New Zealand-bred seven-year-old Vito Vito finished a dismal ninth in a 2503m stand last Friday week, 99 metres behind the winner Legislate, but leading trainer Gary Hall sen. is bubbling with confidence and declares the gelding will prove hard to beat in the 2902m Garrard’s Horse And Hound BOTRA Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
“He’s the big improver and he’s flying at the moment,” Hall said. “His trial when second to Bakerandthefatman at Byford on Sunday morning was sensational.”
Vito Vito was driven in the five-horse 2150m mobile trial by Michelle Prinsloo and was one length behind Bakerandthefatman at the finish, with the winner rating 1.58.8. Vito Vito is out of the draw in stands and even though he is the only horse off the 10m mark in the BOTRA Cup, he will have to start out wide on the track.
“I’m not really worried about starting out wide because he generally flies out from a stand,” said reinsman Gary Hall jun., who has decided to drive Vito Vito in preference to Saucy Legend, whose recent form has been excellent, with his past four runs producing a third to Johnorama, a second to Dasher VC and two fourths behind Dasher VC. Saucy Legend will start from 30m with Kim Prentice in the sulky.
Hall sen. said that Vito Vito raced on the outside of the pacemaker Bakerandthefatman, eight lengths clear of the rest of the field for the first lap in Sunday’s trial. “He then dropped in behind Bakerandthefatman and Bakerandthefatman won,” he explained. “Michelle didn’t pull the ear plugs and if she had, he would have won.”
At his most recent appearance Vito Vito started from 10m and settled down in eighth position before Hall jun. sent him forward in the first lap. Vito Vito tackled the pacemaker Howzat Fire hard for the lead and got a half-length clear at the 1300m mark, but was unable to cross to the pegs. He faded in the final stages after his torrid run to finish am distant ninth behind Legislate, who surged home from sixth at the bell.
At his previous outing Vito Vito came from ninth in the middle stages and sixth at the bell to win from Our Gent and Turismo in a 2096m stand.
Hall sen. has won the BOTRA Cup twice --- with Spirit of Shard (Hall jun.) off 40m in 2008 and Albert Jaccka (Prentice) off 40m in 2010. Gall jun. also was successful in the 2002 BOTRA Cup with the John Godecke-trained Strike A Blow.
Legislate, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, is a smart, lightly-raced eight-year-old who will be fancied in the BOTRA Cup off the 30m mark. He has raced only 42 times for 15 wins and nine placings. Legislate will be handled by Colin Brown, who has yet to win a BOTRA Cup.
Chris Lewis, who will drive frontmarker Topnotch Dan, won the BOTRA Cup for the fourth time when Tartary Gladiator set the pace and beat 40m co-backmarker Real Life 12 months ago. Lewis also was successful with Village Kid (1985), Elteei (1986) and Mach Ruler (2009). Topnotch Dan finished solidly from sixth at the bell to be third behind Rockyourbaby and Franco Hendrix in the 2918m Kalgoorlie Boulder Cup last Thursday week.
Real Life, prepared by Tony Svilicich, started off 40m when third to Albert Jaccka and Jordangarry in the 2010 BOTRA Cup. The veteran Byford trainer has high hopes that Mysta Magical Mach, the sole backmarker off 50m this year, will give him a change of luck.
Mysta Magical Mach is, by far, the best-performed runner in the race and is capable of overcoming his 50m handicap. Mysta Magical Mach came from the rear in the middle stages and then worked hard before finishing a good second to Dasher VC in the 2506m James Brennan Memorial last Friday night.
He was a fast-finishing second to Dasher VC in the 2100m Spring Pace the previous week. Mysta Magical Mach thrives on a solid racing program and Svilicich set the eight-year-old the task of contesting a 2150m mobile trial at Byford last Sunday. The gelding enjoyed the outing and scored a two-length win over McGintysgoat after sprinting over the final two 400m sections in 28.6sec. and 28.2sec.
Mysta Magical Mach will be driven by Morgan Woodley, who was successful in the 2006 BOTRA Cup with the Carol Warwick-trained Hilton Adonis, who started off 40m and defeated Breaking Waves and Onaventure.
Proven stayer Anvils Big Punt will have a host of admirers off the front line. He stood flat-footed at the start (after two false starts) and was always well back when eighth in the Kalgoorlie Boulder Cup at his first appearance since finishing strongly to be second to Code Red in the 3309m Marathon Handicap at Gloucester Park on August 10.
Trainer Michael Brennan is hoping the New Zealand-bred six-year-old will repeat his splendid frontrunning performance when he won the 2902m Easter Cup from Ohoka du Nord in April 2011.