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IRON HORSE HAS THE ANSWERS NOTCHES HIS 57th VICTORY
Astute Byford trainer Tony Svilicich thumbed his nose at the many doubters who declared that Has The Answers was highly susceptible over 2506m when the veteran pacer strolled to an all-the-way victory in the $25,000 RSM Bird Cameron Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The eight-year-old iron horse was rated to perfection by Morgan Woodley, who will be in the sulky again when he contests the $30,000 Pinjarra Cup over 2670m on Monday.
Has The Answers won with such authority that he should prove hard to beat, even from the outside barrier (No. 9). He finished third behind Precious Dylan and Ima Rocket Star in last year’s Pinjarra Cup.
Has The Answers had managed only three placings from his ten previous appearances in races over 2500m or an approximate distance and was sent out at the liberal odds of 13/4, with Tsunami Lombo a warm 5/4 favourite.
The impressive victory at a leisurely rate of 2.07 boosted his earnings to $954,239 from his 57 wins and 51 placings from 170 starts. The gelding who is raced by Svilicich, breeder Les Coulson and Sonya Murrell, was resuming after a rare break.
It was his first outing for four weeks, after he had led and won over 2100m at his two most recent runs. Svilicich stated that the gelding simply needed to be refreshed mentally.
Has The Answers now has had 42 starts over 2500m or approximate distances for nine wins and 15 placings. Woodley has a good record behind the seemingly indestructible gelding, having driven him 15 times for six wins, four seconds and two thirds.
Has The Answers revealed his usual brilliance at the start and zoomed straight to the front from barrier five. Tsunami Lombo, from barrier four, raced three wide early before moving into the breeze after 550m. Aussie Reactor (7/2) enjoyed a perfect trip behind the pacemaker, with Pablito in the one-out, one-back position.
Gary Hall jun. wisely eased Aussie Reactor off the pegs at the bell to move into the commanding one-out, one-back position and forced Pablito three deep.
But Tsunami Lombo was unable to put pressure on Has The Answers in the final circuit and gradually dropped back. Aussie Reactor was hopelessly hemmed in throughout the last lap and had nowhere to go in the home straight before finishing a most unlucky ninth.
Flamin Tact, who started from the inside of the back line, darted in behind Has The Answers at the bell when Aussie Reactor vacated that position. He finished solidly to be a 2m second, with outsider Fast Play sustaining a strong finishing burst to be third, just ahead of the gallant Pablito.
Ross Olivieri, trainer of Tsunami Lombo, said: “I think I might have gone to the well one time too many with him.” But he was pleased with the effort of stablemate Fast Play, saying: “Every time I think about putting him in a claimer, he runs a very good race. He has been in work for 55 weeks and simply thrives on his preparation.”
OLIVIERI’S FIRST CLAIM PROVES A WINNER
Leading trainer Ross Olivieri has a long memory. He well remembers the horse who beat his star juvenile Argent Treasure in a heat of the Pearl Classic in June 2007.
That horse was Mon Gee, and ever since that Saturday night Olivieri has kept a close watch on the deeds of the Kinney Hanover gelding.
Mon Gee was sore after his victory over Argent Treasure and was unable to contest the Pearl final which was won by Argent Treasure. But Mon Gee recovered quickly and won again at Gloucester Park as a two-year-old before shining as a three-year-old when his wins included the group 3 WA Sales Classic final.
Then seven weeks ago Mon Gee started for the first time in a claiming race with a price tag of $14,000. Even though the gelding had managed just one win from his previous 35 starts Olivieri maintained his high opinion of the pacer --- and he did something that he had not previously done --- he lodged a claim.
Mon Gee finished eighth in the claimer and Olivieri took Mon Gee home, a six-year-old with a losing sequence of 16 and a record of 81 starts for 13 wins and 15 placings for stakes of $147,492.
Olivieri started Mon Gee for the first time at Gloucester Park on Friday night and the gelding gave a powerful frontrunning display to score a most impressive three-and-a-half-length victory over Armbro of Wagin. Mon Gee was all the rage and was sent out a hot favourite at 2/1 on.
