A Machnificent victory
Speedy four-year-old Machnificent lived up to his name when he unleashed a typical flying finish to get up and snatch a last-stride victory over the $1.26 favourite Ideal Agent in the $50,000 The West Australian Nights of Thunder at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Machnificent, the second fancy at $9.20, gave reinsman Shannon Suvaljko his second victory in the 1730m feature sprint event after he had employed similar sit-and-sprint tactics to win the race with $6.40 chance Queen Shenandoah 12 months earlier.
Machnificent is trained by Katja Warwick, who races the WA-bred Mach Three stallion in partnership with Ross Waddell and Waddell’s Pacing WA syndicate.
Former champion trainer-reinsman Trevor Warwick, speaking on behalf of Waddell, said: “Thanks must go to Kat, who has done a wonderful job with this horse. He has been a little bit unlucky a couple of times in big races. He is that sort of horse who has to have a sit, and things went to plan tonight.
“It was a great result, particularly for Ross Waddell, who backs Kat with everything she wants to buy at the yearling sales. Machnificent is one of the cheaper ones.”
Machnificent, purchased for $20,000 at the 2019 APG Perth yearling sale, has now raced 38 times for 11 wins, 12 placings and $136,730 in stakes.
Friday night’s win was a remarkable achievement for Machnificent, who just scraped into the nine-horse field as the ninth-fastest qualifier when fourth behind Double Up in a heart a week earlier.
He was involved in a nasty mix-up on the home turn, broke into a gallop and then recovered to finish in fourth position. “If I had stayed on the rails, I would have won by three lengths,” said Suvaljko. “It was like a standing start at the 200m when I was pulled up. He then did an amazing job to qualify for the final.”
Double Up, the $10 third fancy in the final in which he started from the No. 1 barrier, led for the first 450m before his stablemate Ideal Agent forged to the front, leaving $23 chance The Ideal Touch in the breeze and Machnificent in fourth spot, three back on the pegs.
“With the stablemates Double Up and Ideal Agent drawn one and two I could see that they were going to roll along, so I thought our best chance was to stay three back on the rails and hope for luck,” said Suvaljko.
“And it worked out that we got a bit of luck. But we still had to go about the 500m, and I pushed out Junior (Gary Hall jnr, driving The Ideal Touch) half way down the back, and then Double Up pushed me out at the 400m, so then we were three deep around the corner. But I still hadn’t gone for him.”
Machnificent then sprinted fast to gain the verdict by a head in a photo finish. Machnificent rated 1.52.4 which was a race record, bettering Ocean Ridge’s win at a 1.52.6 rate in January 2020.
“Machnificent will go to Free-For-Alls; he is really quick and is maturing and getting fitter and stronger all the time,” said Suvaljko. “Every time I drive him, I can feel he can run longer and faster. “He is also versatile; he can lead, and he can sit. The only thing he doesn’t really like is doing too much work. But he is that fast that he doesn’t have to do that sort of work.”
Machnificent, bred by Bob Fowler’s Allwood Stud Farm, is the fifth foal out of the Northern Luck mare Honorable Daughter, who was unplaced at her six starts in 2010.
Chicago Bull is back
Reigning Fremantle Cup champion Chicago Bull ended the longest losing sequence (eight) in his illustrious 101-start career when he did all the bullocking in the breeze before finishing with great determination to win the 2536m Ray Duffy Memorial Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Champion reinsman Gary Hall jnr said that the indefatigable nine-year-old would be even better when he lines up in the $300,000 Retravision Fremantle Cup next Friday night.
“I’ve been telling everyone that he is still going good, but no-one has really believed me,” he said. “The last 1200m (1min. 25.2) was pretty good in the breeze. Maybe it was good he had a run like that because he still came in big (in condition).
“But that’s it now; he won’t have to do much during the week. Tonight is the best he has pulled up. And last week when it was really hot, he was the best of our ten runners to pull up. I don’t think he could be any better for his age and health.”
Chicago Bull, the $1.80 favourite from the No. 6 barrier on Friday night, settled down in sixth place and then enjoyed an ideal run in the one-out, one-back position, with $8 chance Hampton Banner in the breeze after failing in a strong bid to outpace the polemarker Motu Premier ($6).
After 700m Hall sent Chicago Bull forward, three wide, to assume the breeze position.
