Star reinsman Gary Hall Jnr has been cleared to drive Diego in Friday night’s TABtouch-WA Pacing Cup (2936m) at Gloucester Park after he was successful in his appeal against a careless driving charge.
Hall Jnr was suspended twice in one race earlier this month and was set to miss driving in the $450,000 event but is now free to try and score his ninth win in the race.
Anthony Butt was on standby to drive Diego if Hall Jnr was unsuccessful.
Diego’s regular driver Maddison Brown is unable to drive in this week’s Group 1 due to concussion.
The gelding’s chances of winning the WA Pacing Cup received a significant boost at yesterday’s barrier draw, when he came up with barrier one.
Diego opened a $4 chance with TABtouch for the Pacing Cup but has shortened to a clear $2.90 favourite with news of Hall Jnr being able to drive.
The seven-year-old led all the way from barrier one in the J.P. Stratton Cup (2130m) earlier this month, before he was narrowly beaten by Mighty Ronaldo and Minstrel in the Fremantle Cup.
Trainer Gary Hall Snr, who has won the WA Pacing Cup on 12 occasions, said it would still be a big challenge for Diego to win from the good draw.
“It won’t be easy as it looks,” Hall Snr told The Trots WA.
“He will get a bit of pressure from Minstrel.
“The one thing in his favour is he should get an easier lead than he did in the Fremantle Cup and Minstrel will have to come out and that might make it harder for him.
“I think he’s better than what he was before the Fremantle Cup.”
Diego’s stablemate Jumpingjackmac, who Hall Jnr drove in the Fremantle Cup, has the services Stuart McDonald this week.
The five-year-old drew barrier three yesterday and Hall Snr said he expected another strong showing.
“He’s going to be hard to beat and is going well,” he said.”
“He’s definitely a chance with pressure on.
“I though his Fremantle Cup run was very good because he was off the track.”
Wildwest is Hall Snr’s other runner in the race and will start from barrier nine.
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