Master horseman Gary Hall sen. took a calculated risk when he abandoned his regular training program for Hokonui Ben leading into Friday night's $400,000 Nepean Conveyors WA Pacing Cup --- and his bold gamble paid handsome dividends when his elder son Clint drove the seven-year-old to a dashing all-the-way victory in the group 1 feature event.
This continued the 64-year-old Hall's remarkable dominance of the State's major pacing event, a race he now has won eight times in the past 12 years to extend his lead over the late Phil Coulson, who prepared the winner of five WA Pacing Cups.
"It probably was more of a jag, rather than good training," a humble Hall said. "The previous week Hokonui Ben worked in terrific style on the Wednesday morning, but I wasn't happy and was disappointed with his run in the Fremantle Cup on the Friday night."
Hokonui Ben enjoyed a perfect trail, one-out and one-back, in the Fremantle Cup, but lacked sparkle in finishing a well-beaten fourth behind Im Victorious, Bettors Fire and David Hercules.
"I thought that Hokonui Ben had every chance, so I decided to freshen him up and didn't hopple him during the week," Hall said. "I normally hopple him every week, but I took the chance and confined his work to just cantering every day."
Hokonui Ben, favourably drawn at the No. 2 barrier on the front line in the 2936m WA Pacing Cup, was third favourite at 11/2 behind Im Victorious (5/4 on) and David Hercules (5/1), with Bettors Fire the next fancied runner at 10/1.
Clint Hall dashed Hokonui Ben past the polemarker, inexperienced stablemate Toretto (a 45/1 outsider), 100m after the start and he relished his pacemaking role before holding on to win by a nose from the fast-finishing Toretto, with 17/1 chance This Time Dylan third and David Hercules fourth.
This gave the 36-year-old Hall his biggest success in harness racing and his first win in a group event, 20 years after his first drive in a race, when he finished fourth with favourite Prince of Azhar at the now defunct Cunderdin track.
Hall has an enviable record as a reinsman, having won at his first appearance at Gloucester Park and at each of his first two drives in America. He was successful at his 11th drive in a race, when Sweet Boronia won by eight lengths at Bunbury on October 8, 1994. He won with his first drive at Gloucester Park when Little Town Blues beat Just As Sweet in a junior drivers' event on February 17, 1995. He won with his first two drives in America, scoring with former WA pacers Lombo Dominator and Super Strike.
Hall sen said that he was extremely proud of Clint, saying: "He has always been a great driver and unfortunately he went to America and has probably lived in Gary's shadow. But he has proved tonight that he is right up there with some of the very best drivers around."
The 31-year-old Gary Hall jun. opted to drive Im Victorious for trainerand he certainly had mixed fortunes in the big race.
Im Victorious started from the inside of the back line and Hall drove him hard early in an attempt to get off the pegs and into the one-wide line. However, when Im Victorious was in fourth position 150m after the start he was checked, raced roughly and lost two lengths. The stewards found that Ima Rocket Star () had shifted down when not clear of Im Victorious. They suspended Brown from driving for 23 days.
After this early setback Hall jun. urged Im Victorious forward with a three-wide burst 400m after the start. This caused, in the breeze with Bettors Fire, to speed up and resist the move. This sudden acceleration opened up the field and Hall was able to immediately slot into the prime one-out, one-back position.
Harper then rated back in the breeze, with Bettors Fire almost two lengths behind the pacemaker. Clint hall then was able to get Hokonui Ben to relax, without being under any pressure. No further moves came until Hall jun. eased Im Victorious out from the one-wide line 1300m from home. Hall was half-carting, and Ima Rocket Star, who had been trailing Im Victorious in the one-wide line, contacted the nearside sulky wheel of the favourite.
This flattened the tyre, putting Im Victorious at a significant disadvantage. Im Victorious then began a three-wide burst to be fourth at the bell, but he was unable to get past Bettors Fire and had to race out wide for the remainder of the race. He looked a spent force passing the 400m mark and finished sixth.
