Reformed rogue trotting mares Sunchita and Idle Bones look set to battle out the feature trot at Alexandra Park on Friday with in-form gelding Sunshield.
All three square-gaiters look set for open class, which is a huge turnaround in their individual fortunes. Earlier in the season I wouldn’t have given any of them a chance of making it to the elite level.
Idle Bones was victorious in her debut at Ashburton before bad manners led to a 16-race losing streak, while Sunchita had up until a few weeks ago thrown away more races than she had won.
But a few weeks is a long time in harness racing, and a few changes to Sunchita’s gear and shoeing and opportunities for Idle Bones to race from behind a mobile have led to both mares winning their past three starts. Sunshield has also won his past three starts, but on Friday only one of the three will retain their picket-fence form line.
Which one will it be? My money is on Idle Bones. She, like Sunchita, was fantastic in her North Island debut and has the advantage of the mobile. That will probably suit her more than it will Sunchita, who is generally a fast beginner from a stand.
She has also come up with the ace alley and should be able to lead and roll along in front, like she did at Addington two starts back when winning by 15 lengths in a two-minute mile rate. If she can replicate that performance, she should win again.
Idle Bones is one of two horses South Island trainer Paul ‘Tank’ Ellis has racing on Friday. The other is Ellmer Hanover, who drops back from racing in last week’s Winter Cup to a much more suitable class 2-5 mobile pace.
He wouldn’t be without a chance and is worth specking at odds in an interesting race which sees smart two-year-old Mighty Flying Major and Southland Oaks winner Royal Counsel clash with country cup type pacers such as Ellmer Hanover, Who Dares Wins and Chief Thundercloud, who caught my eye when flying home for fourth in the Winter Cup and is my top pick in the race.
That race is the first leg of the Quaddie, and I suggest that you go wide and take Zeta Bromac, Mighty Flying Major, Royal Counsel and Ellmer Hanover.
I am confident that you can get away with anchoring Crocket’s Cullen in the second leg. It may also pay to go wide in the third leg before thinning things down again in the last.
By Mitchell Robertson