Princess Mila reigns supreme
A flying start from the 30-metre mark and a masterly drive by champion reinsman Gary Hall jnr paved the way for Princess Mila’s thrilling last-stride victory over the pacemaker Sunnys Little Jestic in the $50,000 group 1 Retravision Trotters Cup at Gloucester Park on Thursday night.
This gave Hall his first success in the State’s major event for square gaiters, and it was the second win in the race for champion trainer Gary Hall snr, who was successful with Makati Maximus in January 2013.
The Victorian-bred Princess Mila further enhanced her reputation as WA’s best trotter as she extended her winning sequence to four and improved her record in the State to 16 starts for eight wins and five placings.
“I’m pretty happy that David Jack decided to send Princess Mila to me to train about a year ago,” said Hall snr. Jack and his wife Anne bred and owned Princess Mila, who won seven times for trainer-driver Jack in Victoria. The mare now has a record of 50 starts for 15 wins, 16 placings and $158,936.
Princess Mila, the second favourite at $3, began speedily at the first attempt to get Thursday night’s race underway. But a false start was declared when the 10m barrier strand failed to release.
Hall jnr then got Princess Mila away brilliantly at the second attempt and the five-year-old settled down in fifth position in an Indian file affair, with the $2.80 favourite Always A Dreamer, Champagne Prince, My Mdina and the 40m backmarker Rock Tonight galloping at the start or breaking soon afterwards.
Hall, anxious for Princess Mila not to be hemmed in on the pegs, eased the mare off the inside with about 1200m to travel, and she then raced without cover for the remainder of the event in which Dylan Egerton-Green drove with great skill, allowing $7 chance Sunnys Little Jestic to bowl along freely in front in a bid to make life as tough as possible for all the runners behind her.
Sunnys Little Jestic’s fast third quarter of the final mile of 28.5sec. certainly made life tough for her rivals. But Princess Mila was up to the test and she fought on grandly to overhaul the frontrunner in the shadows of the post to score by a head at a smart 2.1.7 rate over the 2503m journey. Ton Tine ($61) raced in third place throughout for Maddison Brown and fought on gamely to be third, a length ahead of Champagne Prince, who finished with a resolute burst from tenth at the bell.
“I might give Princess Mila a bit of a break, along with Finvarra and Alta Cinderella (who were fancied but were unplaced in their events on Thursday night),” said Hall snr. “Finvarra was affected by sore feet and Alta Cinderella is still learning to race.”
First pacer, first winner for Bridgetown farmer
Peter Bloxsome, a Bridgetown farmer and owner of a big transport business, enjoyed New Year’s Eve at Gloucester Park on Thursday night when his first pacer, Suing You, surged home from eighth at the bell to score a convincing victory in the $18,000 Retravision For All The Electrical Stuff You Love Pace.
“I’m 66 and I don’t think it is a smart idea to retire fully,” he said.
Bloxsome has become interested in harness racing through his friendship with Greenbushes farmer Ray Jones, who owns and trains brilliant juvenile pacer Lavra Joe.
Pinjarra trainer-reinsman Shane Young said that Bloxsome was looking at purchasing a pacer, and he told him that he would investigate buying a horse from New Zealand.
“I rang Damian Keating for advice because he has had success in buying horses from New Zealand,” Young said. “He said he would have a look for me, and a week or so later he told me that New Zealand was a bit quiet because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Damian was a part-owner of the Justin Prentice-trained Suing You, and he said that the filly was for sale. So, we went from there and decided to buy her for $45,000.” The filly is now part-owned by Young, Bloxsome and Gary Ralston, one of the original part-owners.
“It was a good outcome because we didn’t have to worry about spending about $10,000 to get a horse from New Zealand to Perth, and we were able to go and watch Suing You before we decided to buy her. She had won seven races and at her most recent start she had finished strongly from the rear to be second to Blue Chip Adda in the group 1 Westbred Classic for three-year-old fillies.”
On Thursday night Suing You was having her third start for Young and Bloxsome. She was a $51 chance ($61 on the fixed market) from the outside of the back line.
Polemarker Fifty Five Reborn, the $2.05 favourite, was beaten for early speed, with $51 outsider Advance Your Dream first out from barrier four, but was unable to cross to the front, with $17 chance Altas Angel setting the pace from barrier two.
Gary Hall jnr dashed Alta Cinderella forward to take up the breeze position after 450m. At the bell Suing You was eighth, and at the 700m Young switched her three wide to follow the run of Run For Mercy. Suing You went four wide approaching the home turn and she sprinted strongly to burst to the front 90m from the post before going on to win by just over a length from the fast-finishing pair of Askmeilltella and Savvy Bromac.
Suing You, a filly by Alta Christiano, now has had 23 starts for eight wins, five placings and $63,728.
Lewis lands Powerplay at long odds
Champion reinsman Chris Lewis surprised himself and shocked punters when he brought rank outsider Powerplay home with a spirited burst from last at the 300m to win from Eldaytona in the 2130m Retravision Half Yearly Clearance Pace at Gloucester Park on Thursday night.
