Inexperienced four-year-old Hampton Banner has overcome a fractured hind leg and three operations to develop into one of the State’s most promising young pacers.
The Bettors Delight gelding, trained by Debra Lewis, has returned to racing after an eleven-month absence in fine style, and he completed a winning hat-trick when Chris Lewis drove him to an impressive victory in the 2130m Vili’s Family Bakery Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Hampton Banner raced ten times in New Zealand for three wins and a second placing before he was purchased by a syndicate of West Australian owners, including Mark Lewis, the son of Chris and Debra Lewis.
The strongly-built gelding made his WA debut in March 2020 when second to Harley Zest before finishing sixth behind Patronus Star in the WA Derby the following month. It was then discovered that he had a fractured hind leg.
“When we bought him in New Zealand we were told that he had soft bones,” said Mark Lewis. “And after two runs here we could see that he wasn’t right.
“An MRI examination revealed that he had a stress fracture in his nearside fetlock, and he underwent surgery when a screw was inserted. He had another operation to remove the screw, and a third surgery when suffering an infection in the joint.”
Hampton Banner, the fourth foal out of the Christian Cullen mare Surf And Sand (11 starts for one win, one placings and $7160), is still relatively inexperienced with a record of 16 starts for six wins, two placings and stakes of $61,853.
His owners are optimistic about his prospects of developing into a top-flight pacer and are hoping he will maintain his rate of improvement and be a candidate for the Fremantle Cup and WA Pacing Cup next summer.
“He will probably go for a break soon, and hopefully he’ll be good enough to come back for the summer racing,” said Mark Lewis.
On Friday night, Hampton Banner, the $1.90 favourite, began speedily from the No. 6 barrier and gave a bold frontrunning display to win by 4m from Bettor Finish, rating 1.57.4 after final 400m sections of 28.7sec. and 27.8sec.
by Ken Casellas