Day At The Track

Ford fighting youth with youth

08:48 AM 04 Oct 2019 NZDT
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Marcoola,Harness racing
Marcoola
The Digital Birdcage

Clint Ford is preparing to fight youth with youth in tonight's $30,000 Canterbury Park Trotting Cup at Addington. And that means giving up the hot seat behind enigmatic trotter Marcoola.

Last season's Dominion winner resumes in tonight's 2600m standing start but finds himself having been replaced as our best trotter by Sundees Son and maybe even Oscar Bonavena.

Both have been sensational and near faultless in their two starts this season, with Oscar Bonavena the favourite tonight as he gets a 20m start over Marcoola and Sundees Son.

That would suggest if he can lead and get his own way, he should trot the last 800m in a time that would make him incredibly hard to get past.

But as good as Sundees Son is and Oscar Bonavena may be, the best version of Marcoola as just as potent, with his Dominion win last season a thing of raw power rarely seen in our best trotting races in the last decade.

He was driven that day by part-owner Clint Ford, who unofficially shares the training with his family under father Ken Ford's name.

But Clint says it is time to give the reins on Marcoola to his niece Sheree Tomlinson so she will drive the muscular stallion tonight.

"Sheree is a good driver, better than me, so the time was right for her to take over," he says.

"I haven't driven in a race for about six months and am not out there enough to do the horse justice. So I'm happy for Sheree to jump on."

The swap isn't just Ford keeping it in the family as Tomlinson is a genuine talent who steered Amaretto Sun to a massive upset win in the Dominion two years ago but due to a change of employment she is not getting the quality of drives she deserves at the moment.

Even with a bright young star in the sulky Marcoola is up against it tonight, giving away a big edge in race fitness to both the favourites.

The make up of the field, with only four on the front line, suggests if Oscar Bonavena behaves he will lead easily and it is hard to imagine too many attackers. He did bobble away at Oamaru last start but quickly came down trotting, always a good sign for a young trotter as it shows they would rather trot than not.

If Oscar Bonavena does lead then driver John Dunn's tactics on Sundees Son will be crucial.

The five-year-old is explosive and our trotting top dog but as good as he is he will need to do something special to sit parked outside Oscar Bonavena and beat him.

While the open class trot has plenty of moving parts, the $50,000 Canterbury Classic for the pacers might come down to one simple factor. Because if Spankem steps away well enough to lead, or even on par with the field, he should win.

The newly crowned Horse of the Year has looked even stronger this season and paced a 53.3 last 800m to win untouched when he led and beat most of those he meets tonight in the Hannon Memorial at Oamaru 12 days ago.

In front he is almost unbeatable and it is hard to imagine many of his rivals would try to park him tonight so unless he misses away, and his manners have been solid so far this season, he should win.

 

Michael Guerin

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