Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
Five-year-old Perfect Major has given a strong indication this year that he is a dashing sprinter, with two superb victories over 1730m, rating 1.53.5 and 1.53.4, and champion reinsman Chris Lewis is planning to use the gelding’s excellent gate speed in a concerted bid to score an all-the-way win in the $50,000 Allwood Stud Mount Eden Sprint over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Perfect Major, trained by Ross Olivieri, has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier in the field of seven, and he has bright prospects of giving Lewis his sixth victory in this group 2 feature event, following successes with Village Kid (1987), Whitby Timer (1990), Flashing Star (1997), Sneakyn Down Under (2008) and Sensational Gabby (2014).
“Drawing the No. 1 barrier is a big help,” said Lewis. “And we will be doing our damnedest to hold up and lead, and if we do, he will be hard to beat. He has good gate speed and sprinting ability.”
Lewis was excited at the way Perfect Major unleashed a paralysing sprint to charge home from last the 300m mark to snatch a last-stride head victory over the pacemaker Vampiro in the 2130m Stratton Cup last Friday week.
“Turning for home I thought he could run third, but then he switched into another gear,” he said.
In the Members Sprint over 1730m in May this year Perfect Major started from barrier five, raced three wide early and then in the breeze outside Jackl Farthing before getting to the front in the final 100m and beating the fast-finishing Balcatherine by a head at a 1.53.5 rate.
Then, in a 1730m Free For All in late August Perfect Major began speedily from the No. 2 barrier but was unable to cross the polemarker Space Junk. He raced in the breeze outside Vampiro, who had assumed control after 300m. Perfect Major challenged Vampiro strongly 300m from home before taking the lead with 110m to travel. He went on to win at a 1.53.4 rate from Son Of A Tiger and Vampiro.
It is also worth noting that Perfect Major has led at nine of his 18 wins in a wonderful 51-start career.
Perfect Major’s toughest opponents loom large as Hurricane Harley (barrier seven) and Vampiro (six).
Hurricane Harley, trained at Boyanup by Justin Prentice, will be handled by champion reinsman Gary Hall jnr, who has won the Mount Eden Sprint (originally known as the State Sprint Championship) a record seven times, having scored with Bengeeman (2002), The Falcon Strike (2006), Im Thermightyquinn (2011 and 2012), Waylade (2015) and Chicago Bull (2017 and 2020).
Hurricane Harley, a former Victorian performer, will be making his second appearance in Western Australia. He began from the outside barrier (No. 9) in the 2130m Stratton Cup last Friday week and raced in the breeze outside Vampiro before wilting to dead-heat for fifth behind Perfect Major.
“I wasn’t really happy with that first-up run,” said Hall. “I was a bit disappointed, really. But since we’ve gone back and had a look at the race, Justin mentioned that the horse hadn’t raced for nine months, and that’s a fairly long time for a bull to be off the racetrack, and then be expected to come out and breeze and win. I’ll definitely forgive him for that one. There’s no doubting his ability.”
Vampiro, to be driven by star reinsman Ryan Warwick for leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, is in terrific form and will have many admirers. He has explosive gate speed and Warwick is expected to use this asset in a bid to charge across from barrier six and into the lead.
Warwick, who won the Mount Eden Sprint with Lookslikelightning in 2005, has fond memories of when Vampiro started from the No. 6 barrier in this sprint event in 2018 when the gelding raced three wide for the first 350m and then outside the pacemaker Maczaffair. Vampiro gained the upper hand 40m from the post and beat Maczaffair by a head at a 1.55.2 rate.
Thats Perfect, a stablemate of Perfect Major, will be driven by Chris Voak from the outside barrier in the field of eight. “It looks tough from the wide draw,” said Voak. “But I expect it will be a fast-run race, and that could help Thats Perfect.”