Grass practice readies Stratford’s team

By Jonny Turner

Tony Stratford has given his team plenty of practice on turf ahead of the first grass track meeting of the year on the Otago and Southland harness racing circuit.

Stratford’s team have done enough miles on grass at their home track at Gore to be primed for their assignments at Wingatui on Friday.

Among the four-horse line up is Van Liberty, who has been forced to do a power of mid-race work in his two career starts.

But that looks set to change in race 2.

Taking on just seven rivals means there’s every chance the two-year-old will be able to slot into a sweet spot from barrier 5.

From there, Stratford is hopeful the pacer can deliver a little more than in his last start at Winton.

“He was probably a bit plain last start, to be fair.”

“He was three-wide basically the last mile and the one he was following didn’t cart him around the bend.”

“He went good, but he is a smart horse so I thought he would have won with that run.”

“He seems well though and we have worked him on the grass at Gore, so he will be hard to beat.”

Blair Oranges drives Van Liberty and he also takes the reins behind Unsurpassable in race 7 for Stratford.

After a huge maiden victory, the pacer was a little disappointing in his last outing at Winton.

But Stratford has him ready to bounce back on Friday.

“He was a little bit plain at Winton even though it was a strong race, I was confident he would win and he went fair.”

“We freshened him up a little bit and he has worked super on the grass.”

“He would be our top pick for the day.”

Calypso Rock looks like he will have plenty to offer for Stratford and Orange in race 10.

The big, rolling type has drawn barrier 1 and could take plenty of catching.

“Drawn 1, he is better over the shorter trips, I think, and he will certainly give them something to chase.”

Westland Peak heads into race 1 for Stratford on the back of a tidy trial performance at Gore.

The effort displayed the ability the trotter hasn’t been able to show in her last two starts, where she has galloped away.

“She is a 20-start maiden that has done nothing, but she can trot.”

“She feels like a three or four-win horse.”

“If she goes away, she certainly can win.”

Orange also takes the reins behind Westland Peak.

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