljko has driven the Ross Olivieri-trained Lord Willoughby at the four-year-old’s past 17 starts for eight wins, six seconds and three thirds. Those wins include Lord Willoughby’s only four appearances in standing-start events. Lord Willoughby will begin from the 10m line in Friday night’s stand over 2503m and is sure to be hard to beat, following strong wins at his past two starts. The Mach Three gelding will be handled by Chris Lewis, who has driven him 14 times for two wins, six seconds and two thirds. Suvaljko has driven the Mike Reed-trained Maczaffair to victory 11 times. Lewis has driven the mare only twice for two wins, at Gloucester Park last July and August. Maczaffair has a winning record of 49 per cent (18 wins, seven seconds and two thirds from 37 starts) and she will need to be at the top of her game to succeed against smart pacers of the calibre of Lord Willoughby, Better Scoot and Im Rockaria. She is the lone backmarker off 30 metres and certainly has the speed and strength to overcome this handicap. Maczaffair has raced only once in a stand and that was two starts ago when she began from 30m in the 2503m Race For Roses in which she started off 30m and enjoyed a good passage in sixth position in the one-wide line. She fought on determinedly to be fourth behind Eden Franco, Sarah Goody and C C Chevron. The Skye Bond-trained Better Scoot, to be handled by Ryan Warwick, should appreciate a front-line draw and looks set to fight out the finish at his second outing after a spell. The lightly-raced six-year-old (23 starts for ten wins, six seconds and four thirds) challenged unsuccessful for the early lead and then enjoyed an ideal trail, one-out and one-back, when a sound first-up third behind Lord Willoughby and Tommy Be Good last Friday week. Better Scott has an impressive record in stands, with his seven starts behind the tapes in WA producing four wins, a second and two thirds. The Michael Brennan-trained Im Rockaria was a disappointing first-up sixth behind Lord Willoughby last Friday week, but he is a talented pacer capable of considerable improvement. Ken Casellas

Sunoflindenny, an eight-year-old with a modest record, has sound prospects of turning the tables on the richly-talented Glenferrie Typhoon when they clash in the $18,000 Trotters Mobile over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Sunoflindenny, trained by Ross Olivieri and driven by Chris Lewis, began speedily from barrier seven, but was beaten out by Glenferrie Typhoon, who began like a shot from barrier eight in a 2130m event at Gloucester Park on Tuesday night. Sunoflindenny, a massive gelding, was quickly eased out of the early speed battle and after 250m was severely checked and broke into a gallop, losing a good ten lengths. He settled down a distant seventh before moving forward into the breeze with 1050m to travel. He issued a strong challenge to the pacemaking Glenferrie Typhoon over the final stages and was beaten by a length. “It was a brave performance,” declared Olivieri. “It was like an M0 performer against a Free-For-Aller, and you would be pretty pleased with the way the M0 went, giving that he was knocked over and that the winner is a very classy horse. Sunoflindenny can turn the tables on Friday night. Barriers are everything at Gloucester Park, so it gives us a good hope.” Sunoflindenny will start from the No. 1 barrier in Friday night’s race, with Glenferrie Typhoon on the outside at barrier No. 9. “Sunoflindenny has good gate speed and I’ll be trying to get to the front,” Lewis said. “He did a great job to get back into a trot so quickly after being badly checked on Tuesday night. I expect him to run a strong race on Friday night.” Sunoflindenny, who won easily at his first WA start, at Pinjarra last Monday week, has raced 58 times for seven wins and 22 placings for $68,960. Glenferrie Typhoon, also an eight-year-old, has amassed $464,899 from 23 wins and 12 placings from 54 starts. Glenferrie Typhoon and Sunoflindenny are unlikely to have all things going there way on Friday night when Balmoral Boy, Ton Tine and Sun of Anarchy capable of bold showings. The Tonia Stampalia-trained Balmoral Boy (barrier two) is a speedy beginner and smart frontrunner who has scored very easy wins at his past two starts; The Justin Prentice-trained Sun of Anarchy (barrier eight) also has won easily at his past two starts and the Shaun Adams-trained Ton Tine trotted strongly when a close third to Glenferrie Typhoon and Sunoflindenny on Tuesday night. Ken Casellas