Clint Hall dashed Hokonui ben away from his rivals approaching the home turn, and this allowedto get into the clear with Toretto, who was two lengths behind the leader at the 100m before finishing with great determination to fail by just a nose.
This Time Dylan, who was eased off the pegs approaching the bell, was held up for clear running in the final circuit andangled the gelding back on to the pegs turning for home. This Time Dylan then finished solidly into third place, a nose ahead of David Hercules, who raced at the rear before unwinding a powerful burst, out wide.
After Hokonui Ben coasted through the first 400m section of the final mile in 31.1sec., he gave his rivals something to chase when he sped over the next two quarters in 28.4sec. and 28.1sec. before a final quarter in 29.2sec. He rated 1.59.6 over the 2936m.
Clint Hall, who earned a winning driver's percentage of $12,500, was fined $1000 and was suspended for 28 days for improper use of the whip in the closing stages when he wielded the whip with more than an elbow to wrist action., who failed by a whisker to land his third winner of the WA Pacing Cup, was fined $500 for the incorrect use of the whip, and a similar fine was imposed on Harper for a similar offence. Gary Hall jun. was fined $200 for half-carting with Im Victorious 1300m from home.
Clint Hall said that everything worked in favour of Hokonui Ben, saying: "Tonight I gave myself a good chance if I had things my own way, and it turned out perfectly. My worst nightmare was Kyle holding out Junior three wide early and causing (plenty of) pace. It was a gift when Junior got into the one-one and then Kyle let me do what I wanted to do. That's all I needed.
"With a lap to go my fingers were hurting, with Hokonui Ben travelling that well. I knew at the 400m, or even earlier, that we had the fancied runners beaten and I was feeling a lot better than them. About 75m out I was cursing myself that I had kicked away and given Toretto the run that far from home.
"I dashed away because I had the other ones off the track. And to be honest I didn't think that Toretto could beat Hokonui Ben. I see a lot of them at home and Hokonui Ben has got a fair bit on Toretto."
Hokonui Ben is owned by Queenslander Jeroen Nieuwenburg. A seven-year-old gelding by, he was having only his 50th start ibn a race on Friday night. A winner at six of his 24 starts in New Zealand, he has raced 26 times in WA for 11 wins, eight seconds and one third placing. His career record stands at 50 starts for 17 wins, 14 placings and stakes of $540,339.
He is the first foal and only one of four foals out of Jane Halsey to have raced. Jane Halsey, by American stallion Admiral Halsey, had 15 starts in New Zealand for one third placing and prizemoney of $413. Her dam Taurus Jane earned just $670 from one third placing from eight starts.
Hall sen. said that he would now set Hokonui Ben for the West Australian heat of the interdominion championship at Gloucester Park on Saturday, February 15.
"I'm hoping to take Alta Christiano to Sydney for the $200,000 Chariots of Fire (on March 2)," he said. "And if Hokonui Ben qualifies for the interdominion championship final, I'll take him, too."
GDAY MATE WINS THE CUP CONSOLATION WITH A TYPICAL SPARKLING SPRINT
New Zealand-bred seven-year-old Gday Mate, generally regarded as just a good, solid standing-start performer, maintained his rise to the top when he produced a typical sparkling late sprint to score an easy win in the Nepean Conveyors WA Pacing Cup Consolation at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
He raced three back on the pegs before trainergot him into the clear with 300m to travel. And then he charged to the front 100m from the post to win by 4m from the pacemaker Shardons Rocket.
Gday Mate rated 1.59 in the 2936m mobile event, which compares favourably with the track record of 1.58.3, set by Dasher VC when he led and won the 2013 Fremantle Cup. Gday Mate covered the journey in 3min. 37.1sec., which was significantly faster than the 3min. 38.2sec. recorded by Hokonui Ben in winning the WA Pacing Cup 25 minutes later.
"I'm stoked with him and he showed that he's up there with the best of them," said the 25-year-old Prentice.
