Day At The Track

Halls bullish about Chicago Bull

05:50 PM 17 Mar 2016 NZDT
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Chicago Bull in the run at Gloucester Park
Chicago Bull in the run at Gloucester Park
Jodie Hallows (Paceway Photos)

Ace harness racing reinsman Gary Hall jun. said that Chicago Bull won a trial at Byford on Sunday morning “on his ear” and champion trainer Gary Hall sen. declared that the little New Zealand-bred gelding was his best WA Derby prospect at this stage.

Hall jun. brought Chicago Bull home with a well-timed burst to win the 2150m trial by a half-length from smart stablemate Harry Hoo, who had set the pace for Clint Hall. The final quarters were run in 29.4sec. and 28.3sec. and Chicago Bull was not extended.

Chicago Bull will resume racing after a seven-week absence when he starts from barrier five in the six-horse field in the Alltools Sidchrome Specials Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Harry Hoo will start from barrier three at his first appearance for seven weeks.

Chicago Bull has gone from strength to strength this season, during which he has raced five times for three wins and two thirds. He is one of the early favourites for the $200,000 WA Derby on April 15.

Adding interest to Friday night’s event is the return to racing of Banjup trainer Colin Brown’s promising New Zealand-bred pacers Franco Rayner (five wins from 14 starts) and Just Bet On Black (four wins and a neck second from five starts).

Brown has decided to drive Just Bet On Black, who will start from the No. 2 barrier in the six-horse 2130m event. Dylan Egerton-Green has been offered the drove behind Franco Rayner.

Just Bet On Black, a convincing winner at his final start in New Zealand, last July, made an auspicious Australian debut at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week when he raced three wide early and burst to the front after 550m before winning by two lengths from Disco Under Fire.

Franco Rayner has been off the scene since he finished sixth and last behind Chicago Bull over 2130m at Gloucester Park on December 11.

Brown said that both his three-year-olds would be competitive this week, but he admitted that they would be unlikely to be able to beat the Hall runners.

“Just Bet On Black is a little bit green and is still learning the caper,” Brown said. “I think the other horses will be too experienced for him. Franco Rayner is working up very good. But he’s first-up and hasn’t had a trial. So I don’t think that either of my horses will worry the Hall camp.

“Regarding the Derby, we’re not going to duck and dive. We might as well meet the others on Friday night to see exactly where we’re at, leading into the Derby.

“Just bet On Black won first-up, but wasn’t really switched on. He’ll have the Dollys on on Friday night, but I don’t think he has the speed to lead, particularly with the speedy Jilliby Jay Mac drawn No. 1. I’m using the Dolly Vardons because he raced greenly and he switched on and off when he won at his first start here.

“So the gear change is more for the run than for the start. Franco Rayner is a very fast horse, but we won’t be using his speed. You won’t see him gas the gate. Both horses will be competitive, but I’m not expecting either of them to finish in the top two.”

by Ken Casellas

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