New Zealand trainers hoping for some barrier draw assistance to kickstart their Interdominion challenges have been left disappointed. Because not only did the Australians who dominated the opening night of the series not draw poorly for Friday night's (April 1) second round at Alexandra Park - they almost all drew well.
Remarkably, three of Australia's best -'s Gift, and Smoken Up - all drew barrier one for the second round on Friday night.
With all having gate speed and the heats being over the shorter 2200m distance this week, they will each start hot favourites.
The only heat the Australians are not set to win is the second trotters heat on Friday, in which they have only Danny Cash and Let Me Thru drawn the second line.
But with Let Me Thru having won last Friday and already through to the $250,000 trotting final on Friday week, he can simply use this week as a trial.
His trainer Chris Lang would have been far more concerned with's Gift's barrier draw and he could not have hoped for better than the ace.
The two-time champion was a mystery failure last Friday night but has the perfect opportunity to put himself back in the series.
He has high gate speed and looks a certain leader from barrier one, meaning he should cruise into the final.
And if he can't place this Friday after leading from barrier one, then he isn't the's Gift of old and doesn't deserve to be there.
One thing for sure, punters who have taken the $8 available for him to win his third final will feel a lot more comfortable after yesterday's draw.
Bizarrely, if he wins impressively this Friday and then draws well in the final, he is still a chance to start favourite in the big one.
The pacing heats will see two hot favourites afterand Smoken Up both drew one. Not only do they have high gate speed but have enormous respect after some crushing performances on the Grand Circuit this season.
With the Interdominions being about survival and making the final rather than wars in the heats, punters will be taking red odds about the two Australians dominating.
meets series favourite Themightyquinn but the latter will start off barrier two on the second line, suggesting he will be giving the leader a decent start at the 400m point.
If Themightyquinn can beaton Friday he will deserve warm favouritism for the final.
The heat also contains Villagem, who should be the big first night improver, while the draws have fallen well for Monkey King, who is set to followthroughout and should get an easy tow into the $800,000 pacing final on April 8.
The other heat looks a walk around the park for Smoken Up, with Washakie and Blacks A Fake drawn wide enough on the front line to suggest their drivers may simply race for a placing and the easy road into the final.
The best betting heat will be the last trotting heat in which I Can Doosit (barrier four) gets the perfect chance to stake his claim for the final after needing the run last Friday.
He will get a good head start over Let Me Thru, in a heat that also contains Springbank Richard and Annicka.
Themightyquinn remains the $3 favourite to win the pacing series ahead of Smoken Up andon $4 with Monkey King the shortest Kiwi pacer at $15.
Let Me Thru is the $3 trotting series favourite but could drift if, as the draws suggest, he is beaten this Friday.
Alexandra Park punters are in for a rare double header this week.
The Thames club will hold their scheduled meeting on Thursday night before the transplanted Interdominion meeting on Friday night.
By Michael GUERIN (Courtesy of the NEW ZEALAND HERALD)
Last week's four Inter Dominion heats: