Harper Has Faith in Thereugo

This time last year Thereugo was a metropolitan maiden performer but five wins in metro-class events in the past 11 months have enabled the West Australian-bred six-year-old to graduate to open-class company.

He will continue his intriguing duel with current Free-For-All star Handsandwheels when he contests the $25,000 Cybem Mechanical Services Pace over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

And reinsman Donald Harper certainly hasn’t given up hope that Thereugo can beat the brilliant Handsandwheels, who is in the best form of his career and will be seeking to extend his winning sequence to four.

Thereugo, who has claims as the fastest beginner in the State, will start from barrier No. 5, with the Andrew de Campo-trained Handsandwheels poorly drawn on the outside at No. 9 in a field of nine.

At his past two outings Thereugo has begun speedily and has led from barriers seven and three but has wilted slightly to finish third behind Handsandwheels over 1730m and fifth behind the same pacer over 2130m.

“In those two races Handsandwheels has rated 1.53.9 and 1.53.7, and those sorts of times seem to sort out Thereugo a little bit,” Harper said. “If they go 1.54 or a bit slower this week Thereugo should prove hard to beat.

“We will be going forward and should find the front --- and then I’ll work things out from there. It’s very rare that when Thereugo has been sent forward that he hasn’t crossed to the lead. Obviously, Handsandwheels is in very good form and it will be interesting to see whether he keeps coming forward from the start or takes a sit. Hopefully, we can pinch a little bit.”

Thereugo was switched from Harper’s stables recently and has been prepared for his past three starts by Sue Wiscombe for an all-the-way win, rating 1.56.4 over 2130m when he beat Chiaroscuro and Im Soxy, followed by his third and fifth placings behind Handsandwheels.

Thereugo is by American stallion McArdle and is the first pacer bred by Harper. He has raced 56 times for 20 wins, 11 placings and $165,555 in stakes. He is out of the New Zealand-bred mare Janice Franco, who earned $76,782 from her eight wins and 19 placings from 110 starts.

While Handsandwheels and Thereugo are sure to be solidly supported, many punters are expected to back the polemarker Our Corelli, who was most impressive in chalking up strong victories at his first five starts for new trainer Debra Lewis before two unplaced runs and  then a last-start half-head second to Vampiro when he set the pace in the 2536m August Cup last Friday week.

Capel trainer Andrew de Campo has Handsandwheels, the 2017 WA Derby winner, racing in magnificent form, but the classy stallion will need to be at his peak to overcome the disadvantage of the outside barrier.

“From barrier nine it’s hard to see where we end up,” said reinsman Aiden de Campo. “Probably, we’ll need a fair bit of speed early and in the middle stages. It will be a lot harder than it was last week, for sure. But he’s probably racing better than his rivals. We need speed early and a genuine tempo.

“I’ll have to put him in the race at some stage. I’ll play it by ear. Maybe I’ll come out hard and try to find a spot.”

King of Swing, the 2018 WA Derby winner, faces a stern test from barrier eight and the Brian Clemens-trained Im Soxy is capable of improvement after disappointing when a distant seventh in a field of seven behind Handsandwheels last Friday night when he was affected by a gear malfunction.