Toretto's effortless victory in the $35,000 Kennards Hire Christmas Gift final at Gloucester Park on Friday night was the highlight on a memorable evening for champion trainer Gary Hall sen. and star reinsman.
Hall and Prentice combined to win five of the ten events on the program, with Hall extending his lead on thetrainers' premiership table. He shows the way with 51 winners and 71 placegetters from 240 starters and leads from Greg and (26 winners from 143 starters) and (19 winners from 152 starters).
The quintet enabled Prentice to move into fourth place on the city drivers' premiership table. He has driven 19 winners from 93 drives and is behind Gary Hall jun. and(30 winners each) and (20).
Toretto is, at last, repaying Hall sen. for his great patience with the New Zealand-bred five-year-old who has been plagued by injury and on Friday night was having only his 14th start after spending much of the past couple of years recuperating from bowing a tendon twice on the same leg.
Hall has trained a quintet of winners several times, but this was only the second time that Prentice has landed five winners on a program. Hall also trained six winners (all driven by his son Gary) at Gloucester Park two months ago.
Prentice has been driving most of the Hall runners in recent weeks while champion reinsman Gary Hall jun. and his elder brother Clint have been on the sidelines, serving terms of suspension. Hall jun. was also suspended when Prentice previously drove five winners --- at Gloucester Park on October 8, 2011. Three of them, Im Tim Kelly, Lukcon Lad and Albert Jaccka, were trained by Hall sen. and he trained the other two, My Sound of Thunder and Sea Gale.
Toretto, who has won nine times from his 14 starts (all in WA) for earnings of $83,730, arrived from New Zealand in Perth in November 2011 and won at two of his first three starts in the State between June and November 2012. He then bowed a tendon and was out of action for 11 months.
Toretto, perfectly drawn at the No. 1 barrier, was a warm 6/4 on favourite and he gave his supporters little cause for concern as he jumped straight to the front and dictated the terms of the race and won by 5m from 28/1 chance Our Major Mark, who started at three-wide move with 1250m to travel.
Red Salute (5/1) trailed the leader throughout and finished third, a head in front of 10/1 chance Hez The Bart Man, who sustained a strong burst from the rear to move into second place in the closing stages before breaking into a gallop in the final couple of strides. The winner rated a moderate 2.0.1 over the 2`30m.
Toretto is byand is the seventh and last foal out the unraced mare Scottish Seal and he looks destined for bigger and better things.
"He surprised me last week with the ease of his win in the heat and when he drew the No. 1 marble I was very excited to keep the drive," Prentice said. "Gary has been saying for a long time that Toretto has got a huge amount of ability and tonight he has won in second gear.
"He was absolutely just jogging. Gary said that the previous time he had led he was off the bit and Junior (Hall jun.) had to drive him the whole way. But he was hard on the bit tonight and was never ever going to lose. He'll go all the way; he's definitely fast-class material. "
Toretto's win gave Hall sen. a record fifth success in the Christmas Gift after wins with Nixons Creed (1993), Allioop (2004), McRaes Mate (2007) and Livingontheinterest (2012). It was the second win for Prentice, who drove McRaes Mate to victory over Cosmic Legacy.
J WALKER STORMS HOME FOR THE IN-FORM WILLIAMS
Young Henley Brook trainer Robbie Williams continued his recent run of successes when he produced a near-perfect patient drive to land 11/4 favourite J Walker a thrilling last-stride winner over the pacemaker Salliwood in the $20,500 Kennards Hire Mount Eden-No Dill Christmas Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The New Zealand-bred J Walker, a seven-year-old son of, started from 20m and the 25-year-old Williams was quite content to allow the gelding to relax at the rear in the field of 12, while frontmarker and 8/1 chance Salliwood set the pace
J Walker was tenth after a lap and ninth at the bell before he unwound a spirited burst to charge home and snatch victory from the ten-year-old Salliwood, who had won the Christmas Handicap 12 months earlier. The half-head defeat also foiled reinsman's bid to win the event three years in a row. Before Salliwood's 2012 win, Suvaljko had driven Rocket Reign to victory in 2011.
Boyanup trainerprepared the third and fourth placegetters. He brought Braemoor (13/2) home with a powerful burst from the rear at the 1250m mark to be third, with Kaiden Hayter finishing fourth with Gday Mate (7/1). Gate Bender, a brilliant first-up winner in weaker company a week earlier, was second favourite at 15/4 off the 20m mark. He dashed forward in the first circuit to move into the breeze before gaining a good sit, one-out and one-back. But he had no luck in the last lap and finished tenth.