“Chicago Bull then felt good and relaxed in the breeze, which was a plus,” said Hall. “It was not really my plan to go to the breeze that early. But Hampton Banner was coming back that quickly that I thought I might as well go forward. I then had Galactic Star on my back, and I was a bit worried about him.”
Motu Premier dashed over the third quarter of the final mile in 28sec. and he was still in front on the home turn. But Chicago Bull was carrying too many guns and he gained the upper hand 100m from the post before beating Motu Premier by a half-length. The final 400m was covered in 28.3sec. and Chicago Bull rated 1.56.6 over the 2536m journey.
When Chicago Bull won the 2536m Fremantle Cup in easy fashion from Galactic Star and Shockwave in November 2020, he rated 1.56.9 after covering the final 1200m in 1min. 28.3sec.
On Friday night Chicago Bull was having his fourth run after a spell, and his victory was his 57TH from 86 appearances at Gloucester Park. He now has raced 101 times for 62 wins and 27 placings for earnings of $2,348,046.
Motu Premier off to Adelaide
Veteran pacer Motu Premier, a splendid close second to champion Chicago Bull in the Ray Duffy Memorial at Gloucester Park on Friday night, is being set for the South Australian Pacing Cup at Globe Derby Park in April.
He will leave Perth by float this Monday (January 17) and will be prepared in Adelaide by Les Harding to be part of leviathan owner Merv Butterworth’s three-prong attack in the South Australian Cup which will be run in a series format, like the Interdominion championship.
To be eligible for the SA Cup, pacers need to meet a residency criterion to compete, with Cup horses required to be in South Australia by February 1.
Butterworth will also be represented in the SA Cup by former West Australian performers Jimmy Mack and Im Full of Excuses, who like Motu Premier enjoyed successful careers under the care of eight-time WA premiership trainer Ross Olivieri.
Nine-year-old Motu Premier, who set a brisk pace and finished a half-length second to Chicago Bull on Friday night, has amassed $415,115 in stakes after his 74 starts produced 19 wins and 27 placings.
Motu Premier, a winner of seven races in New Zealand and three in New South Wales, has had 47 starts in WA for Olivieri for nine wins and 16 placings. His record would have been much better had he not been forced out of action a couple of times.
“He damaged a hind leg twice after being hooked up in fences,” explained Olivieri. “He had a habit of backing into fences and getting caught.”
Motu Premier was a brilliant two-year-old in New Zealand in 2015, being placed in six group events, including seconds to Lazarus in the group 1 Emerald and second in the Sires Stakes to Chase The Dream, with Lazarus finishing third and Chicago Bull ninth.
Among his notable performances in WA Motu Premier won the group 3 Parliamentarians Cup in November 2019, beating Mighty Conqueror, and he finished fifth behind Soho Tribeca in the WA Pacing Cup in January 2018.
Olivieri said that Motu Premier was still capable of beating the best pacers. “He is on the way up and is heading in the right direction,” he said. “The early burn (when he was challenged hotly for the early lead by Hampton Banner) cost him dearly when he tired in the final stages.”
Jimmy Mack, who had 45 starts for Olivieri in WA for ten wins and 16 placings, is in devastating form in Adelaide, with his nine starts at Globe Derby Park over the past three and a half months producing seven wins, one second and one fourth.
He has won at his past six starts, including the 2230m Christmas Cup on December 24. He has earned $176,769 from 22 wins and 21 placings from 64 starts.
Im Full of Excuses has raced 105 times for 22 wins and 20 placings for stakes of $380,006. He had 84 starts for Olivieri in WA for 15 wins and 16 placings. He won seven in a row in 2016, and his wins included the Kalgoorlie Cup and York Cup in 2016, the Northam Cup, Pinjarra Cup and Harvey Cup (at Bunbury) in 2017, and the 2020 Narrogin Cup.
Olivieri will enter rising star Papinik and Perfect Major for the $300,000 Retravision Fremantle Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Papinik has won at 12 of his 18 starts, with his four runs in his current campaign producing three wins and a second placing.
Perfect Major has earned $272,878 from 18 wins and 17 placings from 61 starts. He won the group 2 RWWA Cup, beating Chicago Bull, in November 2020, and won the group 2 Stratton Cup, beating Vampiro, last October.
