Telfer ponders "to lead or not to lead?"
By Michael Guerin
Trainer Steve Telfer has opened up about the likely tactics set to turn one of the highlights of IRT Harness Jewels day on its head this Sunday.
Telfer, having a career-best season with 60 winners, holds the key to one of the glamour races at this Sunday’s $900,000 meeting at Cambridge with B D Joe and Alta Wiseguy in the three-year-old male pace.
Both are last-start winners and have drawn well, B D Joe with the ace and Alta Wiseguy at barrier three, crucial over the mobile mile from the tricky Cambridge starting point.
While they both have winning chances their tactics may also dictate, at least early, the chances of the best horse in the race in Krug, the $1.80 favourite to win the group one.
Krug has drawn barrier nine, or one on the second line, and if B D Joe uses his gate speed to try for an all the way win then Krug will almost certainly secure the trail and a clean shot in the home straight with Cambridge having a passing lane.
Telfer was leaning that way when he initially saw the draws on Friday but a brilliant performance from Alta Wiseguy at the Cambridge workouts on Saturday, in which he beat the likes of Copy That after showing blazing gate speed, has Telfer giving his drivers more licence.
“You can never tell how a race will pan out at the start and what will happen and drivers have to react to that at the time,” says Telfer.
“But you sometimes have you own thoughts on what to do and the way Alta Wiseguy left the gate on Saturday I’d be comfortable with him going forward and trying to lead.
“We actually drove B D Joe a bit quieter off the gate at Alexandra Park when he won on Friday and he showed great speed later so I think if, and it is always an if, he trails then he could sprint very hard.”
While each horse must be driven on its merits and to win a Telfer lead-trail is actually the best chance either have.
If B D Joe stays in front then Krug is $1.20 to beat him up the passing lane and if Alta Wiseguy doesn’t go forward he is going to likely get pushed back in an active race and finish midfield.
With Cambridge almost always favouring leaders and trailers in mile races if the Telfer pair can secure those spots that is them being driven to their best advantage. If that eventuated then Krug could be left three back on the markers and while that by no means ends his chances punters taking the odds-on will feel a lot more comfortable if he is in the trail or handy on the outer.
He does have the services of the country’s top driver in Blair Orange to plot him the best path, which could include sitting and waiting for a gap or trying to push away from the markers early and getting into the running line.
With the race also containing speedsters like Pace N Pride and American Dealer as well as the hard-running Shan Noble, likely to go forward from wide out, it shapes as one of the races of the day.
But more and more it is starting to appeal as a race in which B D Joe looks set to do the least work with a reduced chance of bad luck so he might be emerging as the logical each way bet, even though Krug is clearly the best pacer in the race.