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Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators

Veteran pacer Motu Premier, a splendid close second to champion Chicago Bull in the Ray Duffy Memorial at Gloucester Park on Friday night, is being set for the South Australian Pacing Cup at Globe Derby Park in April.

He will leave Perth by float this Monday (January 17) and will be prepared in Adelaide by Les Harding to be part of leviathan owner Merv Butterworth’s three-prong attack in the South Australian Cup which will be run in a series format, like the Interdominion championship.

To be eligible for the SA Cup, pacers need to meet a residency criterion to compete, with Cup horses required to be in South Australia by February 1.

Butterworth will also be represented in the SA Cup by former West Australian performers Jimmy Mack and Im Full of Excuses, who like Motu Premier enjoyed successful careers under the care of eight-time WA premiership trainer Ross Olivieri.

Nine-year-old Motu Premier, who set a brisk pace and finished a half-length second to Chicago Bull on Friday night, has amassed $415,115 in stakes after his 74 starts produced 19 wins and 27 placings.

Motu Premier, a winner of seven races in New Zealand and three in New South Wales, has had 47 starts in WA for Olivieri for nine wins and 16 placings. His record would have been much better had he not been forced out of action a couple of times.

“He damaged a hind leg twice after being hooked up in fences,” explained Olivieri. “He had a habit of backing into fences and getting caught.”

Motu Premier was a brilliant two-year-old in New Zealand in 2015, being placed in six group events, including seconds to Lazarus in the group 1 Emerald and second in the Sires Stakes to Chase The Dream, with Lazarus finishing third and Chicago Bull ninth.

Among his notable performances in WA Motu Premier won the group 3 Parliamentarians Cup in November 2019, beating Mighty Conqueror, and he finished fifth behind Soho Tribeca in the WA Pacing Cup in January 2018.  

Olivieri said that Motu Premier was still capable of beating the best pacers. “He is on the way up and is heading in the right direction,” he said. “The early burn (when he was challenged hotly for the early lead by Hampton Banner) cost him dearly when he tired in the final stages.”

Jimmy Mack, who had 45 starts for Olivieri in WA for ten wins and 16 placings, is in devastating form in Adelaide, with his nine starts at Globe Derby Park over the past three and a half months producing seven wins, one second and one fourth.

He has won at his past six starts, including the 2230m Christmas Cup on December 24. He has earned $176,769 from 22 wins and 21 placings from 64 starts.

Im Full of Excuses has raced 105 times for 22 wins and 20 placings for stakes of $380,006. He had 84 starts for Olivieri in WA for 15 wins and 16 placings. He won seven in a row in 2016, and his wins included the Kalgoorlie Cup and York Cup in 2016, the Northam Cup, Pinjarra Cup and Harvey Cup (at Bunbury) in 2017, and the 2020 Narrogin Cup.  

Olivieri will enter rising star Papinik and Perfect Major for the $300,000 Retravision Fremantle Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Papinik has won at 12 of his 18 starts, with his four runs in his current campaign producing three wins and a second placing.

Perfect Major has earned $272,878 from 18 wins and 17 placings from 61 starts. He won the group 2 RWWA Cup, beating Chicago Bull, in November 2020, and won the group 2 Stratton Cup, beating Vampiro, last October.