Triroyale Brigade in fine form
Banjup trainer-reinsman Michael Grantham has Triroyale Brigade racing in splendid form and the New Zealand-bred seven-year-old showed he should be a leading contender in the $30,000 Northam Cup on January 29 with an effortless victory in the 2503m The Sunday Times Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Triroyale Brigade ($6.50) began from the inside of the 10m line and Grantham was content to give the Bettors Delight gelding a perfect passage, three back on the pegs, before getting into the clear 480m from home and finishing powerfully to win by three and a half lengths from Beat City, a 30m backmarker who raced in the breeze for most of the journey before getting to the front with 375m to travel.
This gave the 26-year-old Grantham his fifth driving success from 14 starters this season.
Triroyale Brigade, an easy all-the-way winner in a 2536m mobile event two starts earlier, now has had 32 starts in Western Australia for four wins and 11 placings after his 43 starts in New Zealand produced five wins and 18 placings.
He is out of the Mach Three mare Trigirl Brigade, who had 46 starts for seven wins, ten placings and $143,710 in prizemoney. Triroyale Brigade’s full-sister Trilight Brigade has earned $48,686 from 14 wins and 19 placings from 55 starts.
Miss Eerie holds on
Handy mare Miss Eerie, a half-sister to Mister Spot, a winner of 14 races in America, gave a smart frontrunning display when she just held on to win by a half-head from the fast-finishing Purest Silk in the 2130m Perth Now Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
An easy all-the-way winner at Gloucester Park at her previous outing, Miss Eerie was rated perfectly by Emily Suvaljko to win at a 1.58.1 rate. Purest Silk was seventh at the bell and she impressed with her whirlwind finishing burst.
Miss Eerie, bred and owned by Reg Smallacombe, and prepared by Bunbury trainer John Graham, is the second foal out of the Northern Luck mare Eerie Iris, who was trained by Graham for her four wins and 11 placings from 46 starts.
Graham and Smallacombe enjoyed considerable success with Mister Spot, who was sold to America after having 35 starts in Western Australia for his eight wins and 11 placings. Mister Spot has won 14 times and been placed 19 times in America to take his career earnings to $237,572.
Suvalko kept up the good work with a double at Albany on Saturday night. She was successful with $14 chance Batavia Streamline and Ay Milton ($5.70).
Lewis makes a flying start
Sixty-six-year-old master reinsman Chris Lewis gave his supporters no cause for concern when he guided smart Victorian-bred five-year-old Mirragon to a comfortable victory in the 2130m Countryman Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
He then travelled to Albany on Saturday night where he landed a double, driving the Barry Howlett-trained four-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven pacers State Of Heaven ($1.22) and Name In Lights ($1.20) to victory to increase his early-season lead on the West Australian drivers’ premiership table. He has driven 12 winners in the first 15 days of the year to lead the table from Shannon Suvaljko (eight wins).
Mirragon, the $1.70 favourite prepared by Debra Lewis, started from the inside of the back line and Chris Lewis made sure that the gelding would not be hemmed in on the pegs by easing Mirragon into the one-wide line soon after the start.
Mirragon then raced in sixth position, one-out and two-back, before Lewis sent him forward, three wide, with 700m to travel. Mirragon covered the third quarter of the final mile in 28.6sec. before sprinting over the final 400m in 27.8sec. He took the lead at the 220m mark and dashed away to win by one and a half lengths from the pacemaker Valbonne.
Aldo Cortopassi, driving Allwoods Rocknroll in the favourable one-out, one-back position, was dislodged from the sulky in an incident 420m from home. He suffered injuries to his ribs but appears certain that he will be fit to drive the brilliant Magnificent Storm in the $300,000 Retravision Fremantle Cup on Friday night.
Mirragon is by Art Major and is the first foal out of the Mach Three mare The Waratah, who raced 50 times for six wins, 13 placings and stakes of $40,861. Mirragon had 33 starts in Victoria for seven wins and ten placings, and his 23 WA starts have produced seven wins and five placings.
The Waratah is a half-sister to good winners Master Waratah and Lady Waratah. Master Waratah’s 106 starts produced 23 wins, 35 placings and $158,620, while Lady Waratah raced 36 times for 20 wins, eight placings and $564,770 in stakes.
Lady Waratah’s wins included the $300,000 APG two-year-old fillies final at Harold Park and the $215,000 Crown final for fillies at Cranbourne. Then, as a three-year-old she won the $100,000 APG final at Harold Park and a $145,000 classic at Ballarat in 2006.
