Champion driver Dexter Dunn says Locharburn’s rivals may be in for a shock at both ends of tonight’s $250,000 Woodlands Derby.
The giant Canterbury pacer is a hot favourite after leading throughout in last Friday’s prelude, a race Dunn is adamant will improve him.
“He has only had two workouts since he raced two months earlier so he has to improve,” says Dunn.
“In fact, I think he will be 10 or 15 per cent better this week.”
While that will be crucial at the end of the 2700m classic, Dunn says the first shock might be in the opening 200m.
He realises some rival drivers may think because Locharburn is a massive lump of a horse he may not have the brilliance to hold the lead from the ace, especially with fast beginners Tiger Tara and Cyclone Prince drawn alongside.
“He will get out fast enough, he is pretty quick early,” says Dunn matter-of-factly.
“He was quick last week without even being asked so I think if I wanted to lead I could.
“And even if I got beaten off the gate I think most drivers would be happy to trail him.
“He will be in front and if they are good enough to beat him from there then fair enough.” The evidence in his 10-start, eight-win career would suggest if Locharburn leads and can wind up by the 800m mark he could pace a 55 second last section and take most of his rivals out of play.
Tiger Tara looks the most likely trailer because he can head there from barrier two if Locharburn leads and that would make him the danger even after a disappointing Alexandra Park debut last Friday.
Trainer Geoff Dunn blamed himself for having Tiger Tara underdone and the markers are usually the best place to be in pacing Derbys.
That was proven with Sky Major and Maxim led and trailed to quinella the Victoria Derby last month but both face wider draws in the tricky small field tonight so will need an upset in the expected pattern to get home over the top.
By Michael Guerin (Harness Racing New Zealand)