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Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators

Rising star Hampton Banner defied a spirited interrogation from Jumpingjackmac when he held the brilliant three-year-old at bay and scored an impressive first-up victory in the 2130m Garrard’s Horse And Hound Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

The four-year-old Hampton Banner, second fancy at $3.80, was resuming racing after a 25-week absence when he revealed his natural sparkling gate speed to set the pace from the No. 3 barrier.

Chris Lewis rated Hampton Banner perfectly in front, with Jumpingjackmac, the $1.85 favourite, racing without cover. After modest opening quarters of 30.6sec. and 29.2sec., the tempo rose sharply when Jumpingjackmac issued a strong challenge in the back straight in the final circuit, and the third quarter whizzed by in 27.6sec.

Jumpingjackmac got on terms with Hampton Banner at the 400m mark, and the two pacers fought out the final quarter, stride for stride, with Hampton Banner prevailing by a half-head. The last 400m was covered in 29sec. and Hampton Banner rated 1.57.1.

Part-owner Mark Lewis, whose mother Debra trains Hampton Banner, said he was happy, but not surprised at Hampton Banner’s splendid first-up performance.

“He has had a solid preparation and he will be set for the Fremantle Cup and WA Pacing Cup,” he said. “Ther longer distances of the Cup races will not worry him. His greatest asset is his speed. He can sit-sprint but at Gloucester Park it is always an advantage to lead. He is lightly raced and has had a few injury issues that are now under control.”

Hampton Banner, who is by Bettors Delight, raced ten times in New Zealand for three wins and a second placing. His eight WA starts have produced five wins and a second.