Olivieri and Lewis seek fourth Marathon win
The powerful combination of eight-time premier trainer Ross Olivieri and champion reinsman Chris Lewis has high hopes of continuing its successful run in the $25,000 Allwood Stud Marathon Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night by winning the 3309m listed classic with up-and-coming star Motu Premier.
Lewis and Olivieri have combined to win the Marathon Handicap with Nickelmeldon in 2009, Chief Thundercloud (2015) and Our Jericho (last year).
Chief Thundercloud and Our Jericho are owned by Merv Butterworth, who also races four-year-old Motu Premier, the youngest and least experienced runner in this week’s race.
Motu Premier has shown the class to overcome the disadvantage of starting off the 30-metre mark, with only The Bucket List (off 40m) behind him. He has yet to contest a standing-start event in Australia, but has a good record in stands in New Zealand.
His 23 New Zealand starts produced seven wins and ten seconds. He raced six times in stands for three wins. His final race in New Zealand was on the grass track at Methven where he began off 40m and ran on from sixth at the bell to win from Johnny Eyre.
This week’s Marathon Handicap should suit Motu Premier ideally. The Bettors Delight gelding has won twice over 3000m. Twelve months ago Our Jericho, a 6/1 chance off the 10m mark, enjoyed a perfect trail, one-out and one-back, before finishing strongly to win by a length from the pacemaker, the Michael Brennan-trained Naughty Maravu.
Motu Premier arrived in Australia early in April this year and raced four times in New South Wales for three wins and a second placing. His five WA starts have produced four wins and a second. He maintained his splendid form when he started out wide at barrier eight, raced wide early and then in the breeze before finishing powerfully to win the 2130m Chandon final from Mach Time and Natural Disaster last Friday week, rating 1.55.9.
Brennan hopes to go one better than his second placing with Naughty Maravu last year and his four runners on Friday night are all capable standing-start performers. He will be represented by The Bucket List, the sole backmarker off 40m who will be driven by Michael Grantham, Rub Of The Green (Gary Hall jun.), Cut For An Ace (Aiden de Campo) and Im Master Charlie (Chris Voak).
The Bucket List is a quality pacer who has earned $317,935 from 19 wins and 31 placings from 75 starts. His four starts since resuming from a spell have produced a win over Our Jimmy Johnstone and Beaudiene Boaz and seconds to Tricky Styx (twice) and Chicago Bull. The Bucket List is an experienced standing-start performer and a redoubtable stayer, who finished a nose second to Firebomb in the 2970m York Cup at Northam in November 2015.
Rub Of The Green has a splendid record of 19 wins, seven seconds and a third from only 33 starts. He has been freshened up since he was seventh early before racing in the breeze for almost two circuits and getting to the front on the home turn and winning from Robyns Raider in a 2503m stand on July 14. He will start from 30m on Friday night and will have many admirers.
Im Master Charlie (front) and Cut For An Ace (10m) are not foolproof in stands, but are capable of figuring in the finish.
Always Arjay is in outstanding form for Serpentine trainer Matt Scott, who has engaged Nathan Turvey to drive the five-year-old after Lewis opted for Motu Premier. Always Arjay, who will start off 10m, is a versatile pacer who has won in stands at his past four starts. Turvey won the 2013 Marathon Handicap behind Balleybofey.
Tommy Be Good and Rycroft are racing keenly and will start off 20m. Stuart McDonald will drive the Katja Warwick-trained Tommy Be Good, who impresses with his spirited finishing bursts. Rycroft set the pace and won a 2503m stand last Friday week for Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed. The New Zealand-bred five-year-old will be handled by Kim Prentice, who drove Serious Pursuit to victory in the 2003 Marathon Handicap.
Kim Young, who drove To San Jose when he dead-heated for first with Sir Lektor in the 1996 Marathon, will be represented by veteran standing-start specialist Maximum Demand, who will be driven by Jocelyn Young and should be prominent from barrier one on the front line.