J Walker, owned by former New Zealand trainer-reinsman Graham Bond and Stephen Schmedje, of Esperance, won eight times from 50 starts in New Zealand before arriving in WA in August 2012. Friday night's win boosted his record to 81 starts for 17 wins and 18 placings for stakes of $163,456.
J Walker is named after John Walker, one of New Zealand's greatest athletes, winner of the 1500m at the Olympic Games in Montreal in 1976. He broke Tanzanian Filbert Bayi's world record for a mile with a time of 3min. 49.4sec. at Gothenborg in Sweden in August 1975 and he ended his career with the remarkable record of 135 sub-4min. miles.
J Walker is the sixth foal out of Tareena Jay (21 starts for five wins, four placings and $41,606) and he is a half-brother togelding Jays Debut, who amassed $239,455 from six wins and five placings from 22 starts, including wins in the $100,000 group 1 New Zealand Two-Year-Old Championship at Alexandra Park in June 2005 and a $97,500 listed classic at Franklin the following month. J Walker is also closely related to Lordship pacer Reba Lord, who earned $384,880 from 17 wins and 16 placings from 69 starts in New Zealand, Australia and America.
"We have had a few problems with his soundness," Williams said. "But at the moment he's pretty good and, fingers crossed, he can keep fit and go through the grades. I think he has a bright future. He's a beautiful little horse and is no trouble. He's easy to train and is lovely to drive."
LIVINGONTHEINTEREST, NOT AT HIS BEST, IS STILL TOO FAST FOR HIS RIVALS
Speedster Livingontheinterest warmed up for the $60,000 Village Kid Sprint next Friday night with a smart all-the-way victory in the $21,000 Medic One Pace over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
But the New Zealand-bred six-year-old did not impress reinsman, who said that the gelding did not travel with his usual zest. "He's gone really good, time-wise. Normally he travels really, really strongly, but to me he didn't feel the same as he normally does. But he has won the race and that's what counts. I'm just glad to get that out of the way.
"He had me worried the whole way because he normally travels really, really strongly, and tonight he didn't travel well at all. However, he responded when challenged in the closing stages and Senior said that the horse's last 50m was what pleased him."
Livingontheinterest, favourite at 3/1 on, began fast from the No. 1 barrier, but had to be driven hard to resist an early challenge from 110/1 outsider Ohoka Dallas from barrier three and he sped over the first 400m of the final mile in 28.5sec.
Dasher VC, third favourite at 11/1, dashed forward in the first lap to move into the breeze and put pressure on the leader, and after a second quarter in 29.5sec. the third section whizzed by in 28.4sec. Hokonui Ben, the 4/1 second fancy and stablemate of the pacemaker, enjoyed the trail behind the leader before finishing determinedly in the home straight.
Livingontheinterest held Hokonui Ben at bay and beat him by a half-length, rating 1.54.9 after a final quarter in 28.9sec. Dasher VC held on to be 11m farther back in third place.
Livingontheinterest, who is related to prolific winners Party Party, Another Party and Champagne Party, won at seven of his 15 starts in New Zealand and now has a fine record of 37 starts for 19 wins, seven placings and $212,325 in prizemoney.
MAJORLY FOXY STYX EMERGES AS A BRIGHT PROSPECT FOR THE WA OAKS
New Zealand-bred filly Majorly Foxy Styx has resumed after a spell in superb condition and owner Rob Watson and trainer Gary Hall sen. are looking forward with confidence to the rich WA Oaks next year after her runaway victory in the Kennards Hire Pump and Power Three-Year-Old Fillies Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Her win by five lengths from Generally Outspoken at a 1.58.7 rate over 2130m followed her outstanding first-up performance to win the previous Saturday night when she raced three wide all the way and won convincingly from The Parade.
Generally Outspoken, owned by Watson and Grace Inwood and trained at Northam by, should also develop into a leading Oaks candidate. Second fancy at 7/2, Generally Outspoken ( ) raced without cover for most of the way and battled on gamely before breaking into a gallop in the final couple of strides.
Majorly Foxy Styx, favourite at 5/4, began speedily from barrier five andsent her past polemarker Flicka Whitby and into the lead after 500m. Prentice then was able to get the three-year-old to relax and travel through the first two quarters of the final mile in 31.4sec. and 30.4sec. before she sprinted over the final quarters in 29.3sec. and 28.8sec.
Majorly Foxy Styx did not race in New Zealand and she raced seven times in Victoria as a two-year-old for three seconds (at Kilmore, Ararat and Bathurst) before coming to Western Australia. She now has earned $30,865 from three wins and three placings from 11 starts.
