Cambridge's big chance to shine at Addington's mega meeting
By Michael Guerin
When punters think of the biggest harness racing meetings Cambridge trainers Arna Donnelly and Matty White are probably not who first come to mind.
Especially at Addington on a NZB Harness Million night, the kind of age group races usually completely taken over by mega barns like the All Stars.
Yet the two Cambridge trainers, and in White’s case also as a freelance driver, find themselves with huge winning chances in three of the richest races and upset hopes in two of the others at the strongest harness meeting of the year so far.
Donnelly trains Le Major, the $2.40 favourite for the $200,000 NZB Standardbred Harness Million for juvenile male pacers, her exciting youngster having reached new peaks with every start and drawn to potentially lead while the other favourites have to overcome second line draws.
“It is nice to be in this position for a change,” smiles Donnelly.
“Usually we find ourselves the ones with the poor draws in big races and having to chase the favourites.
“I have a fit, healthy horse and I’d love to see him in front and if the others can come and beat him then at least we got our chance.”
Donnelly also takes a smart three in Jolimont to tonight’s stacked Airpark Canterbury Flying Stakes and while he may not be able to beat both Merlin and Don’t Stop Dreaming he too has reached new heights so could be the smokey, especially as the big Addington track will suit.
“We also have Kango back from Australia, where nothing went right for him, and I worked him on Saturday to ensure his work was good enough to make this trip. It was.”
Kango might even lead the Austin Farrier Supplies open class pace but he will need to be back to his best to hold Akuta at bay as the latter was enormous in defeat fresh up and is now hot favourite for next month’s New Zealand Cup.
Like Donnelly, White knows the quickest way to the winner’s circle on a major harness night is from in front.
So that is where he wants to be with Paramount Kiwi in the NZB Standardbred Harness Million two-year-old trot and, maybe with a few more obstacles in his way, with Coastal Babe in the NZB Standardbred Harness Million 2YO Filies Pace.
“Paramount Kiwi is a real little pro and has been very good off the gate so I’d like to be in front and rolling if we get that chance,” he says.
Coastal Babe probably has more options, and may need them, in her $150,000 NZB Harness Million as she will start from barrier 7.
She showed great gate speed last start to lead and then bolt in at Alexandra Park and if she can cross early she is going to take enormous running down.
“That would be the ideal scenario but she also has options. She is versatile as she showed winning at Cambridge two starts back,” says White.
“I know these races aren’t easy to win but I think these two are both well up to it so we just need some luck.”
Addington's big questions :
R2: Is Paramount Kiwi good enough to beat the southerners? Yes but his $2.20 is too short. If he gets to $2.50 back him otherwise Look To Da Stars is better value.
R5: Can Le Major lead and control the race? He should be able to and that makes him the horse to beat with Chase A Dream the cover bet.
R6: Will Akuta win? Yes, unless something goes wrong. The danger should be B D Joe.
R7: Is Coastal Babe the best filly in NZ? On what she has shown so far, yes. And just as importantly should have the gate speed to cross to the lead early so clear top pick.
R8: Who has the better chance, Merlin or Don’t Stop Dreaming? All depends on the start. If Merlin can trail or even get off early to lead he can beat Don’t Stop Dreaming even though the latter may be the better horse.
R9: Bolt For Brilliance vs Muscle Mountain, who you got? Bolt was brilliant in his comeback last week but if Muscle Mountain behaves (big IF) he might get him for raw speed. Standing start manner the absolute key to this one.