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Champion reinsman Gary Hall jnr has no hesitation in declaring that he loves Princess Mila to bits, but he has opted to drive stablemate Tricky Ric in the Simmonds Steel Trot over 2503m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

It was simply a matter of handicaps that influenced Hall’s decision to handle the five-year-old Tricky Ric instead of sticking with the six-year-old Princess Mila, a stylish mare he has driven 18 times for ten wins, three seconds, one third and two fourths.

Tricky Ric is the only runner on the front mark in the standing-start event in which Princess Mila is the sole backmarker off 50 metres.

The New Zealand-bred Tricky Ric has been most impressive in winning easily at his first two starts in Western Australia, strolling to the front after 450m and scoring by seven lengths in a 2096m stand at Gloucester Park and then dashing to an early lead, setting the pace and winning by almost four lengths in a 2185m mobile event at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon.

Princess Mila has an impressive record of 17 wins, nine seconds and seven thirds from 53 starts. She is in top form, having won in good style in mobile events at her past two starts.

“I’ll drive Tricky Ric because he has the handicap advantage and is pretty classy,” said Hall. “However, Princess Mila will be hard to hold out late. At Pinjarra on Monday, I felt as though I wasn’t getting anywhere with Tricky Ric, but every time I looked around, I was further in front.”

Hall will have a drive in eight of the ten events on Friday night’s program, and his faithful followers will be keen to support him. Apart from Tricky Ric, Hall’s main prospects are likely to be Gambit in race two, Alta Blues (race three), Bettor Get It On (race four) and Youre So Fine (race five).

Gambit made a successful Australian debut last Friday night when he started out wide at barrier seven, raced three wide early and then in the breeze before finishing strongly to defeat the pacemaker Pocket The Cash over 2130m. The final quarters were run in 27.8sec. and 28.5sec.

“I was pleased with his effort last week and he should be hard to beat,” said Hall. “I’ll probably go to the breeze and take it from there.”

Chris Voak will drive the in-form polemarker Bettor Copagoodone and he gives the Giles Inwood-trained mare a good winning chance. “Plan A will be to lead, and if she does, she will be hard to beat,” he said.

Bettor Get It On, a four-year-old New Zealand-bred mare in the Boyanup stables of Justin Prentice, is in excellent form and her past nine starts have produced five wins and four seconds.

“She is going really well,” said Hall. “But she knocks off all the time when in front or when she gets to the front. However, she felt better at her latest start than she did at her previous start, and this week from the draw she should be in it up to her eyeballs.”

Written by Ken Casellas | Photo Credit: Hamilton Content Creators