Australian harness racing maestro Chris Lang was looking forward to the Inter Dominion in Christchurch, but he's certainly not complaining that it has been moved to Auckland. That means the champion conditioner from Nagambie gets to spend an extra three weeks at the trainer's paradise he is calling home just outside of New Zealand's most populous city.
Lang has superstar squaregaiterss Gift and Let Me Thru and the underrated Kyvalley Mac stabled with Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett at Kariotahe Beach and he is loving it.
"I'm very lucky with the training facilities I've got at my place, but I can say that we're probably at one of the best training places you'll see anywhere in the world," Lang said.
"We're just near Kariotahe Beach and it's quite an amazing beach. It's about 11 kilometres long and it's just perfect every day. When you finish working them you can walk them through the salt water, which is fantastic for their legs, it's just an amazing place.
"There's probably about 15 standardbreds get trained there every day and about 60 thoroughbreds every morning on the beach. It's just a fantastic environment, storybook stuff."
Harness fans will find out whether the horses also appreciate it whens Gift and Let Me Thru contest tomorrow night's (Friday March 11) NZ$30,000 Group 3 City Of Sails Trot at Alexandra Park.
Had the Inter Dominion remained in Christchurch, Auckland harness fans definitely wouldn't have got to see Let Me Thru and probably would have missed out on a visit bys Gift but with the Inter relocated, Lang has settled in for a North Island campaign.
But while his headline pair are likely to dominate betting on tomorrow night's 2200-metre mobile, which also includes Sovereignty (barrier 2), Kyvalley Mac (3) and Ima Gold Digger (6), Lang was at pains to point out their Grand Final was the $250,000 Group 1 Inter Dominion decider on April 1.
"We're very happy with the way they are - they travelled well, they're eating well and they seem to have settled in well - but we would just warn people that this was a hasty trip to get here," Lang said.
"So they're not really wound up and going as good as I would hope they're going to be going in about four weeks' time, when the real race to win is up and being run."
Dual Inter Dominion champions Gift seemingly has the better of the barriers, drawn gate four on the front row compared to last-start Dullard Cup winner Let Me Thru's 10 off the second line, but Lang doesn't think the draw will be the determining factor.
"I think that Let Me Thru is actually well drawn considering he's number two only on the second row, there's only 10 horses in the race, so that makes it a lot easier obviously for him," he said.
"I think thats Gift may have to do a bit of work early, but he's off the front, so I think they're both in a good spot really. People can make up their own minds."
The City Of Sails Trot is Race 6 on tomorrow night's card, which also features the Auckland Cup and the Woodlands Stud Northern Derby and will be shown live on Sky 2, to be run at 8:25pm AEDT.
The 2011 Dullard Cup run at Melton's Tabcorp Park on Saturday February 18, 2011: