Can San Carlo hold the front tonight?
By Garrick Knight
Will he? Won’t he?
Whether San Carlo can hold the lead over the sprint trip from barrier 1 presents as the biggest burning question ahead of tonight’s second round of Inter Dominion Pacing Championship heats at Alexandra Park.
The Victorian star has never been crossed when drawing barrier one, but co-trainer and driver, Bec Bartley, isn’t about to declare him the leader tonight.
“I’d like to stay in front the whole way, but he’s not blisteringly fast out,” she told HRNZ today.
“I think he’s been good enough to hold his own in the past so I’ll look to get him really wound up tonight.”
That will mean a searching warm-up for the nine-year-old veteran.
San Carlo has led 17 times in his career and won 16 of those races, so if he can hold the top over 1700 metres tonight, he does become a key player.
But Bartley does warn that the short-course is not ideal.
“A mile is not his go so we are lucky we’ve got a draw to be able to give us a chance at getting some good points.
“Of course, you want a good draw in every heat but this is the one where we really needed it.”
If San Carlo holds the lead that then dramatically increases the chances of Bling It On, who follows him out.
But Bartley takes the view that she would rather lead and know what to expect than take a forced trail, which is an unusual circumstance.
“I don’t think he’s ever had the opportunity to sit in the trail so it would be interesting to how he does go if he gets crossed.
“If we did, it might not be the worst thing because it would put Bling It On three back.”
Bling It On is arguably the most lethal sit-sprint horse of his generation and driver Luke McCarthy has advised it was best to forget his round 1 heat performance, when he over-raced in an unfamiliar leading role.
“Drawing inside the back, behind the likely leader San Carlo, is just perfect,” McCarthy told HRNZ over the weekend.
The most likely candidate to challenge San Carlo for the early leader appears to be Classie Brigade, a natural speedster who finished on nicely from a bad draw on night 1.
New Zealand Cup winner Cruz Bromac has superior gate speed to anything in the race, but is drawn the outside of the front line and driver Mark Purdon may opt for a more measured approach in to the first turn.
Bartley reported she was very pleased with how San Carlo handled his first look at the right-handed Auckland track.
“He was really good; I was quite surprised with how well he handled it. We changed a bit of gear during week and that helped a lot.
“My biggest worry was how he was going to handle it but he was near perfect.
“He got hanging on the last turn when getting tired but that’s him, he always hangs at home.”
In late news for the heat, Tony Herlihy will reunite with Our Uncle Sam 10 days after they combined to win at Alexandra Park, usual driver Anthony Frisby staying in Australia for the birth of his first child.
Ultimate Sniper remains the $1.90 favourite for the race, despite drawing one from the outside, with stablemate Cruz Bromac.