Olivieri then collected the first prize cheque of $10,385 and he has high hopes of further successes. “He’ll win more races and is capable of going through the classes,” he said.
Driven by Chris Voak, Mon Gee burst to the front after 420m and he sprinted the final 800m in 58.5sec. to win at a 1.59.2 rate.
Mon Gee is out of Merlene Muffett, a winner of seven races and $53,289 from 30 starts in the late 1990s. Merlene Muffett was out of Lusty Strike, whose dam Lusty Muffett produced former iron horse Of Auld Aberdeen, who had 279 starts for 40 wins and 63 placings for stakes of $235,201.
Mon Gee has benefited greatly from the recent regulation which allows pacers assessed M2 or better to drop back a class after ten starts without a win. In June 2009 Mon Gee was an M3-class pacer. After a losing sequence of 20 he dropped back to M1-class company and then won at Gloucester Park to be re-assessed as an M2-class pacer. He dropped back to be an M1-class pacer again when he took his losing sequence to ten three months ago. He is now assessed as an M2-class horse.
Mon Gee’s win on Friday night came in the final event, and then 23 hours later Olivieri repeated the dose with a last-race win at Gloucester Park with another newcomer having her first start for the Olivieri stable. This time it was Goldfields Girl (6/1), who was driven by Chris Lewis. Goldfields Girl trailed the pacemaker Lucky Adda before finishing fast to score from Global Rush.
Champion trainer Gary Hall sen. further enhanced his reputation as a master horseman when he produced General Eisenhower and Secret Tender in top shape for wonderful first-up victories at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Hall had nursed both pacers back to health and to peak fitness after each had been laid low by a serious leg injury.
General Eisenhower, having his first start for almost 19 months, was a heavily-supported 6/4 favourite when he scored a convincing two-length victory over Move Over in the 2100m Cash Converters Pathway Pace and Secret Tender was also strongly supported and started at 10/9 on when he beat All The Way in the 2503m Homestyle Salad Makers Pace at his first appearance for 14 months.
Both pacers were driven expertly by Gary Hall jun. General Eisenhower, a New Zealand-bred five-year-old, broke down late in 2009 with an injury to the suspensory ligament in his nearside foreleg and Secret Tender bowed a tendon in his nearside foreleg in April 2010.
General Eisenhower, a winner of seven races from 18 starts in New Zealand, was placed at one of his first three Australian starts, all at Gloucester Park in November 2009 before breaking down.
He started well from barrier seven on Friday night and after racing three wide early, cruised to the front after 550m. Move Over (2/1) started from the No. 9 barrier and raced wide early when Status Seeker and Wetlands broke soon after the start.
Move Over then settled in 11thplace before Morgan Woodley dashed him forward to move to the breeze with 1000m to travel. He fought on doggedly, with the final 400m being covered in 27.6sec. The winner’s rate was a slow 2.0.1, easily the slowest of the five 2100m events on the ten-event program.
General Eisenhower, who is owned by Beth Richardson, Susan Beven, Danny Roberts, Brian Anderson, Riwai Williams, John Burt, Joe Zlaman, Alf Caputo, Ross North and Garry Ralston, looks set to move through the classes, and providing he remains sound Hall will set him for feature events.
The South Australian-bred Secret Tender appeared to be facing a tough task when he settled down in 11thand last position, some 35m behind the early pacemaker Royal Opera. But Hall jun. dashed him forward, three wide, to move into the breeze with 1500m to travel.
Secret Tender then gained the upper hand on the home turn and went on to win by 1m from the fast-finishing All The Way to record his 13thwin from 62 starts. Royal Opera held on to finish third. Secret Tender covered the final 800m in 58.6sec. and rated 2.2.3 over the 2503m journey.
Secret Tender, a winner of ten races from 55 Victorian starts, now has had seven starts in WA for three wins and two seconds.
He is out of Neliska, a mare who won 16 races (12 in Victoria, three in New South Wales and one in Queensland) from 64 starts for earnings of $150,450. She finished sixth behind Slick Vance in the Golden Nugget Championship at Gloucester Park in January 1995.
