Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
Champion reinsman Gary Hall jnr has a high opinion of brilliant three-year-olds Jumpingjackmac and Finvarra, and he has given punters a strong tip by choosing to drive Jumpingjackmac in preference to Finvarra in the Cowden Limited, The Insurance Brokers Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The two young stars are prepared by master trainer Gary Hall snr and they will clash in a race for the first time this week when Finvarra, to be handled by Callan Suvaljko, will start from barrier eight in the 2130m event, with Jumpingjackmac drawn on the outside in the field of nine.
Hall jnr has driven Finvarra in all his nine starts for six wins and two placings. The West Australian-bred colt warmed up for his clash with Jumpingjackmac in fine style when he started from the outside barrier, settled down in last place 50 metres from the leader Know When To Run and was not extended when he burst to the front approaching the home turn and raced away to win by two and a half lengths from stablemate The Ideal Touch last Friday night.
Jumpingjackmac has raced in much stronger company for most of his 13-start career for eight wins and four seconds. He has been beaten in a photo finish by classy four-year-olds at his past two starts, losing by a head to Alta Engen, and by a half-head by Hampton Banner.
His form line reads quite a deal stronger than that of Finvarra, and he should emerge triumphant in his much-anticipated clash with his stablemate on Friday night.
Hall snr and his son will be looking for the stable’s enigmatic, but richly talented New Zealand-bred five-year-old Wildwest to return to the winning list at his second appearance after an eight-month absence when he begins from barrier five in the $25,000 Cowden Limited Pace over 2130m.
Wildwest is sure to have derived considerable benefit from his first-up effort last Friday night when he began from the back mark of 40 metres in a 2503m stand. He settled down a distant last in the field of eight and was seventh at the bell before charging home with a spirited five-wide burst to finish a close-up fifth behind Just Wing It.
Hall jnr, who drove his 200TH winner for the season when Stars N Bars was successful in a 1684m event at Pinjarra on Monday, has been engaged to handle the speedy five-year-old The Kraken from barrier one in the ninth event.
The Kraken, who has a losing sequence of 18, was a $126 outsider when he finished seventh in a field of eight behind Major Martini last Friday night. He started from the outside barrier in a field of eight and raced at the rear on the pegs. He was not suited by the slow early pace and was hampered for room in the final circuit.
The Kraken is a smart frontrunner who will appreciate a drop in class. He looks set to fight out the finish, with his main rival quite likely to emerge as Tyler Brett, who has a losing sequence of 17 and has been unplaced at his past six starts. Tyler Brett will start from the outside barrier (No. 9), but he possesses excellent gate speed and should race in a forward position.