By Jordan Gerrans
Respected trainer Graham Hall thinks hot favourite Spotted Elk does not necessarily need to lead from box one if she is to claim the first ever TAB Queensland Flame.
Speaking at the launch of the 2021-22 TAB Golden Greys Summer Carnival on Wednesday afternoon at Albion Park, the Marburg-based Hall heads into the inaugural edition of the Listed Flame with two chances from his family's kennel.
The Hall team will be the top and tail of the first ever Flame field, Spotted Elk – trained by husband Graham - jumping from box one, while wife Leanne’s Extra Malt will carry the pink rug.
The Hall duo were both last start winners in the heats seven days prior and come into the Listed Final well in the market over the 520-metre trip.
The TAB has Spotted Elk as the $2.25 public elect as of Wednesday afternoon with Extra Malt priced at $3.80, and Hall thinks the favourite can still get the prize even if Tyanna Belle, from box two and judged a $9.50 chance by the bookmakers, heads her early on.
Extra Malt, who is a Group 3 winner earlier in her career, qualified the fastest of the litter sisters, from a Paw Licking and It Gets Better litter, in 29.87 seconds over the trip, with Spotted Elk slightly slower in 29.95 seconds.
The Hall combination have been winning machines in their young careers so far, combining for 38 victories, with both hovering around the 50 per cent winning strike rate.
“I do not think she has to lead to win,” Hall said at the carnival launch about Spotted Elk.
“Ideally, I would like to see her nail the start and give herself a really good look at the lure going through the catching pen.
“From our point of view with Extra Malt, we need the race opened up with her to get through to the catching pen with very little interference.
“Spotted Elk, when we broke her in, we thought she would be better than Extra Malt, but then Spotted Elk came on season, which had a long drawn out process to get her back to racing.”