Lightly-raced six-year-old Mighty Conqueror, winner of the WA Pacing Cup in January 2020, will return to action after a nine-week absence when he starts out wide at barrier No. 7 in the 2130m Off The Track Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The New Zealand-bred gelding, the winner of 18 races from 38 starts and $580,048 in prizemoney, had a soft workout in a 2150m trial at Byford on Sunday morning when he raced without cover in a leisurely-run affair, took a narrow lead 600m from home and went on to win by 2m from stablemate Vampiro at a modest 2.0.7 rate, with final quarters of 29.6sec. and 29sec.
Mighty Conqueror, prepared by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, will be driven by Ryan Warwick and cannot be underestimated first-up. One of his rivals in an extremely open event is his four-year-old stablemate Patronus Star, who was a first-up winner last Friday week when he set the pace from the No. 1 barrier and defeated Boom Time and Diego. He will be driven by Dylan Egerton-Green from barrier four.
Champion trainer Gary Hall Snr will be represented by five runners Ideal Liner (barrier 1; Michael Grantham), Balcatherine (No. 3; Callan Suvaljko), Diego (No. 5; Deni Roberts), Chicago Bull (No. 9; Gary Hall Jnr) and Whozideawasthis (No. 13 on the back line; Maddison Brown).
Ideal Liner is a smart frontrunner, who impressed, first-up, two starts ago when he led and finished a neck second to Whozideawasthis over 2130m. He could be tested at the start by the Ross Olivieri-trained Stroke Of Luck, who will start from the No. 2 barrier.
Balcatherine will be strongly fancied from the No. 3 barrier after her solid efforts when second to Perfect Major and third behind Major Times at two of her three outings since resuming from a spell.
Gary Hall Jnr is hoping for further improvement from champion Chicago Bull, who has been a beaten favourite at each of his three appearances after reappearing after a four-month absence.
Chicago Bull set the pace from the No. 1 barrier when second to the fast-finishing Major Times over 2536m last Friday night.
“Of his three runs since a spell his effort last Friday was the run I was most happy with,” said Hall. “Even though he was beaten at $1.15, I was still happy with him. I think he went as good as he could at this stage of his campaign, considering that he pulled when he hit the wheel. I will just drop him out from barrier nine and see what transpires.”
by Ken Casellas