Day At The Track

Who will wear the Crown?

06:59 PM 27 Apr 2017 NZST
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Can Hughie Green claim the title of Qld's best pacer?.
Can Hughie Green claim the title of Qld's best pacer?.
Dan Costello Photo

There’s plenty at stake this weekend. The BOTRA Charity Race Day May 14 Open Pace features a very talented harness racing field, a perfect blend of youth and experience.

But it’s a perfect opportunity for many to stake their claim as the best pacer in the sunshine state.

And with the Brisbane winter carnival looming, there’s more than bragging rights up for grabs.

The headline act is comeback pacer Avonnova, fresh out of retirement following his crushing victory in the Gr.2 $50,000 Gold Coast Cup at Albion Park on December 17 in near track record time.

Avonnova rated 1:53.3 for 2138m; the track record belongs to Hunter Cup winner Bling It On when he downed Philadelphia Man to win the Gold Coast Cup back in 2015.

The triple Queensland Horse of the Year has shaped well in two public trials for trainer Ian Gurney and he believes he’s ready to rumble again.

“The whole retirement plan didn’t quite go to plan but I’ve gotta say he’s loving life back in the stable again, he just thrives on routine and I’m really happy with the way he’s come up this campaign.” Gurney said. “If he wins this first-up, I’d be beside myself.

“Given how competitive this level of racing is coupled with how some of his rivals are performing currently, it’s going to take a massive effort but this horse has always continued to surprise me.

“Whatever he does this weekend, there’s still plenty of improvement in him. In many ways, I’m just building him up for the July features.”

Leading reinsman Shane Graham is booked to drive the Art Major gelding.

An obvious hurdle for Avonnova this weekend and possibly for the months to come could be hulking former New Zealand star Hughie Green.

The giant Art Major gelding has toyed with his rivals in his two local starts to date for new trainer/driver John Cremin.

Last week, Hughie Green ambled to the lead before thrashing his rivals in a time of 1:57.3 while blasting home in 55.5 seconds untouched.

Since joining Cremin back in January, Hughie Green has reignited his career winning three of his five starts.

Blessed with enormous ability, Hughie Green struggled to recapture his scintillating early form which had him run a clear favourite in the Gr.1 $155,000 New Zealand Sires Stakes 3yo Final won by Have Faith In Me.

Hughie Green finished 11th and struggled for consistency thereafter.

Many believe Hughie Green has the capabilities of becoming the state’s best pacer.

Quality performers Shannonsablast, Mach Alert and Alleluia all rate as leading chances in the 1660m sprint scamper while the improving Zac Mac could give plenty of cheek from his ace draw.

The Albion Park 1660m track record belongs to champion pacer Im Themightyquinn at 1:50.4.

As it stands, the next best time is 1:51.3 which Avonnova set when successful in the 2015 Sunshine Sprint defeating Smolda.

Chris Barsby

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