Gloucester Park Review Friday 12 April 2024

15 April 2024 | Ken Casellas

Never Ending has what it takes

Four-year-old Never Ending, the youngest and least experienced runner in next Friday night’s $1,250,000 Nullarbor slot race, warmed up for the big event in fine style at Gloucester Park on Friday night when he cruised to victory in the $100,000 Westbred Classic.

Champion reinsman Gary Hall jnr made a split-second decision to abandon plans to race Never Ending, the $1.20 favourite, with a sit when he drove the WA-bred gelding forward in the early stages to take up the running after 120 metres.

“The plan was to go back off the gate and race with a sit,” said Hall. “But when Hotly Pursued led by about three-quarters of a length I decided to let Never Ending boot up and stride through (on the inside of Hotly Pursued).

“When I got to where I was so easily and so comfortably it was hard not to take the lead when it was so close. I didn’t want to be in the breeze, and I was concerned that if I restrained him, he could have been shuffled back too far.

“Never Ending travelled really good and drove straight which he usually does when in front. It was a good trial for the Nullarbor, even though I think he is a year off these horses. When you get to this level you need the tractability to be on par with a horse’s ability.

“I don’t think that the speed in the Nullarbor will worry him. If he’s three the fence, one-out and one-back or on the leader’s back he will run home in 27sec. The 2536m won’t worry him after his past four runs have been in 2500m-plus events.”

Trainer Justin Prentice said that Hall had told him that Never Ending’s steering had been perfect. “He said that Never Ending travelled really well, and there’s no way the last time in (during his previous preparation) that he could have run such easy opening quarters (of the final mile) in 31.9sec. and 29.5sec. (before sprinting over the final quarters in 27.9sec. and 27.4sec.) and rating 1.58.4.

“It’s great to have Never Ending in the Nullarbor, and this was a good hit-out, perfect for what I wanted. He ran a good last half over the distance.”

Never Ending will go into the Nullarbor with an impressive record of 17 starts for 14 wins, two placings and stakes of $528,095.

Kate Gath’s milestone

Champion driver Kate Gath notched a memorable milestone in a glittering career in the sulky when she drove $78.80 outsider Navy Street to an upset victory in the $19,000 JP Pacing Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

It was her first winner at her initial appearance and first drive at Gloucester Park to give her a winner in every Australian State.

The 40-year-old Gath was anxious to gain experience on the Perth track before handling the brilliant pacer Catch A Wave in the $1,250,000 Nullarbor slot race next Friday night, and she was grateful to gain the drive behind the WA-bred five-year-old Navy Street from her aunty Karen Thompson.

Gath’s father Peter Thompson, a leading trainer in South Australia for many years and currently working for the Victorian stables of leading trainer Andy Gath and his wife Kate, is a brother of Karen Thompson’s husband David.

Navy Street, whose previous five starts had been in stands and his previous six wins had been in stands, was given little hope from out wide at barrier No. 8 on the front line in the 2130m mobile event.

“This wasn’t a good draw, and the plan was to go back at the start and take short cuts,” said the diminutive Kate Gath. “But the horse had other ideas, and he felt good in the score-up, and he ran the gate by himself.

“So, I looked across and thought I might as well take the opportunity of leading. After that, I was happy to take the sit behind October Reign (the $3.60 second favourite) who dashed to the front 400m after the start.

“I thought that was the best option, even though we didn’t have to relinquish the lead, and he didn’t need much time to get clear. He was bolting (approaching the home turn), and he picked them up quickly.”

Lusaka, the $2.25 favourite, who raced without cover for most of the race, looked the winner when Deni Roberts sent him to the front 100m from the post. But Navy Street flew home to get up in the final stride to beaty Lusaka by a half-head, with October Reign a wilting third. The final quarters were run in 28.7sec. and 28.8sec.

Mrs Thompson, who will celebrate a milestone birthday in the near future, has had Navy Street in her Byford stables for only a couple of weeks.

She said that she had been looking for a pacer to replace her recently retired iron horse Whoswhointhezoo, a massive gelding she bred, owned and trained, who had 181 starts for eleven wins and 47 starts for stakes of $179,696.

“I loved coming to the trots on Friday nights with Whosewhointhezoo, who didn’t win very often but earned a good amount of money,” said Mrs Thompson. “I knew that Navy Street was for sale, and I have a birthday coming up soon, so I decided to buy him --- and I got him for $11,000.”

Navy Street has now earned $11,534 from his fifth placing and one win from two starts for his new owner. “I wanted a lovely horse I could come to Gloucester Park with, and Navy Street is a lovely horse,” she said.

