Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
Hurricane Harley, an effortless winner of the group 3 Gerrard’s Howard Porter Memorial at Gloucester Park on Friday night, is being set for the $50,000 RWWA Cup on November 19 as a major lead-up before his assault on the rich Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups in January.
“He has felt good and sharp in his work and he’s getting fitter with every run,” said trainer Justin Prentice. “Hopefully, he keeps improving. I’ll see how he pulls up, but he will probably have another run before the RWWA Cup, which is his immediate aim. And then we will pencil in the big Cups.”
“He did it really easily tonight,” said champion reinsman Gary Hall jnr. “I might have some decisions to make, come Christmas, choosing Cup drives, particularly if Chicago Bull is okay. It’s nice to have options.”
Hurricane Harley, the $1.20 favourite, began swiftly from barrier six, and Hall sent him to the front after 270 metres, giving the polemarker Fanci A Dance ($13) a perfect trail.
Perfect Major ($10) dashed forward, three wide, in the first lap to race in the breeze, while Hurricane Harley coasted through the opening quarters of the final mile in 31sec. and 29.3sec. before sprinting over the final 400m sections in 28.2sec. and 28.1sec. He rated 1.55.3 over the 2130m journey and beat Fanci a Dance by three lengths, with Bettorstartdreaming a head away in third place.
The impressive victory gave Hall a record fourth success in the Porter Memorial, following wins with Fletcher Christian (2003), Crusader Banner (2015) and Chicago Bull (2020).
Prentice said he was still learning a lot about the five-year-old Hurricane Harley. “With a stallion having nine months off, it takes a bit of time to tighten right up and get rock-hard race fit, especially at the level he’s at,” he said.
Hurricane Harley is by Bettors Delight and is the third foal out of the Christian Cullen mare Sugarland (34 starts in modest company for seven wins, 14 placings and stakes of $38,418).
Sugarland is a half-sister to Maffioso (41 starts for 24 wins, ten placings and $606,907 in prizemoney), and this arouses disappointing memories for Hall, who drove Im Themightyquinn when he finished a head second to Maffioso in the group 1 $200,000 Chariots of Fire at Harold Park in July 2009.
Hurricane Harley now has amassed $527,025 in stakes from his 23 wins and six placings from 43 starts.