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Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators

The best is yet to come — that’s the confident prediction of crack reinsman Aldo Cortopassi after he had driven rising superstar pacer Magnificent Storm to a superb victory in the $25,000 Retravision Free-For-All over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Magnificent Storm survived the strong pressure applied by champion Chicago Bull on his way to winning by a neck from the fast-finishing Diego, rating 1.55.9 and improving his record to 19 wins and two placings from 23 starts for earnings of $341,157.

“We got the result we required, and Magnificent Storm is still on the way up, which is a bonus,” said Cortopassi. “He has a great constitution, and all going well he will contest the $50,000 James Brennan Memorial next Friday night.

“He was starting to get a bit tired (in the final stages), but he was entitled to after the sections we ran (28.9sec., 27.7sec., 27.9sec. and 29.6sec.). And this was only his third run (after a break) and tonight he felt sharp and back to his own self again. These hard runs will make him better.”

Magnificent Storm, prepared by astute Mt Helena trainer Ray Williams, is well and truly on his way to achieving greatness by winning the $300,000 Retravision Fremantle Cup on January 21 and the $450,000 TABtouch WA Pacing Cup on February 4.

Starting the $1.50 favourite from barrier five, Magnificent Storm mustered splendid early speed and stormed past $8.50 chance Hampton Banner to take the lead 350m after the start. This left Chicago Bull ($4.40) in the breeze in fourth position before he worked his way forward to range alongside the pacemaker after 600m.

Chicago Bull got his nose in front at the bell, but he wilted over the final 550m to finish seventh, four lengths from the winner, with reinsman Gary Hall jnr saying that he was happy with the eight-year-old $2.3 million earner’s performance at his second appearance after a six-month absence.

“He started to pull in the breeze, which was a good sign,” said Hall. “It was the first time he has pulled in a race since he was a three-year-old. I was pleased with the way he fought it out in the home straight.”

Cortopassi said that Magnificent Sorm had been tested a few times in his races before emerging triumphant. “Thery have come off second best every time,” he said.

Magnificent Storm and Chicago Bull are likely to lock horns again in next Friday’s group 2 Brennan Memorial.

Diego, a $26 chance driven by Maddison Brown, was the surprise packet in Friday night’s race. He was seventh, four back on the pegs at the bell, before flashing home out four wide, to get within a neck of Magnificent Storm. Diego gave a similar eye-catch fast-finishing performance when a close second to Wildwest over 1730m two starts earlier.

Veteran Galactic Star, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, enhanced his prospects of getting a start in the big Cup events with a strong-finishing third behind Magnificent Storm and Diego. He was a $91 outsider from barrier No. 7 and was eighth at the bell before finishing powerfully, out five wide.

“This just proved that Galactic Star is good racing on the rails,” said reinsman Ryan Warwick. “He was a long way back and ran into third pretty good.”

Warwick said he was also pleased with the run of the Bond-trained Vampiro, a $21 chance driven by Dylan Egerton-Green, who enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back before fighting on gamely to finish fourth at his first start for eleven weeks.

“It was just over the last 100m that he knocked up,” he said. “It was a good effort, first-up over 2536m and running those times. You can’t do that at home, so this was just what he needed.”

Boyanup trainer-reinsman Justin Prentice was extremely pleased with the performance of Rocknroll Lincoln, who finished fifth at his second start after a two-year absence. Rocknroll Lincoln, a $21 chance, was sixth, three back on the pegs, at the bell and was hopelessly blocked for a clear run in the final stages.

“He couldn’t get a run and was bolting on the line when he ran out of room,” said Prentice. “I was really happy with him. I think that his body went into a bit of shock when there were two 27sec. quarters. Obviously, this tested his fitness out, and he will improve on that, hugely.”