Gday Mate's win came a week after his fast-finishing victory in a 2536m mobile the previous Friday night. "I was a bit worried about how he would back up tonight," Prentice admitted. "Since I've had him, I've raced him every two to three weeks, and this is the first time I've tried backing him up. Maybe I should've been doing it for a long time."
sent Shardons Rocket (13/2) to the front after 200m and the -trained nine-year-old was joined 950m after the start by stablemate and 11/4 favourite Mysta Magical Mach, giving Uppy Son (7/1) the one-out, one-back sit, while Sanjaya (10/1) trailed the pacemaker.
Gday Mate travelled well all the way and it was only a matter of getting a clear run. Once Prentice eased him off the pegs 300m from home the result was a foregone conclusion.
Sanjaya fought on to finish third, while Mysta Magical Mach wilted to finish seventh and Uppy Son faded to tenth. Gday Mate's past 12 starts have produced five wins and three seconds and he now has earned $184,598 from 15 wins and 31 placings from 87 starts.
HALL PERFORMS A MIRACLE TO GET CODE RED BACK INTO ACTION
New Zealand-bred pacer Code Red broke down with a serious injury to his off-side foreleg during a track workout on Wednesday December 4. But leading trainer Gary Hall sen. has worked an equine miracle to get him back into action and the gelding returned to racing with a flourish, scoring a most impressive victory in the 2130m Nepean Conveyors Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Hall has used a new, revolutionary treatment to get the gelding back into training and racing.
"Code Red damaged his suspensory ligament early last month and I had to scratch him from a race at Gloucester Park the following Friday night," Hall explained.
"It is a really bad injury and he hasn't recovered. It is a nine out of ten tear, from top to bottom. But I have treated the injury with this new treatment I've got, and the injury doesn't worry him. It is a treatment I have learnt from a guy in America. It's no drugs or anything like that involved.
"It is called PRP and you take the blood and get the serum out of it and inject it into the damaged ligament."
Investigations revealed that PRP stands for Platelet Rich Plasma, which is a new therapy for the treatment of equine tendon and ligament injuries. The collection and preparation of platelet rich plasma is simple and non-invasive and takes only about 30 minutes. Blood is collected from the horse's jugular vein and then a process separates the serum from the red blood cells. Eventually, after a series of processes, the platelet rich plasma is injected back into the injured tendon or ligament under ultrasound guidance.
Code Red, a seven-year-old by American stallion, started from the No. 2 barrier on the front line on Friday night and was heavily supported to start favourite at 5/4. Clint Hall got Code Red past polemarker Maggies Mystery and into the lead after 60m and the gelding gave a bold frontrunning display to win by a length from stablemate and 11/4 second fancy Northview Punter.
Code Red was not extended in coasting through the lead time in 38.8sec. and the first two 400m sections of the final mile in 30.8sec. and 30.5sec. before he dashed over the final quarters in 28.9sec. and 27.7sec. He rated 1.58.4.
Code Red, a winner of six races in New Zealand, left that country with a losing sequence of 21. He has raced 19 times in WA for six wins and six placings to take his career record to 68 starts for 12 wins, 16 placings and stakes of $129,579. He is the first foal out of themare Asabella, who also produced the brilliant Ohokas Bondy and Dancing Diamonds.
The ill-fated Ohokas Bondy raced 44 times for 22 wins, nine placings and $388,148. He was undefeated at his first 13 starts in WA, including the 2010 Golden Slipper. Dancing Diamonds was a brilliant two-year-old and she has earned $343,276 from nine wins and five placings from 21 starts.
MAJORLY FOXY STYX SET FOR DAINTYS DAUGHTER CLASSIC
Promising filly Majorly Foxy Styx is being set for the $50,000 Dainty's Daughter Classic on February 14 after she extended her winning sequence to five with a convincing victory in the 2130m Nepean Conveyors Three-Year-Old Fillies Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
And after contesting the Dainty's Daughter Classic, Majorly Foxy Styx will be prepared by leading trainer Gary Hall sen. for the rich WA Oaks in April.