Shane Tritton has a good problem on his hands with rejuvenated former Kiwi star Franco Nelson.  He’s got the horse flying, but there aren’t many suitable races in the short term.  “We thought about going down to the Kilmore Cup (next Saturday night), but he’s an old horse with niggles and it’s a risk to take him away from home now we’ve got him sound and racing so well,” he said.  “I just wish he’d got into the Miracle Mile. He’d have given it a shake with a good draw.”  If you think that’s a bold call, think back a month when Franco Nelson thrashed eventual Miracle Mile winner My Field Marshal at Menangle.  Franco Nelson produced a huge effort to win the Group 1 Bohemia Crystal free-for-all on Miracle Mile night and then actually improved again to win the free-for-all at Menangle last Friday night.  Despite doing plenty of work, Franco Nelson powered home by 5.2m in a scorching 1.52.8 mile rate for 2300m – just 0.2sec outside Clancys Fobwatch’s track record.  “I said after Miracle Mile night he’s the best horse we’ve trained and he’s only highlighted that again,” Tritton said.  With Kilmore off the table, Franco Nelson will be freshened before a campaign aimed at the Bulli Cup and Len Smith Mile, both at Menangle.    It’s all starting again.  As usual at this time of year, the Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin team start to flex their muscle with the two-year-olds.  It started with a splash when Fourbigmen (Mach Three-Aleppo Heiress) thrashed his rivals at Kilmore last Wednesday night.  Chris Alford made the most of gate one to lead and cruise through a 61.4sec first half, then zip home in 57.0 and 28.2sec.  Fourbigmen zoomed away from Peter Manning’s Scheu Creek – already a feature race winner this season – to win by 17.9m in a 1.58.1 mile rate for 1690m.  “He’s named after four of his part-owners as we are four big men,” part-owner Peter Tonkin said.  Then at Geelong last Friday night, debutante Centenario was every bit as impressive at Four Big Men.  Centenario, closely-related to the injury-plagued but outstanding Philadelphia Man, led throughout in a 1.58.6 mile and closed in 28.1sec to win by 13.7m.  “We’re really excited about the babies again this year. These two are among our best, but there’s another couple right up there with them you’ll see step-out in the next few weeks,” Peter Tonkin said.    Classy pacer Spare Me Days created some country NSW history on Saturday night.  The Brad Hewitt-trained six-year-old did something even the former great NSW stayer Karloo Mick couldn’t do – win three successive Young Pacing Cups.  Karloo Mick went back-to-back in 2009-10, but Spare Me Days went one better with a powerhouse win on Saturday, beating classy mare Dont Think Twice by 4.5m in a 1.57.1 mile rate for 2480m.  Buzz Tasmanian three-year-old Ignatius, now based in NSW with Jimmy Rattray, did all the work and won the Young Derby in good style.  He’s won nine of his 10 starts and is being set for the NSW Breeders Challenge and a possible Queensland Derby tilt.  The Young Oaks was a cracking race with favourite War Dan Bad Girl leading and being nabbed by a brave Major Occasion, who sat parked throughout.    It might only have been a ho-hum Maryborough Friday race, but remember the name Share The Road.  The four-year-old Kiwi-bred mate, by Tintin In America out of High Tops Hanover, sparkled beating another exciting recent Kiwi import Boom Time.  Share The Road pressured her way to the front from Boom Time midrace and found plenty to win in a 1.56.1 mile rate for 2190m with closing splits of 55.6 and 27.3sec.  Part-owner Zac Cornell, who has raced stars like Arms Of An Angel, Suave Stuey Lombo, Mach Beauty and others, has high hopes for Share The Road.  “I think she’s one of the best four-year-old mares in the land. What she did at Maryborough was good and not really her go, she’s better off just rolling along. Her previous win at Shepparton was awesome.”    Popular Melbourne media man Rob Auber has enjoyed his fair share of success as an owner.  Auber’s headline act has been former star mare Bellas Delight, but Madame Meilland is starting to challenge for the mantle.  There is still a way to go given Bellas Delight won 20 races and almost $450,000 in stakemoney.  