Clint Hall was full of praise for Alta Christiano after driving the star four-year-old to a runaway victory in the 2130m first heat of the Make Smoking History Johnson Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
“I can’t take much credit as a driver for these ones,” he said. “You just sit back and enjoy the ride. I did try to get the plugs out, but was unable to do so.”
Hall explained that his father, leading trainer Gary Hall sen., had wanted him to give the stallion a tougher run than he had when he reappeared after a ten-month absence in a race at Gloucester Park 11 days earlier (winning easily after dawdling through the first two quarters of the final mile in 32.6sec. and 31.7sec.).
“Senior is sitting on my shoulder and he wants this horse to start doing a bit more than he did at his first-up run,” Clint Hall said. “But I just couldn’t get them (ear plugs) out. The only concern was getting out of there (from the inside of the back line). And once he was out of there I was quite comfortable. I didn’t wait for him to settle and balance out. With a horse like this you just don’t have to.”
Hall made his intentions clear from the start when he restrained Alta Christiano, the 5/1 on favourite, back more than a length behind polemarker Oneheart Twofists, in the late stages of the mobile score-up.
Alta Christiano was eased back to last in the field of 12 and Hall sent him forward with a three-wide burst after 450m. Alta Christiano charged past the pacemaker Oneheart Twofists and into the lead with 1050m to travel. He strolled over the final 800m in 57.6sec. and was unextended in beating 50/1 chance Mantoman by three lengths at a 1.56.2 rate over 2130m.
Mantoman did a fine job after settling at the rear and then sustaining a spirited burst. Firebomb (25/1) was an excellent third after working hard in the early stages and then running on from seventh at the bell.
Alta Christiano has already amassed $256,213 from nine wins and one placing from only 13 starts. He is unbeaten at his five starts in Western Australia for earnings of $183,479.
The stewards fine Clint hall $300 for failing to come up into position with Alta Christiano at the start.
By Ken Casellas