Magnificent Storm Photo by Hamilton Content Creators
RAY Williams sounds like a different man going into this TABTouch WA Pacing Cup with Magnificent Storm.
Although it will be his third crack at WA's most iconic race with his stable star, Williams admits the first time he's had Magnificent Storm "where I want him."
Niggling foot problems and some gut issues have plagued the six-year-old at his two previous attempts at the race when he was fourth on both occasions.
Williams has gone from thinking Magnificent Storm may not be ready for this year's new timeslot for the WA Cup to thinking it's his best chance of winning it.
"He's right where I want him. He's the best he's ever been," he said.
"His work at home has never been better; his coat looks great, and he's drawn quite well (gate four), too."
"Both runs back have been really good, and I'm not fazed at all about him racing for a third week in a row."
"It's just great to be taking him to the ultimate race we'd love to win over here, knowing he's as good as we can have him."
Although frustrating at the time, Williams thinks Magnificent Storm's three unplaced runs at Albion Park during a July raid could help him win Friday night's $450,000 Group 1 feature.
"A few people, including Luke (McCarthy), told me he'd be a better horse for the trip, and all the signs are he is," he said.
"I worried was for a while there that with the Cup coming forward, we wouldn't have him ready in time."
"But he's come to hand really quickly. The thing that really strikes you about him is how great he looks and how he's really 'barrelled-up' this campaign."
So, what's the plan at the start from gate four?
"I haven't spoken to Aiden (De Campo, driver) about that yet, but he likes to go forward when he's drawn to do so," Williams said.
"He's quick out, and I think we've got to go forward from a draw like this, especially when we're so happy with him."
"I think he'll have the speed to get across Jumpingjackmac (two) and Diego (three). Loyalist is the one I'm not sure about, but hopefully, we can find the lead."
Trainer Gary Hall Sr has four runners in his quest for a staggering 14th WA Cup win, including winners of the past two: Diego (earlier this year) and Wildwest (2022). His other runners are Jumpingjackmac (gate two) and Prince Of Pleasure (10).
His son, Gary Jr, will drive Prince Of Pleasure from inside the back row in a bid to win his 10th WA Pacing Cup.
Maddison Brown, who missed the winning drive on Diego last year under concussion protocols, takes the reins on the star pacer from gate three.
Stewie McDonald has the job on Jumpingjackmac, while Callan Suvaljko will be aboard Wildwest.
Team Bond also has four runners, headed by Tenzing Bromac (gate seven), who has firmed from $15 to $11 since Monday's barrier draw.
Magnificent Storm is the easing favourite ($2.50 to $3), while Jumpingjackmac ($5 to $4.20) and Diego ($7 to $6.50) have firmed slightly.