But Madame Meilland posted her 10th win from 35 starts and passed $100,000 in earnings with a career-best $50,000 Group 2 Empress Stakes (2536m) win at Gloucester Park last Friday night.  It was an enormous win given she sat parked outside hot favourite Better B Chevron and nutted her on the line in a 56.2sec last half.  Madame Meilland is trained by Auber’s friend Ross Olivieri and driven by the much-underrated Shannon Suvaljko.  Another highlight of the Gloucester Park was the battle between emerging stars Vampiro and Runrunjimmydunn with the former prevailing by a nostril in the sixth event.  They went to war down the back straight in a 27.1sec and Vampiro, who led, just did enough to hold-off a very brave Runrunjimmydunn in a 1.55.7 mile rate for 2130m.   Adam Hamilton

ULTIMATE Machete’s powerhouse NZ free-for-all looks to have given him stranglehold on the major four-year-old races during the Perth Inter Dominion Carnival. But there are two locals who are showing enough to say they will make the emerging Purdon/Rasmussen superstar really earn the prize. Former Kiwi entire Rocknroll Lincoln, now in the Justin Prentice barn, made it two wins (and a close second) from just three WA runs when he led throughout in slick times to win the Golden Nugget prelude at Gloucester Park last Friday night. The effort of Gary Hall Sr’s Herrick Roosevelt to work early, sit parked and run a close second in a 1min55.8sec mile rate and 55.2sec last half was outstanding. Another eye-catching was former Victorian Wrappers Delight, who had no luck in third spot for new trainer Ross Olivieri. Throw in classy former Kiwi and now Victorian-based Motu Meteor and at least there will be some competition for Ultimate Machete in the three four-year-old features, the first of them this Friday night. _________________________________________________________________________________________ MOST thought Tim Butt would take advantage of Lennytheshark’s time in Perth and grab what he can in Victoria with My Field Marshal. Instead, Butt is thinking longer term and has given his stable star a freshen-up. “He’s having a couple of weeks out and will be back for the sprint at Ballarat on Boxing night,” Butt said. “Perth wasn’t going to suit him, so we decided to keep him hear and target the big races in the New Year. “I think he’s shown in a couple of his recent runs he can really match it with Lenny, but we haven’t had any luck in the barrier draws.” _________________________________________________________________________________________ THE problem child has found winning form again just at the right time. Gifted but headstrong and enigmatic WA pacer Run Oneover broke a long run of outs and looked quite good doing in in a free-for-all at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Gary Hall Jr worked him to the front and let him roll over the 1730m sprint trip and Run Oneover scored quite well in a 1min54.1sec mile rate. It’s worth noting though he beat the B and C-graders and would need to lift again to be a serious player like he was during last year’s Inter Dominion heats. Remember it was Run Oneover who led, took charge and then choked-down in the back straight of last year’s Inter Dominion final. Another win of note at the Gloucester Park meeting came from exciting three-year-old filly Cott Beach, who won by 30m in a 1min57.1sec mile rate for 2130m. It was the daughter of Advance Attack’s eighth win from just 12 starts. _________________________________________________________________________________________ THERE isn’t much young Queensland trainer-driver Brittany Graham can’t do. Graham, daughter of decorated trainer-driver Darrel, has carved out a successful training and driving career in her own right. She added another credit when she won the Seymour Group Lady Drivers Invitation Series at Albion Park last Saturday night. Graham beat megastar Kerryn Manning in a close finish with SA’s Danielle Hill in third spot. The series included other big names like Amanda Turnbull, Kate Gath and Trista Dixon. In recent times, Graham has also been making waves by dabbling in some media work for Sky Racing. _________________________________________________________________________________________ HOW can you not be in awe of the story around the pacer Love Ina Chevy. Remember back to January, last year and he’s the horse Lance Justice, his staff and friends cared for around the clock, day-after-day just to save him after a