Victory: King Of Swing leads throughout in Hunter Cup Photo by Stuart McCormick
The monkey is finally off his back.
Champion Perth reinsman Gary Hall Jnr claimed his biggest victory in Victoria with his all the way triumph in the Gr.1 $500,000 Del-Re National Hunter Cup at TABCORP Park, Melton last night.
In a thrilling finish, King Of Swing ($7.80) scored by a half head margin defeating Our Uncle Sam ($7.50) and race favourite Chase Auckland ($3.30) in the 2760m mobile start feature.
For Hall Jnr, the win was extra satisfying following some near misses in recent times.
His tally of Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit victories now stands at 24!
The collection of big race trophies includes the Inter Dominion, Australian Pacing Championship, Auckland Cup, Blacks A Fake QPC, Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups.
Prior to the Hunter Cup, his biggest victory in Victoria came via the Cranbourne Cup with Im Themightyquinn back in 2010.
Listed as the emergency and drawn gate three, King Of Swing gained a start following the scratching of San Carlo but actually started from the inside draw following the late scratching’s of both Alta Orlando and Mach Shard.
Hall Jnr fired the Craig Cross prepared entire straight to the lead and the five-year-old traveled smoothly throughout.
The lead time was covered in 84.5 seconds.
King Of Swing continued to dictate terms in front with New Zealand pacer Triple Eight parked on his outside while Our Uncle Sam gained the perfect trip on the back of the leader.
Fancied runners Chase Auckland, Lochinvar Art, Bling It On and A G’s White Socks all sat in the second half of the field.
The first half of the final mile was covered in splits of 29.5 and 29.3 seconds.
Entering the back straight for the final time, Hall Jnr increased the pressure as Cash N Flow popped up three-wide which gave Bling It On cover while Chase Auckland was driven for luck in between runners.
The third quarter was timed in 27.7 seconds
At the top of the straight, Hall Jnr and King Of Swing kicked for home as Our Uncle Sam peeled off his back and Chase Auckland emerged from the pack to give chase.
Under the elaborate and unique urgings of Hall Jnr, King Of Swing fought off the driving finish of Our Uncle Sam, relegating him to the runners-up role for the second straight year.
The final split was covered in 26.9 seconds.
The winning mile rate was 1:55.4 – well outside of the track record at 1:53.2 set by Tiger Tara last year.
“He travelled really well throughout and then I kicked for home and he seemed like he flattened out halfway up the straight which enabled Our Uncle Sam to get close but then he fought back to win it, he’s a hard horse to get past.” Hall Jnr said.
King Of Swing, a Breeders Crown winner at two and WA Derby winner at three, recently transferred to the stables of Cross in Sydney following some indifferent form in Perth under previous trainer Gary Hall Snr.
Under the care of Cross, King Of Swing has won two of his three starts.
Overall, King Of Swing has won 20 of his 51 starts with earnings in excess of $500,000.
After six legs of the APG Grand Circuit this season, we have witnessed six individual winners.
Only two legs of the APG Grand Circuit remain – the Miracle Mile at TABCORP Park, Menangle on March 7 followed by the Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship at Albion Park on July 25.
And both events will be targeted by King Of Swing.
New Zealand Cup winner Cruz Bromac sits atop of the leaderboard with 170 points to date.