Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
Lightly-raced New Zealand-bred five-year-old Wildwest will do his future racing in Sydney after contesting the Fremantle Cup and WA Pacing Cup in the New Year.
That’s the decision of champion trainer Gary Hall snr after Callan Suvaljko had driven Wildwest to an all-the-way victory in the 1730m Stephen Croy Memorial Free-For-All at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
“He is a great horse on the rail, and I’m setting him for the Cups, and after those races he will go to Menangle to be trained by Belinda McCarthy,” said Hall. “That’s because I think that is his future, racing over a mile on the big track.
“It’s my idea because he can’t handle being wide on the Gloucester Park track. However, I wouldn’t say he can’t win the Fremantle Cup or the Pacing Cup. He’s got good ability and if he’s two or three on the fence and they go hard, he’s a good chance.”
Wildwest will be following in the footsteps of a former Hall star pacer King Of Swing, who won 12 races in WA, including the WA Derby in April 2018.
King Of Swing was not suited to racing on the 804m Gloucester Park circuit, and Hall decided his future would be in Sydney. King Of Swing has thrived in the Eastern States, with his 29 starts for the McCarthy stable producing 21 wins and seven placings. His wins include the Hunter Cup at Melton in February 2020 and the Miracle Mile at Menangle in March 2020 and March 2021.
Suvaljko took full advantage of the No. 1 barrier in Friday night’s 1730m event and Wildwest, the $3.40 favourite, was on his best behaviour as he reeled off quarters of 28.6sec., 29.2sec., 27.5sec. and 28.1sec.
Minstrel, a $4.80 chance, raced three wide early and then in the breeze before he took a narrow lead 300m from home. However, Wildwest fought back to regain the lead, and he went on to win by a half-neck from stablemate Diego ($34), who raced three back on the pegs for Maddison Brown before finishing with a powerful burst.
Minstrel was a half-length away in third place, with Magnificent Storm ($6) and Chicago Bull ($7) unleashing dazzling late bursts to finish close to the placegetters, out wide on the track.
Magnificent Storm was last on the home turn before flashing home, seven wide, to be fourth, while Chicago Bull also thundered home from the rear, out six wide, to be an eye-catching fifth. Rocknroll Lincoln, having his first start for two years, trailed the pacemaker and ran home strongly, three wide, to finish last in the field of ten, just over two lengths behind the winner, who rated 1.52.9.
Hall snr said he was thrilled with Diego’s performance in finishing fast after racing three back on the pegs. “He is such a competitor,” he said. And Hall could not hide his delight at Chicago Bull’s splendid performance at his first appearance for six months.
“Chicago Bull showed that he is well and truly on track for the upcoming Cups,” he said. “He will keep on improving and give him two or three more runs and he will be right up there.”