A change of tactics
By Michael Guerin
Hail Christian’s arrogance may force a change of tactics that could greatly impact the first serious open class pace of the season at Addington tonight.
Some of the big boys of the elite pacing scene return, headlined by Miracle Mile and Horse of the Year in waiting Spankem, who is joined by stablemates Chase Auckland and Ultimate Sniper.
They will meet a trio of proper horses who clashed two weeks ago in Classie Brigade, A G’s White Socks and Hail Christian in tonight’s $30,000 Avon City Ford Cup, a 2600m standing start.
With their fitness edge the latter trios best chances of beating the Purdon-Rasmussen favourites would seem to be to stay in front of them, with the small field suggesting half the race being run in single file and a quick last 800m.
Under those circumstances almost any horse is beatable if trapped back in the field and while Spankem might be the best pacer in the country, especially with stablemate Turn It Up sidelined, he has been at his most potent when able to lead. So surely Hail Christian, who stepped and led last time before being run down late, would want to stay in front of the returning stars? Well, maybe not.
“To be honest I was a little disappointed when he led and was run down two weeks ago,” says trainer Paul Court.
“I actually think he waited for the other horses and maybe he just isn’t as good in front.
“He is quite an arrogant horse and knows he is good so when he gets a break on them he can pull up and wait.
“So while nothing is definite, I think he is better with a trail.” But Court realises if he and fellow trainers keep handing up to the All Stars big names they will hardly ever beat them so he would like to see one of his last-start rivals in Classie Brigade or A G’s White Socks take the fight to them.
“Somebody has to do it or they will just beat us all the time but I honestly don’t think it is the best way for my horse to be driven.” If Classie Brigade or A G’s White Socks are able to lead and run a fast last 800m then Spankem is beatable. But with potentially one less rival for the lead, the Miracle Mile winner deserves favouritism tonight.
Tactics may be less important in the $30,000 Ordeal Trot because Sundees Son has been magnificent in his last four starts, three last season and his fresh-up win at Addington off a 25 handicap last Friday.
He returns to a mobile tonight so is back on level marks and if his manners hold, and they have been fine at both the races and trials for quite some time now, he should win.
Further north, Alexandra Park hosts another of its all-mile meetings, which have provided a great boost to usual Friday night turnovers because of the competitive racing and lack of red hot favourites.
The feature brings together three last-start winners in The Moonshadow, Blazen River and Solid Gold and punters might lean toward The Moonshadow over stablemate Blazen River because trainer Tony Herlihy will drive him.
“But to be honest there isn’t much between them and Tony (Cameron) has driven Blazen River to win before so he might even be our better hope,” explained Herlihy.
But Solid Gold is a natural speedster so even drawn outside the other pair may be the one to beat.