Stern test for Tricky Miki
Brilliant WA-bred pacer Tricky Miki will resume after an absence of 20 weeks and will face a stern first-up test when he contests the $50,000 SEFS Preux Chevalier Four-Year-Old Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
He will start from the outside barrier in the field of eight and is sure to receive spirited opposition from the highly-promising New Zealand-bred gelding Street Hawk, who is favourably drawn at barrier three for his fifth appearance after a spell.
Tricky Miki, trained by Justin Prentice, has been a superb performer as a two and three-year-old and he has amassed $324,450 from eight wins from 14 starts, including three group 1 successes (the Golden Slipper, Westbred Classic for three-year-old colts and geldings and the WA Derby) as well as victory in the group 2 Western Gateway.
On the other hand, the Greg and Skye Bond-trained Street Hawk has yet to be successful in a group feature event. He goes into Friday night’s group 3 event with a significant advantage over Tricky Miki --- raced hardened after four impressive efforts at Gloucester Park in his current campaign of a first-up win followed by three seconds in races in which he covered a considerable amount of extra ground.
Street Hawk is a brilliant frontrunner, and Deni Roberts is sure to be hellbent on bursting to an early lead and then dictating terms in front. There appears to be a good chance that the drivers of the two pacers drawn inside Street Hawk will be happy to take a sit.
Bill Hayes trains and drives the inexperienced New Zealand-bred gelding Lucca, who will be making his first appearance at Gloucester Park after winning at one of his three New Zealand starts and then winning at his first three WA starts --- at Narrogin, Pinjarra and Bunbury before his last-start third behind Peter Petrify at Pinjarra on Monday of last week when he set the pace.
Lucca will start from barrier one, and Kyle Symington will handle the Nathan Turvey-trained Eton Rock from the No. 2 barrier. Eton Rock has good gate speed, and he led when a close third behind Roll Up and Alcopony over 2130m at Gloucester Park two starts ago.
Star reinsman Gary Hall jnr is looking forward to Tricky Miki’s return to racing, saying: “Initially he was a sit-and-kick horse but then after gaining experience he showed all the other strings to his bow.
“I would say Tricky Miki will be driven for one (late) charge at them. Street Hawk will be hard to beat.”
Infinite Sign, a stablemate of Street Hawk, warmed up for Friday night’s race with a smart all-the-way victory over Peter Petrify over 2185m at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon. He will start from the No. 6 barrier with Dylan Egerton-Green in the sulky.
The Miki Taker (barrier five) and Alcopony (barrier seven) are racing keenly and will have admirers. Trainer-reinsman Aiden de Campo is pleased with The Miki Taker’s three runs after resuming from a spell.
The Miki Taker followed a first-up Pinjarra win with a fourth behind Benji at Gloucester Park after working hard in the breeze, and then put up an excellent performance last Friday night when he settled down in tenth position and sustained a strong three-wide burst from eighth at the bell to finish third behind El Chema and Street Hawk.
The Kevin Keys-trained Alcopony ran home solidly from ninth at the bell when fourth behind El Chema last week. He finished strongly when a close-up second to Roll Up the previous Friday, and he finished powerfully two starts before that to win from Street Hawk and Ifeel Sikdarl in the $30,000 Warwick Pace.
Start vital in Trotters Sprint
Five of the eight runners in the $30,000 SEFS Trotters Sprint over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Friday night are out of the draw in mobile events because of erratic behaviour at the start.
Therefore the start will be vital in this group 3 feature event, particularly taking into account that this event has been won in the past three years by the smartest trotter into stride who went on to set the pace and defy the opposition.
War Spirit ($6) led from barrier four and won in 2020, $19 chance Tenno Sho started from the No. 3 barrier when he led and beat Dark Secret in 2021, and Tricky Ric (the $2.10 favourite) began from barrier three and defeated My Mdina last year.
Pinjarra trainer David Young is looking for a powerful performance from brilliant trotter Patched, who is out of the draw in mobiles, following an indiscretion which resulted in him finishing seventh in a field of eight at Pinjarra two starts ago.
Patched will begin from the No. 5 barrier and star reinsman Aiden de Campo will be fiercely determined to get the six-year-old away smoothly.
Young and de Campo were excited at the brilliance shown by Patched at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week when he began from the 40m mark in a 2503m stand, settled down in fifth position and raced without cover for 950m before taking the lead in the final 70m and winning by a length from Line The Starzzz.
