Tough draws for the big guns at Addington tonight
By Michael Guerin
The four biggest names heading to Addington tonight have two things in common: bad starting positions and richer targets ahead.
While that sounds like a dangerous recipe for punters to digest the reality is all four of them can win and the key to whether they are good bets or not will be price.
Bolt For Brilliance (30m) and Republican Party (10m) start off handicaps in their respective trotting and pacing fixtures, lead-ups to the Dominion and New Zealand Trotting Cup.
Also having to overcome poor draws tonight will be unbeaten three-year-olds Ohoka Connor (R4, No.9) and Mantra Blue (R8, No.9) meaning they will have to come from back in the field as they take their next steps towards group 1 targets.
Starting at the top, because he is one of if not the best trotter in the country, Bolt For Brilliance’s 30m backmark is somewhat negated by only having five opponents in tonight’s main trot.
If he can latch on to the back of the bunch after 400m he should easily outsprint most of them, with his only real danger Smokin Bandar, who was a brave second to Muscle Mountain in the Trotters Sprint at Ashburton.
Trainer-driver Tony Herlihy is confident his stable star is ready to go so as talented as Smokin Bandar is unless he gets an uncontested lead Bolt For Brilliance should beat him so $1.75 is a fair price.
Republican Party faces a smaller handicap but more opponents in the main pace so he has a greater chance of traffic problems, although Blair Orange is in outstanding touch so should be able to find him the right path.
He got closer to Akuta at Ashburton last start than any horse did at Kaikoura a week later and while he should win punters would be wanting at least a $2.50 win dividend to make it worth their while.
Northern filly Mantra Blue makes his Addington debut against handy mares as she prepares for the Nevele R Final on Cup Day and trainer-driver Zachary Butcher is resigned to having to settle early and hope for tempo in the 1980m mobile.
“She trialed two weeks ago and was good, although she was hitting the sulky around the last bend so I didn;’t ask her for her best,” says Butcher.
“But I don’t mind the draw. She has a really good sprint and I think a few might go forward.
“So we will sit off them and as long as he is three back on the outer or no worse starting the last 400m she might pick them up.”
She is a little bit special but because of the make-up of the race $1.80 would be as low as punters would want to go.
Of the four top horses Ohoka Connor maybe faces the most difficult task tonight as he has been away from racing the longest and meets in-form, fit rivals over 2600m mobile.
“He is ready to go and we are very happy with him but the draw means he can’t be sent (forward) early,” says co-trainer Steve Telfer.
“There are a lot of horses inside him who like to go forward and run on the speed so Tim will look after him early but he won’t be scared to move mid-race if he has to.
“He can win but we are not going here worrying about protecting his unbeaten record because this is tough racing and his aim is the NZ Derby (December 10).”
Those are big words of warning so as imposing as Ohoka Connor is he might be a watch and not bet proposition tonight, with any price south of $2.50 to be avoided.
Meanwhile, Telfer allowed stable star B D Joe to miss tonight’s open class pace after a recent setback but is still on target for the IRT New Zealand Cup.
“He had a burst blood vessel in his leg a few weeks ago but he is well over that,” says Telfer.
“He is very fit so we have decided to go to the Cup trial next Wednesday and then on to the Cup.”