Medieval Man is a family affair
Medieval Man, who ended a losing sequence of eleven when he coasted to an easy all-the-way victory in the 2130m The West Australian Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night, is proving a wonderful performer for the Davies family.
The five-year-old was bred by Graeme Davies, who owns the Renaissance Man gelding in partnership with his daughters Patrice and Kiara.
Thirty-one-year-old Kiara prepares the gelding at Mundijong, and his victory boosted his record to 72 starts for 14 wins and 16 placings for stakes of $114,826.
Medieval Man is out of So Crimsonandclova, a Bettors Delight mare who won six times from 34 starts, with Kiara driving her to victory twice, at Kalgoorlie and Harvey.
Medieval Man, driven by Shannon Suvaljko, was the $1.70 favourite from barrier No. 3. “Once he got straight to the front, he was going to be hard to beat,” said Suvaljko.
Kiara Davies said that Medieval Man had been a very good little horse, declaring that “I can’t see why he can’t win more races.”
Know When To Run immature but good
Lightly-raced six-year-old Know When To Run continued his comeback in fine style when he was successful in the 2130m Channel 7 Perth Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
“I got to the leader (Pradason) easily, but then he shut off a bit on me, which was a bit of a scare,” said Gary Hall jnr after Know When To Run had defeated Pradason by a half neck at a 1.56.2 rate. He is very immature in the head but is starting to put it all together.”
Know When To Run ($3.30) started from the inside of the back line and Hall was content to trail the pacemaker and $2.90 favourite Pradason, who dashed over the final 800m in 56.1sec. However, Hall was able to get Know When To Run into the clear at the 600m and the son of American stallion Roll With Joe sustained a strong finishing burst to take a narrow lead half way down the home straight.
Know When To Run, a $13,000 purchase at the 2017 APG Perth yearling sale by Ross Waddell’s Trotsynd No. 11 syndicate, has now earned $81,719 from eight wins and nine placings from 22 starts.
He is showing no signs of the tendon injury he suffered when he surged home from last to finish fifth behind Shockwave in the Golden Nugget in December 2019, a problem which kept him out of action for 22 months.
Alta Intrigue continues to shine
Veteran pacer Alta Intrigue continues to shine despite his advancing years, and star reinsman Gary Hall jnr predicts more wins for the hardy eight-year-old who was untroubled to set the pace and win the 2130m 7News The Pulse of Perth Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Alta Intrigue, prepared by Gary Hall snr, was the $1.30 favourite who sped over the final three quarters of the last mile in 28.8sec., 27.8sec. and 28.2sec. to win by more than two lengths from the fast-finishing Tyler Brett, rating 1.56.7.
“He was super and won with the plugs in,” said Hall jnr. “He is a confidence horse, and when he finds the rail he is very hard to beat. He would be hard to beat in a Free-For-All if he found the rail. I wouldn’t say that he is a genuine Free-For-All horse, but if he led he would take all sorts of beating.
“Even when Rupert Of Lincoln raced alongside of him, he relaxed and went only when I asked him. He could’ve gone another lap.”
Alta Intrigue is showing no problems of leg injuries which hampered his career a couple of seasons ago and he now has raced 70 times for 14 wins, 27 placings and $256,258 in prizemoney. He won four races in New Zealand and his 44 WA starts have produced ten wins and 14 placings.
Angel In White ends drought
Eight-year-old mare Angel In White ended a 44-month drought when she revealed sparkling speed to win the 2130m The West Live Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Her all-the-way win by three lengths from Billy Mack at a 1.55.7 rate was her first taste of success since she was a $1.30 favourite and set the pace to beat Cherry Mahoney over 1609m at Menangle on May 5, 2018.
This was only her 53RD start in a career blighted by tractability issues, crazy indiscretions and a broken leg.
Following a brilliant trial win at Byford the previous Sunday, and from the prized No. 1 barrier, the New Zealand-bred Angel In White was a hot $1.40 favourite for owner-trainer Shane Tognolini and reinsman Shannon Suvaljko.
Suvaljko gave the opposition little hope by running a solid lead time of 36.6sec. followed by 400m sections of 30.1sec., 29.1sec., 28.7sec. and 28.7sec. Angel In White was not extended in winning easily at her fourth appearance after an absence of 13 months. This ended a losing sequence of 24 and was her first win at her 13TH start in Western Australia.
