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Ken Casellas | Photo: Gloucester Park Harness Racing

Five-year-old Beat City continued his march towards Free-For-All company when he survived a close photo finish and then a protest before winning the 2130m Ramsays Horse Transport Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Veteran trainer Mike Reed lodged a protest after Gary Hall Jnr had driven Beat City, the $1.50 favourite, to victory by a half-head over the $4.80 second fancy Ragazzo Mach, claiming that Hall had affected Ragazzo Mach’s winning prospects by half-carting in the back straight in the second lap.

Half-carting is the term used to describe a horse not racing in the true one-wide position.

After hearing submissions from Reed, Ragazzo Mach’s driver Shannon Suvaljko and Hall, the chief harness steward Brad Lewis dismissed the protest, saying that the stewards determined that Hall’s tactics had not disadvantaged Ragazzo Mach.

Beat City, from barrier three, was beaten for early speed by $51 outsider Mattjestic Star (barrier two) and after Hall’s efforts to take the lead were unsuccessful, he angled the gelding across to the pegs to take the trail behind Mattjestic Star, leaving Ragazzo Mach in the breeze, about three lengths farther back.

Beat City came off the pegs after a lap before moving back behind the pacemaker a few hundred metres later. Beat City as sent forward by Hall 450m from home and the five-year-old hit the front 200m later and went on score narrowly from the strong-finishing Ragazzo Mach. The final 400m was covered in 28.7sec. and Beat City rated 1.56.3.

Beat City’s trainer Michael Young was impressed with the gelding’s performance and said: “I thought we were in a bit of trouble once Mattjestic Star wanted to hold up. But Junior (Hall) drove really well and the horse went the best he has ever gone, and that got him over the line.

“I feel that Beat City will make it through to Free-For-All company where he should be more of an opportunist rather than a luck-maker, himself.”

Beat City, a winner of eight races in Victoria, has raced 19 times in WA for seven wins and nine placings. His win was some slight compensation for Young, who was forced to scratch talented mare Nevermindthechaos from the group 2 WASBA Breeders Stakes on Friday night.

“A scan revealed damage to her nearside front tendon, and you probably won’t see her for another ten to 12 months,” said Young. “I’d take her being sound over Beat City winning.

“She damaged the same tendon as an early two-year-old, and they said she would never race. But she has had 19 starts for seven wins (and $62,887 in prizemoney). We have caught this one really early, so we’re confident she will be able to come back.”