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Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators

Thirteen years ago, Aldo Cortopassi was able to overcome a back-line draw and a torrid run to land eight-year-old Just Jasper a half-length winner over Scruffy Murphy in the James Brennan Memorial — and he should enjoy a more comfortable run in his bid to win the $50,000 group 2 feature event at Gloucester Park on Saturday night.

He will drive the State’s most exciting pacer Magnificent Storm, who should enjoy the luxury of the perfect No. 1 barrier for the first time in his outstanding career.

Four-year-old Magnificent Storm, prepared by astute Mt Helena trainer Ray Williams, has captured the imagination of West Australian harness racing enthusiasts with his sheer brilliance which has enabled him to win at 16 of his 17 starts in the State.

The New Zealand-bred Magnificent Storm is a superb frontrunner, and his sparkling gate speed should enable him to stave off an expected early challenge from the redoubtable seven-year-old Vampiro, who has amassed $632,341 in prizemoney from 28 wins and 25 placings from 76 starts.

Vampiro is prepared by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond and will be driven by Ryan Warwick, who is likely to use the New Zealand-bred gelding’s excellent gate speed from the No. 5 barrier. Vampiro has set the pace from barriers two, four, nine and eight at his past four starts for two wins over 2536m (the distance of Saturday night’s event), a head second to Chiaroscuro over 2536m and a last-start third behind Perfect Major and Son Of A Tiger over 1730m.

Warwick took full advantage of Vampiro’s gate speed when the gelding led from barrier three and won the 2018 Brennan Memorial from stablemate Our Jimmy Johnstone.

Our Jimmy Johnstone, driven by Bailey McDonough, led from the No. 1 barrier and won the 2019 Brennan Memorial from stablemate El Jacko, with Vampiro, driven by Warwick and starting the $2.50 favourite from barrier two on the back line, racing at the rear before fighting on, out four wide, to be sixth.

Magnificent Storm began speedily from barrier six in the group 3 2130m York Cup last Friday night, and Cortopassi was perfectly content to have a relaxed gelding in the breeze outside the pacemaker and odds-on favourite Minstrel before sending him to the front 250m from home and winning by seven metres from Minstrel after final 400m sections of 27.7sec. and 28.6sec.

Champion trainer Gary Hall snr has won the Brennan Memorial with Alzona in 2011, Waylade in 2016 and Chicago Bull in 2017, and he is pinning his hopes this year on Ideal Liner, who faces an extremely difficult task from the outside barrier the field of seven.

Ideal Liner, to be driven by Gary Hall jnr, has a losing sequence of 19 over the past 19 months. The best of his recent runs was three starts ago when he trailed the pacemaker Magnificent Storm and finished second, just over two lengths behind the frontrunner.

The Brennan Memorial has produced a couple of magnificent and exciting spectacles in recent years, with Chicago Bull, the $1.10 favourite, leading from the No. 1 barrier and holding on grimly in a 26.7sec. final quarter to beat $5.40 chance Soho Tribeca by a nose in 2017 after Soho Tribeca had had a tough run in the breeze for the final two laps.

And then in last year’s event four-year-old Shockwave dashed to an early lead after starting from barrier six and setting a scorching pace with the first three 400m sections of the final mile in 28.7sec., 26.6sec. and 28.5sec.

Shockwave led by 12 lengths at the bell and was ten lengths in front with 500m to travel before he began to wilt and held on to beat Chicago Bull by a half-head, with that great pacer running home powerfully.