The West

Kersley declares Quinnie the fastest
Former champion pacing trainer-reinsman Fred Kersley gives Im Themightyquinn a workout yesterday. Picture: Bill Hatto/The West Australian

Fred Kersley has declared star pacer Im Themightyquinn the fastest of WA's long list of champions after the pair met for a secret training session at Serpentine yesterday.

Kersley will make an emotional return to the sulky at Gloucester Park tomorrow night for the first time in nearly a decade when he drives Im Themightyquinn in an exhibition.

After a six-month lay-off, Im Themightyquinn has recovered from a bone fracture, illness, a kick from a stablemate and a spider bite.

After an exclusive workout for _The West Australian _ at trainer Gary Hall Sr's property yesterday, the usually unflappable Kersley was taken aback by the triple Inter Dominion champion's power, speed and tactical ability.

Kersley, 75, looked as composed as ever as the pair broke the three-minute mark over their 2400m run, finishing the final 400m in 26.1sec.

Kersley said Im Themightyquinn, who is expected to return to racing this month, was clearly superior to past pacing greats such as Pure Steel and Classic Garry.

"This horse is at another level, he'd belt them," Kersley said.

"I wouldn't put them in the same paddock.

"That was quite a thrill and brought back some very good memories. I can honestly say I've never sat behind a horse that felt better. He's very willing, very smart, too, and just happy when you let him have rein.

"His speed is exciting and he could go faster than he went this morning. I can just imagine, if you really asked the big question of him, how quick he would go. In terms of pure speed, he's faster than anything I ever drove.

"It's quite a compliment to be asked to take him around, a true champion.

"Sometimes I reckon I gave it (pacing) away a bit too soon, it's still my first love."

Kersley, now a thoroughbred trainer who last drove competitively at Gloucester Park on August 1, 2006, said he was apprehensive before yesterday's session and later felt stiffness in muscles he had barely used in the past eight years.

Kersley amassed 2377 wins as a driver, 2282 as a trainer, won 17 Perth driver's premierships, 14 trainer's premierships and in 1984-85 became the first Australian to drive more than 100 metropolitan winners in a season.

Hall Sr said Kersley, whose father Fred was also a WA pacing star, had been his hero when growing up.

He named his son Gary Jr because of his admiration for Kersley and said watching the legend steer his pacer yesterday had been a life highlight.

"That was phenomenal, I just couldn't believe it," Hall Sr said.

"I was petrified things wouldn't go according to plan, but he was my idol and Quinnie went so good for him.

"It's hard after you've been out that long and not that easy just to jump on, but he's a champion and could probably come back driving if he wanted to.

"Fred came back and gave Quinnie the thumbs up, he couldn't believe how sound he was."

Gloucester Park chief executive Michael Radley said Kersley and Im Themightyquinn would provide a special moment tomorrow night.

"For Fred to drive possibly the best horse we've seen, it is something special," Radley said.

The West Australian

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