Exciting young pacer Finvarra remained unbeaten as a three-year-old and emerged as a major player in the rich Golden Nugget early next year when he scored a brilliant victory in the $100,000 Westbred Classic for colts and geldings at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The inexperienced colt has overcome nagging hoof problems and was a $5 chance at his sixth start in a race when champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr was seen at his best in guiding him to victory over fast-finishing $5.50 chance Seeryanfly and Talks Up A Storm ($12).
Finvarra began from barrier No. 6 and Hall did not push him at the start but was able to skilfully ease him into sixth position, one-out and two-back, while Overjoyed took the lead soon after the start and led from the $2.90 favourite Otis, who was left in the breeze after racing three wide for the first 300m.
Otis eventually got to a narrow lead 250m from home but faded in the home straight to finish seventh. Finvarra was seventh at the 400m, with Hall following the three-wide run of Talks Up A Storm.
Finvarra got to the front with 110m to travel and won by a metre from Seeryanfly, who sprinted home fast after enjoying the sit behind the pacemaker Overjoyed. Seeryanfly was driven perfectly by Maddison Brown, who won this event with Longreach Bay last year.
“I wanted to give Finvarra a soft run, and we just got the perfect run,” said Hall. “There was a good enough tempo up front, and everything worked out for him. He is really fast at home and he has the potential to develop into a Golden Nugget hope.”
Champion trainer Gary Hall Snr said that he intended to give Finvarra a few more starts before giving the colt a break and then preparing him for the Golden Nugget.
“I think he is capable of going right to the top,” he declared.
“He has had a lot of problems, coffin bone problems and has been lame in the front feet for a long time. But with the help of my farriers Larry and Chris Boag we have been able to get on top of the problems. Finvarra races with aluminium plates with a bar across the middle to stop the pressure on his coffin bones.”
Finvarra is by American Ideal and is out of Hall’s former outstanding filly Nuala, who won at her only start in New Zealand and broke down after her 19 starts had produced 14 wins, two placings and stakes of $132,449. Her wins included the Group 2 Daintys Daughter Classic in February 2015 and the Group 3 Preux Chevalier final in October that year.
“Nuala was a star and was put to stud at an early age after breaking down,” said Hall. “She is in foal again to American Ideal.”
Finvarra was bred by her owners Beth Richardson, Gary Ralston, Glen Moore, Max Grynberg, Bill Paterson and Janeet Kollankandy, and he now has earned $78,226 from four wins and one third placing.
Finvarra is well named after King Finvarra, a benevolent figure in Irish folklore who ensures good harvests, is a master of chess and strong horses, and gives great riches to those who assist him.\
by Ken Casellas