maintained his reputation as a harness racing driver of long-priced winners when he brought inexperienced three-year-old The Mighty Rock home with a powerful burst from the rear to score a smart victory in a 2185m event for R0-class performer at on Monday afternoon.
Trained at Byford by, The Mighty Rock was an unwanted $193.20 outsider, making him one of the longest-priced winners in West Australian harness racing history.
The Mighty Rock, who had finished tenth at Pinjarra and eighth at Kellerberrin at his only previous starts, began from barrier four on the back line and was 11th in a field of 12 at the bell before he charged home, out five wide, to win from King of Cougars and Son of a Digger.
This followed the last-to-first victory of the Anderson-trained and Harper-driven $48.60 outsider Irockmyworld in the Kellerberrin Cup eight days earlier.
The Mighty Rock is out of the unraced Die Laughing mare Marilyn Ann, an unraced Hilarion mare who produced seven winners, including Buck The Odds, who was trained by Anderson throughout his career of 121 starts for 31 wins, 29 placings and $307,547 in stakes.
The Mighty Rock is the fifth foal out of Marilyns Might, whose first foal Might Be Luck is still racing in claimers at Menangle. Might Be Luck has been placed at two of his past three starts and has won at Melton, Ararat, Yarra Valley and Terang this season.
Anderson trained Might Be Luck for much of his career in WA before Harper took over as trainer and drove him to victory at long odds ($38.50) when he flew home from 11th at the 250m mark to gain a last-stride victory over Hugh Victor at Gloucester Park in September 2015. Might Be Luck now has earned $115,848 from 18 wins and 18 placings from 115 starts.
The Mighty Rock was bred and is owned by Bob Fowler, who was holidaying with his wife Marilyn in Morocco when he won at Pinjarra on Monday.
Long-priced winners is certainly nothing new for the 29-year-old Harper. Last December Harper drove nine-year-old Gallymont Cohort to and all-the-way win over Calais and Rocky Marciano at Northam. Gallymont Cohort, trained by Harper, went out at odds of $91.50 on the tote. Another of Harper’s wins as a trainer and driver this season was with Jasper Whitby, who scored at $44 at Northam in March.
Reinforcing the claims that Harper deserves to be recognised as WA’s long-shot king is that he trained and drove Sir Artsplace for a memorable victory at tote odds of $121.70 in the Pat Cranley Sprint over 1700m at Gloucester Park on September 30, 2011.
Harper restrained Sir Artsplace from the No. 7 barrier back to 11th position before sending him forward to be sixth, three wide with a trail, at the bell. The gelding got to the front in the final 20m and won from Wrongly Accused and My Jasami.
Another current long-shot driver is Dean Miller, whose winners this season include Be Prepared (a $152.20 shot who came from the rear to win at Gloucester Park on February 24), Hilo Angus (a winner at $94.80 at Narrogin in March) and Smashing American (a Pinjarra winner vat $48.80 in March).
Chris Voak’s numerous winners this season include Turquia ($72.70) and Firebomb ($61.20) and drivers of other long-priced winners include Deni Roberts (Borntobeanartist at $68.80 and Tsar Bomb at $63.50), Stuart McDonald (Sir Slick at $82.80), Lauren Jones (Tajie Baby at $61 and Shardons Rocket at $46), Callan Suvaljko (Ingot Dreaming at $58.50, Sweet Dilemma at $56.30 and Aldebaran Eastwood at $46.40), Bailey McDonough (Hot Fraternity at $81.60), Shannon Suvaljko (Foxy Dame at $75.70, The Midas Touch at $31.80, Bad Round at $29.30, Qtown Rip Roaring at $27.70, Spot The Shark at $24.30 and Colour Coded at $23.20), Garry Johnson (Spoilt Dilinger at $63.40) and Michael Grantham (Who Thru Teddy at $51.50, Northern Emperor at $30.20, Racey American at $29.80 and Real Zeal at $23.30).