This year's World Driving Champion James MacDonald from Canada and American Marcus Miller have both fared better in the ballot for horses in the two heats of the Sky Racing/Slater Gartrell International Drivers Series, which will conclude Friday night at Gloucester Park.
James MacDonald has drawn the rail in the first of Fridays Drivers Series heats with the handy Skippy Rascal, who has been placed at three of his previous five starts and enjoys his first decent draw in that period.
MacDonald’s drive in the second of Friday’s heats is Jaxon Fella, who had no luck last start being held up for a clear run in the straight. Three starts ago he finished third to a couple of pretty handy horses in Johnny Disco and Zach Maguire.
Jaxon Fella is drawn in barrier two on the second tier but MacDonald should be able to follow the speedy Sokys Bigbullet through at the start and be in a prominent position when the field settles down.
While he hasn’t had any luck with decent barrier draws Marcus Miller has drawn the handy Ohoka Darcy in the second of Friday’s heats. Ohoka Darcy, who will start from the inside of the second tier, won a heat and final of The Kersley on November 17 and 24 before being caught wide last Friday in a heat of the Drivers Series and finished down the track.
Ohoka Darcy should get a good run from his draw on the back of pole marker Argyle Red, who does have gate speed and will be driven by Todd McCarthy. Todd is the younger brother of Andrew McCarthy, who has driven some 250 winners of $5.3 million in North America this season.
Miller’s first drive on Friday night is the handy four-year-old Wrappers Delight who, although drawn on the outside of the second tier, is dropping back in class after his two previous unplaced starts in the Group One Yes Loans Four-Year-Old Classic and Group Two WA Four-Year-Old Championship.
Three starts ago Wrappers Delight was third to a couple of very smart four-year-olds in Rocknroll Lincoln and Herrick Roosevelt in a prelude of the $200,000 Group One Golden Nugget the final of which will be held on Friday night.
Hannah Miller has drawn the in-form mare Parisian Partygirl, who will start from post three in the Retravision Invitation Ladies Drivers Challenge -- appropriately, a race restricted to mares.
Parisian Partygirl was held up for a clear run at her last start when she finished seventh. Her previous start she dead-heated for first with Madame Meilland in a handy field at Northam after Parisian Partygirl had finished second in mares company at her two previous starts. She gives Hannah Miller a good chance of winning at her first Gloucester Park drive.
James MacDonald (left), pictured with Hannah Miller and Marcus Miller (right)
The International Invitation Drivers Series pits MacDonald and Miller against some of the best drivers in Australasia in a four-race series. The North American duo faces off against Mark Purdon from New Zealand, Chris Alford from Victoria, Kerryn Manning and Greg Sugars, as well as Todd McCarthy of NSW. The locals will be represented by Chris Lewis, Gary Hall Jr., Ryan Warwick, Kim Prentice and Shannon Suvaljko.
After the first two heats, there is a three-way tie for top spot between Sugars, Alford and Hall. All three drivers have 21 points, while another Western Australian in Chris Lewis is on 20 points.
To view the entries for Friday's card at Gloucester Park, click the following link: Friday Entries - Gloucester Park.
(with files from Australian Harness Racing)