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Talented four-year-old Howard Hughes fared poorly in the random draw and will start from the outside of the front line at barrier nine in the 2536m Retravision Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

This will be his first appearance for 19 weeks and it follows unplaced efforts at his past six starts.

However, he looks a class above his rivals and should prove hard to beat. He should appreciate a considerable drop in class after having contested three group 1 and two group 2 events over the past 15 months.

Leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond produced Howard Hughes in fine fettle for a 2185m trial at Pinjarra on Wednesday of last week when he started from barrier three in a field of four and raced in third place in an Indian file affair before Deni Roberts eased him off the pegs 750m from home. He then surged forward and took the lead with 250m to travel before beating Delightfulreaction by four metres at a 1.58 rate. He sprinted over the final quarters in 28.7sec. and 27.2sec.

Howard Hughes won at eleven of his 14 starts as a three-year-old and was a winner at his first appearance as a four-year-old before failing at his next six starts. He broke in running at three of those starts.

There is no doubting his class, taking into account his fifth placings early this year in the group 1 Four-Year-Old Classic and the Golden Nugget, finishing behind such quality pacers as Magnificent Storm, Minstrel and Patronus Star.

His major rival on Friday night is expected to be Bettor Be Oscar, who has a losing sequence of 21, but looks ideally suited from the No. 3 barrier.

Trainer-reinsman Aiden de Campo is predicting a strong performance from the WA-bred five-year-old Bettor Be Oscar, who resumed after a spell last Friday night when he raced in fifth position, three back on the pegs, before fighting on to finish fourth behind Gambit.

“If he finds the front, he will be very hard to beat,” said de Campo. “I was really happy with his first-up run, and he worked well again this morning (Tuesday). “We will be coming out hard and hoping to lead.”

De Campo is also optimistic about the chances of Sport Sport Sport in the Cowden The Insurance Brokers Pace for two-year-old fillies. Sport Sport Sport broke through for her maiden win when she began speedily from barrier five and set the pace before holding on to beat Cheese And Biccys by a head at a 2.0.3 rate over 2100m at Bunbury last Saturday night.

“It’s not a strong field, with only one other winner (Dontbesillychilli) in the race,” he said. “Sport Sport Sport is going to need a bit of luck from barrier eight, but she’s up to the others on ability.”

Dontbesillychilli, trained in Bunbury by Sarah Wall, will be driven by Nathan Turvey from the No. 7 barrier. She raced one-out and one-back and fought on when a distant second behind the brilliant Wonderful To Fly in the group 3 Gold Bracelet last Friday night. She finished solidly from sixth at the bell to win comfortably from Smokeys Shadow and Tomlous Jambo over 2100m at Bunbury two starts before that.

Written by Ken Casellas | Photo Credit: Hamilton Content Creators