Big night at Addington and Alexandra Park for Josh Dickie
By Michael Guerin
Josh Dickie has a shot at a special 10 minutes tonight most young trainers could only dream of.
But while he will have the best seat in the horse for the first leg of a special trotting double he might not even see the second leg.
This is Dickie’s first season training is his own accord, even though father John is still around the stables to help out, and he has quickly established himself as one of the stars of harness racing’s future.
So much so he is the new trainer of Winterfell, last season’s trotter of the year, who makes his debut from Dickie’s stable off a 50m backmark in race six at Alexandra Park tonight.
Further confirming just how strong a team Dickie has compiled is the fact he also has Paramount King and Kay Cee off 30m in the same race. But even with three open class reps in the handicap trot Dickie may not even get to see it.
Because he won’t be at Alexandra Park but Addington where he will partner Mexicana, owned by the same connections as Winterfell, in the $50,000 NZ Trotting Oaks, which starts just 10 minutes before the Alexandra Park race.
So if Mexicana wins the Oaks and Dickie has to go via the winner’s circle he is going to be pushing it to see his three open classers at Alexandra.
“It is a great position to be in, having horses like this racing at our two biggest tracks,” says Dickie.
“I was thrilled to get Winterfell and while everybody knows he has had his issues with one thing and another he seems to be a really good space and has been trialing well,” says Dickie.
“Maurice McKendry drove him for me at the workouts last weekend because he is driving him tonight and said he trotted home (last 400m) beautifully in 26.7 seconds.
“So he will go a big race but off 50m that might mean running on well for fifth or something because it is so hard to win off a big mark fresh up.
“Kay Cee will be an each way chance because he is so honest while we are really, really happy with Paramount King, who Dad has done much of the work on.
“Being off 30m he is a winning chance but we are a still not getting too carried away because while he is very good he had a poor campaign last time.” Dickie says he would also love to be at Alexandra Park to partner The Honey Queen (R4, No.2) who he rates very highly and expects to win tonight.
But the fact he is driving at Addington shows how much he thinks of Mexicana’s chances in the Oaks, in which only Wanna Play With Me and Time Up The Hill look real dangers.
Mexicana flew home fresh-up in a good form race at Alexandra Park two weeks ago and Dickie expects her to improve but drawn wide on the front line she could face having a tough run either of the other two favourites have designs on the lead.
“The top three there stand out so it might be the one out of us who gets the most luck, which is why our filly is only third favourite.”
How to attack harness racing's huge double header
1: TAIPO (Alex Park, R7, No.6) Comes in well here and has the gate speed to go forward and get crucial tactical advantage over stablemate Kango. Both are open class pacers in the making but Taipo looks the one tonight.
2: THE HONEY QUEEN (Alex Park, R4, No.2): It took a very good filly in Bettor Twist to beat her in the Oaks last start and she showed gate speed there that could see her lead and control her own destiny in a far weaker field.
3: SHAN NOBLE (Addington, R2, No.5): Smart 3-y-o who trialed well last week and big drop in grade tonight. The $2.40 opening quote very fair for a horse who could dominate and looks a potential the multi anchor.
4: MEXICANA (Addington, R6, No.8) Not much between her and the two favoured southern fillies but at $5.50 the northerner makes great each way sense. A lot may depend on his much gate speed she can show from out wide compared with the other pair.
5: SELF ASSURED (Addington, R7, No.4): Has been beaten last two but that was after hard runs whereas tonight in a five-horse field he can probably lead if Mark Purdon chooses to get serious. Quite remarkable to think he was paying $2.80 this week as the New Zealand Cup winner and has so rarely been beaten at Addington.