Smokin Bandar going "better than ever" ahead of Dominion
By Jonny Turner
It didn’t start as the perfect preparation but it will be if Southland trotter Smokin Bandar enters harness racing’s history books at Addington on Show Day.
Southland-trained trotters have been unable to make their mark in the Dominion in the modern era, but Smokin Bandar gets the chance to buck that trend on Friday.
When the flashy grey battled to match it with a middling bunch of Brisbane’s best trotters during a Queensland winter campaign, he didn’t exactly look on track to be a major threat to the Dominion.
But two excellent lead-in performances have shown that trainer Craig Ferguson has Smokin Bandar back to his best ahead of the Show Day feature.
“I think he is going better than he ever has heading into a big race,” the trainer-driver said.
“His work has been great, and I really couldn’t be happier with him.”
Smokin Bandar has battled niggling problems throughout his career, which culminated in the horse suffering a tendon injury and breaking down in the Dominion last year.
Being free of any niggles is the basis for the trotter working so well leading into this year’s edition.
“He has always had a few issues, but he has been really good this year, and that has allowed us to do more work with him on the track, rather than in the pool.”
“He is fit and well, and we just hope it can continue on Friday.”
Drawing an inside barrier in an elite-level 3200m event at Addington isn’t always advantageous.
Smokin Bandar looked a chance of coming into barrier one with an emergency drawn inside him.
But with a scratching in the race, it looks almost certain the southern trotter will start from barrier two.
“I am glad there has been a scratching because drawing one wouldn’t have been ideal,” Ferguson said.
“But from two, if he can begin like he usually does, it will give us a few options.”
On the fixed odds Smokin Bandar is currently a $10 fourth favourite, behind the two hotpots Muscle Mountain ($2) and Bolt For Brilliance ($3) and Oscar Bonavena at $9.
Ferguson also starts Da Vinci in the Macca Lodge South Of The Waitaki event on Friday.
The pacer ($1.85FF) looks a serious winning threat after taking on much harder fields recently.