Ideal Draw for Motu Premier

Talented New Zealand-bred pacer Motu Premier has not made all the running in any of his 28 starts in Western Australia, but eight-time premier trainer Ross Olivieri is planning a bold change of tactics with the seven-year-old in the $25,000 Fred Doy Memorial Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Motu Premier, who boasts a winning record of 33 per cent (18 wins, 14 seconds, six thirds and $361,258 in prizemoney from 55 starts), has drawn ideally at barrier No. 2 on the front line and will be handled by Chris Voak, who replaces Chris Lewis, who has opted to drive Our Corelli from the wide barrier at No. 8.

“I think we’ll probably have a crack at trying to lead,” said Olivieri. “Motu Premier gets out pretty good and you saw that at his first-up run two starts ago.”

Speed Man, one of the three runners from the stables of champion trainer Gary Hall Snr, has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier, but Olivieri gives Motu Premier a strong chance of being able to beat Speed Man in the battle for the role of pacemaker.

Star reinsman Gary Hall Jnr has given punters a strong lead by choosing to drive Speed Man in preference to better-performed stablemate King of Swing, who will start from barrier six with Stuart McDonald in the sulky. The other runner from the Hall camp is relatively inexperienced four-year-old Robbie Easton, who will be driven by Maddison Brown from the No. 3 barrier.

Speed Man has led and won from barrier one and also has been crossed on other occasions from the inside barrier. He has been unplaced from unfavourable barriers at his past four starts since he finished solidly from the one-out, one-back position to win from Walkinshaw and Carter Micheal over 2130m on August 30.

Motu Premier revealed excellent gate speed from barrier five but had to race in the breeze before finishing determinedly to snatch a last-stride victory over the pacemaker King of Swing in the 2536m Media Guild Cup three starts ago, in September of last year. He then went for a spell and has made two appearances in his current campaign.

Voak has driven the gelding only once and that was at his first-up outing in the 2536m Brennan Memorial four Fridays ago when he was given a soft run, three back on the pegs, before being hampered for room in the home straight and finishing fifth behind Our Jimmy Johnstone.

Motu Premier’s second run in this campaign was in the 2019 Media Guild Cup last Friday week when he enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back, but was blocked for a run and finished full of running when fifth behind Waylade.

Motu Premier’s 28 starts in WA have produced eight wins, six seconds and three thirds, with Lewis in the sulky for seven of those victories. However, Lewis has stuck with the vastly-improved Our Corelli, a five-year-old who is prepared by his wife Debra.

Our Corelli has won at eight of his 12 starts for Debra Lewis, with Lewis the successful driver in seven of those wins. Our Corelli is a speedy beginner and smart frontrunner. But he is versatile and is capable of unwinding a spirited finishing burst.

El Jacko, prepared by Greg and Skye Bond, is handily drawn at barrier four and will be driven by Ryan Warwick. The seven-year-old has been placed at each of his past three starts --- behind Handsandwheels, Our Jimmy Johnstone and Our Corelli. He has excellent winning prospects.

The Bond camp will also be represented by in-form 11-year-old Our Jimmy Johnstone (Bailey McDonough) who will need plenty of luck from the outside of the back line.

Ten-year-old The Bucket List will start from barrier two on the back line and trainer Michael Brennan is happy with the draw and expects the gelding to be running home strongly, particularly if the race is run at a strong tempo.

The Caris Hamilton-Smith-trained Waylade (Kyle Harper) impressed with his all-the-way victory in the 2536m Media Guild Cup last Friday week when he defeated The Bucket List and King of Swing. But his prospects this week diminished when he drew awkwardly at barrier No. 7.

Morgan Woodley, who drove the Rob MacDonald-trained Argyle Red to an all-the-way victory over 2130m last Friday week, is happy with the gelding’s draw on the inside of the back line and said that the eight-year-old was capable of figuring in the finish.

However, reinsman Aldo Cortopassi was bitterly disappointed when the Ray Williams-trained Walkinshaw drew the outside barrier (No. 9). Williams’s wife Dot is the daughter of the late trainer-reinsman Fred Doy and Cortopassi said he would have dearly loved to land Walkinshaw a winner this week in the event dedicated to the memory of Fred Doy.

“Walkinshaw drew barrier one last week, but the meeting was abandoned,” Cortopassi said. “We were hoping for the same draw this week because I would love to win the race for the family. However, from out wide a lot of things would have to go in Walkinshaw’s favour and a lot of things would have to go against all the others.”