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WA Pacing Cup preview

More hot harness action from the west, Trent Orwin with the shrewd analysis....

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$400,000 TabTouch WA Pacing Cup
Gloucester Park
Group 1, 2936m, mobile start
2045 WA time, 2345 Melb/Syd, 1245 GMT


Author: Trent Orwin
Twitter: @themightytrent3
Website
Formguide

History:
Western Australia’s premier harness race takes place at Gloucester Park on Friday night with the running of the 102nd edition of the Group 1 WA Pacing Cup (2936m).

It is a race that is steeped in history. An honour roll that reveals some of harness racing’s greatest ever champions.

Standing at the top of the mountain are two of Western Australia’s greatest of all-time in Pure Steel (1977-80) and Village Kid (1985-86, 1988-89). The pair captured the coveted Cup on four occasions each.

Following them with three victories apiece are fellow champions The Falcon Strike (2002, 2004-05) and Im Themightyquinn (2011-13). Beau Don (1952-53), Radiant Oro (1968, 1971), Westburn Grant (1991-92) and Our Sir Vancelot (1997-98) are the only other horses to have captured the WA Pacing Cup on more than one occasion.

Race Overview:
The Aldo Cortopassi-trained Hokonui Ben will try to become the ninth pacer to win the iconic event more than once and his task has been made difficult as he has drawn the outside of the second row.

David Hercules captured the Group 1 Fremantle Cup (2536m) and will be taking aim at capturing the Cups double on Friday night. His task will also be a difficult one as he draws inside Hokonui Ben in barrier 11.

Leading trainer Gary Hall Snr has five runners in the event and is chasing his ninth win in the event after preparing The Falcon Strike, Tealsby Karita (2007), Im Themightyquinn and Hokonui Ben (2014) before the latter switched to the Cortopassi stable.

Speed Map:
When the green light goes on expect Northview Punter to get away well before handing up to stablemate Toretto over the 2936m marathon journey. There is the possibility that Northview Punter could attempt to lead but it makes sense to take a sit for the stable’s sake and he showed that he can finish off well after obtaining cover.

Our Jimmy Johnstone will enjoy a nice run three-back on the pegs with Pacific Warrior and Finbar Abbey likely to head there also.

Soho Jackman, Soho Highroller and My Hard Copy will restrain from their draws whilst Bettors Fire should fire out in search for the breeze early on. He does possess the most natural gate speed and if he flies the start, he could attempt to catch them napping in a bid to land the pegs first (highly unlikely but not beyond the realm of possibility).

David Hercules could make a mid-race move in search for the breeze and it may be on offer this year after Bettors Fire refused to relinquish it last year before battling away to finish fifth. The other alternative is that the Fremantle Cup winner comes with one run which is what Hokonui Ben most likely will do with My Hard Copy, Soho Jackman and/or Soho Highroller on his back.

Race assessment:
Northview Punter rates as my top pick in the race given he will either lead throughout or trail Toretto. From either position he should be running on strongly. He also boasts a comfortable victory over David Hercules when he led throughout in the Group 3 August Cup (2536m) with David Hercules 18.9m away. He also put in a strong performance in the Fremantle Cup (2536m) and looked the winner rounding the turn before peaking on his run with David Hercules scoring by 4.7m.

Toretto looks the second best chance in the race and he should be leading with Gary Hall Jnr in the sulky. Finished runner-up in this event last year after trailing Hokonui Ben and just failed to run him down late. Two starts back he led in a slick 1:56.9 mile rate and a repeat performance of that would see him go close to winning on Friday night.

David Hercules is the best horse in the race but has drawn poorly. He may still be able to overcome this and win. His run in last year’s Cup was exceptional when peeling five deep in the home straight and flashing late to grab fourth. An early move to the breeze looks his best chance of winning the race and he should finish in the top four, even with bad luck.

Bettors Fire looks to be the wildcard in the race and should make his way to the breeze early on. He had a purple patch where he won five of six starts before tasting defeat at his past two starts. His run in the Fremantle Cup had plenty of merit and the biggest concern is trainer-driver Kyle Harper informed stewards that his horse may be underdone following a small setback.

Our Jimmy Johnstone will relish every metre of the 2936m journey and draws to get a soft run on the pegs. He looks a knockout chance and has been impressive winning three of his four starts in WA. Boasts three wins from five attempts between 2700m to 3099m in New Zealand.

Hokonui Ben can never be completely written off given his class and toughness. He is better suited to leading or facing the breeze but if there is speed in the race he can finish over the top but looks more a place chance than winning chance. Has been beaten at his past six starts and his run in the Fremantle Cup was okay without being great.

Pacific Warrior and My Hard Copy are the blowout chances in the race if everything falls their way. The latter has a devastating turn of foot but may be too far back in the run to be effective because if they drop a 56-57 middle half whilst he is working three-wide with cover, he could be likely to peak on his run in the home straight.

Copagrin, Soho Jackman, Soho Highroller and Finbar Abbey are the four runners that would surprise me if they won. Conditions do not suit and they have not proven they can win in this company in their careers to date.

My Ratings:
Northview Punter - $3.50
Toretto - $4
David Hercules - $4.60
Bettors Fire - $10
Our Jimmy Johnstone - $15
Hokonui Ben - $21
My Hard Copy - $61
Pacific Warrior - $61
Copagrin - $601
Soho Jackman - $601
Soho Highroller - $601
Finbar Abbey - $601

Recommendations:
It’s all about value - back any that are overs, particularly at the sharper end of the market.

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