Outstanding returns for Bolt For Brilliance and Old Town Road

By Michael Guerin

They were two perfect comebacks by two wonderful horses but their connections left Alexandra Park on Friday knowing far greater challenges lie ahead.

Old Town Road and Bolt For Brilliance overcame vastly different handicaps after vastly different spells to both win their comeback races on Friday and remind us just how special they are.

First up it was Old Town Road in the Kerry Hoggard Memorial - Holmes D G, a race trainer John Dickie was worried his star was going into short of peak fitness.

His task got easier with the unfortunate scratching of the injured Copy That and then when Old Town Road stepped straight on to the back of the small field and there were four different lead changes while he relaxed and waited.

That left Zachary Butcher able to aim to win but to win without gassing Old Town Road in his first start since the Auckland Cup.

He waited until the last possible moment and launched and Old Town Road sprouted wings to charge past Simply Sam and a very brave Whispering Artist.

The winner’s amended time at 3:22.7 represented a 2:0.7 mile rate for the 2700m stand, tough enough to bring him on but not so harsh as to hurt him.

“It was an ideal comeback and a great drive by Zac,” said Dickie.

“I had had some sleepless nights because he had his issues but now we can head south with win under his belt.

“But we know there are some very good horses waiting there for us so it is only going to get tougher.”

Dickie says Old Town Road will head to Ashburton for the Flying Stakes and then could race again at Addington before the Cup on November 14.

As good as Old Town Road was there was no mistaking the star of the show as Bolt For Brilliance was stunning in his first start since fracturing a bone during the Inter Dominions in Victoria last December.

After just two trials he had to overcome a 50m back mark but he did so with ludicrous ease, looping his rivals in the first half of the last lap before racing clear to a 10 and a half length victory.

The margin was greatly exaggerated by All Cashed Up galloping at the 150m mark when he was going to run second and probably beaten by no more than two lengths but to put the exclamation mark on his resounding return Bolt For Brilliance broke the national 2700m stand record.

He trotted 3:23.3, a 2:1.1 mile rate and looked like he could have gone faster.

If he comes through the race well be could be in Christchurch by the middle of next week and ready to resume his arch rivalry with Muscle Mountain at Addington next Friday night.

Whether Bolt For Brilliance can beat Muscle Mountain, who has had a year of hard racing that the northerner has missed out on, remains to be seen but he could have the advantage of better standing start manners and, possibly in the Dominion, being on the front line while Muscle Mountain could be on the unruly.

“It is great to have hin back and we train him now like the injury is in the past because it seems to have healed so well,” says Herlihy.

“He did that easily tonight but I know he will need to step it up a level against Muscle Mountain.”

He will, but the next round of open class trotting races and the Dominion in particular just got a hell of a lot more interesting.





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