Jewels journey begins
By Adam Hamilton
MEGASTAR Aussie trotter Wobelee kick-starts his Harness Jewels campaign when he returns from a spell at Kilmore on Friday night.
Trainer-driver Chris Alford is adamant fans will see a more mature and sensible Wobelee than last season or his two-race cameo February/March this year.
“He’s growing up and he’s not the handful he was,” he said. “It’ll be great to get him back to the races with some exciting times ahead.
“He’s got this race then he heads to Sydney the week after for the NSW (Trotters’) Derby and then it’s over NZ for the Jewels.
“He’s going to the Jewels. Something would have to go wrong over the next couple of weeks for that to chance.”
Alford praised NZ officials for their contact and assistance around race starting procedures given Wobelee has been notoriously “tricky” in the score-up to his races.
“They have been some professional and accommodating. They’ve promised an attendant will be allocated to Wobelee if that’s what we want. I wish all other clubs were as good to deal with,” he said.
“Wobelee’s growing maturity, the assurances we’ve got from the NZ officials and the fact it’s pretty easy to get in and out of Auckland (for the Cambridge raceday) make the trip a very attractive one.”
Wobelee boasts a 12-race winning streak – five of those at Group 1 level – but hasn’t started since saluting in the $60,000 Group 1 Need For Speed final (1720m) at Melton on March 10.
Wobelee’s return launches yet another massive weekend for Alford, who also partners odds-on favourite Centenario in $350,000 Group 1 Australian Gold 2YO colts and geldings final (1720m) at Melton on Saturday night.
Alford drove all four of Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s youngsters when they qualified for the final, but was always going to partner the unbeaten Centenario in the final.
“He’s the best of their four and Clayton (Tonkin) keeps telling me we haven’t seen the best of him yet,” Alford said. “It’s like he’s been here before this horse. He’s such a complete package for a two-year-old.
“I’ve been asked where Centenario rates with the best babies I’ve driven and he’s right up with anyone of them, that’s for sure. He’s a pleasure to drive.
“He’s drawn well in three, but you have to respect the two Sydney horses drawn inside him on their form (Hurricane Roy 1 and Muscle Factory 2).
“I’m sure on the horse to beat. I’d say Hardhitter is the second best of Emma and Clayton’s, but it won’t be easy for him from outside the back (row, gate 11).”