The race of the summer

By Michael Guerin

Champion driver Tony Herlihy is envisaging a near perfect scenario for his outstanding trotter Bolt For Brilliance in one of the races of the summer at Cambridge on Thursday.

But he admits to a slight concern over whether the superstar four-year-old trotter will be fit enough to take advantage of it.

Bolt For Brilliance steps into the open class big time on Thursday when he takes on the king of trotting Sundees Son and speed machine Majestic Man in the $47,500 Group 1 Turf Bar Mile.

Bolt For Brilliance confirmed the highest grade holds no fears for him with a series of stunning wins in the spring, including breaking 55 seconds for his last 800m while dragging a flat sulky tyre at Alexandra Park on October 23.

He overcame that disadvantage to still beat Cracker Hill, who has gone on to finish second in the NZ Trotting Free-For-All at Addington, so Bolt For Brilliance clearly has an open class motor.

His slight problem on Thursday could be the fact he hasn’t raced for two months during which time Sundees Son has trotted two blistering national records and suggested he is working his way toward a place in the greats of New Zealand trotting.

Herlihy had to give Bolt For Brilliance a break when he did as he has so much ahead in his four-year-old season that could run all the way through until the Jewels in June so realises his can’t have his stable star as fit as Sundees Son and Majestic Man coming off their searing recent national records.

“That was probably always going to be the case for this race,” admits Herlihy.

“But he had a good workout at Pukekohe on Saturday that will bring him on and he also trotted well left-handed, which he wasn’t quite as good at as a young horse.”

The official workouts results suggested Bolt For Brilliance had to have a solo workout on Saturday but he in fact worked with a pacemaker so Herlihy was able to get what he wanted from the outing, with a last 400m in 27.7 seconds.

“Obviously he will improve with this week and we have the National Trot next week, so he should be even better for that.”

While the race has only drawn six starters it could still provide plenty of fireworks and Herlihy says that likelihood could aid his pretender to the crown.

He says he doesn’t have the speed to hold Majestic Man out at the start so the Oamaru trotter looks a certain leader and unless something unusual happens Sundees Son should be outside him attacking at some stage over the last lap.

“That could well happen because that is the way both horses like to race,” says Herlihy.

“And if it does, and John (Dunn, driver) put the pressure on any the 500m or earlier then I’d like to be sitting off them waiting.

“But it won’t be easy to win, those other two are racing very, very well.”

The race isn’t the only highlight on the Cambridge card in the very next one of our best three-year-olds in B D Joe takes on the older horses including the talented Italian Lad in a prep run for next week’s NZBS Harness Millions at Alexandra Park.

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