On paper, Perfect Major stands out as a star bet in the opening event, the 2130m Simmonds Steel Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Perfect Major, prepared by Ross Olivieri, is one of four stablemates in the field of seven, and Voak had the choice of driving Perfect Major, Stefsbest or Carrera Mach.
Perfect Major will be having his first start since he led and finished third behind Cyclone Banner over 2130m on December 18. He had raced against superstar Chicago Bull and other star pacers at each of his four previous starts following wins at his first four appearances in WA.
He finished third behind Chicago Bull and Shockwave in the Cranley Memorial, eighth behind Chicago Bull in the Fremantle Cup, won from Chicago Bull in the RWWA Cup and then finished fifth behind Vultan Tin and Chicago Bull in the WA Pacing Cup.
Voak is now somewhat puzzled at Perfect Major’s seemingly disappointing form in three recent Byford trials in which he raced in the breeze and finished a close fourth behind Ace Bromac, third in a field of three behind Gran Chico, and a three-length second behind Alice Kay on Sunday morning after racing without cover.
“It doesn’t look like that he is going any good,” said a perplexed Voak. “His trials have been ordinary. However, his work during his previous preparation wasn’t much good. But when he went to the races, he was a totally different horse. He ran fifth in the WA Pacing Cup, so he must have some chance, first-up.”
Olivieri also was guarded in his prediction of how Perfect Major would perform on Friday night, saying: “He probably needs the run.”
Perfect Major will start from the outside in the field of seven, and Voak will wait and see how the race unfolds before deciding on his tactics.
Stefsbet, a smart first-up winner over Gee Jay Kay at Pinjarra two starts ago, will be handled by Shannon Suvaljko from barrier five; Chris Playle will drive Carrera Mach from barrier four, and Olivieri’s other runner, Kiwi Bloke will start from the No. 1 barrier with Chris Lewis in the sulky. Making up the field will be recent winners Extradite, Thomson Bay and Rakasinc.