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Ken Casellas | Photo: Gloucester Park Harness Racing

WA-bred five-year-old Middlepage has proved a considerable handful for trainer-reinsman Lindsay Harper, but he was almost on his best behaviour at Gloucester Park on Friday night when he won the 1730m Minstrel Pace in convincing style.

“He only had to pace to win,” said Harper after Middlepage, the $2.50 favourite, had sustained a spirited burst to beat the fast-finishing $23 chance American Bullitt by just over two lengths at a 1.56.5 rate.

“We have had vets, chiropractors and acupuncturists looking at him; we’ve done everything. He just comes out of his gear for no reason, mainly at the start.

“At his previous start, he paced and won, and tonight he paced and won again. He got a little bit rocky on the first corner tonight but remained in his gear. During the week I put new shoes with rubber cushions on his front feet to try to help. And I think that they helped.”

Middlepage has broken into a gallop at 15 of his 51 starts which have produced ten wins and 13 placings for earnings of $74,125.

“The only times he hasn’t finished in the first five have been when he has broken up,” said Harper. “When he was younger, he could fly out (at the start) and cross from nine, but in recent times I haven’t trusted him enough early to let him off the bridle. I didn’t bustle him out (from barrier two) tonight because that’s a recipe for disaster.

“He’s got speed and strength. He is no superstar, but he will win again.”