Champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr took his record in Group 1 feature events to around the 60 mark when he was at his brilliant best in the sulky at Gloucester Park on Friday night, winning two $100,000 classic events in the space of 25 minutes.
He completed this notable performance by using all his skill to guide $7.10 chance Bettor Beach Belle to a fighting half-length victory over the $1.55 favourite Black Jack Baby in the 2130m Westbred Classic for three-year-old fillies to give owner Mildred Malazarte her biggest success in harness racing.
This was no mean feat for Hall and trainer Nathan Turvey, who had a battle to get Bettor Beach Belle ready for the big assignment after he had to scratch the filly from an important lead-up event a fortnight earlier when she had filling in her offside front leg.
“So, it hasn’t been plain sailing,” said Turvey.
Bettor Beach Belle started from the No. 4 barrier and Hall was able to urge her to the front after 2150m. “She never felt all that good in front, but she just kept finding,” said Hall. “It was different to when I drove her two starts ago when she led and won easily. She then felt terrific.”
Better Beach Belle, who was having only her third start for Turvey, now has earned $132,377 from six wins and nine placings from 25 starts.
If she takes no ill-effects from Friday night’s performance Better Beach Belle will be one of the main fancies in the $100,000 Allwood Stud Farm Westbred Classic for two-year-old fillies next Friday night.
In the race before Bettor Beach Belle’s victory Hall was patience personified as he guided the inexperienced Finvarra to victory in the Westbred Classic for two-year-old colts and geldings.
Black Jack Baby was the unlucky runner in the classic for fillies. She started from barrier two on the back line in the field of twelve and Chris Voak quicky got her into an ideal position, one-out and one-back, in fourth spot.
But Black Jack Baby was badly hampered for room in the last lap when hemmed in by three-wide runners Benesari Lane and Our Star Billing. Finally, Voak was able to reef Black Jack Baby out of the tight pocket about 380m from home. Black Jack Baby went five wide approaching the home turn and charged home down the outside to finish an eye-catching half length behind the winner.
by Ken Casellas