Flexibility the key to the $600,000 TAB Trot at Cambridge tonight

By Michael Guerin

Nathan Jack has already sprung the biggest tactical shock of the trotting season but don’t be surprised if he doubles down in the $600,000 TAB Trot at Cambridge tonight.

The first ever trot slot race in this part of the world has drawn one of the strongest fields in decades and is dominated by Victorians, who have not only drawn barriers 1-4 but occupy the top three places in the market.

The standout and obvious favourite is two-time Inter Dominion hero Just Believe and all things being equal he is clearly the horse to beat as the $2.10 favourite from barrier 3.

Put him in front or sitting one-one and he is impossible to go past even if he is not as superior to this group of horses as he was over a weaker crop last year.

One of those new arrivals has been former French trotter Callmethebreeze, who raced in some of Europe’s best races which are a grade or two above our elite trots.

Callmethebreeze is big and fast but being an older stallion sometimes likes things his own way and he has found the perfect cajoling partner in Victorian driver Nathan Jack.

A natural horseman Jack is equal parts analytical and pure cunning and that was never more evident than before the Great Southern Star at Melton in February, the heats and final race in which the connections of the horses get to choose their own barriers.

Jack stunned everybody by forgoing a front line draw to choose barrier 10, three on the second line, in the sprint race meaning he conceding having to run down hot favourite Just Believe.

He then executed his plan brilliantly to punch through the field early, stalk Just Believe and grab him on the line, landing a one-two punch of tactical genius.

Jack may not need to be so astute tonight as Callmethebreeze has enough gate speed to try and lead and if he can beat Arcee Phoenix at the start he could be in front and the horse Just Believe and the Kiwi heroes like Muscle Mountain and Oscar Bonavena have to run down.

But, and here comes the fun part, if for even a second Jack thinks he can’t cross to the lead he could surprise everybody by pulling out of that early war and opt to jump straight on the back of Just Believe if he ends up parked, mostly likely outside Arcee Phoenix.

That would again make him the horse to beat to beat from the one-one and leave Just Believe vulnerable because he would have a leader and a stalker who have both proven they can beat him.

“I have options so I need to be flexible at the start,” says Jack.

“If I lead he can win but I wouldn’t mind being in the one-one as we all saw what he did in the Great Southern Star.

“Just Believe is a champion and whatever we do he still might beat us but if I think Arcee Phoenix is going to lead I can change plan.”

Regardless of the fun and games from the Victorians at the front of the field there is going to need to be real pressure for the Kiwis to get into the race.

Both Muscle Mountain and Oscar Bonavena have dazzling but different types of speed and they could do something sensational if the perfect scenarios unfold.

But Just Believe and the best version of Callmethebreeze are at least as good and likely to get more economical runs so the first ever Slot Trot looks Australia’s to lose.


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