by Ken Casellas
Eight-time premiership trainer Ross Olivieri declares that everything is spot on for rising star Im Full of Excuses and is confident the New Zealand-bred gelding will win the $35,000 Alltools Four and Five-Year-Old Championship at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Im Full of Excuses has thrived since his outstanding performance to win the $50,000 Pinjarra Cup on Monday of last week when he was ninth at the bell and then sustained a powerful three and four-wide burst to hit the front on the home turn and race away to beat Our Jimmy Johnstone by five lengths at a 1.55.9 rate over the 2692m journey.
The final quarters were covered in 28.5sec. and 27.5sec. and Olivieri agreed that this was a career-best performance by Im Full of Excuses, who has won at nine of his past 12 starts.
A victory this week would give Olivieri his third success in the Four and Five-Year-Old Championship, after successes with Heros Knight in 1998 and Crombie in 2011.
Chris Lewis, who has driven Im Full of Excuses in all of his 13 West Australian starts for nine wins and one placing, has won the Four and Five-Year-Old Championship a record four times. He has been successful with Village Kid (1985), Hilarion Star (1992), Heros Knight (1998) and Make The Rules (1999). Last year he drove 8/1 chance Fernleigh Rebel, who was a fast-finishing second, beaten a half-head by The Odd Lover.
“He’s on track and his work this week has been terrific,” said Olivieri. “He’s drawn barrier seven in a field of seven and whatever happens, happens. Chris will work it out.
“Im Full of Excuses beat some very good horses in the Pinjarra Cup, but before that a lot of his races were really two-horse affairs, without detracting from the other runners. He meets strong opposition on Friday night. There are many very promising horses in the race.
“He’ll continue racing at the moment. We’ll just keep picking our way through selected races in this preparation. Somewhere along the line we’ll give him a break, but he’s not wanting it at the moment.”
American Boy, who finished third in the Pinjarra Cup before an effortless all-the-way victory over Risk, rating 1.55.7 over 2130m last Friday night, will start from the No. 5 barrier on Friday night and appeals as one of the main rivals for Im Full of Excuses.
American Boy is prepared by champion trainer Gary Hall sen., who has won the Four and Five-0Year-Old Championship with Love of Glory (1990), Zakara (1991), Make The Rules (1999) and Northview Punter (2014). Gary Hall jun., who was in the sulky for Northview Punter’s victory, will handle American Boy, who has an outstanding record of 29 starts for 18 wins, seven seconds and one third.
Risk, who was an excellent first-up second to American Boy last week (when he finished solidly from the one-out, one-back position) will be driven by Ryan Bell from barrier four. He has won at 14 of his 40 starts and is prepared by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, who have won the race with Ohokas Bondy in 2012 and Your Good Fortune in 2013.
The Mike Reed-trained Kiwi Legend will be driven by Shannon Suvaljko from the No. 3 barrier and should prove hard to catch if he is able to burst to an early lead. However, there is a strong possibility that Aiden de Campo will make a spirited bid to take full advantage of the No. 1 draw and attempt to set the pace with Blythewood trainer Gary Elson’s smart four-year-old Ideal Tyson, who has had 39 starts for 16 wins and 12 placings.
The other four-year-olds in the race, New World Order and Mister Versace, are racing in wonderful style, but will need to be right at their top to beat the more mature five-year-olds.
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