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Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators

Tricky Ric, engaged in a titanic last-lap struggle with Ace Commander, revealed great fighting qualities to get up in the final desperate stride to snatch a head victory over the $1.65 favourite in the 2096m Garrard’s Free Call Trot at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Ace Commander set the pace, with Tricky Ric ($2.50) doing all the work in the breeze, and he held his rival at bay as the pair raced stride-for-stride throughout the final lap until Tricky Ric, driven by Gary Hall Jnr, put in a determined lunge to gain the narrow verdict. War Spirit ($15) finished third, ninth lengths in arrears.

The victory completed a hat-trick of wins for Tricky Ric, a New Zealand-bred six-year-old. It gave Hall the second leg of a driving double and Gary Hall Snr his third winner as a trainer on the night.

“I was not confident turning for home,” admitted Hall Jnr. “I’ve driven against Ace Commander before, and he has always had a kick.  But Tricky Ric just kept fighting on, and he did a good job which is a good trait.

“I tried to open up a gap behind Ace Commander early but was unable to do so. So, I was quite happy to race in the breeze. Tricky Ric is pretty versatile. He has a good turn of foot and is also pretty tough as well.”

Tricky Ric is by the American stallion Muscle Hill, who earned $3,273,342 in the United States, and is the second foal out of Great Getaway, who earned $117,260 from ten wins and 13 placings from 47 starts in New Zealand, including winning a group 2 2700m stand at Alexandra Park in December 2012 and finishing third behind Can Doosit in a Group 1 1609m trot at Cambridge in June 2010.