Race tempo key to Christianshavtime's chances

By Michael Guerin

Christianshavtime may have a good horse’s motor but it's his lack of gate speed that might make him vulnerable at Alexandra Park tonight.

And that's why co-trainer Logan Hollis can’t declare him the one to beat in the $17,500 Bell Scaffolding Pace.

Christianshavtime probably shouldn’t even be in the reckoning for favouritism for the main mobile pace tonight, being just a four-win horse giving away 30 rating points to Inter Dominion and Auckland Cup placegetters like Mach Shard and Triple Eight.

But the combination of those horses having some form doubts and Christianshavtime blowing away far more highly-assessed horses like Tommy Lincoln and On The Cards last start suggest he can still win.

Ever since he left maidens he has looked an open class horse in the making, one well capable of a 2:38 time over 2200m which will win you more races at Alexandra Park than it loses you.

“We know he is pretty good,” says Hollis, who trains Christianshavtime with partner Shane Robertson.

“He is a rarity for us, a horse good enough that we need to start planning his campaign six months out and working backwards from there.

“His big aim is the Messenger in May so we will let him bypass the Auckland Cup this month because he has only won those four races after all but I think he showed last start he can run with some of the open class pacers.”

Christianshavtime came from last in a four-horse field to beat the open class horses last start but the fact he often comes from so far back is the reason some punters will struggle to back him with confidence tonight.

“He doesn’t have any gate speed which is why he races like that,” explains Hollis.

“He never has had it so it means he needs the speed on in his races to win.

“Take this week, he will get crossed out of the gate and if they walk and sprint he probably won’t be able to catch them but if they go hard he will get his chance.”

While the December 31 Auckland Cup, with new sponsor Woodlands, will come around too quickly for Christianshavtime, three of the big names against him tonight are heading that way.

Mach Shard, On The Cards and Triple Eight could all win tonight with peak efforts but their seasons have been a mixed bag, with Mach Shard the best of them so far this term having beaten Copy That and Belle Of Montana in the Spring Cup.

Mach Shard and On The Cards have the gate speed to head forward and potentially lead-trail and in a race without many attackers it wouldn’t surprise to see either of them, particularly Mach Shard, get a winning break.

Earlier in the night the Hollis/Roberston stable have Shezadeal stepping up sharply in grade in race one and a rare trotter in the stable in Asteria Lavra in race two.

"She has the ability to win but she has real problems going away,” says Hollis.

The stable is also looking forward to starting Luke John in the $200,000 NZBS Harness Million on New Years Eve as well as taking a draft of 15 to the Karaka yearling sales in February.

One of the other clashes of tonight’s meeting is Italian Lad, who finally looks like fulfilling his potential up against high-class southern fillies Braeview Kelly and La Rosa in race three, with the older horse holding the advantage.

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