Hall Lauds While They Pray

Champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr admires While They Pray’s sparkling speed and is planning to take full advantage of this asset in the $30,000 Kerry Clarke Four And Five-Year-Old Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Four-year-old While They Pray, trained at Pinjarra by Michael George, is somewhat awkwardly drawn at barrier five in the 2130m Group 3 event, but Hall declared that he would leave no stone unturned in his bid to burst to the front and set a merry pace with the Alta Christiano gelding.

“It’s a good race for him and I’ll drive him like I normally do,” he said. “I’ll go out looking for the lead. There’s speed on the inside of him, but I wouldn’t think anything would want to hold him out. I can keep going because he doesn’t stop.”

From barrier No. 7 in a 2130m event last Friday night While They Pray began speedily, but didn’t challenge Cyclone Banner for the early lead, with Hall content to rate the gelding in the breeze.

“Cyclone Banner was flying along and While They Pray was pulling,” Hall said. “And I expected While They Pray to get tired. But he didn’t, and if we had that race over again, I would’ve put more pressure on. On the line he felt as though he could go another three laps; there’s no bottom to him.”

Rock Me Over, one of only two five-year-olds in Friday night’s feature event, looms large as While They Pray’s chief rival. The Matt Scott-trained gelding who will be driven by Shannon Suvaljko from the No. 4 barrier is primed for a powerful effort after three solid performances in vastly stronger company since resuming from a spell.

Successive fourths behind Chicago Bull were followed by a close-up fifth behind Tommy Be Good last Friday night when he raced without cover for much of the journey. He possesses good gate speed and Suvaljko is sure to weigh up his options as the race unfolds in the early stages.

The consistent Pierre Whitby, to be driven by Jocelyn Young from the prized No. 1 barrier, also will have admirers. The gelding began from barrier one two starts ago when he led for the first 500m before taking the trail behind Art Tutor and then flying home to get up and snatch victory from that pacer.

He also impressed last Friday night when he was eighth at the bell on the pegs before finishing strongly to be third behind One For Dave Andme and To Fast To Serious in the John Higgins Memorial.

Collie trainer Errol Ashcroft had little luck with the draw, with Henwood Bay, a fighting winner from the breeze last week, facing a tough task from barrier seven, and Euphoric Moment sure to be at long odds at No. 9 in the field of nine.