Different draws - different results at Alexandra Park?
By Michael Guerin
The coup to replace the two kings of New Zealand harness racing might only last week.
Because an almost complete reversal of draws will see both Self Assured and Sundees Son start odds-on in their respective group 1s at Alexandra Park this Friday as the north’s huge autumn of harness racing continues.
Both were beaten after wide draws saw them settle back last week and then copped traffic problems, which resulted in Sundees Son finish second to Muscle Mountain the Steward’s Mile and Self Assured third to Spankem in the Taylor Mile.
Punters were awake to those potential problems too as Spankem was heavily backed to beat Self Assured while Sundees Son found himself in the very rare position of not even starting favourite as Muscle Mountain got into an incredibe $1.40 on the tote after opening $3.50 with the TAB bookmakers.
But with harness racing markets so draw dependant there will be no repeat of that this Friday.
Sundees Son has drawn the ace in the 2700m mobile of the $100,000 Peter Breckon Memorial National Trot while Self Assured has the seemingly perfect barrier 2 in the $100,000 Dawson Harford NZ Messenger, also over 2700m.
The question for punters eyeing the short odds will be two-fold: do the hot favourites get crossed at the start and then, if so, do they have the automatic respect to simply stroll around and get the lead?
The answer for Self Assured is first no and then yes as he may not have the gate speed to lead but he has a tonne of respect after his win in The Race and his giant performance last Friday.
It should also be aided by the fact two of the most likely horses to cross him early this Friday are stablemates Mach Dan and Spankem and both would almost certainly take a trail.
The fast front line does however contain enough gate speed from Kango, A G’s White Socks and South Coast Arden to suggest the Messenger could provide a very spirited contest if Self Assured doesn’t jump to the front early.
Sundees Son will be very hot in the National Trot and has been all but unbeatable in the last two years when on the marker pegs, usually in front, but there is blazing speed outside him from Temporale (barrier 5) and Muscle Mountain (barrier 4).
Temporale would look a certainty to hand up over 2700m if he led but Muscle Mountain’s co-trainer Greg Hope has indicated after his bullying win last Friday the giant trotter is ready to start going to war with Sundees Son more often rather than conceding to his superior stamina in longer races.
Whether the Hope stable choose to play that card this Friday, with the Rowe Cup still a month away, raises at least the possibility of a major turning point in the open class trotting season.
One pacing star who will miss the rest of the autumn is Krug, who has headed to the spelling paddock after lucklessly locking wheels with South Coast Arden at the 900m mark in the Taylor Mile last Friday.
“He didn’t take any harm from it but he is ready for a break,” says co-trainer Cran Dalgety.
“So he can have a good two months off now and I am sure he won’t want to see me during that time.
“He hasn’t really had many good breaks in the last year and his four-year-old season, as it has been so far, has been one of those learning curves.
“I am sure he will come back a better horse in the spring and he will be aimed at the New Zealand Cup and then he has a smorgasbord of options.
“There are so many races for the best pacers now and we are really looking forward to having a crack at some of them when he comes back even bigger and stronger.”