Draws add intrigue to Taylor Mile

By Michael Guerin

An almost perfect set of barrier draws has turned Friday’s $110,000 Dawson Harford Taylor Mile into one of the races of the season.

The $110,000 sprint will highlight one of Alexandra Park’s biggest nights of the year sitting alongside feature races for almost all grades from country cups handicappers to juvenile pacers and trotters and the open class squargaiters.

The latter, the $60,000 Lone Star Lyell Creek Stakes, looks a gift for Aussie hero Just Believe after his last-start victory in the $600,000 TAB Trot slot race.

His fellow Australian trotters who finished second to fourth behind him that night have all returned to Australia while arguably New Zealand’s best trotter Muscle Mountain is being allowed to miss Friday’s race but will contest next week’s National Trot.

That leaves NZ Trotter of the Year Oscar Bonavena, who was only sixth behind Just Believe at Cambridge, as his greatest danger in the 2200m mobile so the Victorian trotter will start red hot.

While the race will be Just Believe’s first right-handed driver Greg Sugars is confident he will handle it.

“He may not have raced that way around but he has worked a lot right handed at home and always been fine,” says Sugars.

“I don’t think it will be an issue and I’d like to dominate the race and get him up against the markers (in front) which I think will make him even more confident right-handed.”

While Just Believe should win the open trot the Taylor Mile is beautifully confusing after many of the biggest names drew the second line.

Race by Grins winner Merlin will start from one on the second line, with arch rival and Grins runner-up Don’t Stop Dreaming drawing three on the second line.

In between them will be Queensland pacer Speak The Truth, with South Coast Arden and Better Eclipse outside him.

“We just can’t get a draw,” says Sugars, who drives Better Eclipse.

“All we can hope is they go hard but it is always hard over the short trip from the second line.”

Merlin’s position may be the most precarious for his army of fans because he goes into the race with a string of wins and almost certainly as New Zealand’s best pacer.

But his winning chances on Friday may depend on what those around and in front of him do as much as his own performance.

Adding to the Taylor Mile drama and intrigue is the gate speed from Kango (3) and Sooner The Better (5) that could make for early fireworks, the addition of impressive mid-grader Jolimont (4) and veteran superstar Self Assured drawing seemingly perfectly at barrier 2.

The new class of four-year-olds in Merlin, Don’t Stop Dreaming and Sooner The Better have dominated their open class rivals here since December, winning the Franklin Cup, City Of Auckland Free-For-All (Don’t Stop Dreaming), Flying Mile and Race By Grins (both Merlin) while Sooner The Better finished second in the Miracle Mile.

For either Merlin or Don’t Stop Dreaming to continue that on Friday will require either luck or one of the pair to do something special as the Taylor Mile is traditionally the hardest race in New Zealand to win from back in the field.

Friday’s meeting kicks off a huge month for Alexandra Park, with the most of this week’s key combatants also racing there next Friday and plenty also being aimed at the Auckland and Rowe Cups meeting on May 24.


Related Category News

19 May 2024

Finals day for maidens at Rangiora

Woodend trainers Craig and Aimee Edmonds will have be dual threats in today's Anne Thompson Graduation Series Finals at Rangiora.

19 May 2024

Selections | Rangiora - Today

Selections for Rangiora today.