That victory took his WA record to 19 starts for eleven wins and six placings. The toughest opponents for Patched appear to be Dark Secret (barrier three) and Line The Starzzz (four).
Chris Lewis will again handle Dark Secret for Waroona trainer Nigel Johns, who is hoping that the evergreen nine-year-old will repeat his performance after he ended a losing sequence of 23 by unwinding a powerful finishing burst to win the 1684m Trotters Sprint at Pinjarra three Mondays ago.
Dark Secret beat his stablemate Luvaflair, who will be driven by Lauren Harper from the prized No. 1 barrier on Friday night.
Line The Starzzz, who will be driven by Emily Suvaljko for Wonnerup trainer Terry Ferguson, will begin from the No. 4 barrier. She took the lead after a lap when an excellent last-start second to Patched on Tuesday of last week.
It’s handlebars down for Nevermindthechaos
Star mare Nevermindthechaos will complete her preparation for the $75,000 Empress Stakes on Friday week when she contests the $26,000 SEFS The Asset Finance Specialists Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Her clash with the brilliant Wonderful To Fly promises to be a highlight of the eight-event program. Wonderful To Fly, part-owner, trained and driven by Shane Young, will be making her first appearance as a four-year-old after winning at 21 of her 34 starts as a two and three-year-old.
Wonderful To Fly warmed up for this week’s race with a comfortable trial win over 2185m at Pinjarra on Thursday March 9 when she dashed over the final 400m in 27.2sec. Wonderful To Fly will start from the No. 4 barrier, with Nevermindthechaos at No. 5.
“I can’t afford to leave Wonderful To Fly alone,” said reinsman Gary Hall jnr. “So, it will be handlebars down at the start. We’ll be attacking because I don’t think that Wonderful To Fly can afford to go with me for too long, not the way she couldn’t handle work the last time in.”
The Michael Young-trained Nevermindthechaos should have an edge in fitness on Wonderful To Fly, having had eleven starts in her current campaign for five wins and four placings. She trailed the pacemaker Three Rumours in the 1684m Golden Girls Mile at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon before finishing with great determination to be a head second to the frontrunner.
“Nevermindthechaos was running up the track the whole way, so I didn’t want to go to the sprint lane,” said Hall. “She was making up ground on the line. It’s hard in those races (sprints) with the leader getting away with a bit, and Three Rumours is a pretty good mare.”
Simply Shaz (barrier two) and Sheez Our Hope (outside barrier in the field of eight) are racing keenly. Lindsay Harper will drive Simply Shaz, after her regular reinsman Trent Wheeler took a drive in all of the eight events at Narrogin on Friday night.
Simply Shaz finished with a strong burst to win from Nullarbor Navajo and Miss Boudica over 2130m last Friday night. Pinjarra trainer Mike Cornwall has produced Sheez Our Hope in fine fettle for her five starts after a long spell, and the seven-year-old will pay to follow. She raced in the breeze when a fighting third in Monday’s Golden Girls Mile.
Hall and Young are hoping that Im Themightylucy will return to form when she starts from the No. 2 barrier in the 1730m Catalano Truck And Equipment Pace. The four-year-old Im Themightylucy has been disappointing in her current campaign, with five unplaced Gloucester Park runs preceding her appearance in modest company at Bridgetown on Sunday when she finished third in a three-way photo finish with the pacemaker Blockjorg and Alta Hurrah.
Im Themightylucy was last in the field of six in the back straight in the final lap before being forced four wide at the 400m mark and five wide on the home turn.
“A third at Bridgetown doesn’t read well for an assignment at Gloucester Park on a Friday night,” said a philosophical Hall. “On her best form she would probably start favourite and win on Friday night. But she’s not just there, and is a long way off it.
“She didn’t handle the track at Bridgetown all that well and was a bit scratchy in her gear all the way.”
Im Themightylucy is the youngest and least experienced runner in Friday night’s race, with her 17 starts producing seven wins and three placings. Her nine rivals are experienced campaigners who have had a combined total of 1090 starts (an average of 121 starts) for 113 wins.
Hall and Young have sound prospects in the second event, the SEFS Pace over 1730m, in which they will be relying on a strong performance from Kimble from barrier five. Kimble reappeared after a four-month absence last Friday night when he was seventh, three back on the pegs, at the bell before finishing solidly to be second to Classic Choice.
“It was a promising effort and a win is probably not too far off,” said Hall. “With luck, he can finish in the top three. Last week he seemed to be a bit more switched on than he was the last time in.”