FLYING GREYHAWK MAKES IT FOUR WINS IN A ROW
Victorian-bred six-year-old Greyhawk has struck a purple patch and he notched his fourth successive victory when he flew home to beat Lukcon Lad and Bundaberg Black in the 2100m Duff Beer Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
A 11/2 chance driven by teenager Aiden de Campo for owner Kevin Jeavons and Capel trainer Ryan Bell, Greyhawk trailed the pacemaker Whitbys Beach and looked to face a hopeless task when he was hopelessly blocked for a clear run approaching the home turn .
Luckon Lad, a 36/1 chance, had come from eighth at the bell and gone four wide with 500m to travel to hit the front 120m from the post. But de Campo managed to get Greyhawk into the clear and the Badlands Hanover gelding charged him in fine style to take the lead in the final 30m.
His followers are rejoicing after these four wins at 11/1, 19/1, 6/1 and 11/2.
The stewards charged de Campo with an incorrect whip action over the concluding stages (when he used more than a wrist and elbow action) and suspended him for 14 days, seven of which will be served cumulatively with a six-week suspension he had incurred previously. He had been granted a stay of proceedings to enable him to take the drive behind Greyhawk on Friday night.
The early pace set by Whitbys Beach was a cracker (when Whitbys Beach was inclined to overrace when his hind legs were hitting the stay of the sulky). This contributed to the winner’s smart rate of 1.57.9. Whitbys Beach faded to seventh.
Lukcon Lad, a close second to Cromac Johnny a week earlier, looks a coming winner for the powerful Gary Hall sen. stable. As Wicked As, a winner at Harvey and Narrogin at his two previous outings, was withdrawn by the stewards after galloping in the score-up and causing two false starts.
MELLSOP SCORES WITH SMILE WITH ME AND IM PERCY THE PUNTER
Promising four-year-old mare Smile With Me, who was placed at 12 of her 19 starts in New Zealand, continued her marvellous form for Waroona trainer-reinsman Bob Mellsop and caused an upset when she ran home strongly to win the Blind Spot For Blinds Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Despite her tremendous form in WA, including a last-start victory at Pinjarra, Smile With Me was a 36/1 outsider in an event which most punters considered a match between Gem of Reibey (7/4 on) and Never Waver Lombo (2/1).
Mellsop completed a stable double when he drove Im Percy The Punter to a thrilling victory over Pacific Black in the 2503m Nilsen Electrics Pace.
Smile With Me now boasts a tremendous record in WA. She has raced 15 times for Mellsop for nine wins and three placings.
Gem of Reibey looked a certainty when she jumped straight to the front from barrier two, while Never Waver Lombo broke into a bad gallop soon after the start and settled in 12thand last position, 40m from the leader.
Chris Lewis sent Never Waver Lombo forward, three wide, after 400m and the mare moved into the breeze after 750m had been covered. Never Waver Lombo was still second 200m from home before fading to eighth.
Smile With Me, who had been racing without cover before Never Waver Lombo moved outside the leader, sprinted home strongly to win by 1m from Hear No Secret, who had trailed the pacemaker before finishing solidly. Gem of Reibey wilted to third.
Smile With Me is owned by Alex and Ryan Kay, Peter Gadbsy, Leonardo Locastro, Sharon Hockey, Vincent MacDonald, Alan Bonny and Mike van Rens, who also race Im Percy The Punter.
Im Percy The Punter was a heavily-backed 5/4 favourite whose task was made easier when frontmarker Pacific Black galloped and lost two lengths before dashing forward to take the lead after 400m.
Im Percy The Punter started from 10m and Mellsop sent him forward to race without cover with two laps to travel. Pacific Black turned for home in front and he just failed to hold off the determined challenge from Im Percy The Punter, who got his head in front in the final 15m to win by a neck. The stewards fined Mellsop $200 for an incorrect whip action in the concluding stages.
INWOOD MAKES THE MOST OF HIS CHANCE
Young reinsman Giles Inwood made the most of driving Secret Interlude for the second time in her 105-start career by landing her an all-the-way winner over the fast-finishing Kamwood Girl in the 1700m R. H. Trotter Fruit And Vegetable Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Inwood, one of 22 drivers to have handled the Kevin Keys-trained six-year-old, made every post a winner, with Secret Interlude starting from the prized No. 1 barrier, which has proved to be a massive advantage this season with the starting points of mobile events being moved 30m closer to the first bend.