suspected snake bite. It was half a miracle he survived because he was so sick. The fact he’s made it back to races was incredible, let alone the success the six-year-old has enjoyed. Love Ina Chevy posted his seventh and by far most important win – albeit in a dead-heat – at Melton last Friday night. The gelding surged along the sprint lane as the $36 outsider of the field to split the prize with leader, It Is Billy, in the Markovina free-for-all. It was a race where Victorian buzz pacer Tee Cee Bee Macray – third to Lennytheshark and My Field Marshal in the Yarra Valley Cup at his previous run – was expected to dominate, but instead flopped back in second-last spot at $1.40. _________________________________________________________________________________________ FRESH back from enjoying NZ Cup Week, top young driver Todd McCarthy snared the feature race at Menangle last Saturday night. McCarthy partnered Tiger Tara to a monster third in the NZ Cup then second to Ultimate Machete in last Friday’s NZ FFA. Back home, he teamed with trainer Mark Callaghan and veteran mare Cullinary Delight to win the Group 3 Sue Kelly Ladyship Stakes in a 1min51.4sec mile. _________________________________________________________________________________________ IT might have been a ho-hum Cranbourne meeting, but debutante War Dan’s win provided a real highlight. The Amanda Turnbull-trained gelding carried a buzz into the race being a brother to former Victoria Cup winner Caribbean Blaster and turning heads in some recent trials. And he didn’t disappoint. Sent out a $1.20 favourite, driver Nathan Jack took War Dan to the lead, but he copped plenty of pressure in front and still won as he liked in a 1min58.6sec mile rate for 2080m. Adam Hamilton

Eight-time WA premier harness racing trainer Ross Olivieri has engaged in-form young reinsman Mitch Miller to handle Costa Del Magnifico in the $20,000 TABtouch Inter Dominion Italian Fireworks Night Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night and he is confident the New Zealand-bred six-year-old will prove too good for his seven rivals. Olivieri engaged Miller to take advantage of Miller’s concession which has made Costa Del Magnifico, an M3-class performer, eligible to contest an event restricted to pacers assessed no better than M2. Miller has started the 2017-18 season in splendid form and is the State’s leading concession driver with 13 wins. He is also in ninth place on the State-wide premiership table. Costa Del Magnifico has drawn perfectly at barrier one and should prove one of the best bets on the ten-event card. “He has the gate speed to hold up and lead and he should win,” said Olivieri. “We’ve had feet problems with him, and we’ve overcome them. He’s done really well since finishing fourth behind Tommy Be Good and The Bucket List in a 2631m stand at Pinjarra on Monday of last week.” Costa Del Magnifico was driven by Chris Voak at his WA debut three starts ago when he began from the 20m mark, raced wide early and then without cover before winning from Perfect Mach and El Comacho over 2503m at Gloucester Park. Deni Roberts then drove him when he raced outside the pacemaker Tanaka Eagle and finished a close second to that pacer in a 2130m mobile at Gloucester Park. Shannon Suvaljko was in the sulky when the handsome horse led and finished fourth at Pinjarra.          Toughest for Costa Del Magnifico to beat are likely to be Lets Chase The Dream and Zach Maguire, who are prepared by Gary Hall Snr. Lets Chase The Dream, a winner of $483,161 from 15 wins and 11 placings from 39 starts, is favourably drawn at barrier two. He will be driven by teenager Corey Peterson, whose concession has enabled the six-year-old to contest this event. Lets Chase The Dream led from barrier two and scored an impressive victory from Superfecta and Our Zak Whitby at a 1.55.4 rate over 2185m at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon. “He will be hard to beat,” said Hall. “He seems to have turned his form around a bit and he went really good at Pinjarra. He’s got lots of stamina and is starting to please me at home. He is still on target to contest the Inters.” Zach Maguire made an excellent return to racing last Friday night when he raced in sixth position in the one-wide line and ran home strongly to be second to the pacemaker Johnny Disco over 2130m, with final quarters of 28sec. and 27.8sec. Ken Casellas

