Draw not good for Aussie hope in Elitloppet
By Adam Hamilton
Top Aussie driver Greg Sugars is looking for positives after a nasty barrier draw for Just Believe’s Elitloppet heat at Solvalla, Sweden.
The Inter Dominion and Great Southern Star winner will start from the second outside gate (barrier seven) in the second of two Elitloppet heats in Stockholm at 1.55am Monday morning (NZ time).
“I said before the draw, I’d have loved barrier four or closer in, but we didn’t get it,” Sugars said.
“It’s not ideal, obviously closer in would’ve been better, but I’m just thrilled to be part of it.”
On the upside, Just Believe has landed the easier of the two heats.
“It looks that way, that’s what they are saying,” Sugars said. “There’s plenty of talent throughout the whole series, but two of the biggest names are in the first heat, so that’s a good thing.”
Sugars will now turn to doing in-depth form on his key rivals and fine-tuning Just Believe for by far the biggest challenge of both their careers.
“I know a bit about a few of them, but will go through their most recent replays. You’ve got to know your opposition,” he said.
“Having seen the draw, I’ll put him right up on the gate (at the start) and get out as best we can to try and not give away too big a start. Hopefully I can drop in somewhere.”
There is a nice connection with former superstar Kiwi driver Dexter Dunn driving Stoletheshow in the same heat as Sugars and Just Believe.
“I was thrilled to hear Dexter was coming across, it’ll be great to catch-up with him,” Sugars said.
“At least I’ll know someone else in the race and be able to understand what they say.”
On a brighter note, Sugars said he was thrilled with how well Just Believe came through his 60-hour trip from Melbourne to Stockholm.
“It was every bit as hard as I thought it would be, but he handled it better than me,” he laughed.
“I just took him out for a bit of a stretch that first day or so. A walk and a light jog up through the forest.
“He’s had a couple of light workouts down the straight track here at Stig’s (H Johansson) place.
“Tuesday is when we get serious. I’ll take him into Solvalla and we will pick his race bike (sulky) which he will work in that day. It’ll be a strong workout.
“He’s relaxed, happy and bright. He doesn’t seem to have lost any condition to my eye. I’m very happy with him.”