Gloucester Park Preview Friday 1 March 2024

29 February 2024 | Ken Casellas


Fortune smiles on The Bettor Side

An unexpected slice of fortune has enabled promising pacer The Bettor Side to gain a start in the $125,000 APG WA Sales Classic for two-year-old colts and geldings at Gloucester Park on Friday night --- and he gets an excellent chance from barrier No. 4 to win the 1730m feature event.

The Bettor Side, trained and driven by Aiden de Campo, was extremely unlucky when fourth in a qualifying heat on Tuesday of last week.

The gelding was then named as the second emergency for the final --- and he gained a start when Hold The Ammo, a brilliant heat winner, and When In Vegas, a splendid second to that colt, were unfit to contest the rich final.

This meant that the first emergency Last Hard Copy and The Bettor Side were included in the field of ten runners.

In his heat The Bettor Side began speedily from barrier four and led for the first 120m before Mysta Moon Walker got to the front, and after slow opening quarters of 31sec. and 32.3sec. dashed over the final 400m sections in 29.2sec. and 28.8sec. to win by 2m from It Is Crunch Time.

The Bettor Side was hopelessly blocked for a run all the way in the home straight and finished fourth, with de Campo saying: “He was very unlucky and went across the line bolting. He is a nice horse who has plenty of gate speed. We will go forward, looking for the front. If he does, he should be hard to beat.”

Last Hard Copy, trained by Mark Lee, will be driven by Kyle Harper, and the colt faces a tough assignment from the outside barrier (No. 9).

Hold The Ammo, trained by Katja Warwick, was most impressive in his heat victory, surging home from fifth at the bell to win easily. However, the $140,000 yearling was lethargic after his win and returned a low blood count.

Mysta Moon Walker and Louie Vee were smart heat winners for trainer-reinsman Robbie Williams, and they look set to produce strong efforts in the final. Williams will drive Louie Vee from a somewhat awkward draw at barrier six, while Chris Voak will drive Mysta Moon Walker from the favourable No. 2 barrier.

Louie Vee has mustered excellent early speed to set the pace and win at his first two starts, while Mysta Moon Seeker followed his half-head second to Louie Vee on debut with his heat win last week when he began smartly from barrier five and took the lead after 120m, set the pace and sprinted over the final 400m in 28.8sec. to beat It Is Crunch time by 2m.

Baskerville trainer Ryan Bell also holds a strong hand in Friday night’s race, with four runners --- Charivari (barrier one), Wicked Hustler (barrier seven), It Is Crunch Time (barrier eight) and Control The Room (the solitary runner on the back line).

Gary Hall jnr will handle Charivari, who had a tough run in the breeze before finishing a close third behind Mysta Moon Walker in a heat; Ryan Warwick will drive Wicked Hustler, who raced wide early and then took the lead after 500m and set the pace before wilting to third behind Hold The Ammo in his heat.

It Is Crunch Time, to be driven by Dylan Egerton-Green, was a good second to Mysta Moon Walker in a heat, while Control The Room was an excellent second to Louie Vee in his heat. Reinsman Kyle Symington was delighted with Control The Room’s performance, saying: “His run was awesome. There were big wraps on Louie Vee, and we sat outside of him and finished second, beaten only by two metres.”

Hall aiming for three in a row

The twelve owners of the oddly-named Bull Shark Betty will be praying for another exemplary drive from champion reinsman Gary Hall jnr in the $125,000 APG WA Sales Classic for two-year-old fillies at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Hall will be seeking to win this rich feature event for the third year in a row --- after wins with Cabsav in 2022 and Water Lou last year.

Hall admits he faces a most difficult assignment, with Bull Shark Betty, trained in Busselton by Chris Beckett, facing a testing Task from out wide at barrier No. 8 against several formidable rivals.

However, Hall showed in the past that he is capable of overcoming significant odds by winning with Cabsav and Water Lou.

Cabsav began from barrier six when Hall was able to get her into the one-out, one-back position before spring home to win by a half-length from August Moon. Then, a year later Hall got Water Lou away brilliantly from the No. 8 barrier to burst to the front after 250m and then set the pace and win easily from Xceptional Arma.

