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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

Harness racing rising star Motu Premier, who has shot into prominence with 12 wins from his past 15 starts, faces an acid test when he starts from the outside barrier (No. 9) in the 2130m Happy Wedding Anniversary Bill and Norma Horn Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The New Zealand-bred five-year-old with a tremendous record of 34 starts for 16 wins, nine seconds and three thirds, has developed into a leading candidate for the rich TABtouch Inter Dominion championship later this year and should again prove mighty hard to beat. However, eight-time premier WA trainer Ross Olivieri and champion reinsman Chris Lewis agree that the outside barrier and the quality of the opposition, particularly Ohoka Punter and Simply Susational, present a considerable challenge to the gelding. “It is a big test for him, particularly from the outside barrier,” said Lewis. “It’s not an easy race. But his first-up win was excellent and there’s improvement in him, for sure. He will definitely improve from the run (when he raced one-out and one-back before finishing strongly to hit the front 20m from the post and win from the fast-finishing Condrieu and the pacemaker El Hombre last Friday week). “He enjoyed a good sit, but that can be deceiving because the front horses ran home quickly (27.8sec. and 28.2sec.). However, once he straightened, he did his job. He really stretched out and won comfortably.” Olivieri is delighted at Motu Premier’s progress and said: “It won’t be easy, but he’s going terrific. He’s a classy horse and I’d probably prefer him to any other horse in the race. From the wide barrier it will be a test and he’s sort of set up to be beaten. But who knows how the race will be run. All I know is that I couldn’t be happier with him.” Olivieri has an excellent second string in Friday night’s race in Im Full of Excuses, who will be handled for the first time by Shannon Suvaljko. Im Full of Excuses, a winner at 17 of his 39 starts, will begin out wide at barrier eight at his third outing after a spell. He has been a shade disappointing at his two runs in this preparation, finishing fifth behind Simply Susational and sixth behind the same pacer. “I expect him to go somewhere near his best,” Olivieri said. “He came back big (in condition) from the paddock. He was enormous. When he was racing well in his previous preparation, his condition was okay and didn’t need to lose any weight. Now, he’s lost some weight since his latest run and has started to get his dapples up.” Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr said he was expecting Ohoka Punter to improve on his first-up effort when he set the pace and finished fourth behind Chicago Bull, Soho Tribeca and Shandale in the Mount Eden Sprint last Friday night. “Chicago Bull broke the track record (rating 1.51.6 over 1730m) and Ohoka Punter also broke the previous record,” Hall said. “I don’t think sprint racing suits him. He’s better over a bit more ground. And he’s a better horse than Motu Premier and Simply Susational and should be able to beat them.” Hall will also be represented by American Boy (Stuart McDonald) and Run Oneover (Kim Prentice). He said that he expected American Boy (unplaced at his past nine starts) to be prominent from the No. 1 barrier. “He should lead and go a lot better,” Hall declared. Simply Susational, trained by Skye Bond and to be driven by Ryan Warwick from barrier seven, cannot be underestimated after excellent efforts to win at his past two starts, running on to beat Tricky Styx and Norvic Nightowl over 2536m and racing without cover before finishing determinedly to beat Ideal Tyson and Major Reality over 2130m. Vultan Tin, trained by Phil Costello at Coolup, will start from the No. 5 barrier with Chris Voak in the sulky. The six-year-old impressed last Friday night when he was 12th and last with 250m to travel before flying home, out wide, to finish second to Sokys Bigbullet over 2130m.  Ken Casellas

