Trial Points to Liam Neil
Handy WA-bred five-year-old Liam Neil was sold a few months ago and looks hard to beat at his first start for champion trainer Gary Hall Snr when he starts from the No. 3 barrier in the opening event, the Friendly Eric Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Liam Neil has impressed in two recent Byford trials and is capable of ending a 13-month drought and a losing sequence of nine.
Two Sundays ago Liam Neil was a sound third behind Mister Bushido and Mattjestic Star in a 2150m Byford trial when the winner rated 1.57.5 and the final three quarters whizzed by in 28.8sec., 29.3sec. and 28.5sec.
Then, last Sunday he was smartest into stride from barrier three before Gary Hall Jnr took the sit behind open-class performer Im Soxy 400m after the start. Hall eased Liam Neil off the pegs with 550m to travel and the Modern Art gelding ran home determinedly to finish just a head behind Im Soxy, with the final quarter in a slick 27.6sec.
“I thought he went okay in the first trial and would benefit from it and he went better again last Sunday,” said Hall.
Hall is sure to be keen to set the pace with Liam Neil, who has led and won at seven of his 13 career victories.
Hall, who has driven 191 winners this season, has ten drives on the 11-event program, including two promising young pacers from Justin Prentice’s Boyanup stable --- Broadbeach in the NYE at Gloucester Park Pace for three-year-old fillies and Always An Honour in the www.gloucesterpark.com.au Pace.
The New Zealand-bred Broadbeach has won at her first two Australian starts in modest company, at Narrogin and Bunbury earlier this month. Broadbeach will start from the No. 2 barrier on the back line.
“This will be a test for her,” said Hall. “She went pretty good at Narrogin (winning by seven and a half lengths) and then she set the pace and kept waiting for them (her rivals) before beating Gov Starzzz by less than a length. She is probably better off coming from behind at this stage.”
Broadbeach is likely to meet with stiff opposition from Askmeilltellya (barrier eight), Intheskyrocket (nine) and Red Hot Lady (six), a trio of fillies who are in splendid form.
Always An Honour is an Art Major four-year-old who will start from the No. 2 barrier in the 2130m tenth event on the program. He has won at 12 of his 28 starts and this will be his first appearance for 16 weeks.
“He was a lot better the last time he raced than we thought he was going to be,” said Hall. “He just kept taking the next step.”
Always An Honour and the polemarker and likely leader Roman Aviator will have admirers, but the race appears likely to develop into a serious contest between Patrickthepiranha and El Jacko.
Four-year-old Patrickthepiranha, trained and driven by Colin Brown, will be having his third start after an absence of eight months and is sure to prove hard to beat after his excellent second to My Carbon Copy last Friday week when he raced in the breeze and fought on solidly.
Seven-year-old El Jacko, prepared by Greg and Skye Bond, resumed after a four-month absence last Friday night when he was eleventh at the bell before finishing strongly, out five wide, to be sixth behind Chicago Bull in last week’s Navy Cup.
All runners to be driven by Hall will have a good following, with The Verandah (race six), My Carbon Copy (four), Mister Bushido (two) and Extreme Prince (three) all appearing to have sound each-way prospects.