August Moon is raring to go
Up-and-coming filly August Moon is thriving under the care of her trainer Luke Edwards and looks set to extend her winning sequence to four when she begins from barrier six in the www.sefsolutions.com.au Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
“And from the wide barrier it will be good to be the hunter and not be the hunted,” said Edwards. “August Moon is racing to go.
“She has proved to be a versatile filly, and hopefully there is a bit of speed on early and we don’t have to do any work. Junior (Gary Hall jnr) can put her in the race whenever he needs to. If he thinks that launching her (at the start) is her only option to win, so be it.
“August Moon will contest a heat of the Gold Bullion on April 10, heading into the final on April 21. After that she will head for the paddock before coming back to get ready for the WA Oaks in October.”
The Stephan Reed-trained Cabsav, a winner of four races, and ideally drawn at barrier two, makes strong appeal as August Moon’s most serious rival.”
Considerable interest surrounds the appearance of Hector in the opening event, the 2130m Vale Alf Da Re Pace, in which his clash with Raven Banner should make the sparks fly.
The New Zealand-bred Hector will be having his second start in Western Australia after winning once in New Zealand, three times in Queensland and three times in Victoria.
He gave a sample of his class when he won the $30,000 group 3 Rising Stars Pace over 2240m at Melton last November when he raced wide early and then set the pace before beating Its Ebonyivory by two lengths, rating 1.56. after sprinting over the final 400m in 26.8sec. A week earlier Hector won a qualifying heat of the Rising Stars at a 1.56.2 rate.
Hector made his WA debut for trainer Kim Prentice and reinsman Mitch Miller last Friday week when he hit a wheel of Roll Up’s sulky 300m after the start and broke into a bad gallop, losing many lengths and finishing a distant last behind Roll Up.
Hector will start from the No. 2 barrier on Friday night. He possesses good gate speed, and so too does the polemarker, the Greg and Skye Bond-trained Raven Banner, who began brilliantly and led from barrier five before leading all the way and winning easily from Blue Blazer two starts ago. He came from twelfth and last at the bell when a head second to Manning at his previous outing.
Magnificent Storm at his peak
Reinsman Aldo Cortopassi was thrilled with Magnificent Storm’s unlucky first-up unplaced run in the Governor’s Cup at Gloucester Park last Friday night and is confident that the champion six-year-old will prove hard to beat in the $50,000 Bunbury Cup at Donaldson Park on Saturday afternoon.
“He felt the best he has since his four-year-old days,” said Cortopassi. “Ray (trainer Ray Williams) has him ticking over perfectly. If he had been able to get clear last week, he would have given them a scare.
“We were getting a nice run through them, but apart from Diego the rest were tiring in front of us. He was trying to force his way through the others, but had nowhere to go. He just savaged the line.”
Magnificent Storm, a winner at 27 of his 42 starts, will start from the No. 2 barrier on the back line in the 2569m Bunbury Cup. “It’s not a bad draw, and we will have options,” said Cortopassi, who has fond memories of training and driving 7/1 chance Jaccka Seelster when the New Zealand-bred six-year-old galloped at the start of the 2003 Bunbury Cup and recovered to dead-heat for first with the 66/1 outsider White Star Rocky in the 2990m stand.
Last week’s run in the Governor’s Cup was the first appearance by Magnificent Storm since he finished fourth behind Diego in the WA Pacing Cup on January 27.
He will be having his first start at Donaldson Park, whereas several of his rivals, notably Lavra Joe, Mighty Ronaldo and Handsandwheels have excelled on the Bunbury track.
Lavra Joe has raced six times at Bunbury for five wins and a third placing; Mighty Ronaldo’s four starts on the track have resulted in two placings and two victories, including his win over Vultan Tin in the Bunbury Cupo 12 months ago; and Handsandwheels has raced at Donaldson Park 13 times for five wins (including the 2019 Bunbury Cup) and four placings.
The Ray Jones-trained Lavra Joe will be handled by his regular reinsman Chris Lewis and will start at barrier seven on the outside of the front line. Lewis appears certain to use Lavra Joe’s excellent gate speed in an all-out bid to burst to the front and then set the pace. He is sure to prove hard to beat.
Gary Hall jnr will drive the Michael Young-trained The Mustang, who ran home strongly, out six wide, to finish sixth in the Governor’s Cup. The Mustang is ideally drawn at barrier No. 1 on Saturday.
“I’d say The Mustang will lead early, and then I could sit on Lavra Joe, and then have the last shot at him,” said Hall.