Start to Hannon crucial
By Jonny Turner
How quickly the big guns can get away from the standing start tapes could be the crucial factor in Sunday’s Hannon Memorial.
Their big race records have Akuta, Krug, Alta Wiseguy and Pembrook Playboy installed the clear-cut top-four picks in the Group Three Oamaru feature.
Alta Wiseguy and Pembrook Playboy head into the event with a distinct advantage over their two main counterparts in that they are both noted standing start flyers.
Alta Wiseguy skipped away initially first up at Addington last week, before quickly regaining his gait and powering straight to the lead to set up an impressive win in the New Brighton Cup.
Pembrook Playboy made his usual smart beginning when he stepped straight to the lead in last year’s Hannon before being snookered on the fence, running a very unlucky fourth.
Star three-year-old Akuta heads into this year’s edition without having stepped out in a standing start race.
But trainer Mark Purdon has been pleased with the way the early Hannon favourite has handled himself behind the tapes in two recent trials.
Purdon is slightly more concerned about the horse going into the feature without the advantage of recent racing.
But the master horseman admitted if Akuta was close enough on the home turn, his class could shine through.
“He seems pretty good, he has had two trials and gone well in both of them,” Purdon said.
“He is still a bit round and will need the run, but it isn’t a big field and he has been stepping away good at the trials.”
“As I say, he will need the run, but in saying that if he were close to them he would give them a fright.”
Like Akuta, Krug has stepped away well in two recent trials ahead of his return in the Hannon.
But rewind the clock twelve months and the Cran and Chrissie Dalgety trained pacer had his share of issues behind the tapes.
Cran Dalgety is hopeful he has found the key to getting Krug away safely in a minor gear adjustment.
“We have taken his overcheck off and he seems happy and he has stepped away well in both of his trials.”
“It is a different story come race day but everything he is showing us right now suggests he can get it right, which he will need to in all of his racing this spring.”
Akuta has beaten Krug in both of their recent trials, but the five-year-old has given his younger rival a head start each time.
And Dalgety has been rapt with his horse’s efforts.
“He probably couldn’t have trialled any better, he has run some very slick sectionals from back in the field.”
“He is heading into Sunday as well as he can be for a fresh-up assignment.”
“We are taking on a tidy field but there’s no reason he can’t be very competitive.”
Akuta, Krug, Alta Wiseguy and Pembrook Playboy take on three Southland pacers who will make their debuts in a New Zealand Cup lead-up on Sunday.
Macandrew Aviator, Mach Quillan and Tommy Waterhouse can boost their chances of making the country’s greatest race with a strong result.