By Michael Guerin
Kiwi trainer Cran Dalgety swears he is not getting involved in the usual Aussie games when he declares Im Pats Delight can lead and win tonight’s A$500,000 Inter Dominion Pacing Final.
Because while there has been plenty of talk about tactics for the 2760m mobile classic Canterbury trainer Dalgety says his attitude comes from simple mathematics.
Im Pats Delight has been outstanding during this series and the only time he led he bolted in at Ballarat last week but that was over a sprint trip and Dalgety says being able to lead tonight could be even more important.
“Over this distance the horses in the running line are losing at least 10m per lap so obviously we would rather be on the markers,” says Dalgety.
“And if we are going to get the lead I’d rather stay there. He is a stallion and being in front gives them a mental advantage over other horses trying to catch them.
“So while Gavin (Lang, driver) is the one who gets to make the decisions, I think our best chance of winning is to lead.”
The build up to almost all major pacing races in Australia is a whirlwind of opinions on who could lead, wants to lead and would hold the lead, with it often being an advantage because many of their major tracks are smaller than New Zealand’s premier venues.
This week was no different, with the WA connections of pole marker Galactic Star also declaring they would like to stay in front, while it is obviously a role Tiger Tara’s connections will crave.
But the reality is trainers often say they are dead set on holding the lead to deter too may early challengers, which could result in a shuffling of places that sees a horse drawn where Galactic Star is ending up back on the markers.
Talk tough though and put the challengers off and you might be able to lead or more likely trail the right horse. It is all part of the game.
While the punters who have backed Spankem into favouritism would love to see him roll to the front trainer Mark Purdon is adamant both he and stablemate Cruz Bromac can still win from barrier five and nine respectively.
The All Stars horses are often at their most scary when allowed to balance up early then sustain searing late sectionals but it would still surprise to see Purdon, driving Spankem, sit for too long before getting handy.
If he is able to work forward and intimidate his way to the front the race might be at good as over.
Cruz Bromac has been so good in this series he can win but he probably needs a hot first lap to allow him to swoop late so maybe the smartest bet is the $1.50 the TAB of offering for a New Zealand-trained winner.
The A$150,000 Trotting Final looks far less complicated with Tornado Valley and Speeding Spur dominant and while the former has to be the top pick, the Kiwi can beat him either leading or trailing, with the result possibly coming down to who brings their A-game tonight.