Start critical in big trot at Addington tonight
By Michael Guerin
Champion horseman Tony Herlihy admits he has no idea which version of Bolt For Brilliance will turn up in the seconds before the start of tonight’s $100,000 Group 1 trot at Addington.
And that mystery could be the key to the race.
Bolt For Brillance and trotting’s other heir apparent Muscle Mountain get another crack at the king Sundees Son in the NZ Trotting Championships and even though Sundees Son became a millionaire two starts ago he shows little interest in abdicating his throne.
Drawn barrier one in the mobile 2600m if Sundees Son leads early he could be unbeatable but if Bolt For Brilliance or Muscle Mountain can cross him the whole complexion of the race changes as both have beaten Sundees Son by getting in front of him.
While he is our greatest ever driver and trains Bolt For Brilliance, Herlihy says the two versions of the exceptional trotter make it impossible to gauge whether he will be the dominant early factor in the race.
Bolt For Brilliance showed great gate speed to lead and outsprint Sundees Son in the Lyell Creek at Alexandra Park two starts ago but he can just as easily goof around behind the mobile and look disinterested, more from mental immaturity than any lack of will to win.
If he fires up early and crosses Sundees Son then we have a race tonight but if Sundees Son can hold him early then the logical option is for Herlihy to drop to the trail as there is no second line horses following through.
“The start will be interesting and there is usually no telling what Bolt will do,” said Herlihy.
“I was very happy with his second last week and he has worked well but if Sundees Son looks like he is holding us at the start then we could end up trailing.”
Herlihy warns tonight’s Group One is anything but a two-horse race.
“Muscle Mountain is very quick and he might even have a crack at crossing us early and that would really change things.
“So the start will really set the tone.”
That will also be the case in tonight’s $50,000 Superstars for the open class pacers in which Southland pacer Pembrook Playboy has his last start before next Thursday’s The Race at Cambridge.
He has had a slightly interrupted last month and looked below his absolute best when fourth behind a charging Cranbourne in a similar race last Friday but trainer-driver Nathan Williamson says he will be spot on for next week’s $900,000 blockbuster.
“When you have a horse only go okay like he did last week, which wasn’t unexpected, the most crucial thing is how they come through the race and improve and he has done both well,” says Williamson.
“So I think we can get him up there (Cambridge) next week ready to go but at that level he will need a good draw to push them.”
When a spot in The Race came up because of the injury to Spellbound on Monday many thought Cranbourne may get the call-up but he just missed out to NSW pacer Majestic Cruiser.
His improvement curve has been so consistent this season Cranbourne wouldn’t have been out of place in the $900,000 feature and he has earned crucial respect in his races which enormously helps a horse who is at his best when in front and running the sprint out of his rivals.
He could be tested for that role tonight by another hard-runner in Kango and that early contest to see whether Cranbourne can roll to the front, with Alta Wiseguy another factor, will decide whether a swooper like Pembrook Playboy gets his chance late.