Big test for Magnificent Storm
The wait is over and former Kiwi pacer Magnificent Storm steps into serious free-for-all racing for the first time at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Despite drawing ideally in gate two, this will be no easy transition for Ray Williams’ gifted four-year-old.
His rivals include former WA Pacing Cup winner Mighty Conqueror, who looks right back to his best, and his younger and classy stablemate Patronus Star.
But Magnificent Storm will be favourite from gate two with Aldo Cortopassi to drive, especially with Patronus Star (gate three) and Mighty Conqueror (seven) drawn outside him.
Magnificent Storm has raced 15 times for Williams in WA for 14 wins and a second in the Group 1 Golden Nugget.
A changing of the guard looms in WA with Magnificent Storm and another outstanding four-year-old, Minstrel, heading for the top.
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Tim Butt’s exciting French import Holzarte Vedaquais steps up in class again when he heads to the Kilmore meeting on Saturday night.
Butt makes no secret of his excitement about the four-year-old, who resumed from a long spell with a track record-breaking Yarra Valley win last Friday.
Holzarte Vedaquais switches from standing-start racing to the mobile this week and will need some luck from inside the back row over 2180m.
“It’s probably the one draw we didn’t want, but he won’t be staying on the inside. I’ll be telling John (Caldow, driver) to take him back and get into clear air,” Butt said.
“He’ll need a bit to go right to win again this week, but he’s come on well since the first-up win the other day. I’m sure he’ll run well.
“There’s a $50,000 Group 1 stand-start handicap race at Melton in the middle of next month. That’s the aim if we can get him there.”
Some other star trotters clash at Kilmore in the Group 3 Maori’s Idol Trotters’ free-for-all.
The brilliant Majestuoso will need to be at his best to win from outside the back row (gate 11) over 1690m against the likes of Cover Of Darkness (gate two), Im Ready Jet (six), Always Ready (seven) and Red Hot Tooth (nine).
The Kilmore card also boasts two Group 1 finals for Australasian Premier Trotting Sales’ graduates.
In the fillies’ final, Emma Stewart’s Banglez and NSW raider Aldebaran Ursula look hardest to beat.
Former Kiwi trainer Brent Lilley has a strong hand in the colts and geldings final with Aldebaran Zeus and Maestro.
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Star trotter Tough Monarch should return to winning form at Menangle on Saturday night.
The nine-year-old just worked too hard from a daunting 40m backmark last week, but gets back to mobile free-for-all conditions this time.
Big Jack Hammer (gate six) and Drop The Hammer (five) look the testing material with slightly better draws than Tough Monarch (eight) over the flying mile.