Court’s brothers ready to strike
By Jonny Turner
Half-brothers Gilligans Island and No Time Like Now are primed for victory at Motukarara on Sunday.
Excellent last start performances have the Graham Court trained duo ready to put their dam Live On The Beach’s name up in lights at the annual Akaroa Trotting Club’s meeting.
Gilligans Island goes into the Akaroa Cup after producing a late finishing third among the quality line up that contested last weekend’s Geraldine Cup.
The four-year-old took a while to wind into his work before hitting the line strongly to finish just over two lengths from the winner, William Wallace.
“It was a good run, he is just a lovely horse,” Court said.
“This week the field isn’t nearly as strong, so he should be a pretty good chance.”
Gilligans Island shares the 15m back mark in Sunday’s 2810m feature with one of his main rivals in The Maroon Marauder.
The Brad Mowbray trained pacer put himself out of the Geraldine Cup after galloping away to miss a placing for the first time in eight starts.
Despite his excellent prior form, bookmakers opened the pacer, who won on Show Day at Addington, at juicy $21 odds.
Gilligans Island was installed the favourite at a $4.40 when the Akaroa Cup market opened on Saturday.
Laver ($6.50) looks the main threat to the 15m markers among the horses that start from the front line.
The Geoff and James Dunn trained pacer ran thirds behind Cheezel and Pace N Pride in two excellent efforts during New Zealand Cup week.
Blair Orange will drive both Gilligans Island and No Time Like Now, who steps out in race 4.
Orange replaces Graham Court, who guided the three-year-old to a big second placing behind Serious Moonlite at Motukarara late last month.
Orange drove the winner on that occasion and Court hopes subbing him in will see his pacer go one better on Sunday.
“On his last run he should be hard to beat and he has got a much better driver on this week,” the trainer quipped.
“At this stage, we think he a nice horse with a very good future.”
No Time Like Now was marked at a $1.80 opening price by bookmakers.
The generally consistent Mongolian Marshal also steps out for the Court stable in race 6.
The four-year-old missed a placing for the first time in five starts after receiving every opportunity to win his last start at Geraldine.
Whether Mongolian Marshal can bounce back will largely depend on how willing he is to dig in at Motukarara.
“He is not that brave, but you couldn’t write him off,” Court said.
“He could come out and win it, but you wouldn’t hold your hat on him.”
Safe Zone looks one of the biggest winning hopes in the 2170m standing start event.
The five-year-old ran on well for second behind smart debut winner Last Of The Mohicans at Geraldine last weekend.
Mongolian Marshal was installed the $3.40 early favourite for race 6, with Safe Zone rated at $7.50.