Harness racing trainer Darrel Graham is cautiously optimistic.
On the eve on his shock race return, Fernvale based horseman Darrel Graham believes his brilliant pacer Lanercost will perform at the required level in the Sure Products FFA at Albion Park.
The former Gr.1 Chariots Of Fire winner tackles the state’s best open class performer Avonnova while enigmatic pacer Franco Jamar resumes for Belinda McCarthy in the 1660m event.
After standing a season at Yirribee Stud where he covered close to 40 mares, a decision by owner Dean Shannon was made earlier this year to return to full work.
Lanercost has not started since finishing fourth at Albion Park behind Passion Stride back in January, 2013.
With months of foundation poured into the Courage Under Fire entire and three recent trial victories, his time has come - again.
“He’s ready to go, I’m really happy with his work and trial efforts and everything suggests that he’s ready to take that giant leap back into racing again. It’s a massive challenge bringing a horse back to the track after standing a season at stud but it can be done, look at For A Reason for example.” Graham said.
Lanercost will start from a tricky draw, the inside of the second-line but Graham couldn’t be happier with the draw.
The front-line is overloaded with pace with noted speedsters, Franco Jamar, Destreos, Holy Camp Boy and Lebron all set to run the gate hard early.
“The draw is the least of my worries; I’m drawn to follow the pegs so whether that means I’m behind the leader or three pegs, it doesn’t matter because the guess work has been removed from the draw.
“I’m expecting a time of 1;52.5 – 1;53 so the best place for me to be is on the pegs taking all the short cuts. There is no easy return for a horse of this calibre and despite all the work and trials, there’s nothing like match fitness.
“He’s a big boy now, he let down nicely during his time away from the track so he’ll need a couple of runs to bring him back to peak fitness. Right now, I’d say he’s around the 90% mark – while that’s good, it needs to better when you’re racing at open class.”
With the winter carnival features at Albion Park just around the corner, Graham isn’t planning any miraculous raids on those feature events just yet.
A view to the spring carnival in October makes more appeal but Graham will let his stable star do the talking.
“No plans are set in stone at this point, it’s a case of run by run but it’s likely the Grand Circuit race later this year is more feasible rather than next month’s winter carnival features.
“This horse has surprised me right throughout his career, so it wouldn’t shock me with whatever he does this campaign but hopefully he recaptures that brilliant form he once displayed. He’s good enough to do anything so fingers crossed.”
by Chris Barsby