While They Pray Triumphs
While They Pray, described by champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr as a lunatic who is gradually getting more sensible, gave further proof that he has the ability to develop into a contender for rich feature events at the summer carnival when he won the Group 3 $30,000 Kerry Clarke Four And Five-Year-Old Classic at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
“He went super, and it all worked out perfectly,” said Hall. “It felt like that he was always going to get there. He likes a fight and on the line he felt like he could have gone another lap.
“I don’t know why he’s got such strength. He didn’t handle our work when we had him (as an unraced two-year-old and early three-year-old). Michael George works him off the jogger and he doesn’t work him that hard on the track. It’s hat’s off to him; he’s obviously found the key to the horse who is a bit tricky.
“While They Pray has always been quite a handful and even now one of his unusual characteristics is that he won’t go near the swab box, and if he does he’s likely to freak out (in the confined space).”
While They Pray is raced on lease by Michael George, who prepares the WA-bred four-year-old at Pinjarra, was favourite at $1.30, with Rock Me Over ($4.80) and Pierre Whitby ($8) the only other runners quoted at shorter than $23 in Friday night’s feature event.
While They Pray revealed his usual sparkling gate speed from barrier five but was unable to burst past the five-year-old Rock Me Over (barrier four). Hall wisely elected to take the sit with While They Pray behind Rock Me Over after 250m before he eased the gelding off the pegs at the bell.
Then Rock Me Over and While They Pray surged away from the opposition and the third quarter of the final mile whizzed by in 27.6sec., with Rock Me Over keeping his rival at bay. Finally, While They Pray forged to the front on the home turn and went on to win by just under a length, rating 1.55.1 over the 2130m. Pierre Whitby, who raced in third position throughout, fought on to be third, just ahead of the strong-finishing The Verandah. Bolta ($81) did a good job to run on solidly from last at the bell to be fifth.
While They Pray certainly has gone ahead in leaps and bounds since George prepared him for his first couple of starts (as a three-year-old) early last year when the gelding was successful in modest company at Williams and Collie.
While They Pray now has earned $116,490 from 14 wins and eight placings from 30 starts. By Alta Christiano, While They Pray is the second foal out of the Bettors Delight mare Slick Bird, who had 34 starts for ten wins, nine placings and $89,999 for leading trainer Gary Hall Snr.
Slick Bird’s first foal is Slick Artist, who has earned $175,670 from 11 wins and 22 placings from 58 starts. Slick Artist had 18 starts in WA for six wins and six placings before being sold to race in America.