Champion trainer Gary Hall Snr recorded his sixth win in the Group 2 Western Gateway (2536m) at Gloucester Park last night, just not with the horse he thought may have delivered him the result.
Eloquent Mach now takes a three race winning streak into the Group 1 WA Derby on April 6, as he upstaged the more fancied stablemate Major Trojan.
Connections of Major Trojan predicted the pacer would go forward from barrier eight, which came to fruition as he settled outside race favourite Patrickthepiranha.
After having front row draws at his past three starts, Eloquent Mach started from the second row last night and was forced to settle midfield for reinsman Stuart McDonald.
Eloquent Mach was quickly on the scene in the final 400m and set out to challenge Major Trojan, as Patrickthepiranha faded out.
Franco Edward made a late charge at Eloquent Mach from the rear of the field, but fell short by a half-neck.
Major Trojan fought on gamely in third.
Eloquent Mach rated 1.56.1 and ran home in a time of 56.8.
The Western Gateway win added to recent wins in the WA Derby Prelude and the Battle Of Bunbury.
McDonald said Eloquent Mach was his favourite horse and deserved to be one of the leading hopes for the WA Derby.
“He can certainly beat them, he’s proven it tonight,” McDonald told RWWA Harness.
“He’s still getting better this horse and they keep underestimating him, but he’s right up there.
“He’s one of the best three-year-olds I’ve driven.
“I’m hoping we get a half-decent draw in the big race and we can be in the finish.”
McDonald, who works at the Hall Snr stable, said he expected Major Trojan to improve off his third placing and declared him as the one for Eloquent Mach to beat in the Derby.
Major Trojan is rated a $2.80 chance with TABtouch in the WA Derby, ahead of Franco Edward ($3.60) and Eloquent Mach ($4).
The Western Gateway win capped off a sensational night in the sulky for McDonald, who teamed up with Whozideawasthis in the Intersport Slater Gartrell Free-For-All Pace (2130m).
McDonald said it was one of his, if not the, finest night he’s had at Gloucester Park.
“It’s certainly a good night,” he said.
“I’ve had a few good winners on Friday’s, especially on Inter Dominion night, but this one is right up there.”
Meanwhile, Double Expresso maintained her unbeaten record, with a professional victory in the Western Crown Final (1730m) for the two-year-old fillies.
Double Expresso went straight to the front for Chris Lewis and ran home in 56.8 to score an effortless 6.9m win.
In the Western Crown Final for the colts and geldings, the Michael Brennan-trained Marcotti kept his unbeaten record intact, with a tough 1.9m victory.
The other star performer on the evening was the Justin Prentice-trained Dracarys, who took out the Intersport Slater Gartrell 3YO Fillies Pace.
Dracarys enhanced her WA Oaks credentials with a dominant 14.9m win.
You can catch up on all the action from Gloucester Park last night here.
Image: Scott Hamilton