Bull Shark Betty, a filly by American sire Sportswriter, was purchased at the APG 2023 Perth yearling sale for $28,000 by Aaron Beckett, who races her in partnership with his wife Beth, Brad Earl, Mark and Kerry Lee, Sam Shepherd, Graeme Snow, Darren Kirkham, Brad Kearney, Paul Davis, Leigh Corbitt and Phyllis Saunders.

After finishing a long last in a race at Pinjarra on debut on February 5, Bull Shark Betty gave a sample of her class with a decisive victory in a heat of the Sales Classic on Tuesday of last week. She had gear problems and pulled the bit through her mouth in the Pinjarra race.

She was restrained by Hall from barrier four in the qualifying heat and raced in fifth position, one-out and one back, before she sprinted home powerfully to take the lead 120m from home before winning by three lengths from Highview Heidi, who raced in the breeze before taking the lead with 220m to travel.

The final 400m was covered in 28.4sec. and Bull Shark Betty rated 1.57.2, the fifth fastest of the qualifiers for the final. The fastest qualifier was the Ryan Bell-trained Copper Head Lady, who will be the only runner on the back line in the final.

Copper Head Lady will be driven by Aiden de Campo, who replaces Kyle Symington, who has elected to drive stablemate Bettagetonpip, who is favourably drawn at barrier three.

Copper Head Lady began from barrier five in her qualifying heat and raced three wide for the first 300m before enjoying an ideal passage, one-out and one-back, and then finishing strongly to take the lead 220m from home and win by two lengths from Crunchee, who gave a spirited performance after racing without cover.

Crunchee, prepared by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond and driven by Deni Roberts, looks very hard to beat in the final, in which she will start from the No. 4 barrier.

Symington is confident that Bettagetonpip will fight out the finish. “I probably didn’t rate her the best when in the breeze in the heat,” he explained. “I was worrying more about qualifying, rather than winning. She is going really well.”

Ruby Lou is trained by Mike Reed, who prepared Cabsav and Water Lou for their wins in the Sales Classic on the past two years. Ruby Lou, a winner at two of her three starts, will be handled by leading reinsman Shannon Suvaljko, and will start from the No. 5 barrier.

“Five is not a terrible draw for Ruby Lou,” said Suvaljko. “She led and won at her latest start, but on debut two starts before that she sat back last and then went around to the breeze before winning easily at Pinjarra.”

Ruby Lou set the pace from barrier one in her qualifying heat in which she rated 1.58.2 over 1730m and beat Bettagetonpip and Winter Wonder. Bunbury trainer Paul Strachan has engaged Chris Voak to drive Highview Heidi, who will start from the coveted No. 1 barrier and will have many admirers.

Illawong Mustang loves No. 1

Illawong Mustang has started from the No. 1 barrier seven times at Gloucester Park for two all-the-way wins, two seconds, two thirds and one seventh placing.

And his trainer-reinsman Dylan Egerton-Green is confident the seven-year-old will improve his record from barrier one by setting the pace and winning the opening event, the 1730m Vale Geoff Wallis Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

“It’s a nice draw which will suit him down to the ground,” said Egerton-Green. “I will be looking to make every post a winner.”

Illawong Mustang’s most recent experience from the No. 1 barrier was eight starts ago when he led and beat The Kraken by a length over 2130m. His previous performance from the inside barrier was eleven starts before that run when he led and beat High Price over 1730m. His two previous runs from the No. 1 barrier resulted in seconds to Mr Fantastic and Dardy Boy.

Illawong Mustang’s most serious rival on Friday night is likely to be The Miki Taker, who will be driven by his trainer Aiden de Campo from barrier five.

The Miki Taker, who has had 29 starts for nine wis and twelve placings, began from out wide at barrier nine when he raced at the rear and finished a well beaten eighth behind Franco Ecuador over 2130m last Friday week.

“That was a touch disappointing,” said de Campo. “He got back in the field, and I thought he should have run home better. But he was four wide from the 600m. His two runs before that, after a nine-month absence, were good.”

The Miki Taker raced without cover in those two starts and finished a half-head second to Flying Rumour and third behind Hotly Pursued and Jawsoflincoln.