Harness racing trainer Ross Olivieri and reinsman Chris Lewis have been a powerful and highly successful combination for 30 years and they will join forces at Gloucester Park on Friday night when they attempt to win three consecutive events with talented New Zealand-bred pacers Itz Bettor To Win, Motu Premier and Im Full of Excuses. These three pacers are raced by leviathan owner Merv Butterworth, who is hoping the trio will qualify for the rich TABtouch Inter Dominion championship series, starting on November 24. Butterworth makes no secret that he considers five-year-old Motu Premier a superior pacer to Im Full of Excuses and Itz Bettor To Win. Sharing his opinion is Lewis, who said: “Motu Premier is a nice horse who goes good. And now he’s got to step up to the next level if he’s going to be an Inter Dominion contender.” Motu Premier, whose six starts in Western Australia have resulted in five wins and a close second placing, will be making his first appearance for nine weeks when he starts from the No. 3 barrier on the front line in the $22,000 Simpson Pace over 2130m on Friday night. Motu Premier is a strong and dour gelding who has won many races after working hard in the breeze and he is likely to have to endure a tough run again on Friday night when his chief rival looms large as the Olivieri-trained El Hombre. El Hombre will start from the No. 1 barrier and Chris Voak said he would be keen to set the pace. “He produced a powerful effort when he raced without cover before winning from Soho Chelsea and Mach Time last week,” he said. “He should go even better by leading this week and I give him a good chance of beating Motu Premier.” Lewis appreciates that El Hombre will be a worthy opponent on Friday night, saying: “That was one of his best runs and this will be a challenge for Motu Premier. However, all things being equal, I’d say Motu Premier is a better horse.”   Adding considerable interest to Friday night’s race will be the reappearance of Natural Disaster, an up-and-coming five-year-old who will be driven by his trainer Justin Prentice. Natural Disaster, who impressed in winning at eight of his 13 starts last season, will be having his first start for ten weeks. He faces a stern test from the outside (No. 9) on the front line. Motu Premier is at No. 21 in the second list of ranking for the Inter Dominion championship series. Stablemate Jambiani is ranked No. 22, with Im Full of Excuses at No. 25, El Hombre at No. 58 and Itz Bettor To Win at No. 70. Itz Bettor To Win will start out wide at barrier eight in the Celebrating Melissa Renouf Pace on Friday night and Lewis expects him to perform strongly at his second start in Western Australia. The six-year-old gelding was favourite at 6/4 when he dashed to the front from barrier three after 200m and set a brisk pace before wilting slightly in the closing stages to finish fourth behind Soho Tribeca, Bronze Seeker and Ideal Tyson. “I think he ran pretty well,” Lewis said. “He obviously needed the run and even though he’s not well drawn this week, he will be one of the main players in the race.” Im Full of Excuses will start from barrier four in the $25,000 Fred Doy Memorial Pace on Friday night in which he will clash with in-form pacers Simply Susational, Ideal Tyson and Cut For An Ace, as well as outstanding mare Major Reality, who will be having her first start since winning the Golden Girls Classic at Pinjarra on March 27. Im Full of Excuses will be having his second start after a spell. He resumed last Friday week when he started out wide at barrier nine and was restrained to the rear before dashing forward to race in the breeze outside the pacemaker Sheer Rocknroll before wilting to fifth behind Simply Susational. “I was happy with his first-up effort and I think he should step up and run a pretty good race this week,” Lewis said. Ken Casellas

Considerable interest will surround the first appearance in Western Australia of the Ross Olivieri trained New Zealand-bred trotter Blue Sky Commander (Skyvalley) when he contests the Pat Harding Handicap, a stand over 2503m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The six-year-old’s past seven starts, all in Victoria, have been in mobiles after the gelding was placed outside the draw in stands following his sixth as the 9/4 favourite in the Trotters Cup at St Arnaud in March when he broke soon after the start. However, Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri has had no hesitation in running Blue Sky Commander in a stand at his WA debut. The gelding is an experienced standing-start performer, with his three wins from 11 starts in New Zealand all being in stands and then his eight wins in Victoria included five in stands. Blue Sky Commander will be driven by Chris Lewis and will start from the outside of the 10m line. “He continues to please us and we’re confident he’ll go really well,” said Olivieri. “And whatever he does, he’ll improve on.” Blue Sky Commander’s chief rival looms as Lightning Calder, the solitary runner off the 20m back mark. Lightning Calder, to be driven by Chris Voak for Wundowie trainer Bruce Stanley, worked hard in the breeze when a fighting last-start third behind Lord Liam and Ropeburn at Gloucester Park. Olivieri is also optimistic about the prospects of Assassinator in the Wayne Currall Pace, a 1730m mobile event in which Assassinator will start from the No. 4 barrier with Chris Voak in the sulky. “He’s got a tricky draw, but he’s a good chance,” Olivieri said. “Punters should ignore his run when he finished tenth behind Heez On Fire last Friday night. He started off in the one-out, one-back position before being shuffled back to second last. He went to the line hard held.” Ken Casellas