The two-year-old gelding, owned and trained by the driver’s wife Debra, paid $78.30 on the tote and was an unwanted $126 chance on the fixed market.
Powerplay, by Rich And Spoilt and out of Mene Jaccka, started out wide at barrier seven in a race in which Finvarra ($1.65) and Eldaytona ($3.80) dominated betting. He raced four back on the pegs and was tenth and last with 300m to travel.
Finvarra set the pace and was hotly challenged for most of the way by Eldaytona, who eventually got the upper hand and took the lead 450m from home. However, he was unable to hold off Powerplay, who flew home, out five wide.
“We had low expectations of winning, coming off his eighth at his previous start --- and with better horses drawn inside of him,” said Lewis. “It looked pretty hard on paper and therefore I planned to race on the pegs and take the shortest way.
“If you don’t draw (favourably) in these races, punters intend to exclude horses who are drawn wide. If there’s not a reasonable pace early, you’re probably out of the race.
“Powerplay is a nice horse; he’s no champion but he’s got a bit about him. He’s got a bit of gate speed, has a good quarter in him and can run an overall (good) time. He might develop further and is going to be an honest earner.
“Coming from last to win is a good feeling. Inside the 250m I was thinking he might be able to sneak into the first five, and when we turned for home I thought we could run a place. And then we were in front.”
Powerplay, who has earned $37,093 from four wins and three placings from 15 starts, was despised and completely unwanted at the 2019 WA yearling sale when he was passed in after failing to reach his small reserve price of just $4000.
Lewis explained that Powerplay’s breeder, the late Harry Capararo, had sent the yearling and others he had bred to the Lewis establishment to be prepared for the yearling sale, and when Powerplay was passed in he was keen for Lewis to take him.
“So, we took him, and it wasn’t a huge amount,” said Lewis. “He has certainly paid his way.”
Powerplay is the only foal out of the New Zealand-bred mare Mene Jaccka, who had 95 starts for seven wins, 17 placings and stakes of $48,105. Four of her wins came from her 83 starts in Western Australia when Lewis drove her seven times for two wins and two seconds for trainer Sonia Zucchiatti.
Hall’s magic gets Somebeachparty home
The magical skill of Hall of Fame driver Gary Hall jnr continues to enthral harness racing followers, and he produced yet another sublime performance in the sulky to win the group 3 Coulson final over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Thursday night.
He was handling Somebeachparty for owner-trainer Barry Howlett and after the $1.50 favourite had started from the inside of the back line, she was looking in grave danger of being hemmed in as stablemate Millwood Gucci led the field into the home straight racing for the bell.
Somebeachparty was racing four back on the pegs in sixth position when Hall deftly eased her off the inside and pushed Sameplace Sametime out three wide, without even causing the semblance of interference.
Somebeachparty then sustained a strong finishing burst, out wide, to charge to the lead with 220m to travel before she surged away to win by two lengths from $10 chance Mini Mine Yet, who rattled home from ninth at the bell. Sameplace Sametime did a good job to finish third, just ahead of Millwood Gucci.
The victory gave Hall a perfect record --- five drives for five wins with Somebeachparty, a New Zealand-bred five-year-old who has been most impressive at her 19 starts (all in WA) for eight wins, eight placings and stakes of $86,878.
Cups mission for Thats Perfect
Stylish-looking five-year-old Thats Perfect broke through for his first win in Western Australia at his fourth start in the State when he crushed his rivals in the Retravision 60 Day Price Promise Pace at Gloucester Park on Thursday night.
Astute trainer Ross Olivieri was delighted with the former Victorian pacer’s performance and predicted further successes for the Art Major gelding.
“It was a drop in class for him --- and he treated them (his rivals) like it was a drop in class,” said Olivieri. “We’re hopeful that he will aim up at races like the Pinjarra Cup and/or the Northam Cup. He’s got more wins, going through the classes.
“Chris Voak said that he would drive him patiently (after starting from the outside barrier at No. 9) and when the pace slackened, he would go forward. We couldn’t sit back and let them walk before trying to outsprint them. It was good that he got to the breeze at the earliest opportunity.”
Thats Perfect, second fancy at $3.40, settled down in last place before Voak sent him forward after 500m to move outside the pacemaker and $2.60 favourite Mistahmistah after a lap had been completed.
Thats Perfect led by a neck with a lap to travel, forcing Lindsay Harper to increase the tempo and getting Mistahmistah to sprint over the third quarter of the final mile in 28.1sec. Thats Perfect then swept to the front at the 300m and raced away to win by more than two lengths from Sergeant Oats, who ran on from seventh at the bell.
Thats Perfect won four times in South Australia and ten times in Victoria for trainer Emma Stewart, and his career record now stands at38 starts for 15 wins, 11 placings and $139,456 in stakes.
Brown fills in capably
Veteran reinsman Colin Brown made the most of unexpected opportunities at Gloucester Park on Thursday night when he was called into action to replace Ryan Warwick, who was forced to forfeit six drives because he had just returned from a brief trip to Victoria and under Covid 19 regulations had go into isolation.
