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Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators

Bunbury trainer Bob Mellsop and stable driver Kyle Harper cracked the jackpot this week when Apollo Rock and Our Star Watch each drew the coveted No. 1 barrier in their respective events at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Harper was delighted at the favourable barriers and said that both geldings should be prominent and hard to beat. Both possess good gate speed and have been successful when setting the pace.

Six-year-old Apollo Rock will contest the opening event, the 1730m Minstrel Pace. He reappeared after a two-month absence when he raced three back on the pegs and was hampered for room in the home straight before fighting on along the sprint lane to finish sixth behind Run For Mercy in the helter-skelter 1140m Dash For Cash at Bunbury on Wednesday of last week.

“I think that the mile (1730m) will suit him,” said Harper. “He has strings to his bow. He can lead and sit and sprint. This looks like a race in which he can lead and go very close. He is a very good each-way chance. The Code Breaker will be one to watch, and so, too, will be Middlepage, who is going very well.”

Middlepage, trained and driven by Lindsay Harper, will start from barrier two and is sure to take beating, following his impressive return to form when an easy winner over 2130m last Friday night when he raced without cover for more than 800m before going on to win from the pacemaker Adda Something. He dashed over the final 800m in 56.2sec.

The Code Breaker, trained by Ross Olivieri and to be handled by Chris Voak, is ideally drawn on the inside of the back line. He raced three back on the pegs before finishing strongly to be second to Eldaytona over 2130m last Friday night.

Five-year-old Our Star Watch, who has a losing sequence of nine, will contest the 2130m Money Magnet Pace in which he will clash with several in-form pacers.

Our Star Watch caught the eye in a 2503m strand at Bunbury on Wednesday of last week when he began off the 50m mark and was eighth at the 400m before going five wide on the home turn and running home strongly to finish fourth behind Seeryanfly.

That was his first start for four weeks and he is sure to be improved by the outing.

“He went off the boil a bit, and Bob has worked on him, and he has come back pretty good,” said Harper.  “He gave him a bit of a let-up and then ran him in a standing-start event in Bunbury when his run was very good.

“He gave them a good head start, and he felt like a different horse and back to his best. And if he is close to his best he could be leading and winning on Friday night. He has led and won in town before. He was very smooth in his action at Bunbury, and at his best he is a pretty serious horse.”

Among his rivals this week are last-start winners Arma Einstein and Pierre Whitby, recent winners Heez Our Perseus, Vespa and Alta Rhett, and smart performer Medieval Man, who is favourably drawn at barrier two for his first appearance for 15 weeks.

Vespa makes good appeal. He was sixth at the bell before he charged home out wide to finish powerfully into third place behind Beat City and Ragazzo Mach in a three-way photo finish.