Gary Hall Snr attended the 2000 New Zealand Cup meeting on 14th November 2000 for both a holiday and again on the lookout for a prospective addition to his stable.
The major support race on New Zealand Cup day is the Group One 3yo Sires Stakes final and Hall was taken with the luckless fifth, coming from near last five and six deep on the final corner, of a unfancied maiden 3yo called Falcon Strike. The winner of the Sires Stakes was Franco Heir and is wouldn’t be the last time the pair would clash.
He went and inspected the Falcon Seelster colt in the stalls post-race and felt that, given the extra work that Hall was renowned for, that once fully fit he wouldn’t take a lot of time to break his maiden status.
Hall’s group of Western Australian owners eventually agreed to the $NZ100,000 price tag and he was transferred into their names on December 20th. While waiting for a flight to Australia Falcon Strike had one final start in New Zealand in the $120,000 New Zealand Sales Classic on December 27th when he again finished fifth.
The Falcon Strike made his Perth debut at Gloucester Park on 16th February 2001 and those present were agog at the performance. A massive on-course plunge saw him start a 5/2 second favourite to the 2000 Australian 2yo Pacer of the Year Disco Force.
With his trainer Gary Hall Snr at the reins The Falcon Strike raced three-wide throughout and literally destroy Disco Force mentally blitzing Chandon’s State Record rate of 1:56.4 for the 1700 metres in the process.
The Falcon Strike was early favourite for the WA Derby after winning his next three Perth starts including the Group Three Western Gateway Pace but a chequered run in the Derby saw him finish down the track behind the interstate trained pair of Manifold Bay and Franco Heir.
Manifold Bay again proved his nemesis eight months later in the 2001 Group One 4yo Golden Nugget Championship after The Falcon Strike had won seven of his eight starts leading into the race including the Group Three McInerney Ford Classic.
By this stage Gary Hall Snr had sacked himself as driver and handed the reins to his 20yo son after convincing The Falcon Strike’s owners of the merit of the change.
A month after the Golden Nugget, in January 2002, The Falcon Strike won both the Group One WA Pacing Cup and Group One Fremantle Cup and the big race record of Gary Hall Jnr was under way.
Winning the WA Pacing Cup and Fremantle Cup as a 4yo was remarkable and even champions Village Kid and Pure Steel had been unable to win the State’s two premier races for aged horses in the same season.
The Falcon Strike was taken to Melbourne for the 2002 AG Hunter Cup and it was a decision that almost ended the young stallion’s career. In a roughhouse race that saw him effectively put out of action in the first 50 metres, The Falcon Strike was shoved from pillar to post and then had the temerity to hit the front turning for home before being mown down in the shadows of the post to finish fifth just 1.6 metres from the winner Safe And Sound.
After the race the severe tendon injury was plain to see and The Falcon Strike was destined to spend the next 14 months recovering from the injury and he completed a short season at stud in the process.
Mother and daughter Debbie and Kristy Padberg nursed The Falcon Strike throughout his convalescence with a series of laser treatments and a programme of walking and light exercise for which Gary Hall Snr was forever grateful.
“Without the countless hours that Debbie and Kristy put into him he would never had made a successful return to the race-track”, he said in 2003.
The Falcon Strike returned to the track in April 2003 with nine wins in 11 starts in Perth including the Easter and Winter Cups before Hall took him East for the 2003 Newcastle Mile which he won in a time of 1:54.5 to earn a start in that year’s Miracle Mile at Harold Park.
Drawn in barrier one, which was hardly ideal for a horse whose only possible flaw was a lack of gate speed, The Falcon Strike was made a $2.40 favourite but was forced to race in the breeze throughout and he finished last behind Sokyola in a time of 1:54.6.
He remained in Sydney for a week and despite a wide second row draw he finished fourth to Double Identity, Smooth Satin and Flashing Red in the Group One Treuer Memorial at Bankstown.
The Falcon Strike returned to Perth and was straight back in the winners list with four straight wins in as many weeks in the Group Two Celebrity Sprint on New Year’s Eve 2003 and then wins in a trio of Group One races – the 2004 Fremantle Cup, 2004 Australian Pacing Championship and 2004 WA Pacing Cup before a short break leading into the 2004 Inter Dominion at Gloucester Park.
The remarkable record of The Falcon Strike’s driver Gary Hall Jnr in the Inter Dominion began with a winning double behind his father’s horses in two of the three heats on the opening night of the 2004 Championship.
Faking It won the first heat and The Falcon Strike won the third heat on opening night and with subsequent placings Hall qualified both horses for the final.
It wasn’t a difficult decision for Gary Hall Jnr to choose The Falcon Strike as his drive in the nation’s biggest race despite the stallion drawing wide in barrier six. Faking It had drawn even wider and the drive on the 80/1 outsider went to Fred Kersley.
After working early Hall settled The Falcon Strike outside the leader Jofess in a carbon copy of the pair’s second night clash which saw Jofess draw away in the straight to win comfortably by a little over a length.
The Inter Dominion final was a lot closer as The Falcon Strike, carrying the hopes of his legion of Western Australian fans that had sent him out as a $3.30 favourite, dug deep with many on-course believing that he had got up in a desperate final lunge.
The photo-finish showed otherwise with Jofess holding on to win by a nose from The Falcon Strike with a further nose to Sokyola in third place and Mister D G another nose away in fourth place in what ranks as one of the all-time great Inter Dominion finishes.
He was sent for a break after the 2004 Inter Dominion and when The Falcon Strike resumed in the winter of 2004 he looked to be a shadow of his former self with just two placings in five starts before again being spelled.
He was back on December 10th 2004 with a win and a second a fortnight later before a third placing to Baltic Eagle and La Valiente in the Celebrity Sprint on New Year’s Eve 2004.
A 20 metre handicap in the Fremantle Cup proved too hard as he finished down the track behind Sandy Bay but seven days later he was back in the winners list with a win in the Group One Australian Pacing Championship over Ohoka Ace and Buck The Odds followed a week later with victory over Sandy Bay and Ohoka Ace in the WA Pacing Cup.
The Falcon Strike then made another ill-fated trip to Melbourne for the 2005 AG Hunter Cup where he shared the 20 metre back-mark with Kiwi star Elsu. He showed little fight in finishing down the track and a post-race examination showed the stallion to be sore and announcements were made about his retirement to stud.
So well did The Falcon Strike appear in the paddock he was put back into work and in May 2006, after a break of some 15 months he was again in the winner’s list at Gloucester Park with a pair of wins just a week apart.
While that campaign in the winter of 2006 and extending into late spring was to yield six wins and a couple of placings in a dozen starts the wear and tear and his age were now starting to show and, after finishing fifth to Gee Whiz Fizz on December 1st 2006, The Falcon Strike was retired for good.
His retired with a reputation as one of the toughest horses to look through a bridle with the only possible flaw in his makeup a lack of blinding gate speed.
While his toughness on the racetrack was his trademark Gary Hall Snr revealed another side to The Falcon Strike in an interview after his retirement.
“He was one of the family and a real sook at home. A tiny cut would get a reaction as if he was seriously injured and he hated needles when the vets tried to get a blood sample on race-night”, he said
“He had the most amazing temperament for a stallion and he could be floated between two mares and completely ignore them”.
“He had a real personality and knew that he was good and carried himself that way”.