Brown, one of the best reinsmen in the history of WA harness racing, relished his opportunities and was successful with the Greg and Skye Bond-trained Galactic Star and Taroona Bromac.
Brown had driven Galactic Star only once before (in November 2019 when the gelding started from barrier eight and finished seventh behind stablemate Mighty Conqueror) and he made every post a winner when he drove Galactic Star to an all-the-way victory in the $25,000 Vale John Lohman Free-For-All over 2536m.
The seven-year-old Galactic Star, favourite at $2.50, began brilliantly from the No. 4 barrier and he set a brisk pace, running the final quarters in 29.4sec., 29.6sec., 28sec. and 27.4sec. to win at a 1.56.6 rate from $5 chance Vultan Tin, who fought on doggedly after working in the breeze over the final 1500m. Bletchley Park ($5.50) sustained a strong burst from seventh at the bell to finish third.
Galactic Star raced 12 times in New Zealand for four wins and six placings, and he now boasts an excellent record of 89 starts for 30 wins, 29 placings and stakes of $666,765.
Brown adopted similar tactics with Taroona Bromac, the $1.80 favourite who set the pace and won by just over a length from the $3.50 second fancy Machs Gold, who trailed the pacemaker throughout.
Taroona Bromac, who has raced 27 times in WA for 11 wins and one placing, is a half-brother to former outstanding pacer Tas Man Bromac, who had only 37 starts for 14 wins, 16 placings and $162,086 before he died a couple of years ago. Tas Man Bromac had only six starts in WA for four wins, including the group 3 Northam Cup in February 2018, and two placings.
Mister Ardee ends 16-month drought
Veteran pacer Mister Ardee followed several recent encouraging efforts by producing a flying finish to snatch a thrilling last-stride victory in the 2130m Get Back To School With Retravision Pace at Gloucester Park on Thursday night.
An $8.90 chance, Mister Ardee was seventh on the home turn before charging home, out four wide, to score a head victory over $8 chance Quick Stride, who had come from the rear to hit the front in the final couple of strides.
Mister Ardee, trained and driven by Madeleine Young, ended a 16-month drought and broke a losing sequence of 32. This was his 27TH win from 170 starts and took his earnings to $296,374.
Baylan Jett ($6.50) made a fast early move to burst to the front after 500m. He then set a brisk pace and was swamped only in the final stages.
It’s The Kraken all the way
Speedy Art Major four-year-old The Kraken has inherited much of the ability of his dam Before Night Falls, and he relished his pacemaking role to notch his tenth win from 51 starts when he beat Bettor Finish and The Cheddarnator in the 2130m Retravision Your Fujitsu Air Conditioning Pace at Gloucester Park on Thursday night.
Driven by his trainer Aiden de Campo, The Kraken, the $2.40 favourite, virtually sealed the issue by recording a slow lead time of 38.3sec. and a dawdling opening quarter of the final mile in 31.3sec.
Then, after a second 400m section of 29.7sec., The Kraken gave his rivals very little chance by speeding over the final quarters in 27.7sec. and 27.8sec.
Smart three-year-old Alta Blues ($2.90) was not suited by the early slow tempo and he battled on doggedly to finish fourth.
The Kraken is the fifth foal out of the Safely Kept mare Before Night Falls, who amassed $169,279 in prizemoney from 12 wins and eight placings from 38 starts. She won seven times as a two-year-old, with her victories that season including the Western Crown Classic and the group 1 Diamond Classic.
View To A Kill, a full-brother to Before Night Falls, earned $234,516 from 26 wins and 66 placings from 196 starts. He won 14 times in Western Australia before notching 12 wins in America.
Bracken Sky at long odds
New South Wales-bred five-year-old Bracken Sky continues to improve for Wanneroo trainer Debbie Padberg, and he produced a powerful finishing burst to come from ninth at the 400m mark to score an easy victory in the 2130m Retravision.com.au Pace at Gloucester Park on Thursday night.
He started at the handsome odds of $30.10 and was handled in fine style by Jocelyn Young, who was content to race five back on the pegs before getting into the clear and taking the gelding five wide at the 250m.
Bracken Sky surged to the front 50m from the post and won by a length and a half from $31 chance Babyface Adda, who had come from sixth at the bell to take the lead with 100m to travel. The four-year-old was at some disadvantage, having received a flat sulky tyre 400m from home.
Patrickthepiranha, the $1.90 favourite, was third after racing in the breeze. Yes Hes A Ladies Man ($2.75) set a solid pace before wilting to finish tenth.
Bracken Sky is a half-brother to Absolution, who won five races for the Padberg stable before continuing his career in South Australia where he notched his 14TH career victory with a fighting win over 1800m at Globe Derby Park two days before Bracken Sky’s latest success.
Absolution and Bracken Sky are out of the New Zealand-bred Live Or Die mare Redemption, who won at her first eight starts in New South Wales in 2008 and 2009.
Bracken Sky raced 45 times in NSW for ten wins and 14 placings and he has had 44 starts in WA for five wins and 14 placings.