Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
Champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr notched his 100TH winner for the season when, with the whip tucked under his right arm, he cajoled recalcitrant pacer Beat City to dig deep and get up in the final stride to beat the pacemaker Regal Cheval by a head in the $25,000 Bridge Bar Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Once again, it was the inherent skill of the 39-year-old maestro which enabled a horse to produce its best when facing almost inevitable defeat.
Regal Cheval, the $3.20 second fancy, set a solid pace and he appeared to have the measure of Beat City, the $2.40 favourite, when he resisted that pacer’s determined challenges over the final stages of the 2130m event.
Supporters of Beat City were perplexed when Regal Cheval was holding Beat City at bay all the way up the home straight — and saw that Hall did not reach for the whip.
But their bewilderment turned to sheer admiration as Hall coaxed the five-year-old Beat City to fight on grandly to snatch victory after a final 800m of 56.5sec.
“I found out early on that Beat City doesn’t like being hit with the whip; he hates the whip,” explained Hall. “Tonight, I pretended to pull the ear plugs on him a couple of times, just to let him know that it was time to go. I finally pulled the plugs half-way up the straight, and he responded.
“Once before when I pulled him out in a race and gave him a cut with the whip he almost pulled up, and I almost fell into the dust sheet.”
Hall’s milestone of a hundred winners was achieved at the half-way mark of the season, and it gave the master reinsman a century of winners in 18 consecutive seasons and put him firmly on target to end the year with 200 or more winners for the third year in a row, following tallies of 226 and 252 in the two previous seasons.
Beat City, a winner of eight races in Victoria, has flourished under the care of Mundijong trainer Michael Young, and his 25 starts in Western Australia have produced eight wins and 11 placings. He has earned $180,069 from 16 wins and 21 placings from 57 starts.