Alexandra Park debut awaits Five Wise Men
By Michael Guerin
New Zealand’s most exciting young trotter is relying on a friend in high places to help him overcome the Alexandra Park hoodoo that affects so many first-time visitors.
Five Wise Men makes his Alexandra Park debut in $62,500 Lone Star Sires’ Stakes Trot tomorrow night and after five straight wins including the NZ Trotting Derby he is on-odds to win again.
But Alexandra Park, the only right-handed major harness venue in Australasia, can present a tough challenge for newcomers, especially young trotters who are often still working out which legs goes where under pressure.
To add to that pressure Five Wise Men has drawn the outside of the front line tomorrow night which means he almost certainly won’t be able to quickly find the comfort of the marker pegs and that usually increases the chances of newcomers hanging, particularly under pressure around the final bend.
Co-trainer Craig Edmonds isn’t too concerned though and has even moved his usual northern base to give Five Wise Men valuable right-handed experience.
Edmonds is also caretaker trainer for superstar trotter Sundees Son in the north and when he brought him up over the summer they stayed out at a beach property but this trip they are staying at the Pukekohe track so Sundees Son can help guide Five Wise Men around that track.
“I have paired them up at the track and only take Sundees Son to the beach on fast work days,” says Edmonds.
“That means I have been able to work Five Wise Men a bit right-handed on the Pukekohe track and he seems to be handling it fine.
“We weren’t so much worried as unsure because he had only been worked right-handed once in his life before coming up here but I think if he can handle Pukekohe he will handle Alexandra Park.”
While Five Wise Men can look rocky in his gait and over-race Edmonds say he is actually clean gaited so that is unlikely to be the problem in tomorrow’s group two.
“He can hang in a bit this way around so we have put a (boring) pole on him to help with that.
“I think he will be okay this week but I expect him to be better next week after a run here and with the Derby distance suiting better.” Sundees Son is favourite for the $95,000 Anzac Cup, a race he won in dazzling style two years ago, even after being beaten in both starts this campaign.
“I think he will be fitter for those two runs at Addington and he worked well before coming up here so he will be hard.” Sundees Son meets the hottest field of the New Zealand trotting season with old rivals Majestic Man and Temporale joined by young star Bolt For Brilliance and Oscar Bonavena.
Five Wise Men opened the $1.95 favourite for his race and Sundees Son at $2.40 for his, with both to be driven by Edmonds’s son-in-law John Dunn.
Copy That was the $2.10 opening quote favourite for tomorrow night’s Taylor Mile but was quickly backed into $1.85, well inside Auckland Cup winner Amazing Dream who has drifted to $2.9.