The Bolt is back and good to go

By Michael Guerin

When a great horse gets cut down by injury at the peak of their powers you can wonder whether they will ever be as good again.

In the case of outstanding trotter Bolt For Brilliance, champion trainer-driver Tony Herlihy has no doubts.

“Bolt”, as he is known, returns at Alexandra Park on Friday 10 months after fracturing his leg when hot favourite to win the Inter Dominion Trotting Final.

He came off the track sore at Geelong on December 3, having finished a close second to eventual Interdom winner Just Believe and was found to have a fractured pedal bone. It was an injury he had undoubtedly carried in that race and a weakness that could have been bothering him for a while.

It brought a screeching halt to a career that should have been about to skyrocket.

Bolt For Brilliance had won a Jewels as both a two-year-old and four-year-old, the Jewels not being run during his three-year-old season because of Covid.

In both those races he beat arch rival Muscle Mountain and in May last year he won the Rowe Cup by six lengths over a true champion in Sundees Son.

Now he is back, facing a 50m handicap in a small field.

So can a horse who was that powerful return to such heights after 10 months on the sidelines or has his confidence, so crucial for trotters, been dented?

“I am sure he can get back to that level and he might be even better,” says Herlihy, our most successful ever horseman on the track and not one for hype off it.

“A break like that is not disastrous in that once it heals, you shouldn’t have any problems there again, touch wood.

“That is how he feels and looks. He is a happy horse and his work has been good, he seems very sound and his winter coat is coming away.

“So we are training him like the injury isn’t an issue and if, and we had no signs anything was wrong, he had been not quite right before he fractured it he could even come back better.

“I am really happy to have him back. He is a pretty special horse.”

Comeback races are often tricky, more so off a 50m handicap, and sectional times and what sort of drag Bolt For Brilliance can get into the race may determine whether he can win on Friday as much as his undoubted talent.

But a better Bolt is exactly what New Zealand Trotting needs as Muscle Mountain was dazzling at Addington last Friday and is will dominate our open class ranks unless his old mate can reignite a rivalry that would make their every clash appointment viewing.

Fans of the trotter, who can be zealots for their beloved gait, may not have to wait long for the next round of Bolt versus Muscle.

“As long as all goes well on Friday night I have him booked on a flight to Christchurch next week and he could race at Addington next Friday night,” says Herlihy.

“It is not how I would usually start a campaign but two good races will bring him on nicely for Ashburton (October 23) and Cup week and he has had the grounding to handle it.”

Friday will see a very, very good horse back doing what he was born to do on his home track.

Bolt For Brilliance
Age: 6
Gait: Trotter
Trainer/driver: Tony Herlihy
Breeding: Muscle Hill-Toomuch To Do
Biggest wins: Rowe Cup, Harness Jewels (twice).
Record: 46 starts, 20 wins, 16 placings.
Earnings: $702,834.





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