Majorly Foxy Styx, driven by Gary Hall jun. and hot favourite at 3/1 on, started out wide at barrier six on Friday night and after racing wide early, she got to the front after 500m and went through the first two 400m sections of the final mile in 30.6sec. and 30.5sec.
She sprinted over the next two quarters in 28.6sec. and 29.4sec. and won easily by 7m from 7/1 second fancy My Samantha Jane, with two lengths to The Parade (15/2) in third place. The winner rated 1.57.7.
Polemarker My Samantha Jane lacked early sparkle and settled down in sixth position and was seventh at the bell before producing a powerful finishing burst. The Parade also ran on gamely from sixth at the bell.
Hall sen. said that he was a little concerned at Majorly Foxy Styx's habit of pulling hard. "I didn't like the way she was pulling tonight," he said. "Gary tried to get her to back off, but she wouldn't. However, she still won pretty easily and she's pretty good."
WHAT GOD KNOWS GIVES DAVIES HER FIRST CITY SUCCESS
Twenty-three-year-oldwas all smiles after landing her first -class winner when she drove veteran pacer What God Knows to an all-the-way victory in the third heat of the San Simeon Championship at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
And she celebrated this success the following night at Northam when she gave another polished performance in the sulky to score an upset victory with 28/1 outsider Sir Excellent Art, who charged to the front after 100m, set the pace and defeated the 7/4 on favourite Falconice in a 2190m C0-C2-class event.
What God Knows, who started at 10/1, and Sir Excellent Art are trained at Wanneroo by.
Davies, who won the inaugural Junior Drivers Challenge series last year, had to drive What God Knows vigorously under the whip in the early stages to withstand a strong challenge for the lead from Soldier Boy (Clint Hall).
After a lead time of 37.4sec., What God Knows went through the first 400m section of the final mile in 29.5sec. before Davies gave him a breather with a 30.2sec. quarter, followed by final sections of 28.9sec. and 29.4sec. Outsider Atomic Chip, who was buried away on the pegs in tenth position at the bell, flew home on the inside and got to within a neck of the winner on the line. Sonic Classic came from seventh on the pegs to be third.
Raymon John, favourite at 3/1, was ninth in the middle stages before starting a three-wide move 1050m from home. He sustained the strong burst and appeared the likely winner when he moved into second place passing the 400m mark. But he broke into a gallop with 300m to travel and dropped back to finish in 11th place.
What God Knows ended a losing sequence of 13 and took his record to 135 starts for 11 wins and 29 placings for earnings of $106,344. He won at six of his 47 starts in New Zealand and once from five starts in New South Wales. His 83 starts in WA have produced four wins and 20 placings.
ATLASTALONE KEEPS THE WEST AUSTRALIAN FLAG FLYING
Lightly-raced six-year-old Atlastalone kept the West Australian flag flying at Gloucester Park on Friday night when he was untroubled to set the pace and score an easy win in the second heat of the San Simeon Championship.
Atlastalone, bred and owned by Ross Waddell, was the only WA-bred pacer to be successful on the ten-event program. He was a strongly-supported 13/4 favourite and a fast start paved the way for an impressive victory.
Byford trainer Garry Butler got Astlastalone away at full tilt from barrier two and he surged past the polemarker The Black Lord and into the lead after only 50m before going through the lead time in a very comfortable 38.2sec. and the opening quarter in a leisurely 31.3sec.
After a moderate second quarter in 30.1sec., Atlastalone sped over the final sections in 28.1sec. and 28.3sec. to win by 5m from 13/2 chance Erskine Range, who fought on doggedly after working hard in the breeze throughout the 2130m journey. Lord Lexus enjoyed the one-out, one-back position before fighting on to be third.
Atlastalone was off the scene for nine months before resuming racing in mid-December. After a first-up sixth he led and won at Pinjarra and raced in the breeze and finished second to Lovers Delight at Bunbury before contesting Friday night's race.
"We had a few issues with him and he's had a good spell," Butler said. "He has come back really good and we're happy with him. He is definitely a nice horse when he leads."
