McLovin to bounce back

by Adam Hamilton

Andy Gath is back in Auckland and likes what he sees.

Gath’s star trotter McLovin might be coming off a Dominion Trot flop and drawn awfully on night one of the Auckland Inter Dominion, but you wouldn’t know it talking to the star horseman.

“I think we’re right in this series. The market says it’s thin, but I disagree. I think it’s quite strong and open and any of six or seven trotters could win it. And I’m sure McLovin is one of them,” Gath said.

Gath’s optimism was buoyed when two of his “hosts”, John and Josh Dickie, spoke glowingly of McLovin’s trackwork on Saturday.

“They’ve had some nice trotters so it’s really pleasing when you hear them talking about him working like a really good horse,” Gath said.

“We’ve all put what happened in the Dominion behind us. It was disappointing at the time, but the ‘thumps’ is something most horses who have it don’t have an issue ever again.

“Everything about him says he’s been fine since and we’re looking forward to getting the series started now.”

But it’s a tough start on paper with McLovin drawn outside the back row (11) and his main rivals all on the front: Habibi Inta (4), Big Jack Hammer (1) and Massive Metro (5).

Some trainers might be tempted to drive for luck from the draw, especially on the opening night of a gruelling series, but that’s not on Gath’s radar.

“If the chance is there, I want Kate (Gath, driver) putting him into the race,” he said. “He’s a tough horse and Alexandra Park can be really ‘fence’ biased, so I don’t want to be trying to come four and five wide from well back around that last bend.

“I think it’s the safest option to get into the action early. If he can’t do some early work and still finish top three or four, then he’ll have run below his best form.”

Remember McLovin did a power of work and still out-toughed his rivals to win the Group 1 Bill Collins Trotters Sprint first-up this campaign.

And what about racing the Auckland direction, which had been touted as a possible reason to miss this series?

“He handles it. So far so good,” Gath said.

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