Egerton-Green also has bright prospects of winning the second event, the 2130m Australian Pacing Gold Pace on Friday night’s program in which he will drive Otis, who has been placed at three of his four starts this year. He is favourably drawn at barrier two.

Otis gave a superb performance last Friday night in a 2503m standing-start event in which he galloped badly, lost about twelve lengths and raced in last position before surging home with a powerful burst to finish a half-length second to Navy Street. His past five starts have been in stands and he now has a losing sequence of twelve.

“He is not really in the right mindset for the stands,” said Egerton-Green. “He is back to the mobile where his gate speed is not his best asset. However, there is no other horse in the race who is much quicker (at the start) than he is.

“This is a nice race for him, and he will be running a solid race. He went to the line very strongly last week, and the time was good (with Otis running the final 400m sections in 27.7sec. and 27.9sec.).”

Looming as the main danger to Otis is the polemarker Lil Happy Fella, who will be driven by Aldo Cortopassi for Busselton owner-trainer Barry Howlett.

Lil Happy Fella, winner of the 2690m Albany Cup four starts ago, began from the outside of the back line at Gloucester Park last Friday week when he was ninth (on the pegs) at the bell before finishing strongly out five wide to be a close-up eighth behind Nevermindthechaos.

Busy night for Hall

Champion reinsman Gary Hall jnr will drive in the first eleven events on the 12-race program at Gloucester Park on Friday night, and he considers his best winning prosects will be in events late in the evening --- Nevermindthechaos in race nine, the APG Perth Yearling Sale Pace over 2130m and Miki Jet in race eleven, the 2130m APG The Industry Owned Sales Company Pace.

Hall trains two runners in race nine --- Solesseo Matuca and Regal Cheval --- and he has been granted permission from the stewards to drive the Michael Young-trained Nevermindthechaos, who is ideally drawn at the No. 1 barrier.

Solesseo Matuca, who has just recently joined Hall’s team, will be handled by Stuart McDonald from the outside barrier in the field of nine, while Maddison Brown will drive the speedy nine-year-old Regal Cheval from barrier five.

Hall said that he would be keen to set the pace with Nevermindthechaos, but Regal Cheval, who possesses sparkling gate speed, could be a hindrance.

“Solesseo Matuca should sit up and run home,” said Hall, who said he was not particularly concerned that Nevermindthechaos was crossed after 80m by the fast-starting Cooper in a race over 2130m last Friday week. Nevermindthechaos dashed past Cooper 200m later and went on to win by a head from the strong-finishing Tiger Royal, rating 1.55.6 after final quarters of 27.7sec. and 28.3sec.

Miki Jet, a New Zealand-bred five-year-old, will be having his fifth start in Australia when he begins out wide at barrier eight in Friday night’s race, and he should carry too many guns for his nine rivals.

Miki Jet warmed up in fine style for this event when he began from barrier five, dashed to the front after 550m and went on to score an effortless victory, beating Alta Rhett by two lengths at a 1.57.9 rate after sprinting over the final 400m in 27.7sec.

“I will monitor him over the next couple of days,” said Hall. “He backs up well and I’m sure he will be fine. I will roll forward. He’s got a lot of learning to do, but he has a good moto and I’m happy with him.”

Deni Roberts, fresh from a double at Gloucester Park on Tuesday evening, declared that her best drive on Friday night was the Greg and Skye Bond-trained Ten To The Dozen, who has drawn perfectly at barrier No. 1 in the $50,000 APG Sales Classic for three-year-old colts and geldings.

Ten To The Dozen notched his seventh win from 15 starts when he set the pace and sped over the final quarters in 27.6sec. and 27.2sec. and beat stablemate Thenu Came Along last Friday week.

Capel trainer Aiden de Campo’s two runners, Grevis (barrier four) and Menemsha (barrier six) should be prominent.

“I’ll drive Menemsha, because he is the better horse and has got a bit more brilliance than Grevis at this stage, and Trent Wheeler will drive Grevis,” said de Campo. Menemsha is sure to improve on his first-up fourth behind Ten To The Dozen last Friday week, while Grevis, at his second run after a spell, set the pace and was untroubled to win on Tuesday of last week.


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