Eight-time premier trainer Ross Olivieri is full of confidence that Im Full of Excuses (Jeremes Jet) will make a successful return to harness racing by winning the $25,000 Media Guild Cup over 2536m at Gloucester Park on tomorrow night. The New Zealand-bred six-year-old has excellent prospects of notching his sixth Cup race in the space of 12 months after winning the Group 3 Kalgoorlie, York, Northam and Harvey Cups and the Group 2 Pinjarra Cup last season. “He will go very, very well first-up,” said Olivieri. “The outside barrier (No. 9) is not ideal, but he can overcome that. This is a good race for him to start his campaign leading up to the TABtouch Inter Dominion championship in a couple of months. “He’s had three trials, winning the first easily from Sheer Rocknroll at Byford before we were disappointed with his next trial a week later at Pinjarra when he raced in the breeze and finished second to Sheer Rocknroll. “We worked out that he didn’t derive a lot of benefit from his first trial, so we put a fair bit of work into him and waited a fortnight before trialling him again at Pinjarra, and he went real good (winning by 40m from She Could Be Good, rating 1.57.3 over 2185m after a final 800m in 55.2sec.).” Im Full of Excuses will again be driven by champion reinsman Chris Lewis, who has won the Media Guild Cup four times --- with Village Kid in 1987 and 1991, Paly in 2002 and Has The Answers in 2010. Olivieri has yet to win a Media Guild Cup (which was first run in 1979). The closest Olivieri has been to winning a Media Guild Cup has been with seconds to Franco Amon in 2008 and Gary Bromac in 2010. Im Full of Excuses has not raced since he finished a close second to Vultan Tin in the 2662m Narrogin Cup on April 8 after racing three wide in the middle stages and then in the breeze. Olivieri has a good second string in Friday night’s Cup in Sheer Rocknroll, who will be driven by Chris Voak from the No. 1 barrier. A winner at 22 of her 54 starts, she has been unplaced at her past five outings. Olivieri predicts a forward showing from the five-year-old mare, saying: “She was nearly going to win last Friday week when Shannon (Suvaljko) had to take evasive action approaching the home turn.” The other mares in the Cup, Ideal Alice (barrier two) and Tricky Styx (three) will have plenty of support from their favourable draws. Ideal Alice, trained by Gary Hall Snr, maintained her excellent form when she set the pace and was beaten by a half-head by Condrieu over 2536m last Friday week. The Jesse Moore-trained Tricky Styx resumed racing after a short spell four Fridays ago when she enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back, when a sound fourth behind Run Oneover.  Ken Casellas

Young harness racing reinsman Stuart McDonald caused a boilover when he drove long shot Jambiani to win tonight’s $35,000 August Cup (2536m) at Gloucester Park. Jambiani, starting at $96.10, finished strongly from fifth near the bell and scored by 6.5m from Ideal Alice ($12.60). The $1.60 favourite Run Oneover ran third, almost 10m behind Jambiani, after setting a fast pace. Jambiani’s trainer Ross Olivieri said the win was an unexpected bonus. He praised skill shown by McDonald when he guided the gelding across from gate 11 and slotted into a prominent position. “I thought he was a place chance,” Olivieri said. “He faced a tough task, starting from the back line. His owners are jumping for joy.” Six-year-old Jambiani notched seven Victorian wins before he arrived in WA last year. The August Cup triumph gave the bay his sixth Gloucester Park victory Jambiani won at $11.40 last month, but most punters overlooked him after he drew unfavourable tonight. Run Oneover attempted an all-the-way win from gate one and was travelling smoothly at the 1400m, with Jambiani coasting in fourth position. McDonald drove patiently and had Jambiani fifth at the bell when rivals were launching forward moves. Jambiani edged to third at the 300m, as Run Oneover began to signs of being under pressure. McDonald swooped with Jambiani in the home straight when Ideal Alice was getting the upperhand from Run Oneover. Gary Hall, who trains Ideal Alice and Run Oneover, had been aiming for his seventh August Cup win. Trainer Skye Bond got off the new phase of her career off to an impressive start by landing a quinella in the Westral 3YO Pace (2130m). The Bond-trained Vampiro, a $3.40 favourite, scored by 1.8m from stablemate Mighty Mr Sharkey ($44.90). Skye Bond was training in partnership with her husband Greg. But she was licensed this week to go solo. Greg Bond was disqualified recently for giving false information to stewards and behaving in a manner which was detrimental to the harness racing industry. Sightseeing Anvil ($6.20) won the Retravision Pace (2130m) for trainer Callan Suvaljko and reinsman Bailey McDonough. Tanaka Eagle ($14.30) recorded a front running win and Americanbootscoota was successful as a $1.90 favourite. Cut For An Ace won at $4 before Rabchenko recorded an upset victory at $21.50. By Ernie Manning

