Buff Marcoola ready to rumble
By Michael Guerin
Ken Ford has never been happier with his trotting bodybuilder Marcoola than he is heading into tonight’s $100,000 National Trot at Alexandra Park.
And that spells huge trouble and maybe certain defeat for his rivals in the group one.
Not that Canterbury trainer Ford coined the nickname Bodybuilder for Marcoola, the trotting star of the New Zealand summer.
That is hardly Ford’s style, not the way they do things on the farm down south.
“Somebody called him that the other day,” he laughs.
“We have some visitors come out to where we are staying and they said that horse looks like a bloody bodybuilder, the way he is all muscled up and glistening.
“So I took that has a compliment. This time of year, with the sun on his back and being a stallion, he looks super.
“And he is as well as I have ever had him going into a race.”
Those words won’t give rival trainers a lot of comfort after Marcoola was breathtaking beating an even better field than the one he meets tonight in the $300,000 Dominion at Addington last month.
He then brought that form north to jog away with the Lyell Creek two weeks ago, suggesting he is just as comfortable right-handed.
Both wins came after driver Clint Ford was able to balance Marcoola up early then launch him about 1000m from home before disappearing into the distance.
Similar tactics looks likely tonight as he has drawn wide so will probably look for cover early and the most nerve-wracking section of the race may be when Ford decides to push the go button.
If he is able to stride to the lead he should win, if he has to raced parked outside a high class rival like defending champ Temporale that will at least even things up.
Temporale struggled for part of the spring but looked far more like the horse who won this race 12 months ago when he dominated the Flying Mile at Cambridge last Monday.
With his natural gate speed he looks the likely first favoured leader tonight and with the advantage of the marker pegs and some question marks over key rivals who galloped at Cambridge he is the obvious danger to the favourite.
One trainer confident her National Trot rep will be better tonight than at Cambridge is Michelle Wallis with Massive Metro, although he couldn’t be much worse as he didn’t even score up from the ace last Monday.
“He used to be good left-handed but we have put so much work into getting him to go well right-handed he didn’t like being back left-handed,” explains Wallis.
“I think back to Alexandra Park he will handle the ace draw this time and should be handy on the markers, which will give him his chance.”
Before his Cambridge brain fade, Massive Metro was a luckless and fast finishing fifth against a similar field in the Lyell Creek and if he races up to that form and can cut the corners tonight he appeals as the place value.
Amaretto Sun and Lemond were also not on their best behaviour at Cambridge but were group one winners last season so add to the puzzle behind the bodybuilding favourite.