Voak Opts for Perfect Major

Victorian-bred four-year-old Perfect Major has thrown off the effects of troublesome knees and is poised to stretch his winning sequence to five by proving the master of his 11 rivals in the Preux Chevalier Pace, a $30,000 Group 3 feature event at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Prepared by eight-time premier WA trainer Ross Olivieri, the much-travelled but lightly-raced Perfect Major has created a big impression at his first two appearances in this State, working hard in the breeze before sprinting home powerfully to score in fine style at Gloucester Park and Pinjarra.

He dashed home over the final quarters in 28.4sec. and 27.4sec. to win by a length from Triroyale Brigade over 2130m at Gloucester Park last Tuesday week and won by three lengths from Tellmetoattack over 2185m at Pinjarra on Monday this week, with final quarters of 27.9sec. and 27.1sec.

Perfect Major is one of three runners in Friday night’s race, with Olivieri declaring that the gelding was his best prospect, ahead of stablemates Diamond Life and Just Makemine Diamonds.

Chris Voak, the regular reinsman for the three Olivieri pacers, has given punters a good lead by choosing to handle Perfect Major, who has been successful in Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria and boasts a career record of 28 starts for ten wins and nine placings.

Perfect Major was off the scene for 12 months before having his first two starts for Olivieri. He qualified for the Victoria Derby by finishing second in a Derby heat at Ballarat in January 2019, but knee problems forced him to miss the final of the classic.

He then resumed after a two-month break and had 16 starts in seven months, culminating with a striking performance to win by a head over 2240m at Swan Hill on October 25, 2019. After setting a slow early pace, Perfect Major sprinted brilliantly to dash over the final 400m sections in 28.1sec. and 26.7sec. After that victory he succumbed to knee problems.

“He was then put out for six months or more before being jogged up and sent over to me,” Olivieri said. “He showed in Victoria that he is very fast but didn’t do a lot of tough stuff. He’s got really good speed, and now that he is not feeling his knees, he is getting a bit tougher.”

Chris Lewis will drive Diamond Life from the No. 2 barrier on the back line and Mitch Miller will handle Just Makemine Diamonds from barrier four on the front line.

Olivieri said that he expected both pacers to be prominent on Friday night. “Diamond Life is a definite chance,” he said. “We gave him a bit of space between his runs and he was off his head at his most recent run, so we’ve now jammed a bit more work into him. His form prior to his latest run was very good.

At his latest appearance Diamond Life raced wide before working in the breeze and wilting to sixth behind The Last Drop over 2536m last Friday night. Voak drove the six-year-old to convincing wins at each of his three previous starts, all at Gloucester Park.

“Just Makemine Diamonds would shake the life out of this field if she was able to lead,” said Olivieri. “But I’m doubtful whether she will be able to cross to lead. However, she will have a bit of a dash (for the lead).”

Collie trainer Errol Ashcroft will be hoping that Euphoric Moment will take advantage of the prized No. 1 barrier and end a losing sequence of 16. The four-year-old has impressed with strong finishing bursts to record excellent second placings at three of his past five starts. The experienced performer will be handled by his regular driver Deni Roberts and though he is generally regarded as a strong sit-sprinter, he also possesses good gate speed and has won after leading.

Another four-year-old in the Chris Willis-trained The Verandah is favourably drawn at barrier No. 2. He is a strong frontrunner but is not always reliable at the start in mobile events. Michael Grantham has been engaged to drive the son of Alta Christiano.

Alta Intrigue, prepared by Gary Hall Snr, is awkwardly drawn at barrier six and faces a stern test. The six-year-old reappeared last Friday night after an absence of 28 months when he enjoyed the one-out, one-back trail and fought on to finish fifth behind The Last Drop.

Star reinsman Gary Hall Jnr said that he expected Alta Intrigue to improve on his first-up effort, saying: “He definitely needed the run, big time, first-up.”