Day At The Track

Backmarkers may struggle

07:39 AM 27 Sep 2019 NZST
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Steve Telfer, Harness racing
Steve Telfer

The first open class race of the northern season tonight looks like being a game of catch me if you can.

And plenty of trainers are thinking they can't.

In one of the more unlikely turnarounds in recent Alexandra Park seasons, the $30,000 Franklin Long Roofing Spring Cup has drawn a full field of 14, with the handicap conditions over the 2200m meaning trainers are happy to take on proven topliners like Star Galleria (20m).

And with some race fit, hard-running pacers drawn well on the front line a small child could read the race tactics, with drivers like Brent Mangos (The Devils Own) and Josh Dickie (Bettorstartdreaming) all but certain to try and roll along at a fast clip to not let the backmarkers into the race.

That was the case in a similar race last Friday in which Bettorstartdreaming popped out of the trail to win in 2:42.2 for the 2200m stand, making it almost impossible for those back in the field to get close enough to threaten.

"That could be the problem for us again," says Steve Telfer, trainer of 10m marker Triple Eight.

"It looks like they will go hard off the front so the start will be crucial.

"Our horse is forward enough to win because he trailed really well last Saturday but he probably needs to step well and settle in the first six.

"It would be hard to make ground from further back than that."

Scott Phelan, stable foreman for Barry Purdon, feels the same about the returning Mach Shard.

"I think he will need the run regardless but the big field makes it hard for all the horses off handicaps," says Phelan. The one horse racing well enough to still be a factor from a handicap is Solid Gold, who has looked very sharp this season but he will still need plenty to go his way to power past the two leaders, while off a 20m handicap Star Galleria will need even more luck.

While Bettorstartdreaming was too slick for The Devils Own last Friday the latter does move up 10m in the handicaps tonight and looks far more potent when able to build up a head of steam on the marker pegs so their battle looks far more even tonight.

The return of the open class trotters in race six looks a different proposition as while
Lemond has the outside draw punters can still bet with the confidence he can overcome it.

He is a ruthless sprinter with five wins and three placings in mobile sprint trips but perhaps even more importantly he is a sound and happy horse at the moment judging by how he cruised passed race rival Pres The Belle at the Pukekohe workouts last Saturday.

"He feels really good and quite forward," says trainer Ross Paynter.

"He is also the soundest he has been for a while and he races well fresh so I think he is ready to win.''

The open class pacing scene has lost one of its x-factor horses for at least the remainder of the year.

Southland sensation U May Cullect is out of the New Zealand Cup and Inter Dominions after vets found a small tear in a tendon yesterday.

They have recommended a 4-6 month spell for the excitement machine, who has won seven of his eight career starts pacing times which suggested he had the motor for the big time. His loss and the problems affecting Thefixer's NZ Cup campaign have seen Spankem tighten into $3.20 favouritism for the Cup at Addington on November 12.


Michael Guerin

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