Bring on Tuesday. That’s the last word from Tiger Tara’s trainer Kevin Pizzuto ahead of the NZ Cup. After weeks of tossing up whether or not to tackle the Cup, Pizzuto is glad he took-up the challenge and pumped about how well his stable star is ahead the great race. “All you can ask to have your horse at his best and that’s exactly where Tiger Tara is at at,” he said. “He’s had a great prep back home, traveled over well and worked really well yesterday (Saturday).” Pizzuto, who is stabled at Mitchell Kerr’s barn, worked Tiger Tara over 3200m in 4min15sec. “He did it well and ran home in 25.6sec. I’m rapt,” he said. “I know how hard it’s going to be, but he’s been here and done it all before and he’s never been better in the 10 months or so he’s been in my stable.” __________________________________________________________________________________________ LIFE is great for Ashlee Grives right now. Her best horse Ameretto is heading to Perth in the care of Kerryn Manning having won nine of her past 10 starts and run second to Lennytheshark in the Victoria Cup at the other. And, back at home, Grives decision to move from Bathurst to Menangle and team-up with Kiwi trainer Mark Jones is already looking exciting. Whittaker made it three wins from as many starts in the Menangle stable when he brilliantly won the Star Trek final in a 1min54.8sec mile rate for 1730m at Bathurst last Friday night. Whittaker is unbeaten in three Aussie runs for the Grives/Jones combination. “It was the right time to try something different and the offer to team-up with Mark was exciting,” Grives said. __________________________________________________________________________________________ THERE is some serious X-factor about Shadow Sax. And the patience of co-trainers Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin is starting to be rewarded. After more than a year off with injury, Shadow Sax has won five of his six comeback runs and finished second in the Breeders Crown 4YO final at the other. His win in last Saturday night’s $50,000 4&5YO Championship (2240m) at Melton has to be seen to be believed. In a star-studded field, Shadow Sax sat parked and bolted in. And he ripped home in closing splits of 26.9 and 27.4sec having sat outside classy former Kiwi pacer Motu Meteor, who weakened late for fourth. Another pair exciting ex-Kiwi pacers Moonrock and Let It Ride ran big races for second and third. But Shadow Sax’s win oozed class and he appeared to win with plenty still in reserve for driver Gavin Lang. __________________________________________________________________________________________ THE move to Sydney seems to have rejuvenated former two-time Inter Dominion placegetter Flaming Flutter. The eight-year-old has spent of his career with Victorian trainer Geoff Webster, but also had a stint in WA with Ross Olivieri. Recently connections sent him to the NSW stable of Jimmy Rattray of Beautide fame. He caught the eye when fourth at his first run for Rattray then hit the line strongly for a narrow but impressive win in a slick 1min54.7sec mile rate for 2300m at Menangle last Saturday night. __________________________________________________________________________________________ FORMER Purdon/Rasmussen pacer Motu Premier is a genuine Inter Dominion smokey. In 10 WA starts for trainer Ross Olivieri, the Bettors Delight gelding has posted six wins, three seconds and a third. It’s his past three runs in free-for-all class which have really underlined his potential. Last Friday night’s late-surging second to American Boy – after doing all the work in fast time – was top shelf. Motu Premier got within a half-head of victory after sitting parked in a 1min54.8sec mile rate for 2130m. __________________________________________________________________________________________ IT was great to see the old boy, Vincennes, return to his best form with a sparkling first-up win. The eight-year-old, now in the care of Yabby Dams’ head trainer Anton Golino at Ballarat, returned from almost four months out when he worked to the front from a 10m handicap and gave nothing else a chance in the Group 3 Yarra Valley Trotters’ Cup last Thursday,. Driver Zac Phillips crawled through the middle stages and dashed home in 57.4 and 28.6sec to land Vincennes’ 19th from 62 starts. With stocks thin in open-class trotting ranks on both sides of the ditch, Vincennes’ resurgence is timely. Adam Hamilton