Speedy pacer Franco Rayner will resume after a three-month absence when he will start from the outside of the front line (No. 9) in the 2130m $23,000 Retravision Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. But Banjup trainer-reinsman Colin Brown said that he is not intending to use the four-year-old’s blistering gate speed and that he would be driving the gelding conservatively. “I’m thinking that he is forward enough to be competitive, but we won’t be hurling out of the gate,” Brown said. “We know that he’s got very high gate speed, but I just don’t think he’s fit enough at this stage of his preparation to use that and still run a race at the end. “He is essentially a beach horse, and with the recent wintry weather we haven’t been able to work him how we would like. He’s had a lot of work, but I really don’t know where he’s at.” Two starts ago, on May 12, Franco Rayner started from the No. 9 barrier and revealed dazzling speed to charge straight to the front before setting a fast pace and winning easily from Naughty Maravu at a 1.55.8 rate over 1730m. Though most of his 16 wins from 45 starts have been when he has set the pace, Franco Rayner is also capable of unwinding a spirited finishing burst. The Justin Prentice-trained Natural Disaster is in top form and will have an army of supporters. He will start from the No. 7 barrier and should be prominent throughout in his bid to win for the ninth time from only 14 starts this season. In a strong field, Sprinter, Our Jericho, Vultan Tin, Mach Time and Harry Hoo will all have many admirers. Perhaps the main opposition to Natural Disaster will come from Sprinter and Our Jericho. Gary Elson, trainer of Sprinter, is confident the four-year-old will maintain his splendid form, even from the awkward draw of the inside of the back line. “He was superb in defeat at the hands of Vultan Tin at his latest run (last Friday week),” Elson said. In that event Sprinter started out wide at barrier seven and settled in ninth position before running home boldly from seventh at the bell to finish second, two and a half lengths behind the flying Vultan Tin, who opened up a lead of several lengths in the middle stages. The Ross Olivieri-trained Our Jericho will start out wide at barrier eight, but looks a strong chance after several excellent recent efforts, including two thirds behind star pacer Chicago Bull. Our Jericho has a losing sequence of 16, but is certainly capable of ending that run of outs. He has been freshened up since his good fourth behind Ideal Alice and Vultan Tin on July 21. Ken Casellas

Chris Voak has given punters a valuable lead by opting to drive veiled Secret in preference to Captured Delight in the Choices Flooring Pace for two-year-old fillies at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He has driven both fillies to victory at their most recent outing, scoring with the Ross Olivieri-trained Veiled Secret at Pinjarra on July 31 when the Tinted Cloud filly raced wide early and then without cover before beating Orphan Reactor at a 1.57.4 rate over 1684m. That was Veiled Secret’s first win from six starts. She will begin from barrier three on the back line on Friday night. Voak drove the Terry Ferguson-trained Captured Delight when she raced wide early from barrier four, took the lead after 300m and won by a head from Rosies Ideal at a 1.58.9 rate over 2130m at Gloucester Park last Friday week. Captured Delight won at her previous start when driven by Michael Grantham --- when she raced without cover before beating Ella Gant Player and All Over Tan over 2130m at Gloucester Park. Ferguson has engaged Dylan Egerton-Green for the filly on Friday night when she will start out wide at barrier eight on the front line. Grantham will drive the polemarker Muffins, and trainer Michael Brennan is confident she will improve on her encouraging fourth behind Havarti over 1684m at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon. Havarti, trained by Rob MacDonald at Pinjarra, revealed excellent gate speed from barrier four when she led all the way on Monday and beat Orphan Reactor by just under three lengths when having her first start for two months. Havarti will start from the No. 5 barrier, with another fast beginner and excellent frontrunner All Over Tan at barrier four. All Over Tan, trained at Byford by Peter Anderson, will be driven by Chris Lewis and will take a power of beating if she is able to burst to an early lead. Banjup trainer-reinsman Colin Brown was impressed with Fortunate Adda’s win on debut at Northam on Tuesday of last week and is looking for another strong showing from barrier six on Friday night.    