“We have had a lot of trouble with her,” said Tognolini. “She used to kick people out of the cart, and she bucked a couple of times, coming out of the mobile.” She now races with two screws in her off hind pastern, the result of her fractured leg received in a race at Gloucester Park in November 2020, an injury which kept her on the sidelines for 13 months.
“We now seem to have all those things sorted out,” said Tognolini, who bought her for $12,000 after she had lost form in Sydney in 2019.
“When I got her, she had an issue with her back. She is not perfect yet but is a lot better. She’s always in a hurry and on the track, she is unbelievable, but is not a good racehorse. If she gets to the front she will just keep running.”
A major factor in the revival of Angel In White is that her temperament has softened noticeably since she enjoyed the companionship of another veteran pacer, Sokys Big Bullet, a constant companion at Tognolini’s Oakford stables. Sokys Big Bullet travelled to the course with Angel In White on Friday night and spent the evening in an adjoining stall in the Gloucester Park birdcage.
“Since she has teamed up with Sokys Big Bullet she is a changed horse,” said Tognolini.
The 12-year-old Sokys Big Bullet is also thoroughly enjoying his friendship with Angel In White, and he scored a surprise victory at his second start for Tognolini when he finished strongly to beat Arma Indie at Gloucester Park last month.
Angel In White’s win on Friday night completed a treble for Suvaljko, who had driven Medieval Man and Machnificent to victory earlier in the program.
Angel In White is well travelled, having won once from 11 starts in New Zealand, scoring eight wins from 25 starts in New Zealand and racing in Canberra and Victoria before arriving in WA. Her career record stands at 53 starts for ten wins and ten placings for stakes of $84,471 --- and there are more wins in store.
Huston turns back the clock
When Byford trainer Ron Huston moved from Kalgoorlie to Perth in 2007 his first client was Patrick O’Boyle, who gave him the Safely Kept filly Elite Angel to train.
O’Boyle had worked in the mines with Huston’s late father, Ron snr, and it was this association that led to that deal.
“We had a bit of joy with Elite Angel,” said Ron Huston jnr, who prepared Elite Angel for her first 54 starts for 12 wins and 14 placings for about $125,000 in prizemoney.
O’Boyle has bred from Elite Angel and has given the second and third of her progeny (Robbie Rocket and Sonic Suzy) to Huston to train. Robbie Rocket, engaged to run at Pinjarra on Monday, is a promising four-year-old who has had 28 starts for five wins, 11 placings and $55,864 in prizemoney.
At Gloucester Park on Friday night Sonic Suzy, a three-year-old filly, lined up at barrier No. 1 for the www.TheWest.com Pace, in which she was a $7 chance with Gary Hall jnr in the sulky.
Sonic Suzy resisted an early challenge from Beyond The Sea and after a fast opening quarter of 28.3sec. she relaxed through the second 400m in 30.6sec. before dashing over the next section in 27.8sec. and then covering the final quarter in 29.9sec. to hold on in a blanket finish to beat the $2.80 favourite Taking The Miki by a half-neck, with a half-head to $4 chance Wonderful To Fly.
This took Sonic Suzy’s record to five starts for two wins and two placings for earnings of $19,544, and Friday night’s victory completed a wonderful night for Hall, bringing up his fourth winner after scoring with Know When To Run, Alta Intrigue and Chicago Bull.
Elite Angel’s first foal, a filly named Cap In Hand, was sold as a yearling, and after winning at three of her six starts as a two-year-old for trainer Katja Warwick, was retired to stud after breaking down.
Sonic Suzy was the final lot at the 2020 APG Perth yearling sale and she was passed in after failing to reach her reserve price of $15,000.
“Bidding got up to $8000 or $9000,” said Huston. “She failed to attract any great attention at the sale mainly because she was so big and gangly. “She has developed with racing, and it is a blessing that the WA Oaks has been pushed back to late in the year (October 14).
Huston prepared Benesari Lane, who started at $109 and finished from the rear to snatch victory in the WA Oaks last April. The filly, who is owned by Huston and his partner Vickie Lea, has already earned $143,934 from five wins and six placings from 31 starts.
Huston is hoping that Sonic Suzy will develop into a good candidate for this year’s Oaks. “She has more ability than Benesari Lane, but her conformation could let her down,” he said. “However, I’m confident she will develop into a nice filly for the Oaks.”