Champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr came to Byford trainer Callan Suvaljko’s aid by happily agreeing to drive Rocknroll Whitby in the TABtouch Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night, and the veteran gelding ended a losing sequence of 19 when he fought on with grim determination to win the event by a half neck from the $2.10 favourite Crocodile Kid.
But Hall had to pay the price for the victory, according to Suvaljko, who trains Rocknroll Whitby for his wife Amanda, with Suvaljko (unable to drive because of a brief suspension) explaining that Hall had a torrid time to get the pacer across the line in first place.
“Rocknroll Whitby never travelled at any stage and Junior (Hall) was more exhausted than the horse after the race,” said Suvaljko. Rocknroll Whitby ($5.90) raced in sixth position, one-out and two-back, while Crocodile Kid was setting the pace, with $41 chance Beach Skipper on his outside.
Hall sent Rocknroll Whitby forward, three wide, at the 600m mark, but the gelding appeared languid, and Hall had to drive him vigorously to get him to respond to his urgings.
Suvaljko, who now works for the Hall stable in Serpentine, said that Rocknroll Whitby had been an honest performer during his 141-start career which has produced 18 wins and 18 placings for stakes of $208,978. “He was bought as a yearling for $20,000 and has paid his way,” he said.
For Hall, this was only his second drive behind Rocknroll Whitby, with his previous drive behind the gelding being 53 starts earlier when he was unplaced from a back mark in a stand at Gloucester Park on December 18, 2018.
Rocknroll Whitby has inherited some of the ability of his dam Party Date, a talented mare who earned $256,003 from her 25 wins, 18 seconds and nine thirds from 111 starts. Party Date has also produced six other winners, including Bettor Party (220 starts for 40 wins, 55 placings and $350,007) and Pierre Whitby (84 starts for 11 wins, 26 placings and $101,782).
Suvaljko is also enjoying success with veteran performers Tuas Delight and Extreme Prince, pacers he purchased last October for $5000 each.
Eight-year-old Tuas Delight finished solidly to win from Im Spiderman at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week to take his record for Suvaljko to 22 starts for two wins, three placings and $20,864, while Extreme Prince’s 22 starts for Suvaljko have produced two wins, six placings and $28,749.
by Ken Casellas