Farewell to a champion

By Matt Markham

Graham Court is after one more exceptional piece of magic from the horse he’s come to expect magical things from.

And while the West Melton horseman might paint the picture of being a pretty hard sort of bloke who doesn’t let the occasion get to him even he will have to admit that when he puts the cart on Terror To Love in tonight's Easter Cup it will bring about a field of mixed emotions.

It will be the 76th time he has tied a cart to his champion pacer and he’s done it before New Zealand Trotting Cups, Inter Dominion Pacing Grand Finals, Miracle Miles and Auckland Cups – but this week it’s a little bit different because it will be officially the last time.

“I’m not really sure what to think about it all to be honest,’’ Court said.

“I guess it won’t be something that I really think about until it’s all done.

“The main focus this week has been getting him ready for a Group One race, the rest will all play out by itself.

“But I guess it will all feel a wee bit different than normal.’’

Court intends on doing nothing different in the lead up, but you could forgive him if he was to get a little nostalgic when he loads Terror To Love on the float later this afternoon.

After all heading into Addington to tackle a two mile, Group One feature, isn’t exactly unfamiliar territory.

The only thing different is that this week there isn’t all the expectation of a victory in fact some would say that a win would come as a surprise.

That’s not stopping the camp from heading into the race being confident.

 “It would be pretty neat for him to go out with a victory.

“And I think he can do it – he’s been flying this week, we are really happy with him.’’

“When Emma put him in the paddock on Saturday morning after last week, she came back saying he was doing hand stands.

“He’s still bright as a button and is going into this pretty ready.’’

Over his pet distance of two miles, many will be keen to take Court’s words as solid advice and invest.

Standing in his way however is Christen Me.

An arch-rival for the past two years, the Cran Dalgety trained pacer readied himself for this week with a narrow but convincing victory in last week’s Gordon Roxburgh Free-For-All.

On the 20 metre handicap with Terror To Love and also Smolda, a quick beginning from behind the tape will be crucial.

“We don’t want a case of last year where they walked and then sprinted while we were trying to make up ground.

“I won’t be giving Ricky any instructions.

“He drives two miles at Addington better than pretty much anyone so I’ll leave it up to him.

“But if it’s a true run race that will suit us.’’

Defeat on tonight night won’t leave any black marks on the career of this modern day champion.

But should he get to the 100 metre mark and have the field at his mercy then you can expect everyone to stand on their feet and bid him farewell in the best possible fashion.

God knows he deserves it.