Navy Street is by American stallion Hes Watching and is the fourth foal out of the unraced Life Sign mare Life Of Byrne. He is related to several top-class WA pacers, including Remit, Whitbys Miss Penny, Ace Of Whitby, Whitby Timer, Whitby Heritage, Whitby Merit, Montana Anna and Aikido Whitby. Navy Street has earned $86,257 from eleven wins and ten placings from 45 starts.

Cyclone Charlotte breaks through

Bonny mare Cyclone Charlotte broke through for an overdue victory when Aiden De Campo drove a superb race to land her a brilliant winner of the $27,000 Swandoo Harness Racing Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Steno was all the rage after scoring dashing victories at her previous six races and was the $1.55 favourite from the outside barrier in the field of nine, with Cyclone Charlotte the $4.20 second fancy from barrier No. 6.

Most pundits predicted that Steno would charge straight to the front, but De Campo had different ideas and he told Cyclone Charlotte’s trainer Ray Williams that his mare had the necessary gate speed to cross to the front in the 2130m event.

And that’s what transpired, with De Campo sending Cyclone Charlotte straight to the front and leading for the first 400m with a scorching lead time of 34.8sec. Steno challenged hard for the lead after 100m but did not get to the front until 300m later.

Steno then slackened the pace with opening quarters of the final mile in 31.4sec. and 30.1sec. before the final 400m sections were run in 28.6sec. and 28sec.

Cyclone Charlotte burst to the front 120m from the post and went on to win by a length from $9.50 chance Acharne Girl, with Mighthavtime ($16) finishing powerfully from seventh at the bell to be an eye-catching third. Steno wilted to finish fifth.

“We were hoping to lead but I wasn’t sure she could cross Queeninthecorner (barrier one),” said Williams. “However, Aiden assured me that Cyclone Charlotte would lead, and she did. And once in front we had the option of staying there or sitting behind Steno.

“Cyclone Charlotte is a lovely horse. Nothing worries her; her work has been fantastic, and she pulled up with a low heart rate of 83. I’ll back off her in the coming week before next Friday night’s Empress Stakes.”

The win ended a six-month drought and a losing sequence of twelve for the New Zealand-bred Cyclone Charlotte, who has earned $178,744 from ten wins and 16 placings from 32 starts.

Bee Jays Boy overcomes mishap

Punters who had supported Bee Jays Boy to win the final event, the 2130m Trotsynd Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night were dismayed and left holding their breath when the $2.30 favourite struck the arm of the mobile barrier with his nose and galloped at the start.

This caused Bee Jays Boy to lose the distinct advantage of setting the pace from the No. 2 barrier, and the seven-year-old gelding’s prospects looked in serious doubt when he was fifth at the bell, three back on the pegs and held in a pocket.

However, leading reinsman Shannon Suvaljko did not panic and finally he was able to extricate the gelding off the pegs and into the clear 300m from home. The pacemaker Seven No Trumps ($10) was tiring, and My Little Big Man ($23) got to the front with 100m to travel. However, Bee Jays Boy asserted his authority and quickly dashed past My Little Big Man at the 50m mark and beat that pacer by a length at a 1.58.5 rate after final quarters of 29.3sec. and 29.9sec.

Bee Jays Boy, who ended a losing sequence of twelve, is trained by Mike Reed, who was in Melbourne to attend Sunday’s standardbred yearling sale. The gelding has raced 73 times for eight wins, 25 placings and stakes of $105,762.

Solesseo Matuca on the way up

Trainer-reinsman Gary Hall jnr praised Solesseo Matuca after the former Victorian pacer had worked in the breeze before careering away from his seven rivals to score an easy win in the 1730m Steve Waters and Gary Hall Snr Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

“For a horse who had been a $1.20 favourite and had led and been beaten twice since coming here, this was sign of quite some improvement,” said Hall.

“I did think that he could do that when leading but I didn’t think he could perform so well after racing in the breeze. So, I’m pretty happy.”

Solesseo Matuca was the $1.80 favourite from barrier three and was beaten for early speed by $12 chance Dominus Factum, who began brilliantly from the No. 7 barrier, and by the polemarker Loucid Dreams ($5).

Dominus Factum set a brisk pace before Hall dashed Solesseo Matuca to the front with 500m to travel. The final 400m sections were covered in 28.4sec. and 28.7sec. and Solesseo Matuca was not extended in beating $81 outsider Acuto by just under two lengths, rating 1.54.3. Acuto finished solidly from sixth at the bell and finished almost a length in front of Loucid Dreams.

