Humbled Hall Unsung Hero
By Adam Hamilton
FORMER trainer Gary Hall Sr emerged as the brainchild behind King Of Swing’s drama-filled $500,000 Group 1 Hunter Cup win.
It was Hall Sr who convinced some of his biggest owners to part with $400,000 to buy King Of Swing out of NZ soon after he won the Breeders Crown 2YO final.
When the powerful pacer won the WA Derby soon after, everything looked rosey, but, deep down, Hall wasn’t so sure.
“He was lucky to win that Derby and, to be honest, he’s a horse I never really liked that much at home. I couldn’t get him to work well or enjoy his racing. He mustn’t have liked my training style,” he said.
“He became a nightmare. He’d go great one week, then awful the next. He had to lead over home (Perth) because he just wouldn’t try back in the field.
“He was going nowhere and we’d only go back about half what the crew paid for him.
“So I told them to send him to Luke McCarthy so he and Craig (Cross) could have a go with him. There’s nothing more I could do.”
Hall Sr has enjoyed a stellar career himself, but admits he’s in awe of the job McCarthy and Cross have done with King Of Swing.
“They rang me as soon as they got him and Luke said he was working like a jet, but asked if he did the same for me then didn’t fire at the races. I told him he never worked really well for me,” Hall Sr said.
“To think they’ve been able to turn him around like this in five weeks or so if just amazing. It’s truly incredible. He’s a completely different horse. He travels better, he wants to be out there, he wants to win.”
Hall Sr booked a last-minute flight from Perth to Melbourne on the morning of the race when son, Gary Hall Jr, told him King Of Swing had got a run as the emergency with San Carlo scratched.
“I’m so glad I came, it’s just been the most amazing night,” he said. “I’ve won Inter Dominions and everything, but this buzz if up with anything I’ve felt. I’m so thrilled for all the owners and just amazed at the job Luke and Craig have done.”
And the extra layer was Gary Jr taking the winning drive.
“To think Gaz and I have tried so hard to win a Hunter Cup with great horses like The Falcon Strike and Quinny and we finally win it with King Of Swing,” he said.
“Gaz is just the most awesome driver. It’s great to see him win a race like this away from home.”
Hall Sr is more than just the former trainer, he also has a small share in the ownership.
“That’s nice, but it’s not about the money. It’s about finally winning a Hunter Cup,” he said.
King Of Swing now returns to Sydney to push towards another major win in the Miracle Mile.