Fortunate Adda raced outside the pacemaker Wilkins Medinahall before beating that filly after final quarters in 29.6sec. and 28.9sec. “What I know from the track is that she can run a 27sec. quarter,” Brown said. “What I don’t know is how many (27sec. quarters) she’s got. She’s probably got only one. She’s got gate speed and high speed at the end of her race … so who knows? Hopefully, I can put her in the race at some stage. “She’s a nice filly, has been well educated and has been in work for a long time. She has been well schooled. Two-year-olds don’t normally win first-up, especially against the experienced ones. I don’t know how tough she is. At Northam, she faced the breeze and we were lucky enough to be able to rate back, and the leader let us get a 31.4sec. and 32.4sec. for the first two quarters. She really only had to go the last 600m.” The best-performed filly in the race is Rosies Ideal, who has had eight starts for Pinjarra trainer-reinsman Shane Young for three wins and two placings. Rosies Ideal will be seriously tested from the outside (No. 9) on the front line, but she has the spirit and strength to overcome that distinct disadvantage. Ken Casellas

The powerful combination of eight-time premier trainer Ross Olivieri and champion reinsman Chris Lewis has high hopes of continuing its successful run in the $25,000 Allwood Stud Marathon Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night by winning the 3309m listed classic with up-and-coming star Motu Premier. Lewis and Olivieri have combined to win the Marathon Handicap with Nickelmeldon in 2009, Chief Thundercloud (2015) and Our Jericho (last year). Chief Thundercloud and Our Jericho are owned by Merv Butterworth, who also races four-year-old Motu Premier, the youngest and least experienced runner in this week’s race. Motu Premier has shown the class to overcome the disadvantage of starting off the 30-metre mark, with only The Bucket List (off 40m) behind him. He has yet to contest a standing-start event in Australia, but has a good record in stands in New Zealand. His 23 New Zealand starts produced seven wins and ten seconds. He raced six times in stands for three wins. His final race in New Zealand was on the grass track at Methven where he began off 40m and ran on from sixth at the bell to win from Johnny Eyre. This week’s Marathon Handicap should suit Motu Premier ideally. The Bettors Delight gelding has won twice over 3000m. Twelve months ago Our Jericho, a 6/1 chance off the 10m mark, enjoyed a perfect trail, one-out and one-back, before finishing strongly to win by a length from the pacemaker, the Michael Brennan-trained Naughty Maravu. Motu Premier arrived in Australia early in April this year and raced four times in New South Wales for three wins and a second placing. His five WA starts have produced four wins and a second. He maintained his splendid form when he started out wide at barrier eight, raced wide early and then in the breeze before finishing powerfully to win the 2130m Chandon final from Mach Time and Natural Disaster last Friday week, rating 1.55.9. Brennan hopes to go one better than his second placing with Naughty Maravu last year and his four runners on Friday night are all capable standing-start performers. He will be represented by The Bucket List, the sole backmarker off 40m who will be driven by Michael Grantham, Rub Of The Green (Gary Hall jun.), Cut For An Ace (Aiden de Campo) and Im Master Charlie (Chris Voak). The Bucket List is a quality pacer who has earned $317,935 from 19 wins and 31 placings from 75 starts. His four starts since resuming from a spell have produced a win over Our Jimmy Johnstone and Beaudiene Boaz and seconds to Tricky Styx (twice) and Chicago Bull. The Bucket List is an experienced standing-start performer and a redoubtable stayer, who finished a nose second to Firebomb in the 2970m York Cup at Northam in November 2015. Rub Of The Green has a splendid record of 19 wins, seven seconds and a third from only 33 starts. He has been freshened up since he was seventh early before racing in the breeze for almost two circuits and getting to the front on the home turn and winning from Robyns Raider in a 2503m stand on July 14. He will start from 30m on Friday night