Champion harness racing reinsman Chris Lewis declares that five-year-old Motu Premier is on the way up and eight-time premiership trainer Ross Olivieri is similarly excited at the gelding’s progress. The New Zealand-bred Motu Premier will have his final start before contesting the rich TABtouch Inter Dominion championship series, starting with the first set of heats on November 24, when he contests the $25,000 HLB Mann Judd Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Motu Premier is awkwardly drawn at barrier seven on the front line, but he has the ability to overcome this disadvantage --- and he is sure to appreciate not having to race against top-flight pacers Chicago Bull and Soho Tribeca this week. He maintained his excellent form last Friday night when he started from the No. 5 barrier in the group 2 James Brennan Memorial and raced in sixth place in the one-wide line before Lewis urged him forward, three wide, with 550m to travel. He finished strongly into third place behind Chicago Bull and Soho Tribeca, with the final quarters in the 2536m event being covered in 28.4sec. and 26.7sec. That was his third run after a two-month break and followed a first-up victory over Condrieu and a close second to American Boy after racing wide early and then in the breeze. Olivieri admitted that he was happy that Motu Premier would not be clashing with Chicago Bull and Soho Tribeca this week. But he was quick to point out that Motu Premier had made up ground on those two stars in the final circuit last week. “Barrier seven is not perfect this week, but the way he finished last week, pulling ground off both those horses, was heartening,” he said. “And we met them on not very favourable terms.” Olivieri said that Motu Premier had raced four times in Sydney earlier this year after arriving from New Zealand and then had six runs in WA before being sent for a welcome spell. “He didn’t miss a beat when he got here before I gave him a little break,” he said. “He laid down for the first five days and then he got up and terrorized the other horses in the paddock. Now he’s on track for the Inters and is only one good barrier draw away from a win.” Lewis said that he gave Motu Premier a good winning chance this week. “From barrier seven, he’s got options,” he said. “He faces a bit of a task from the wide draw, but I’d certainly put him in the mix. He’s a nice horse on the way up and is heading nicely towards the Inters when I think he will be at his peak.” Lewis and Olivieri have plenty of respect for the opposition this week in a race in which The Bucket List, Condrieu, Shandale, Major Reality and Vultan Tin will have admirers. Michael Grantham gave a strong indication that he would drive The Bucket List conservatively and would rely on a powerful finishing burst. The Bucket List is favourably drawn at barrier two on the front line and is unlikely to get to an early lead, considering that Ryan Warwick appears certain to make full use of Condrieu’s blistering gate speed from barrier four and Colin Brown could also make a bold bid for early ascendancy with the speedy beginner Sokys Bigbullet. The Bucket List, trained by Michael Brennan, ran an excellent trial for Friday night’s race when he finished a close second to Tommy Be Good in the Don Randall Memorial Cup over 2631m at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon. He raced in sixth position in the one-wide line before he started a three-wide move with 850m to travel. He took a narrow lead on the home turn and was overhauled in the final couple of strides, with the winner Tommy Be Good setting a track record. “They went 28.3sec. down the back, they broke the track record and we just got nutted,” Grantham said. “He’ll go well on Friday night.” Coolup trainer Phil Costello has engaged Morgan Woodley to handle Vultan Tin, with Chris Voak opting to drive the Olivieri-trained Jambiani. Vultan Tin gave a superb performance last Friday night when he started from barrier seven, dashed to the front after 550m and scored an impressive victory by more than four lengths, rating 1.56.4 over the 2536m journey. Woodley, who has enjoyed considerable success in the sulky behind Vultan Tin, said that the gelding had exceeded his expectations. “He has gone from strength to strength and what Phil has achieved with him has been phenomenal,” he said. Ken Casellas

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