Solesseo Matuca, a five-year-old by A Rocknroll Dance, has earned $271,228 from 12 wins and 22 placings from 55 starts. His ten runs in Western Australia have produced two wins and four placings.

Thats Not My Gait’s hat-trick

Good manners played a major role in Thats Not My Gait’s fighting victory in the 2503m TABtouch Trot at Gloucester Park on Friday night, with her win completing a driving double for Aiden De Campo.

Thats My Gait was a $5.50 chance from the 20m mark, and her task was made easier when the $2.20 favourite Marengo Bay galloped badly 120m after the start and dropped back to the rear. Then Son Of A Whiz ($31) broke when challenging for the lead 30m later and was relegated to last in the field of eleven.

Thats Not My Gait’s victory completed a winning hat-trick for the six-year-old mare who is a smart trotter despite being by noted pacing stallion Follow The Stars and out of pacing mare Forever Happy.

She is proving a wonderful performer for her breeder, owner and trainer David Young, and now has earned $132,058 from 14 wins and 21 placings from 58 starts.

Ira Poole is too tough

In-form reinsman Stuart McDonald’s faith in the strength and fighting qualities of New Zealand-bred Ira Poole paid dividends when the five-year-old scored a strong victory in the Trotsynd #WinnerswinPace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

“The plan was to work our way to the breeze, and get there as comfortably as we could,” explained McDonald. “When Ideal Tomado led I was a lot more confident we could sit in the breeze and win. Ideal Tomado doesn’t like being pressured or bullied. So, once he got to the front we started applying the pressure.

“Up in grade if Ira Poole lea he will be hard to run down. Up in grade he will be a leader or a sit and kick horse.”

Ira Poole, the $4 second favourite, finished determinedly to get to the front in the closing stages and win comfortably from Ideal Tomado ($9), with the $1.90 favourite State Of Heaven a close third.

State Of Heaven, the polemarker, was beaten for early speed and he paced roughly for a few strides soon after the start but still managed to trail the pacemaker Ideal Tomado until Gary Hall jnr eased him off the pegs at the bell. However, State Of Heaven did not threaten danger at any stage of the final circuit.

Ira Poole, a gelding by Falcon Seelster, who is prepared by Gary Hall snr, looks set for more wins. He has had 41 starts for ten wins, 13 placings and $89,297.

Artful Major is still learning

Promising Victorian-bred three-year-old Artful Major gave a splendid frontrunning performance to win the $21,000 The Nullarbor A Week Away Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Driven by Gary Hall jnr for trainer Justin Prentice, Artful Major, the $1.60 favourite, was not extended after starting from the coveted No. 1 barrier.

After a dawdling lead time of 40.6sec. and slow opening quarters of 31.6sec. and 29.6sec. Artful Major held the breeze horse Bet The House ($3) at bay and defeated him by a length at a 1.58.6 rate over the 2130m after dashing over the final 400m sections in 27.2sec. and 28sec.

“After an easy lead time and first quarter he ran a pretty good final 1200 metres,” said Prentice.

“I’ve always had time for him. He has always shown good ability, but he’s a bit of a funny horse. He’s got a good record but there’s a couple of races where he hasn’t gone quite as good as expected. He switches on and off in his races and we’re hoping he is still learning. I think he has a good motor there.”

Artful Major, who was purchased for $67,500 by Prentice at the 2022 Nutrien yearling sale in Melbourne, is raced by a syndicate of Pentice’s stable clients and has earned $43,540 from five wins and three placings from nine starts.

He is by Art Major and is the fifth foal out of the Live Or Die mare Tara Royale. Artful Major’s half-sister Delightful Tara, who as a five-year-old won two group 3 events at Melton in February and March 2020.

Diego runs good Cup trial

Veteran pacer Diego ran an excellent trial for the $300,000 Retravision Fremantle Cup next Friday week when he relished his pacemaking role to win the $31,000 Sky Racing Free-For-All at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

At his third outing for trainer Gary Hall snr after a resuming from a spell, Diego was the $2.50 favourite from the No. 1 barrier in the 2130m event, in which brilliant Victorian pacer Catch A Wave was the second fancy at $2.90 at his WA debut and starting from the No. 2 barrier on the back line.

Diego, handled by his regular driver Maddison Brown, won the start and after a modest lead time of 37.1sec. was able to amble through the opening 400m sections in 31.1sec. and 31sec. before increasing the tempo with final quarters of 27.2sec. and 28sec.

