Bettors Fire Notches his Century

Evergreen pacer Bettors Fire looks a certainty to celebrate his 100th start in style by proving too fast and strong for his seven rivals in the $25,000 Princi Smallgoods Free Range Salami Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

He drew the No. 1 barrier and trainer Kyle Harper looks certain to make use of the nine-year-old’s sparkling gate speed and attempt an all-the-way victory.

Owner Frank Ranaldi declared after Bettors Fire’s stylish come-from-behind win over 2536m last Friday night that the New Zealand-bred gelding was the best horse he has raced.

And that was high praise indeed, considering that Ranaldi raced wonderful pacers Classic Garry and Admiral’s Avenue.

Classic Garry and Admiral’s Avenue were successful in Group 1 feature events, whereas Bettors Fire has not been able to record a victory in a Group 1 feature event.

Classic Garry’s 16 West Australian wins (14 at Gloucester Park) included the 1983 Group 1 Golden Nugget (beating Wondai’s Mate and Preux Chevalier) and the 1983 Mount Eden Mile when he defeated Sinn Fein and Garry John in 1.56.6, a race record.

Classic Garry also became Australia’s first sub-1.55 performer when, as a four-year-old in March 1983, he sped over a mile in 1.54.9. In the late 80s Ranaldi campaigned with Classic Garry in America where the stallion won races and contested a World Cup series at the Meadowlands.

Admiral’s Avenue earned $439,482 from 32 wins and 30 placings from 130 starts. He won the group 1 WA Pacing Cup in January 2000, beating The Accelerator and Saab, and a month later won a 2540m heat of the Inter Dominion championship at Moonee Valley.

The level of prizemoney has risen substantially since then and Bettors Fire boasts a splendid record of 99 starts for 38 wins and 22 placings for stakes of $772,029. He was sold to Ranaldi after winning at 11 of his 30 New Zealand starts for his breeders Jim and Susan Wakefield.

Bettors Fire’s 69 starts for Ranaldi and Harper in Western Australia have produced 27 wins and 15 placings. The gelding has not been successful in a Group 1 event, but has been wonderfully consistent and his wins include five in Group 2 events and three in Group 3 races.

In last Friday night’s 2536m event, Harper restrained Bettors Fire from the No. 6 barrier and the gelding raced in seventh position for almost two laps before being sent forward, three wide, at the bell. Bettors Fire burst to the front with 500m to travel and he covered the final quarters in 27.5sec. and 28.5sec. to win by a metre from the strong-finishing Tommy Be Good, with The Bucket List running on from fifth (on the pegs) at the bell to be third.

This week Bettors Fire appears certain to set the pace, with none of his rivals able to seriously challenge him for the early lead. Tommy Be Good, placed at five of his past six starts, should enjoy a perfect passage behind the pacemaker and looks a strong place prospect, with Shandale, Galactic Star and The Bucket List fighting it out for a minor placing.