Up-and-coming star Northview Punter is working in grand style and champion reinsman Gary Hall jun. is confident the four-year-old will make a successful return to harness racing by proving the master of outstanding pacer David Hercules in the 2130m Yes Loans Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
“He has come back (from a spell) pretty well and he should work to the front and prove hard to beat,” said Hall, who will celebrate his 32nd birthday on Saturday.
“I think he can beat David Hercules. He loves leading and he’s a hard horse to get to.”
However, Hall has great respect for David Hercules, saying: “I wouldn’t be surprised if he sat outside Northview Punter and beat him.”
Northview Punter, the youngest and least experienced runner in the race, has not appeared since he raced in the one-out, one-back position before finishing strongly to win the $35,000 Four and Five-Year-Old Championship from stablemate Soho Valencia at Gloucester Park on March 21. That was his 18th win from only 38 starts.
Hall was in Brisbane on Sunday morning after driving Im Themightyquinn to a thrilling victory in the group 1 Blacks A Fake Championship at Albion Park on Saturday night when his brother Clint drove Northview Punter in a trial at Byford.
Northview Punter impressed when he set the pace and beat David Hercules by just over a length in the 2150m trial, rating a sizzling 1.55.6. “From all reports he went super at the trials,” said Hall jun. “He is showing that he is improving all the time.”
Northview Punter has drawn to lead from the No. 3 barrier, and this should prove an important advantage over David Hercules, who will start from barrier five.
Clint Hall said that Northview Punter had been lazy in the trial and that he required constant urging. However, he said that drawing inside of David Hercules should give him an edge over his classy rival.
Morgan Woodley, who has driven the David Thompson-trained David Hercules to dashing and decisive wins at his first two starts after a spell, conceded that the barrier draw would make life tough for his horse.
“The one horse I wanted to draw inside was Northview Punter,” he said. “Northview Punter went fast in Sunday’s trial and he rated a fast 1.55.6, which is low flying. However, David Hercules did a tremendous job. He sat last in the four-horse trial and he made good ground and finished at the winner’s wheel.
“You definitely can’t take anything away from his performance. However, I would love it if the barrier draws were reversed on Friday night. Probably, realistically, we’ll end up in the breeze because we can’t afford to spot Northview Punter a big start.
“If we go back at the start Northview Punter would be able to waltz to an easy lead. So if we were to give him three of four lengths at the 1000m mark it would make our job near on impossible. So I’d say we’ll look to get up outside him and try to turn it into a staying competition.
“I expect it to be a fast-run race and the Halls will assess David Hercules as the hardest opposition, and they are likely to drive in a manner which will make it difficult for David Hercules to win. We expect a real hard tussle.”