He scored by just under a length from $13 chance Blitzembye, who ran home solidly after enjoying a perfect trip behind the frontrunning Diego.

Catch A Wave, who settled down in ninth position, dashed forward approaching the bell and sustained a spirited three-wide burst which carried him into second place, out three wide, in the final lap before fighting on to finish an excellent fourth, a run which is sure to have him at his peak for the Nullarbor slot race next Friday night.

After the race, Jim Giumelli decided that his Swandoo Harness Racing syndicate would be represented by Blitzembye in the $1.25 million Nullarbor event.

Diego will contest the $31,000 Nullarbor Consolation over 2536m next Friday night before running in the 2936m Fremantle Cup the following Friday.

“Diego travelled really good, and it makes it easier with 31sec. opening quarters,” said Brown. “He knocked off a bit when he was out in front with no-one around him. I would like to put a set of pull-downs on him just to sharpen him up.”

Diego, an eight-year-old by Bettors Delight, has been a wonderful performer who has raced 92 times for 25 wins, 21 placings and stakes of $852,141.

The Chicken Man is still smiling

Octogenarian owner Barrie Devereux has fond memories of his first winner 59 years ago ---when Silver Fields was successful at Williams --- and he is delighted with the burst of wonderful form of nine-year-old Regal Cheval, who has notched three metro-class wins from his past seven starts.

“I reckon I have won about 200 races,” said the 83-year-old Devereux after Gary Hall jnr had driven $8.30 chance Regal Cheval to a thrilling head victory over The Miki Taker ($4.60) and the $3 favourite Hector in the $23,000 Aaron Bain Racing And Summit Bloodstock Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

While Devereux has enjoyed a lifetime involvement in harness racing, he is probably best known as The Chicken Man, who many years ago started his business as a breeder of chickens with just a dozen chooks.

He quickly developed his business into a farm at Maddington with a quarter of a million chickens before he branched out with 40,000 chooks at a farm in Broome in 1993.

Don Harper, father of current trainer-reinsman Lindsay Harper and grandfather of successful reinsmen Donald and Kyle Harper, drove Silver Court in a Qualifying Stakes at Gloucester Park on June 22, 1967 to give Devereux his first city winner.

“Then I had the biggest night in harness racing when Arden Meadow won the WA Derby in 1986,” he said. “Like A Tiger was another of my best pacers who won 18 races and was the Horse of the Year in the early 1990s.”

Devereux was interested in the Victorian-bred Regal Cheval and bought him for $10,000 in April 2021 after the gelding had won ten races in Victoria.

Regal Cheval has been a capable and honest performer for Devereux, with his 83 starts in Western Australia producing six wins, 18 placings and $120,550 in prizemoney, taking his career earnings to $190,558 from 16 wins, 37 placings from 138 starts.

On Friday night Regal Cheval revealed his typical sparkling gate speed from the No. 4 barrier to dash straight to the front. He held out early challenges for the lead from Lucca ($34) and Star Casino ($5.50) and paced strongly in front after a fast lead time of 36.2sec.

“It was excellent that he withstood the pressure from Lucca and held on to win,” said Hall. “Lucca was pulling in the breeze but that didn’t bother Regal Cheval, who was looking around in the infield.”

Zephyra set for the Empress Stakes

Serpentine trainer-reinsman Dylan Egerton-Green was delighted with Zephyra’s return to top form with an impressive all-the-way victory in the $100,000 Westbred Mares Classic for four-year-olds at Gloucester Park on Friday night and said that she would be set to contest the $75,000 Empress Stakes over 2536m next Friday night.

“She has been racing against Free-For-All mares and been holding her own,” he said. “Hopefully she can back up for a crack at the Empress Stakes.”

Zephyra, who had been placed once from her previous six starts from unfavourable barriers, was a hot $1.20 favourite from the prized No. 1 barrier on Friday night when Egerton-Green took full advantage of the draw.

Zephyra strolled through the opening 400m sections in 31.4sec. and 30.1sec. before sprinting over the final quarters in 29sec. and 27.4sec. to beat $10 chance Flametree by just under two lengths, rating 1.59.9 over 2536m.

Flametree trailed the leader all the way and finished well ahead of the third placegetter Hunt The Magic ($9), who fought on gamely after enjoying an ideal passage, one-out and one-back.

The WA-bred Zephyra is by American sire Sweet Lou and is out of former star WA mare Tricky Styx. She has had 25 starts for ten wins, six placings and $310,835.



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