Solid Gold should win
Best bet: Gliding Away (R10, No.5): Took on strong opposition from bad draw during Cup week. Falls into perfect race tonight.
Well placed: Matai Geordie (R4, No.10): Has a booming finish so second line draw not too bad. Better than this grade.
Each way: Underthesouthernsun (R5, No.4): Speedy maiden with significant draw advantage over key rival Cloud Break.
By Michael Guerin
The fact Solid Gold is talented enough to be heading to the Inter Dominions next week suggests he should win the main pace at Alexandra Park tonight.
But the fact he is heading to the Inter Dominions which start next Friday is exactly why co-trainer Tate Hopkins is issuing punters with the slightest of warnings ahead of tonight’s $25,000 mobile.
Hopkins is only 28 and understandably excited about he and training partner Frank Cooney having a representative when the Inter Dominion returns to Auckland for the first time in eight years next week.
“That has been his big aim and we are excited because you don’t get these opportunities very often,” says Hopkins.
“He is a pretty good horse and on his home track so we are hoping we can qualify him for the final. That is the first aim and we will see what happens from there.”
Solid Gold is under-rated, having rarely dipped his hoof into the big time, but his happy place is mobile racing around Alexandra Park, perfect for the Inters and for tonight.
He has won his last three mobile starts at The Park, cruising a 1:53.6 mile four starts ago but has had to cop handicaps in standing starts in his next three races, recording slick times without a lot of luck.
Tonight he meets a couple of other Interdom contenders in Australian pacer Our Uncle Sam and Dance Time but with his gate speed could well settle in front of them and be the horse to beat.
“But he isn’t screwed down,” warns Hopkins.
“Obviously he has a lot of racing in front of him, four races in two weeks coming up, so he is fresh going in this and will improve.
“We gave him 10 days off after his latest start and we are hoping he can win this race but he will definitely improve.
“But we will leave the tactics up to James (Stormont, driver).” If Solid Gold was able to use his gate speed to lead he would probably win but a hard-running rival like Mr Kiwi, who can afford to empty the tank tonight as he doesn’t have the Interdom carrot next week, could make life tricky drawn inside him.
The interesting newcomer to Alexandra Park tonight is Our Uncle Sam, whose New Zealand campaign so far could barely have gone worse.
While he has to overcome a right-handed debut tonight and barrier eight he is the horse who finished to Tiger Tara in both the Inter Dominion final and Hunter Cup last season so his current form line is by no means indicative of his ability.
Back to a mobile tonight and with Tony Herlihy doing the driving it wouldn’t surprise to see him return to something like his best and he could win without shocking.
His driver Herlihy has one of the favourites in race six with talented trotter Forget The Price Tag returning but he faces a 35m handicap, a mark made even more difficult by having 11 rivals standing in front of him.
“He is well but we all know how hard it can be here (Alex Park) off a big handicap fresh up,” said Herlihy.
Regardless of what happens in the Inter Dominions, the Cambridge club has come up with a smart idea to attract Australians to their two huge sprint races in the weeks after.
The Waikato club will provide free air travel back to Australia for the first Australian-trained horse home in both their Trotters Flying Mile on December 24 and their feature race for the year, the Pacers Flying Mile in January 10.