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Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators

Redoubtable stayer Vampiro has bright prospects of becoming the sixth multiple winner of the August Cup when he starts from the outside barrier at No. 9 in the $25,000 feature event over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

The seven-year-old gelding prepared by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond has resumed racing after a six-month absence in fine fettle and will be handled by Dylan Egerton-Green, who has driven him at his three starts in his current campaign for a first-up third to Patronus Star, followed by a head second to Chiaroscuro and a brilliant all-the-way victory by seven lengths over classy stablemate Patronus Star.

He is sure to relish racing over his favourite distance, with his 17 runs over 2536m producing six wins, five seconds and one third placing.

The August Cup was first run 71 years ago, and the multiple winners have been Tavis, Zakara, Shattering Class, Bettors Fire and Chicago Bull.

Vampiro was driven by Ryan Warwick and was a $10 chance from barrier seven when he had a tough run in the breeze before finishing determinedly to gain a last-stride win by a half-head over the pacemaker Our Corelli in the 2019 August Cup. The Bond camp’s previous win in the August Cup was in 2009 when Colin Brown drove the 7/4 favourite Mister Odds On to victory over Spirit Of Shard.

Vampiro’s major danger looms large as the talented four-year-old Patronus Star, who will be driven by Warwick from the No. 7 barrier. Patronus Star is in top form. He led when he won by from Major Times and Vampiro over 1730m three starts ago, and then trailed the pacemaker Mighty Conqueror before finishing powerfully to be a close second to his brilliant stablemate over 2130m. A week after that he surged home, out very wide, from seventh and last at the 300m to finish second to Vampiro over 2536.

Trainer Gary Hall snr has won the August Cup seven times — with Zakara three times, Im Themightyquinn, Northview Punter, and Chicago Bull twice. Gary Hall jnr has driven the winner of the event five times, scoring with Im Themightyquinn, Uppy Son, Northview Punter and Chicago Bull (twice).

The Halls will be pinning their faith on Alta Blues, with the inexperienced four-year-old, a winner at ten of his 21 starts, beginning from barrier four. The Hall stable will also be represented by Ideal Liner (Callan Suvaljko, barrier six).

Alta Blues maintained his splendid form when he worked hard in the breeze before finishing a close fourth behind Magnificent Storm in the 3309m Marathon Handicap last Friday night. “He is at least 12 months away from being a Free-For-All horse, but he is doping a good job,” said Hall jnr.

Speedy frontrunner Al Guerrero, trained at Pinjarra by Kyle Anderson, faces a stern test at his first appearance in Cup company. But he has drawn ideally at barrier one and he looks the early leader. Al Guerrero caught the eye in a 2130m event last Friday night when he was seventh with 250m to travel before unleashing a brilliant late finishing burst to be a close second to See Ya Write.

The Ross Olivieri-trained Perfect Major is the only runner on the back line in the field of ten, and he is capable of a bold showing following his excellent second to Minstrel last Friday night when he fought on grandly after working hard in the breeze.

“I don’t think it is a bad draw, though I would’ve loved to have led,” said Perfect Major’s driver Chris Voak. “I think the pegs will be the best place, and if there is a bit of speed we should be able to get off inside the 600m.

“I give him a very good each-way chance. I was happy with his run last week, and he has trained on the best he has, and I think Ross has got him close to where he needs to be. The only question is that he hasn’t won from behind in WA. But he is going to get a perfect trip and he is in the zone at the moment.”