Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
“He’s on the way up,” declared champion reinsman Chris Lewis after driving Hampton Banner to an impressive all-the-way victory over the talented but enigmatic star Wildwest in the 2130m Cowden Ltd Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
This brought up Hampton Banner’s sixth win in a row and took his record to nine wins and two placings from 19 starts for stakes of $99,937.
Hampton Banner, prepared by Lewis’s wife Debra, was the $3 second fancy, with Wildwest, like Hampton Banner making his second appearance after a spell, the $2.40 favourite.
Hampton Banner started from the No. 2 barrier and Lewis sent him to the front after 50m, with $101 outsider Gotta Go Gabbana dashing forward from the outside barrier (No. 9) into the breeze, and Wildwest securing the perfect one-out, one-back trail.
Gary Hall jnr sent Wildwest forward, three wide, at the 550m and the lightly-raced five-year-old was fourth on the home turn before surging strongly, out five wide, to finish a neck behind the winner, who rated 1.55.6 after final 400m sections of 28.1sec. and 28.7sec.
“He has improved on his previous run, and has got plenty of guts,” said Lewis. “He has had a lot of work under his belt, and if there is a suitable race next Friday. He might go round.”
Twenty-five minutes after Hampton Banner’s victory, Lewis completed a double by winning the Norms Daughter Classic with Born To Boogie. The following afternoon Lewis travelled to Narrogin where he drove the Barry Howlett-trained three-year-old filly Three Rumours to victory.