Racing WA


12 February 2019

If ever anyone was going to be inducted into WA Racing’s Hall of Fame at just thirty-six years of age, it is Gary Hall Jnr.

Examining his record, it is scarcely believable that he could have achieved what he has in such a short career, no matter the training dominance of his father and fellow-Hall of Fame inductee, Gary Snr.

To the time of writing “Junior” is approaching 2700 wins in the sulky, which puts him behind only Chris Lewis (over 5300) and Colin Brown (over 2900). He has already passed the most famous of all trainer-drivers in West Australian history, Fred Kersley (2378).

The amazing fact is that no matter what the horse or what the betting price, historically Gary Hall Jnr wins in one of every three races he contests and runs a place almost exactly half the time. He has reined an extraordinary fifty-four Group One winners, which is second only to Lewis (sixty-eight). 

When you look, however, at all the statistical leaders – Kersley, Lewis, Brown and now Hall - they all have one thing in common when driving a standardbred.

Composure. And the bigger the race the more steely their demeanour and the better they drive. It’s not that they don’t feel nerves before a race, it is that they simply lock the angst away during the battle, for it is the enemy of instant decision-making on the big stage and the first thing they learn to overcome.

Gary Jnr. has driven champions, but they have also benefited greatly from his skill and when you look at the films it is clearly evident that many of his best drives have come in major events.

From childhood, growing up around horses, Gary Jnr. was always a passionate and astute student.  As soon as he was allowed he was applying for a licence to drive and as soon as he could drive he was winning. On the exact day he turned sixteen, July 26 1998, he was guiding his first ever race drive to victory at Pinjarra.

The horse’s name was Enhancer and from that day to this Hall has always shown a champion’s ability. He notched up seven wins and eleven placings in his first thirty drives and he had piloted only seventy winners when, in 2001, a horse called The Falcon Strike had his initial run for the Hall stable.

Like Enhancer and many other runners racing under the gold and blue silks of Hall at the time, the principal owners of The Falcon Strike were Michael and June van Rens.

After landing a sizeable betting plunge first-up, The Falcon Strike, a three-year-old New Zealand import, won his opening four starts in the west, before running eighth in the WA Derby, the by-product of a somewhat tortuous trip.  In all those races the horse had been driven by Gary Hall Snr., but after the Derby he sacked himself and talked the owners of the horse into letting Gary Jnr. be given the opportunity. Mike van Rens was at first wary of risking his star to the guidance of a nineteen-year-old but he yielded to popular opinion. The rest is history.

Hall Jnr. would steer The Falcon Strike for the remainder of his career; a career which took him to three WA Pacing Cup successes as well as two Fremantle Cups and two Australian Pacing Championships. In all, The Falcon Strike won forty-one races and some $1.25 million in prize money, giving Hall Jnr. the launch pad to the incredible future that awaited him. 

The one disappointment for Hall in his association with The Falcon Strike was being beaten by a few millimetres in the 2004 Gloucester Park Inter Dominion. But Junior would get his chance again and sooner than he may have expected.

With The Falcon Strike only just retired, Gary Snr. landed another Kiwi in Perth who would be, astonishingly, an even better commodity.  Equipped with a sprint to match any in the sport’s history, Im Themightyquinn was to evolve into one of the greatest pacers ever seen in Australasia. 

“Quinny” would win the Inter Dominion three times, the WA Pacing Cup three times, the Fremantle Cup three times, the Auckland Cup twice, the Cranbourne Cup, the Blacks A Fake Championship in Queensland and the McInerney Ford Four-Year-Old Classic. All these races were at Group One level and altogether Quinny won fifty-eight races and over $4.5 million.  

Some of Gary Jnr.’s drives on this horse, sweeping around the field from the rear with a blinding turn of speed, are now the stuff of folklore.  Im Themightyquinn’s last Inter Dominion win, at Menangle in 2013, was a classic example, with the champion coming from last at the bell in a fourteen horse field to win running away.
It simply had to be seen.

Following the retirement of Im Themightyquinn, Chicago Bull arrived at the stables to provide a third champion for the Halls.

He has already won a WA Derby, McInerney Ford Four-Year-Old Classic, Fremantle Cup and WA Pacing Cup, as well as finishing runner-up in a Victoria Cup and an Inter Dominion.  

There is hopefully still more to come from him.

All in all, at Grand Circuit level Gary Hall Jnr. has won nine WA Pacing Cups, eight Fremantle Cups, five Australian Pacing Championships, three Inter Dominions, two Auckland Cups, one Cranbourne Cup and one Blacks A Fake Championship.

His remaining Group One successes comprise four WA Derbies, four McInerney Ford Four-Year-Old Classics, four Sales Classics, four Pearl Classics, three Diamond Classics, two Mares Classics, two Golden Nugget Classics, two WA Oaks, one Westbred Classic and one Golden Slipper.

While Gary Hall Snr. has trained the bulk of these horses, twelve of Junior’s Group One wins have nevertheless come via trainers other than his father.

And just a reminder – he’s 36.

(Grand Circuit Events Only)
WA Pacing Cup (9)                               
2002 The Falcon Strike
2004 The Falcon Strike
2005 The Falcon Strike
2007 Tealsby Karita
2011 Im Themightyquinn
2012 Im Themightyquinn
2013 Im Themightyquinn
2017 Chicago Bull
2019 Rocknroll Lincoln
Fremantle Cup (8)                 
2002 The Falcon Strike
2004 The Falcon Strike
2009 Im Themightyquinn
2011 Im Themightyquinn
2012 Im Themightyquinn
2014 Im Victorious
2016 Beaudiene Boaz
2017 Chicago Bull
Australian Pacing Championship (5)  
2003 Bengeeman
2004 The Falcon Strike
2005 The Falcon Strike
2008 Dartmoor
2009 Washakie
Inter Dominion Championship  (3)     
2011 Im Themightyquinn
2012 Im Themightyquinn
2013 Im Themightyquinn
Auckland Cup (2)                  
2011 Im Themightyquinn
2013 Im Themightyquinn
Cranbourne Cup (1)                              
2010 Im The Mightyquinn
Blacks A Fake Championship  (1)        
2014 Im Themightyquinn