Chok Chai Overcomes Bad Injury

Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr was in grave doubt that New Zealand-bred gelding Chok Chai would be able to race again a couple of years ago after the gelding was laid low by a hairline fracture of a sesamoid.

But patience and plenty of rest eventually cured the problem and Chok Chai, now a five-year-old, is showing considerable promise and should get punters off to a flying start at Gloucester Park on Friday night by setting the pace and winning the opening event, the PPC Pace over 2130m.

Chok Chai warmed up for this assignment by scoring an easy all-the-way victory over 2130m, rating 1.57.6 on Tuesday night. This took his record to nine wins and two seconds from only 12 starts. His only unplaced effort was when he met with severe interference and was distanced, finishing 246 metres behind the winner Te Rauparaha at Pinjarra in May of last year.

“He’s had a lot of problems, mainly the fracture to his sesamoid, and I felt that he would be unable to overcome his injuries,” Hall said. “All’s well now and from barrier one on Friday night he should lead and win. He’s a strong horse and it will take a good horse to beat him.”

Reinsman Gary Hall Jnr agreed, saying: “He felt good tonight (Tuesday). He’s a big horse who should get better and better, hopefully.”

Chok Chai is likely to be challenged strongly by in-form pacers in the Ross Olivieri-trained pair of Military Master and Lord Willoughby and Skye Bond’s smart four-year-old Mighty Mr Sharkey.

Chris Lewis, who will drive Military Master from barrier No. 7 in a field of eight, praised the six-year-old’s outstanding first-up performance when he led from barrier four and sped over the final 400m in a sizzling 26.9sec. to win by six lengths from Real Zeal over 2100m at a 1.57.6 rate at Bunbury last Saturday week.

That was a wonderful effort at his first outing for six months and Lewis said: “He won really well. Obviously, it’s a worse draw this week, but he’s still in the mix of things from the wide draw. He’s going well enough to give a forward showing.”       

That performance improved Military Master’s record to 11 wins, nine seconds and two thirds from 38 starts.

Shannon Suvaljko, who will drive Lord Willoughby from barrier three, declared that the four-year-old was flying and predicted the gelding would be prominent. This season Lord Willoughby has raced ten times for four wins, five seconds and one third.

The Skye Bond-trained Mighty Mr Sharkey will start from the outside (No. 8) with Ryan Warwick in the sulky. The four-year-old has had 29 starts for ten wins and nine placings. He had a tough run in the breeze before winning in fine style over 2130m at Gloucester Park two starts ago.