She is the second foal out of unracedmare Foxy Styx, whose dam Prim And Proper (by ) had seven starts for one win, by a half-head in a minor race over 2200m at Greymouth.
NORTHVIEW PUNTER WINS "WITH A LEG IN THE AIR"
Four-year-old Northview Punter gave further proof that he is on the road to developing into a top-flight open-class performer when he outclassed his older rivals in the 2536m Kennards Hire Pump and Power Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
A strongly-supported second favourite at 5/2, Northview Punter made light of starting from the outside of the back line and the ease of his victory delighted trainer Gary Hall sen. and reinsman.
"He's gone super," said Prentice, substituting in the sulky for the suspended Gary Hall jun. "Junior said that he likes to chase, and down the back the final time I couldn't hold him slow enough to them, waiting for something to come to keep him concentrating. He was travelling that well that I just had to cut him (loose) and he's won with a leg in the air. I just wish it was that easy all the time."
Asian Courage, favourite at 9/4, jumped straight to the lead from the No. 2 barrier while Northview Punter settled down in tenth position. Prentice quickly seized the initiative and he sent Northview Punter forward with a fast three-wide burst after 550m.
Northview Punter then sat on the outside of Asian Courage before bursting to the front 350m from home and winning by two and a half lengths from 10/1 chance Bronze Seeker, who was tenth at the bell before unwinding a sparkling sprint. The final 400m was covered in 28.4sec. and the winner rated 1.58.4.
The Feather Foot (85/1) impressed in coming from last at the bell to finish third and veteran Rojen Cruz (14/1) also caught the eye by finishing powerfully from the rear to be fourth. Asian Courage faded badly to finish last.
Northview Punter, a winner of one race from two starts in New Zealand as a two-year-old, ended a losing sequence of six and improved his record to 30 starts for 15 wins and ten placings for earnings of $192,825. He is the ninth foal out of American-bred mare Watch Your Step and is a half-brother to smart New Zealand and American winners Stopwatch and Announcement.
FLYALONG FALCON CONTINUES ON HIS MERRY WINNING WAYS
Promising New Zealand-bred six-year-old Flyalong Falcon maintained his outstanding form and upset strong betting moves for Vapour and Shnappy when he finished full of running to win the 2536m Make Your Job Easy Pathway Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Flyalong Falcon, part-owned, trained and driven by, was sent out at the handsome odds of 11/2, with Vapour (11/8) and Shnappy (2/1) both heavily supported.
Polemaker Grand Cru (5/1) set the pace, with Shnappy (making his WA debut after winning ten times in Victoria) in the breeze and Vapour (unbeaten at his first two WA starts after three wins in New Zealand) racing in seventh position in the small field of eight.
Flyalong Falcon, the solitary runner on the back line, enjoyed a perfect run behind the pacemaker before Turvey eased him off the pegs and into the clear 350m from home. Flyalong Falcon surged to the front 60m from the post to beat Vapour (who had started a three-wide move with 950m to travel) by a half-length, with Grand Cru finishing third and Shnappy wilting to fifth.
The final 800m was covered in a brisk 56.9sec. and Flyalong Falcon rated 2.0.2 and took his record in WA to five wins and a second from six starts after having 29 starts in New Zealand for three wins and nine placings. He has earned $46,216. He is the only foal out of unracedmare Skip Along.
"He got the right run, which obviously helps," said Turvey. "He also got out at the right time and that went a long way towards his win. His best attribute is his standing-start manners and he's a pretty adaptable and laid-back character. I'd like to think he will win one or two more in the city."
IM TERRIFIC DAWDLES EARLY BEFORE SPRINTING AWAY FOM HIS RIVALS
New Zealand-bred five-year-old Im Terrific took full advantage of the prized No. 1 barrier at Gloucester Park whendrove him to an easy all-the-way victory in the 2130m second heat of the Kennards Hire Lift And Shift The Coulson Pace on Friday night.
Starting favourite at 5/4, Im Terrific took a stranglehold on the race when he dawdled through the lead time in 38.8sec. and ambled through the first 400m section of the final mile in a slow 31.9sec.
After a second quarter in 30.2sec. Im Terrific dashed over the final quarters in 28.6sec. and 28.2sec. to win by just under a length from 11/1 chance Rocky Marciano, who enjoyed the perfect trail, one-out and one-back, before finishing strongly. Heez On Fire (2/1) was an excellent third, just a head behind Rocky Marciano.