and will have many admirers. Im Master Charlie (front) and Cut For An Ace (10m) are not foolproof in stands, but are capable of figuring in the finish. Always Arjay is in outstanding form for Serpentine trainer Matt Scott, who has engaged Nathan Turvey to drive the five-year-old after Lewis opted for Motu Premier. Always Arjay, who will start off 10m, is a versatile pacer who has won in stands at his past four starts. Turvey won the 2013 Marathon Handicap behind Balleybofey. Tommy Be Good and Rycroft are racing keenly and will start off 20m. Stuart McDonald will drive the Katja Warwick-trained Tommy Be Good, who impresses with his spirited finishing bursts. Rycroft set the pace and won a 2503m stand last Friday week for Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed. The New Zealand-bred five-year-old will be handled by Kim Prentice, who drove Serious Pursuit to victory in the 2003 Marathon Handicap. Kim Young, who drove To San Jose when he dead-heated for first with Sir Lektor in the 1996 Marathon, will be represented by veteran standing-start specialist Maximum Demand, who will be driven by Jocelyn Young and should be prominent from barrier one on the front line. Ken Casellas

A South Australian-bred five-year-old who has won in three States and has had the services of 19 different harness racing drivers in a 50-start career is an interesting runner in the 1730m Get Ready To Rock Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He is the Sportswriter gelding King Crocker, who has been unplaced at seven starts since winning in very modest company in Albany early last February. King Crocker is a recent addition to the Oakford stables of eight-time WA premier trainer Ross Olivieri and he failed to flatter first-up in a C3-class event over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week when he revealed good gate speed and raced in the breeze for the first 700m before gaining the one-out, one-back trail. He wilted over the final 300m to finish 11th behind Hy Fyfe. “He’s had one run for me and I was quite pleased with the run,” Olivieri said. “I think he gets his chance this week. I think he will lead and win.” Indeed, King Crocker has the breeding to succeed. He is a half-brother to Major Crocker, who has earned $639,312 from 26 wins and 21 placings from 82 starts. Major Crocker won a 2536m heat of the Interdominion championship at Gloucester Park in December 2015 and he finished second to New Zealand superstar Lazarus in the Victoria Cup at Melton last January. King Crocker, whose eight wins from 50 starts have been in moderate company, has earned just $30,105. He will be driven on Friday night by Chris Voak. Olivieri also expects a strong showing from Cullen Class in the 2130m Cosmic Horizons Pace for three-year-old Westbred fillies. Cullen Class will be handled by Voak from barrier four in a very open affair. She has managed just two placings from ten starts. “Her latest run was very good,” Olivieri said. “She breezed and fought on really well (when fourth behind Susie Rocks). She’s not out of this race; she’s a chance.” Ken Casellas

Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr landed the quinella in last year’s Chandon Final and he is hoping to repeat the dose in the $25,000 In Memory of Bob Pollock The Chandon Final over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He has four runners, Mach Time (barrier one), Harry Hoo (two), Zach Maguire (inside of the back line) and King Lebron (outside of the back). Gary Hall Jnr has given punters a good lead by opting to drive Zach Maguire, a stylish all-the-way last-start winner over Motu Premier. His elder brother Clint will handle talented frontrunner Mach Time, Chris Voak has been engaged for Harry Hoo and Lauren Jones for King Lebron. “It’s a really good field, with many winning chances,” said Hall Jnr, who finished second with 6/1 chance American Boy in the Chandon Final 12 months ago after racing in the breeze for the final 1500m. Stablemate Ricimer, a 16/1 chance driven by Kim Prentice, set the pace and beat American Boy by just under a length. “Mach Time looks set to lead on Friday night and I should be sitting on him with Zach Maguire.” Zach Maguire is capable of unwinding a strong finishing burst, and Hall is hopeful the Bettors Delight four-year-old will get clear in the final circuit and outsprint Mach Time, another New Zealand-bred four-year-old with excellent potential. The main dangers to Mach Time and Zach Maguire loom large as Motu Premier, Natural Disaster and Vanquished. Motu Premier, to be driven by Chris Lewis for Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri, is in dazzling form and should prove mighty hard to beat. A winner of seven races in New Zealand, Motu Premier