Day At The Track

Chicago Bull is ready to roar

04:11 PM 04 Oct 2018 NZDT
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Chicago Bull,Harness racing
Chicago Bull
Gloucester Park

“It’s all systems go,” declared champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr as he said that superstar Chicago Bull, Australasia’s best pacer, was spot on to contest rich feature events over the next three months.

And he said that he had no concerns over the outstanding six-year-old’s ability to handle the standing start in the $800,000 New Zealand Cup over 3200m at Addington on Tuesday, November 13.

The mighty little gelding has not contested a stand in a glittering career of 58 starts for 38 wins and 15 placings for earnings of $1,624,424.

After predicting that Chicago Bull would extend his winning sequence to nine by beating his six rivals in the $50,000 J. P. Stratton Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night, Hall said that he was not worried about the gelding handling the standing start and beginning smoothly in the Group 1 New Zealand Cup.

“I know that he hasn’t raced in a stand yet, but he’s a good pacer and we don’t have to worry about pins and all that,” he said. “His hopples are too small, anyway. We gave him a trial in a stand at Byford three months ago and he felt as though I could push him out as fast as I wanted.”

That was Chicago Bull’s second standing-start trial. He also paced away faultlessly at Byford in a trial in July 2017.

Chicago Bull will leave Perth by air for Melbourne on Wednesday of next week and Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr is sure to have him at his peak for the Victoria Cup, a 2200m mobile at Melton on Saturday, October 13.

“If all goes well in the Victoria Cup, Chicago Bull will leave for New Zealand on the following Thursday (the 18th),” Hall Jnr said. “We then plan to run him in a 2200m stand at Alexandra Park on October 26 before travelling from Auckland down to Christchurch for the Cup.

“All’s well with Chicago Bull and he’s had just two hoppled runs since winning the Navy Cup last Friday week. I expect him to win again this week and it would be good for him to have a relatively hard race before going away. I expect Talktomeurmattjesty to lead from barrier one and run along a bit.

“I certainly would like Chicago Bull to keep the picket fence against his name, and that would give us a bit of extra confidence going into the big races away from home.”

One of Chicago Bull’s main rivals in the New Zealand Cup looms as five-year-old Ultimate Machete, who is due to resume racing after an absence of nine months in a race at Addington on Friday night. His most recent appearance was at Gloucester Park last January when he finished fourth behind My Hard Copy, Lazarus and Chicago Bull in the 2536m Fremantle Cup.

Earlier, in November and December last year Ultimate Machete won the Group 1 Four-Year-Old Classic and the Group 1 Golden Nugget at Gloucester Park.

After contesting the New Zealand Cup, Chicago Bull will be set for the Inter Dominion championships series in Melbourne in December. The Hall father-and-son combination is no strangers to big-race successes in New Zealand, with Im Themightyquinn winning the $400,000 Auckland Cup in March 2011, the $800,000 Inter Dominion championship at Addington in April 2011 and the $250,000 Auckland Cup in March 2013.

The Halls have combined to win the Stratton Cup with Bengeeman (2002), Alzona (2011) and Waylade (2015) and Chicago Bull is racing with such confidence and brilliance that it is extremely difficult to visualise him being beaten on Friday night.

Chicago Bull will start from the No. 6 barrier in a field of seven and Hall Jnr will assess his tactics as the race unfolds.

Busselton trainer Barry Howlett has the lightly-raced Talktomeurmattjesty working in good style and the even-year-old appeals as the likely leader. At his first outing since he had a tough run, three wide for much of the way, before fading to 11th behind Real Lucky at Gloucester Park on May 25.

Talktomeurmattjesty will be driven by Chris Lewis, who has won the Stratton Cup seven times with Black Irish (1983), Village Kid (1985, 1988, 1991), Ohoka Ace (2005), Sneakyn Down Under (2009) and Sensational Gabby (2014).

The Michael Brennan-trained The Bucket List (Michael Grantham) has excellent place prospects after several strong efforts in recent starts. He was seventh (and last) at the bell before finishing fast, out four wide, to be a close fourth, less than a length behind the winner Motu Premier in the Media Guild Cup last Friday night. He sat behind the pacemaker Chicago Bull before running on gamely to finish second to that pacer in the Navy Cup the previous week.

Tricky Styx, a fast-finishing winner last week, is likely to be engaged in a keen duel with Talktomeurmattjesty, Waylade, Runrunmjimmydunn and Argyle Red for third place.


Ken Casellas

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