Krug and co in pre-Jewels hit-out tonight
By Michael Guerin
Don’t expect some of harness racing’s autumn stars to play nice at Alexandra Park just because he big dance of the IRT Harness Jewels is still week away.
The trainers of dual Derby winner Krug and group one performers Bad To The Bone and B D Joe say they are happy to be aggressive to top off their stable star’s fitness ahead of the $900,000 meeting at Cambridge on Sunday week.
Lead up races to Group Ones (which all Jewels races are) can often be tricky for punters as while drivers want to win they would often prefer to do so without giving their horse a headache.
If the wins are there they are taken but with it not being Grand Final tonight horses rarely go berserk attacking leaders in the fear of being undone, which can make lead up races tough on those who settle back in the field.
But many of the favourites tonight, who also include Bolt For Brilliance off a 35m handicap in the main trot, haven’t actually raced for a month so are in need of a decent pipe opener for Sunday week.
"That is my attitude,” confirms Cran Dalgety, trainer of elite three-year-old pacer Krug.
“I am happy for him to have a proper hitout this week because I don’t want him going into the Jewels too pretty.
“The last thing I want is them to go 1:52 (for a mile) at Cambridge next week and him get beat because he wasn’t ready.”
Krug meets only five rivals in race eight tonight but one of them is Bad To The Bone who was stunning finishing second to Copy That in both the Taylor Mile and Messenger last month.
He sat parked and both occasions, pushed Copy That close but just as importantly held off Auckland Cup winner Amazing Dream for second, confirming his summer Sydney campaign has seen him return home stronger.
“He went super in those two races and what I’d like to see this week, if possible and it suits the race, is some gate speed,” says trainer Barry Purdon.
“That would be a good weapon to have next week for the Jewels if he draws well so Zac (Butcher, driver) will have the option to go forward with him this week.” If Bad To The Bone can get across and lead Krug will need to perform close to his optimum to beat him but if Bad To The Bone has to race parked, which is possible with the hard-running Dance Time in the race, then Krug should successfully stalk him.
One of Krug’s rivals in the three-year-old male pace next week will be B D Joe and he looks ideally placed in race 10 tonight.
He was driven conservatively when fresh up last start but trainer Steve Telfer says the speedster is fitter this week and he is happy to see him in front with the Jewels approaching.
“He worked super on Tuesday and is ready to go close because he drops out of a harder race last start,” says Telfer.
Bolt For Brilliance is the hard horse to assess tonight because he is undoubtedly the best trotter in the North Island but his 35m handicap over 2200m means his chances will be dictated by those in front.
If they step and run hard he could be playing catch up for the entire race, as he was when beaten under similar circumstances here in February.
He can still win if there are some gallopers in front of him, an unlikely slackening of the pace or he gets the right cart into the race but even his biggest fans should be careful backing him tonight.