Motivation and reality
By Michael Guerin
Night three of an Inter Dominion is about two things: motivation and reality.
Because while of connections of the 44 horses still in the series all basically want the same thing at Alexandra Park tonight — victory — what they need is different.
Probably two thirds of the qualifiers for Saturday week’s $500,000 pacing final are set in stone barring huge form reversals in tonight’s final round of heats, with six to eight rivals chasing the last four slots.
In the trotting series there looks to be seven winning chances for their $150,000 final and they are all as good as in the group one already.
Of course everybody would like another win tonight, such the nature of competitive sport and the Interdoms can be an expensive time off the track so money comes in handy.
But there are still differing levels of motivation going into tonight’s four heats. Some have to get good points otherwise their series is over. Others know they are in the final and that is where reality kicks in.
Take A G’s White Socks for example.
He has been incredible in this series for trainer Barry Purdon and driver Maurice McKendry and both would love him to clean sweep the series.
But he is obviously safely in the final and tonight is in a heat where two New Zealand Cup winners in Cruz Bromac and Thefixer are expected to lead and trail.
Purdon is adamant barrier two on the second line is perfect for A G’s White Socks because he should be midfield on the outer without having to work.
But is McKendry really going to take off and attack potential Thefixer, knowing he almost certainly won’t beat him if he does? And if he does break him doesn’t that just make him vulnerable to Cruz Bromac, let alone give A G’s White Socks a headache a week out from the a final worth almost 17 times more than tonight’s race?
Sure, they want to win. But the reality is he may not be able to if the race pans out as many think and it might be silly to try and find out.
The same could apply, although not quite as dramatically, to Majestic Man in the last trotting heat.
He has been sensational during this series but can’t lead from the second line so why would Brad Williamson send him mid-race to attack Winterfell or Massive Metro, potentially giving him a gutbuster for no profit.
In a smaller field he can still win but in a race likely to lack tempo his odds will be too short.
On the flip side of that coin are horses like Bling It On, San Carlo and Classie Brigade, who need to move and get forward before the sprint goes on, wanting at least top-six finishes to qualify for their finals.
They have motivation to be in the finish, even if they can’t win.
Motivation plus reality in the final round of heats of an Inter Dominion over 2700m, equals back those who can win without flattening themselves.
Oh, and Ultimate Sniper, who the normal rules don’t seem to apply to just now.