Secret Interlude, unplaced at her four previous starts since her fast-finishing victory at Northam two months ago, was a 14/1 chance who relished her pacemaking role, dashing over the final four 400m sections in 28.6sec., 29.6sec., 29.9sec. and 30sec. to record a smart 1.57.4 rate.
Inwood’s only previous drive behind the WA-bred Secret Interlude was when she finished ninth behind Elena S in the Golden Girls Mile at Pinjarra last September.
The win boosted Secret Interlude’s prizemoney to $197,441 from her 18 wins and 29 placings.
She is by American stallion Panorama out of Victorian-bred mare Forrest Interlude, who was driven by Keys to victory on debut, as a two-year-old at Gloucester Park in May 2001. Forrest Interlude earned $22,026 from her six wins and nine placings from 45 starts.
Fancied runners Belhelvie (a $3.90 tote favourite), Kamwood Holmes ($4.50) and Therecomesatime ($5.10) all failed to be placed.
Belhelvie started out wide at barrier eight, raced at the rear and was forced very wide approaching the home turn before finishing ninth; Kamwood Holmes wilted to tenth after racing in the one-out, one-back position and Therecomesatime worked hard in the breeze and did well finish a close fourth.
Our Toto, reappearing after a 15-month absence, came home from last at the bell with a spirited run to finish an encouraging third.
MELBOURNIAN KNOWS WHERE THE WINNING POST IS
“He knows where the winning post is; he doesn’t win by much,” said leading trainer Ross Olivieri after Melbournian had finished with dogged determination to snatch victory by a nose over the pacemaker Elite Under Fire in the 2503m Sadliers-Nexus Logistics Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
“But he’s had 150 starts and he ought to know where it is. He’s a nice sound old horse, just a tough hard-hitting racehorse.”
For Melbournian, a Victorian-bred eight-year-old raced by Neville Dewhurst, this was his second victory by a narrow margin in the space of five days. He had finished resolutely to win by a head from So Talk About Courage at Gloucester Park last Monday.
Melbournian, a winner of 15 races in Victoria, now has had six starts in WA for Olivieri and reinsman Chris Lewis for three wins and two placings. His overall record stands at 152 starts for 18 wins and 55 placings for earnings of $115,180.
Melbournian, favourite at 10/9, started from barrier six and Lewis took him into the breeze after about 650m. Elite Under Fire (5/2) looked to have the race under safe keeping when he turned for home in front. But Melbournian refused to give in and he got up in the final desperate stride.
Bruce Almighty (11/2) impressed in sustaining a powerful burst from last at the bell to finish third.
Melbournian, by Sports Town, is out of Classic Garry mare Our Macmillie, who managed only three placings from eight starts as a three-year-old before being retired.
SPUNKY MONKEY RELISHES PRIZED No. 1 BARRIER
South Australian-bred eight-year-old Spunky Monkey gave further proof what a huge advantage the No. 1 barrier is from the new starting points at Gloucester Park when he ended a losing sequence of 16 with an all-the-way victory in the Australian Marine Complex WA Pace on Friday night.
Astute punters railed to support him and he started a 3/1 favourite even though his previous 12 starts had produced a 5th, 10th, 9th, 5th, 8th, 8th, 6th, 10th, 12th, 12th, 8thand 11th.
Spunky Monkey was able to hold the lead from the inside barrier and Ryan Bell rated him in fine style before he fought grimly to hold out Im Grant Lea (9/2) to win by a head, with four lengths to Little Sonny Bill (11/2) in third place.
Owned by Ian Lonie and trained at Baldivis by Kate Hawkins, Spunky Monkey has been a good moneyspinner and he now has had 95 starts for 15 wins and 27 placings for stakes of $127,335.
Im Grant Lea trailed the pacemaker before finishing gamely and Little Sonny Bill sustained a solid burst from the rear. Comeback pacer The Vice Captain, well supported and starting at 17/4, was unlucky. He covered a lot of extra ground before wilting from second (in the breeze) at the bell to last in the field of nine.