Covid delays Dalgety's return
By Michael Guerin
Some of New Zealand’s elite racehorses and their trainers have had their winter campaign plans thrown into chaos by Australia’s latest Covid outbreaks and the suspension of the Trans Tasman travel bubble.
So while superstar pacer Krug was able to bolt away with his Australian debut in Queensland on Saturday night his trainer Cran Dalgety has been left scratching his head as to what happens next.
Krug, the winner of both the Woodlands Northern Derby and NZ Derby here, added the Redcliffe Derby on Saturday after sitting parked and smashing his Australian rivals in the hands of catch driver Anthony Butt.
That put a smile on Dalgety’s face until he checked his phone soon after the race and read about the travel bubble suspension and started to feel homesick.
“I was supposed to be heading home (Canterbury) on Monday for at least a few days because there is a lot going on there,” said Dalgety.
“While Krug is the stable star I am here with one horse whereas there are other horses at home I want to see and work with too.
“Obviously I can’t do that now until Wednesday at the earliest and then there is the uncertainty that if I do go home can I come back.
“I realise it is all up in the air at the moment and we will find out when we find out but it is tricky with something like horses when you can’t push crucial workouts back a day or two and you really want to be somewhere on certain days.”
Krug may have trashed his moderate three-year-old opponents on Saturday but Dalgety knows he will need to perform five lengths better to win the A$250,000 Rising Sun at Albion Park in Brisbane in 12 days as it is a rare race where three and four-year-olds at the highest level race each other.
“The main reason I accepted the invite to the Rising Sun was because as a three-year-old we are guaranteed to draw barriers one or two and over here, on the smaller tracks and the speed they race at, being on the markers is worth lengths every lap. It is everything.
“But in saying that he will need to improve five lengths to beat four-year-olds like Expensive Ego, Copy That and Amazing Dream.”
Krug is actually being trained alongside Amazing Dream as the Auckland Cup-winning mare is now trained by Nathan Purdon, who lives in Victoria but is in Queensland for the carnival.
Purdon used to be Dalgety’s training partner so if Dalgety can return home this week and chooses to do so, then Purdon (son of champion trainer Mark Purdon) will look after Krug.
But the bubble issues also raise the question of who will partner Krug in the Rising Sun as regular reinsman Blair Orange has been offered the drive but with his busy New Zealand schedule he may be reluctant to risk traveling to Australia and being stuck there should the issues continue.
Further complicating that is the fact Anthony Butt, who drove Krug on Saturday, is already committed to Copy That in the Rising Sun, having driven him to a stunning trial win on Friday.
With the focus of the Australasian harness racing industry this month on Queensland this Saturday’s Albion Park meeting could see dual Miracle Mile winner King Of Swing, Expensive Ego, Copy That, Amazing Dream and even, if Dalgety deems it needed, Krug all line up on the same stellar programme.
But like for so many other Kiwis and Australians at the moment, there are a lot of ifs, maybes and checking of phones before potential plans can be confirmed as the cloud of Covid blocks out the winter sun.