raced in New South Wales four times for three wins and his four starts in Western Australia have produced three wins and a last-start second to Zach Maguire when he had a tough run in the breeze. “It’s always a task when you draw wide (barrier eight), but I think he will run a good race,” said Lewis. Natural Disaster, a WA-bred four-year-old by American stallion Shadow Play, is in brilliant form for Boyanup trainer-driver Justin Prentice, with his 11 starts this season producing seven wins and two placings. He is unbeaten at his three outings after resuming from a spell and he should obtain an excellent passage after starting from the No. 2 barrier on the back line. Vanquished, in the stables of leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, will be driven by Ryan Warwick from barrier three on the front line and he warmed up for Friday night’s event with an impressive victory at Gloucester Park on Tuesday night.   He raced in sixth place in the one-wide line before bursting to the front 520m from home and winning by more than two lengths from Auctioneers Elsu, rating a smart 1.55.2 over the 2130m journey. Ken Casellas

Leading owners Merv and Meg Butterworth are no strangers to winning big races. The heroics of Arden Rooney in the 2015 New Zealand Cup with record breaking trainer/driver Kerryn Manning have been well documented, and rightly so. In fact, there isn't many national or state borders that haven't been crossed in search of a feature winner for the Victorian based couple. Success has come via the All Stars stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, Ross Olivieri in Perth has also provided plenty of triumphs while Manning herself continues to build on her impressive list. The state of Queensland isn't foreign to the Butterworth's either as they continue to build on their impressive trophy cabinet. Victories in the Sunshine Sprint (Motu Crusader), Queensland Derby and Premiers Cup (Best Deal Yet) have come their way previously. And now they return, searching for more glory. On Saturday night, they will be represented by a pair of quality performers in two of the feature events, the final night of the 2017 Albion Park winter carnival. Motu Meteor lines up from the ace draw in the $75,000 AQWA Constructions Queensland Derby while four-year-old Mr Mojito starts from the second-line in the $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship. Both races will be staged over 2680m. "I think both horses are very classy and have great natural talent so they can't be taken lightly. We only confirmed plans earlier this week although we hatched this idea a few weeks ago." Merv Butterworth said. Motu Meteor resumed with a solid performance at Ballarat last Thursday, rating 1:57.1 for the 1710m. The Bettors Delight gelding boasts a solid grounding for the blue riband classic after finishing second behind Our Little General in the Victoria Derby and then third behind Vincent and Ultimate Machete in the New South Wales Derby. In both series, he managed to win his qualifying heats comfortably. Formerly prepared by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, Motu Meteor now looms as the biggest threat to race favourite The More The Better which is prepared by Purdon and Rasmussen. The two pacers have clashed on two previous occasions, both times The More The Better finished in front of Motu Meteor. “Both of those races were staged in the North Island of New Zealand and he had excuses in the Auckland feature while he was too good for us in the Cambridge Guineas. “Barrier draws are a major part of racing and we’ve landed the best draw while The More The Better faces a second-line draw and that will make a difference this week. “I’m thrilled with the draw and I expect a really good effort this weekend, I’ve watched the Brisbane events over the past couple of weeks and I’m certain we’ll be right in the mix.” While Butterworth is thrilled with the Derby draw, he wasn’t so excited about the draw of Mr Mojito in the Blacks A Fake. The Real Desire gelding will start from gate 11, four off the second-line. In two starts for Manning, Mr Mojito finished a solid third behind My Field Marshal and Mattgregor in the 4 & 5yo Championship at TABCORP Park, Melton before a brave second behind potential superstar Heaven Rocks at Ashburton on Jewels day (June 3). “He’s a very good horse and he will need to be in this race and from this draw but I’m very confident in his ability. He’s in good order and just requires some luck. “If we manage to find the right cover, he’ll be thereabouts.” His biggest success came earlier this season at Gloucester Park when triumphant in the Gr.2 $50,000 4yo Championship. Chris Barsby

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