Former New Zealander Western Cullen was given the seal of approval by champion reinsman Chris Lewis after leading all the way to win last night's Lancaster Park Golden Nugget Prelude (2506m) at Gloucester Park.

The Andrew De Campo-trained gelding, who beat odds-on favourite Im Victorious and Tuxedo Tour, bounced into top contention for the $175,000 Golden Nugget Championship on December 7.

"He's had difficulties here since arriving in Perth last year, but he's now going smoothly and getting better on this circuit," Lewis said.

Western Cullen ($6.40) showed abundant early speed to lead, while Im Victorious, backed from $1.30 to $1.20, moved around three-wide to settle facing the breeze.

Western Cullen faces strong opposition in the Golden Nugget from Chancellor Cullen, a winner at his last six starts. Victorian Chancellor Cullen is expected to make his WA debut in Friday's $125,000 McInerney Ford Classic (2100m).

·Top reinsman Gary Hall Jr was back in the stable good books after a clever front-running drive on Hokonui Ben ($2.30) to win the Caduceus Club Navy Cup (2503m).

"I was critical of Junior's drive on Aussie Made Lombo earlier tonight when he gave her a hard run and she finished third," Hokonui Ben's trainer Gary Hall Sr said. "Hokonui Ben is owned in Queensland and was going to race there. I'm glad I convinced connections to send him here."

·Alkira Jetstar ($16.40) rocketed home to narrowly win the Nepean Conveyors Mares Pace (2100m) from Lucie Boshier ($3.30). Alkira Jetstar is aimed at the $100,000 Nepean Conveyors Mares Classic.

The West Australian

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