The weird twilight zone Terror To Love inhabits is best summed up by his price for the Inter Dominion final in Sydney --- $13.
He is the eighth favourite for the A$750,000 classic at Menangle on March 2, even though he won his heat at Addington on Saturday night with the fastest last 400m ever recorded on the iconic track.
This is Terror To Love, who looked one of the all-time greats when he overcame losing 30m in an early gallop to win his third straight New Zealand Cup in November, on a day when he looked unbeatable.
But so ingrained in punters and bookmakers minds is the notion that Terror To Love hates Menangle that he is rated a $13 chance for the race by the Aussie TAB, while fellow Kiwi pacer Smolda, who he beat on Saturday, is the $4.20 second favourite.
In fact, six of the seven horses who are tighter in the market than Terror To Love got beaten in their Interdom heats on Saturday, the only winner being I’m Victorious and that was in a very weak Perth heat.
The lack of respect for Terror To Love is almost understandable as he has regularly performed lengths below his best in Sydney, even though he finished second in last season’s weak rescheduled Miracle Mile.
His connections are playing their part too. Driver Ricky May is openly critical of the Menangle track surface and trainer Graham Court calls the Sydney track “the graveyard.”
But after topping $2million in career earnings on Saturday, Terror To Love will still return to Sydney, seeking respect and broodmare bookings for his future stud career.
Saturday night’s six heats spread across five tracks provided plenty of drama, none more so than in Sydney where the two series favourites Beautide and For A Reason were both beaten after leading.
Beautide’s defeat was blamed on the wet track being too soft on the inside, but when Mach Beauty won the second heat from the trail and the main mares race was won along the inside, the track bias excuse started to look a little ragged.
Keayang Cullen set a track record in the Melton heat running down Restrepo after he looked home while I’m Victorious was very good in Perth and Forever Gold will add a female flavour to the final after winning the Brisbane heat.
Auckland-owned pacer The Gold Ace secured one of the two wild cards in to the final, with Caribbean Blaster, who was brave in the Melton heat getting the other.
So the field of 14 looks set, only to be confirmed at noon today after trainers accept for the race content their charges have come through their heats well.
Canterbury pacer Franco Nelson is listed as the first emergency but is more likely to contest the A$200,000 Chariots Of Fire the same day.
The 14 invited pacers for the Inter Dominion final, plus six emergencies who will be reduced to two today, are: Terror To Love, Smolda, Seel N Print, Beautide, The Gold Ace, Keayang Cullen, Restrepo, Wartime Sweetheart, Caribbean Blaster, Mach Beauty, For A Reason, Forever Gold, I’m Victorious, Livingontheinterest.
Emergencies: Franco Nelson, Pub Blitz, Im Corzin Terror, Ardghal, Mah Sish, Abettorpunt.
By Michael Guerin (Harness Racing New Zealand)