Atlastalone has raced 24 times for six wins, five placings and $33,199 in prizemoney. By American stallion Dawn Of A New Day, he is the first foal out of Classy And Smart, who earned $104,828 from 14 wins and 21 placings from 73 starts.
TOUGH ROWCHESTER LOVES A FIGHT
New Zealand-bred four-year-old Rowchester gave leading trainer Gary Hall sen. the first leg of a quartet of winners at Gloucester Park on Friday night when he revealed typical toughness to win the first heat of the San Simeon Championship.
And followers of the all-conquering Hall stable cashed in handsomely, with thehorse starting at the gift price of 7/1.
Gary Hall jun. drove Rowchester like the best horse in the race. Rowchester started from barrier four and raced three wide before he got to the breeze outside the pacemaker Jay Bees Grin (9/1), with the polemarker and 10/9 on favourite Ohokabehind the leader.
Heez On Fire, second fancy at 11/4, dashed forward from the midfield to be fourth at the bell. But he was kept wide in the back straight before Hall jun. sent Rowchester to a narrow lead 300m from home. Heez On Fire fought on grimly, but Rowchester withstood the challenge and beat him by one metre, with a half-head to Ohoka, who was hampered for room in the final circuit before finishing fast along the pegs.
The final sections were run in 28.2sec. and 29.2sec. and Rowchester rated 1.57.9.
"No one really knew what Robbie's horse (Ohoka) was going to do from one," said Hall jun. "When he got crossed the race opened up for us. But I thought that jay Bees Grin would be hard to beat.
"Rowchester has got a bit of bottom to him and he loves a fight. So it was probably a good thing that we had Heez On Fire there keeping us honest."
Hall sen. refused to agree with the general perception that toughness was Rowchester's main asset, saying: "He can be sat up and I reckon if he gets a good sit he could really zip."
Rowchester won at three of his five New Zealand starts and has raced 15 times in WA for five wins and seven placings. He has earned $49,530 from his seven wins and eight placings from 20 starts.
He is a half-brother to nine-year-old The Musics Over, who won five races in New Zealand and 11 in Tasmania. Rowchester's maternal granddam Samantha Franco produced good WA performer Banana Dana (61 starts for 14 wins, 13 placings and $142,629). His great granddam Smarty Pants produced Smart Son (who was a winner in New Zealand, Australia and America before retiring with earnings of $347,805 from 41 wins and 59 placings from 226 starts) and Vanderel (87 starts for 14 wins, 23 placings and $164,163).
ROCKY MARCIANO GOES PAST THE $100,000 MARK
Classy New Zealand-bred four-year-old Rocky Marciano underlined his potential and took his earnings past the $100,000 mark when he outpaced his rivals in the 2130m Nepean Conveyors Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
"He looks to have plenty more wins in store," enthusedafter he had driven the gelding to a decisive victory by just less than two lengths over Our Amazing Art, with three lengths to Mohegan Sun in third place.
Our Amazing Art (7/1) jumped in front from the No. 2 barrier and led for the first 500m before Rocky Marciano, the 10/9 on favourite, stormed into the lead after a sizzling lead time of 36sec. Woodley then was able to get Rocky Marciano to relax and go through the first two 400m sections of the final mile in 30.6sec. and 30.8sec.
Mohegan Sun, who settled in seventh spot, started a three-wide move with 1200m to travel and he got to third at the bell when Woodley increased the tempo and Rocky Marciano surged through the third quarter in 29.1sec. before sprinting over the final quarter in 28.2sec. to win at a smart 1.56.9 rate.
Rocky Marciano, placed at three of his ten New Zealand starts, has been extremely consistent for Bickley trainer, with his 31 WA starts producing nine wins and ten placings. His stake-earnings now stand at $101,389.
TALK ABOUT MACH REVIVES MEMORIES OF VILLAGE KID
It was extremely fitting that the colours of blue, gold sash and striped sleeves made famous by the outstanding deeds of Village Kid were to the fore on WA Pacing Cup night at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The colours of octogenarian Hope Valley trainer Bill Horn were worn by 23-year-old, who drove Talk About Mach to a stylish victory in the 2130m second heat of the Nepean Conveyors Im Themightyquinn Mares Pace.
