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Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators

Star reinsman Aldo Cortopassi was delighted with the way Magnificent Storm sprinted over the final 400m in a sparkling 26.8sec. to win a 2150m Byford trial last Sunday morning, and he is planning to set the pace and win the $50,000 Simmonds Steel City of Perth Cup over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

“We’ve got the gate speed to take full advantage of our barrier (No. 3),” he said. “We’ve got a good chance to lead, and at worst we’ll be in the first two or three.”

There promises to be a keen duel for the early lead, with both Chris Voak, the driver of the polemarker Motu Premier, and Gary Hall jnr, the driver of Balcatherine (barrier two) declaring their intentions to press forward strongly at the start in bids to take up the running.

Voak said that the Ross Olivieri-trained Motu Premier was primed to make a bold bid for victory, saying: “He finished strongly when he rated 1.55 to finish third behind Bletchley Park in the RWWA Cup two starts ago before he began from a wide barrier, raced six back on the pegs and finished at the rear behind Hurricane Harley last Friday night.

“We will attempt to set the pace, and if Motu Premier leads and doesn’t finish in the top three I’ll be very disappointed.”

Balcatherine, prepared by Gary Hall snr, has been placed at her past five starts, and Hall jnr said: “I’ll have a look (for the lead) early, and if we get to the front, we will be holding it. I guess she has a slim winning chance but is a good place chance from the draw.”

Ray Williams, who trains Magnificent Storm, a winner at 17 of his first 18 starts in Western Australia after a ninth placing at his only appearance in New Zealand, said: “I’m happy with the draw because it is hard coming into this class, first-up.

“Magnificent Storm has pulled up well after Sunday’s trial. I led him in his work on Monday, jogged him today (Tuesday) and will give him a gallop tomorrow (Wednesday).”

Magnificent Storm took the lead after 80m in Sunday’s trial and enjoyed comfortable quarters of 31.9sec., 29.4sec. and 29.8sec. before dashing over the final 400m in 26.8sec. and winning by a neck at a 1.57.4 rate from three-year-old Machnificent, who ran home strongly.

“He was really sharp, and when I let him down, he really accelerated. There is no horse who can sit-sprint quicker than Machnificent, and he couldn’t get over Magnificent Storm,” said Cortopassi. “His heart rate was a lot better than it was after his previous trial the previous week (when second to The Notorious One).

“The idea on Sunday was to get a nice solid 1200m, and it was. He is quite cagey. He knows when we’re serious and when we’re not. He’ll be a different horse come race day, when he walks on to the track and knows what he needs to do.

“I’ve been watching the Free-For-Alls pretty closely, and I really pricked my ears the way Hurricane Harley went last Friday (when he led and won easily from Minstrel and Wildwest over 2536m). He really scooted, and I thought that if he drew inside of Magnificent Storm, he would be hard to catch. I didn’t want to sit outside of him, trying to run him down.”

Hurricane Harley, who is at his best when he leads, has drawn out wide at barrier seven on Friday night.

Magnificent Storm will be making his first appearance for twelve weeks. He has won first-up at his first three campaigns for Williams.

“He has had only two weeks off since his latest run,” explained Cortopassi. “It’s not that he has had a long spell. He has been deliberately freshened up before the carnival (when his main missions will be the Fremantle Cup and WA Pacing Cup).”

Evergreen nine-year-old and reigning WA Pacing Cup champion Vultan Tin, who led from barrier two and won the City of Perth Cup from El Jacko and Handsandwheels in February 2019, will start from barrier No. 5 at his first start for 16 weeks.

Owner-trainer Phil Costello is happy with his happy with his work but admits the 189-start veteran will need a couple of runs to reach his peak.

“He has had a nice break and has had a long, slow preparation,” said Costello. “He works over three heats of a mile twice a week and will need a couple of runs to harden up before the big Cup races.”

Savvy Bromac, the brilliant all-the-way winner of the 2536m Westral Mares Classic last Friday week, faces a stern test when she begins from the No. 4 barrier.

“It’s not the barrier draw we wanted,” said driver Emily Suvaljko. “Apart from her latest start, we usually drive Savvy Bromac for her speed as a sit-sprinter,” she said. “This will be a good test for her, deciding whether she goes forward to the Pacing Cup. She proved last start that she is good enough to race against the boys.”

Hampton Banner (barrier No. 7), Hurricane Harley (No. 8) and Wildwest (No. 9) are racing in fine form but will need plenty of luck from their wide draws.