Heez On Fire was trapped four wide early beforerestrained him to the rear and then set him alight, three wide, from tenth at the bell.
"I don't think that we necessarily had to get it as easy as that early," said Brown. "But once we did, it was all over. Since they put the go-straights on him he has improved no end. He used to get on a knee a little bit, particularly at Gloucester Park. Now he's a different horse and has got a lot more confidence."
Im Terrific, who is trained by Greg and, had eight starts in New Zealand for one win (over 2000m at Otago as a three-year-old in January 2012) and his 223 starts in WA have produced nine wins and six placings.
MOONLIGHT ROCKHOLE ENDS A LOSING SEQUENCE OF 19
Veteran performer Moonlight Rockhole ended a losing sequence of 19 when he unwound a stirring finishing burst to get up in the final couple of strides to snatch victory from the pacemaker and 4/1 favourite Miss Rivertin in the 1730m Kennards.com.au Westbred Pathway Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Moonlight Rockhole started at 17/2 and his young trainer-driver Dylan Egerton-Green was content to sit back in the field before asking him for a strong effort in the closing stages. Moonlight Rockhole was eighth in the one-wide line at the bell where Miss Rivertin was being put under pressure by nine-year-old Whitbys Beach, who was making his first appearance for 23 months.
A hectic opening quarter of the final mile in 28.6sec. set the scene for a swooper and the final quarters were run in only 29.5sec. and 29.9sec., with the winner rating 1.58.2. Kristen Louise (9/2) ran on solidly from seventh at the bell to be third.'
"He has been a grand old horse for us and the Robbie Tomlinson syndicate," said Egerton-Green, who explained the seven-year-old's disappointing sixth behind Soho Monza in a field of seven at his previous outing a fortnight earlier by saying that the gelding was a bit flat when having his second run in the space of five days.
Moonlight Rockhole, who is still eligible to contest a-class maiden event, has amassed $98,683 from 15 wins and 31 placings from 127 starts. By , he is out of Windshield Wiper mare Gold Duchess, who had 27 starts for eight wins, six placings and $116,920.
Moonlight Rockhole is a half-brother to six winners, including Manu Magic (152 starts for 13 wins, 30 placings and $89,986) and Goldanover (135 starts for 11 wins, 30 placings and $75,220).
BEAUTIFUL NIGHT SETS THE PACE AND FIGHTS ON GAMELY
Six-year-old Beautiful Night, who is in foal, broke a losing sequence of 11 when she set the pace from the coveted No. 1 barrier and fought on grimly to win the 2130m Kennards Hire Merry Christmas Mares Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Favourite at 2/1, Beautiful Night was rated well byand she had just enough in reserve to defeat the strong-finishing 12/1 chance Hoylakes First Lady by 1m, with Arch On Fire (25/1) coming from fifth at the bell to be third. The winner, trained by , rated 1.58.2.
Beautiful Night, bred and owned by Neven Botica, has been a handy performer and she now has earned $70,369 from nine wins and 16 placings from 51 starts.
By American stallion, Beautiful Night is out of the New Zealand-bred P JS Dream, who won five times from 25 starts in New Zealand before having two unplaced runs in WA (at Gloucester Park and Pinjarra) in November-December 2006 and then being retired to the breeding barn.
"The barrier certainly helped," said Suvaljko. "She has led from an inside barrier before and I was confident of leading again tonight. She received a good bit of pressure early and did a good job to hold on and win."
THIS TIME DYLAN TURNS THE TABLES ON MAROONED
Rejuvenated pacer This Time Dylan notched his sixth win from his past 11 starts when he came from last in the middle stages to score a runaway victory in the 2130m Kennards Hire Concretecare Claiming pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
His five-length win over Marooned made amends for his second at odds-on to Marooned in a claimer the previous Friday night.
This Time Dylan, favourite at 6/4 from the outside of the front line, was restrained to the rear bywhile 40/1 outsider Heavens Delight set the pace from Davy Maguire (in the breeze), Artorius (behind the leader) and Tee pee Village in the one-out, one-back position.
The pace was fast and furious throughout, with a sizzling lead time of 36sec.
Prentice started a three-wide move (following Marooned) approaching the bell. Marooned got to the front 380m from home before This Time Dylan swept past him 130m later and raced away to win very easily at a 1.56.3 rate.
"They went hard early and we just had to go back, and it all just fell into place" Prentice said. "The only decision I had to make was when to come off the back of Marooned. I knew that this guy would sustain a real strong sprint. If I had left it to the top of the straight I probably still would have beaten Marooned. But I just wanted to make sure of it."
by Ken Casellas