Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
Champion reinsman Gary Hall jnr faced a dilemma when crack four-year-olds Mighty Ronaldo and Jumpingjackmac were named to clash in the first heat of the Etch Coatings Nights of Thunder at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
With memories still burning bright of how he chose to handle Jumpingjackmac, prepared by his father Gary Hall snr, in preference to the Justin Prentice-trained Mighty Ronaldo in the WA Derby last April, Hall jnr opted to drive Mighty Ronaldo.
Mighty Ronaldo will be making his first appearance since he was driven by Hall and hampered by a punctured sulky tyre before finishing third behind Lavra Joe in the Pearl Classic for three-year-olds last May.
Two starts before that Hall drove Jumpingjackmac in preference to Mighty Ronaldo in the WA Derby in which Prentice brought Mighty Ronaldo home with a powerful burst to defeat Jumpingjackmac.
Hall has a high opinion of both Mighty Ronaldo and Jumpingjackmac. He has driven Mighty Ronaldo 13 times for two wins and seven placings. He has handled Jumpingjackmac 15 times for nine of the gelding’s ten wins from 18 starts.
Aiden de Campo has been engaged to drive Jumpingjackmac for the first time. Jumpingjackmac was far from disgraced last Friday week when he made his first appearance in open-class Free-For-All company when he began from barrier five, was last at the bell and raced wide in the final circuit before finishing sixth behind Minstrel.
“Jumpingjackmac will certainly be competitive on Friday night,” said Hall. “Mighty Ronaldo has the advantage of a more favourable barrier.”
Both Mighty Ronaldo and Jumpinjackmac are likely to have to cover extra ground, with Lindsay Harper keen to take advantage of Bettorstartdreaming’s ideal draw at barrier one. The New Zealand-bred Bettorstartdreaming’s four West Australian wins have all been achieved when he has set the pace.
Typhoon Banner (barrier six) and Machnificent (seven) will have admirers. Typhoon Banner is a model of consistency and trainer-reinsman Dylan Egerton-Green said: “He’s a nice, honest horse and, hopefully, he can run another good race.” Shannon Suvaljko, who will drive Machnificent for trainer Katja Warwick, predicted that the four-year-old who has won at two of his past three starts, would sprint home powerfully, saying: “He has had a freshen-up and he loves the mile. He will be coming home strongly.”