Enghien is back after nearly three years away

By Michael Guerin

Multiple Group one winners returning to racing in the depths of winter are a harness racing rarity but then again, so are superstar horses who haven’t raced for nearly three years.

Enghien finds himself representing both those elite groups when he makes his comeback off a 30m handicap in race 5 at Addington tonight and his enormous break from racing is why driver Ben Hope warns punters to be careful.

The eight-year-old hasn’t started since October 2019, his outstanding career curtailed by a hind suspensory issue.

Before that Enghien had been the outstanding three-year-old of his crop, winning both trotting Derbys and the Jewels while at four he was good enough to finish second in the Group 1 Anzac Cup.

Hind suspensory injuries are very tricky in trotters and Hope says that has meant a change of training regime for Enghien, including less beach work.

“He still feels like a good horse so we know the motor is still there but we probably don’t work him as hard as he would if he hadn’t had the injury,” he explains.

“So he is good enough to win this week but if they go hard off the front to try and beat him his fitness could be vulnerable.

“He trialled well the other day but he might need to trot 10 or even 14 seconds quicker for the 2600m to win this week and we don’t know if he is ready to do that.”

With a rival like Resolve clearly able to trot 3:20 off the front under favourable conditions tonight, Hope’s maths could well be right and while the small field may aid Enghien he will need to be something special, which he may well be, to win tonight.

Hope will have to look after Enghien without his parents, the gelding’s official trainers Greg and Nina, as they are in Queensland to watch stable pacing star A G’s White Socks in the final night of the huge Constellations carnival at Albion Park.

A G’s White Socks has been largely luckless in three Queensland starts so will start in a free-for-all tomorrow night, missing the A$350,000 Blacks A Fake.

The Group 1 still has big Kiwi interest with favourites like Spirit Of St Louis, Like A Wildfire and Triple Eight all formerly trained and at least still part-owned here while other New Zealand-owned pacers in Cantfindabettorman (Qsld Derby) and Amore Vita (Qsld Oaks) have huge Group 1 hopes.

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