That was a Hallmark decision
Caption: Time to celebrate for Leanne and Graham Hall. (Photo: Just Greyhound Photos)
By MIKE HILL
A RELIEVED Leanne and Graham Hall embraced trackside after their brave sprinter Extra Malt brilliantly won the $57,500 Group 3R Ipswich Auction Series Final (520m) last month.
For the Halls, it was the culmination of a plan months in the making.
“We knew she had the motor, that’s why we targeted this race,” said owner Graham. “We always thought it was a race we could win.
“A guy wanted us to take her to Victoria for the Launching Pad, but we decided to stay here for the auction series.”
And they are thrilled they did.
“It’s our biggest win so far and our first Group victory,” said trainer Leanne, who also gave her husband a ‘huge pat on the back’.
“Graham spent many hours just walking with Extra Malt this week and I think it really helped her to settle.”
Extra Malt (Paw Licking-It Gets Better) – a well-fancied $3.30 chance on the back of gritty heat and semi-final wins – showed her strength in the straight, racing away to a two-length victory over the fast-finishing Darren Russell-trained Spooky Fernando ($34) with $3.50 hope Flaming Rose (Jason Schmidt) another length away third.
The winner clocked 30.95s after rain fell on the track earlier in the night.
John Catton’s $2.80 favourite Little Byrnes, winner of the Auction Series Sprint (431m) earlier in the year, finished fifth.
Surprisingly the Halls can consider themselves a bit lucky that they still have their super white and black sprinter.
“We had two litters – 13 young dogs – to break in at the time of the auction in 2019,” said Graham.
“And we would have sold her at the auction if bids had topped $3000. We bought her back after bidding stalled at $2750.
“And aren’t we glad no one wanted her. The Paw Licking litter broke in easily and Extra Malt showed early promise.”
Hall said they knew they had something special when Extra Malt clocked 30.03s in her first trial out of the boxes at Albion Park.
But then, although winning, she could only manage the mid-30s in her early races at headquarters.
In March, however, Extra Malt hit a new gear, displaying her enormous potential.
She chalked up four successive Albion Park victories, breaking the 30s barrier in each, including a super slick PB 29.60s.
Hall said he didn’t mind the talented sprinter drawing box five in the $40,000-to-the-winner Ipswich final.
He said Extra Malt hadn’t been jumping well in the series and he didn’t want her getting mixed up in any first corner scrimmage.
“Although she jumped better tonight, I was happy with her sitting behind the leaders,” he said.
“She doesn’t do anything stupid in her races and when the opening comes she takes it.
“She has extraordinary track sense for such a young dog. And she can lead or come from behind.
“She’s very versatile. I feel she’ll be able to eventually go 600m.”
The Halls now plan to aim their rising star at all the restricted races in Brisbane over the Winter Carnival, including the Young Guns and the rich Flying Amy Classic.
“We’ll see how she pulls up,” said Hall. “She had a tough run tonight. We may even look at next week’s Winged Runner Trophy (for bitches) at Albion Park.”
Extra Malt’s Ipswich success lifted her impressive record to 11 wins and two placings from just 15 starts and boosted her prizemoney to almost $75,000.
Hall believes there are potentially more big wins in the future.
“We’ll see how she progresses,” he said. “I think she can. She has a great will to win.”
Hall also paid tribute to the Extra Malt’s sire Paw Licking.
“I think he is an enormously underrated sire,” he said. “We used him very early and he definitely upgrades the bitches.”
Meanwhile, the Peter Sullivan-trained Dianne’s Boy impressively won the $10,500 Ipswich Auction Series Consolation (520m).
Dianne’s Boy, a $2.90 favourite, beat the Tony Brett-prepared Silent Key ($5) by three-and-a-half lengths with Geoff Draheim’s Auriga Lucille ($101) a close third.