12 October 2017 | Ken Casellas
Trainer Ross Olivieri and reinsman Chris Lewis have been a powerful and highly successful combination for 30 years and they will join forces at Gloucester Park on Friday night when they attempt to win three consecutive events with talented New Zealand-bred pacers Itz Bettor To Win, Motu Premier and Im Full of Excuses.
These three pacers are raced by leviathan owner Merv Butterworth, who is hoping the trio will qualify for the rich TABtouch Inter Dominion championship series, starting on November 24.
Butterworth makes no secret that he considers five-year-old Motu Premier a superior pacer to Im Full of Excuses and Itz Bettor To Win.
Sharing his opinion is Lewis, who said: “Motu Premier is a nice horse who goes good. And now he’s got to step up to the next level if he’s going to be an Inter Dominion contender.”
Motu Premier, whose six starts in Western Australia have resulted in five wins and a close second placing, will be making his first appearance for nine weeks when he starts from the No. 3 barrier on the front line in the $22,000 Simpson Pace over 2130m on Friday night.
Motu Premier is a strong and dour gelding who has won many races after working hard in the breeze and he is likely to have to endure a tough run again on Friday night when his chief rival looms large as the Olivieri-trained El Hombre.
El Hombre will start from the No. 1 barrier and Chris Voak said he would be keen to set the pace. “He produced a powerful effort when he raced without cover before winning from Soho Chelsea and Mach Time last week,” he said. “He should go even better by leading this week and I give him a good chance of beating Motu Premier.”
Lewis appreciates that El Hombre will be a worthy opponent on Friday night, saying: “That was one of his best runs and this will be a challenge for Motu Premier. However, all things being equal, I’d say Motu Premier is a better horse.”
Adding considerable interest to Friday night’s race will be the reappearance of Natural Disaster, an up-and-coming five-year-old who will be driven by his trainer Justin Prentice. Natural Disaster, who impressed in winning at eight of his 13 starts last season, will be having his first start for ten weeks. He faces a stern test from the outside (No. 9) on the front line.
Motu Premier is at No. 21 in the second list of ranking for the Inter Dominion championship series. Stablemate Jambiani is ranked No. 22, with Im Full of Excuses at No. 25, El Hombre at No. 58 and Itz Bettor To Win at No. 70.
Itz Bettor To Win will start out wide at barrier eight in the Celebrating Melissa Renouf Pace on Friday night and Lewis expects him to perform strongly at his second start in Western Australia. The six-year-old gelding was favourite at 6/4 when he dashed to the front from barrier three after 200m and set a brisk pace before wilting slightly in the closing stages to finish fourth behind Soho Tribeca, Bronze Seeker and Ideal Tyson.
“I think he ran pretty well,” Lewis said. “He obviously needed the run and even though he’s not well drawn this week, he will be one of the main players in the race.”
Im Full of Excuses will start from barrier four in the $25,000 Fred Doy Memorial Pace on Friday night in which he will clash with in-form pacers Simply Susational, Ideal Tyson and Cut For An Ace, as well as outstanding mare Major Reality, who will be having her first start since winning the Golden Girls Classic at Pinjarra on March 27.
Im Full of Excuses will be having his second start after a spell. He resumed last Friday week when he started out wide at barrier nine and was restrained to the rear before dashing forward to race in the breeze outside the pacemaker Sheer Rocknroll before wilting to fifth behind Simply Susational.
“I was happy with his first-up effort and I think he should step up and run a pretty good race this week,” Lewis said.
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