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Ken Casellas | Hamilton Content Creators

A last-to-first performance in a trial at Pinjarra on Wednesday of last week was a pointer to a strong first-up showing by five-year-old Rupert Of Lincoln, a newcomer to the stables of Ross Olivieri, in the 2130m Choices Flooring Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

The New Zealand-bred gelding will be driven by Chris Lewis from the prized No. 1 barrier in an event in which he will meet far stronger opposition than he did in the 2185m trial in which he was handled by Chris Playle.

Rupert Of Lincoln began from the outside barrier in the field of six, and after racing four wide for the first 200m he was restrained back to last while Sadhita was setting a slow pace.

The opening quarters of the final mile were run in 33.2sec. and 31.2sec. and Rupert Of Lincoln was eased off the pegs approaching the bell before he dashed to the front 470m from home and was not extended in winning by 2m from Torpedo Rock, rating 2.1.1, with final 400m sections of 29.3sec. and 27.5sec.

He has set the pace after starting from barrier one and won twice at Geelong and once each at Maryborough and Mildura. However, a study of his performances in New Zealand (three starts for two wins) and Victoria (36 starts for ten wins on country tracks and 13 placings) reveal that he does not possess particularly fast gate speed.

At his most recent appearance, over 2100m at Geelong on July 17 this year, he began from the No. 1 barrier and lacked gate speed, despite the urgings of Kerryn Manning. He then raced three back on the pegs before running home gamely along the sprint lane to finish a two-length second to the pacemaker Vandanta, who rated 1.59.2. Sahara Tiger, a stylish Gloucester Park winner at his WA debut on October 22, finished third.

Rupert Of Lincoln has a losing sequence of ten, and his most recent victory was 16 months ago when he began from the back line, raced three back on the pegs and ran home along the sprint lane to win narrowly from Yankee Lincoln, who rated 1.59.4 over 2190m at Shepparton, with final quarters of 28.5sec. and 27.5sec.

No doubt Lewis will be keen to take full advantage of the No. 1 barrier on Friday night, but there is a strong chance that Rupert Of Lincoln might not have sufficient early speed to hold out the Tony Hynam-trained Joe With the Flow, who will be driven by Lindsay Harper from the No. 2 barrier.

Joe With The Flow possesses excellent gate speed, and he began fast from the No. 2 barrier in a 2536m event last Friday night when he led for the first 700m before Harper elected to take the sit behind the favourite Rock Me Over.

Joe With The Flow was hopelessly blocked for a run in the final stages and finished a close-up and most unlucky fifth behind Disco Under Fire. Joe With The Flow has been unplaced at his past seven starts, but he appeals as a major player in this week’s event. His most recent success was ten starts ago when he began speedily from barrier three and set the pace before beating Machlani over 2536m last March.

Another runner who looks set to fight out the finish is Caris Hamilton-Smith’s six-year-old Rockaball, who will be driven by Micheal Ferguson from out wide at barrier six. Rockaball, who led and finished a nose second to the brilliant Papinik over 2536m three starts ago, caught the eye as a $71 outsider last Friday night when he was eighth at the bell on the pegs before charging home, out five wide, to finish fourth behind Mirragon over 2536m.