The same colours were carried by Village Kid throughout his magnificent career, which included four victories in the WA Pacing Cup in the 1980s.
Talk About Mach, a last-start winner, was a 16/1 chance from barrier three on the back line, with deluxe Edition favourite at 5/2 and polemarker Kotare Ash at 11/4.
Kotare Ash, as expected, set the pace, with Harper settling Talk About Mach in eighth position in the one-wide line. Deluxe Edition was restrained from the No. 5 barrier byand went back to last in the field of 12.
Aristocratic Glow started a three-wide move approaching the bell, and her run was followed by Talk About Mach, who sustained a strong effort to come from eighth with a lap to travel to hit the front in the final 100m before winning by a half-length from Deluxe Edition, who finished strongly out wide. Kotare Ash held on to be third.
Talk About Mach rated 1.58.8 and took her record to ten wins, 14 placings and $105,302 from 47 starts.
"When Bill has her absolutely spot on you can tell the difference, and tonight when I hit the track (for the preliminary) I said 'yes this is the one we want and I was pretty confident in the warm-up.'"
BRAEMOOR RECOVERS AFTER A TARDY START
Boyanup trainer-reinsmancompleted a double when Braemoor recovered after a bad start to come from the rear and score a narrow victory in the 2503m Nepean Conveyors Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Prentice had won earlier in the program with Gday Mate in the WA Pacing Cup Consolation.
Braemoor, a 15/4 chance off 10m, galloped for a few strides at the start and settled down in ninth position. Lisharry (13/2) galloped badly at the start and broke again 300m later.
Im Elmer Fudd (15/1) set the pace forand he held off an early challenge from Erris Lad. Then Anvils Big Punt (16/1) went forward to race in the breeze in the final two laps. After the first two sections of the final mile min 31.2sec. and 31.3sec., Im Elmer Fudd sped up with a 28.7sec. third quarter as the challengers were coming from the rear.
Rockyourbaby went forward 1050m from home and Prentice followed his three-wide burst to move to seventh at the bell. Braemoor went four wide on the home turn and hit the front 50m from the post before holding the fast-finishing Coringa Cory (11/1) at bay to score by a head at a 2.2 rate. Im Elmer Fudd held on to be third, a neck in front of Anvils Big Punt.
"At the 400m I thought he was just winning, but at the top of the straight I thought I'd be lucky to run a place," Prentice said. "And when I had Robbie come off my back with Coringa Cory I thought he would have gone straight past me. Braemoor has done a good job to hold him off."
Braemoor, a New Zealand-bred seven-year-old by, has had 27 starts in WA for nine wins and five placings to take his career record to 58 starts for 12 wins, 13 placings and stakes of $111,221.
BALLEYBOFEY WINS NORTHAM CUP AT 5/1
New Zealand-bred eight-year-old Balleybofey gave a bold frontrunning performance to win the $30,000 Northam Cup at Burwood Park on Saturday night to give reinsmanhis second success in the event.
Lewis won the 2001 Cup with the Les Coulson-trained All The Answers.
Balleybofey, a 5/1 chance off the 10m mark, began speedily and dashed to the front after 450m to give the 2/1 favourite Flyalong Falcon the trail behind the pacemaker.dashed Springsteen (off 20m) forward in the first lap to work hard in the breeze.
Balleybofey fought on grandly to win by a length from Springsteen, with Flyalong Falcon finishing determinedly, out wide, to be third. The winner rated 2.1.2 over the marathon 2970m and took his record to 14 wins and 24 placings from 68 starts for stakes of $122,086.
Balleybofey is trained at Mt Helena by, whose son Grant drove Silvers Coin and Navigator Dee to victory in the Northam Cup in 2002 and 2003, respectively. Navigator Dee was trained by ' brother Mike, who also drove High Narai to victory in the 1977 Northam Cup.
by Ken Casellas