Tough's task is simple
By Adam Hamilton
IT is a simple equation for Australia’s best trotting hope in the last round Inter Dominion qualifying heats.
Tough Monarch needs to make the most of a gun draw (gate one), finish at least top four and he cements a spot in the Grand Final.
And trainer Rickie Alchin says all the signs are finally great heading into this crucial race.
“He’s really well. This is as happy as I’ve been with him since he came up to Auckland,” he said.
“I’m still scratching my head about night and, I must simply have been too easy on him, but Ants (Butt, driver) was really happy with how he hit the line Tuesday after nothing went right early.
“For me Tuesday was crucial, just to see him get to the line strongly and show he was over whatever happened the first night.
“He’s been great since and now he’s got the draw.
“The way I see it, he needs to finish top four to be safe.
“I’ll be surprised and disappointed if he doesn’t. Everything points to a big run.”
Tough Monarch is precariously placed in equal 11th spot, along with Monty Python and Valloria, on 12 points after the first two heats.
Australia’s only other trotter in he series, dual Group 1 winner Big Jack Hammer, is slightly better placed in 10th spot on the points table with 13.
But he appears to have a harder task from gate four in his last heat, especially with big guns like Winterfell, Majestic Man and Massive Metro in the heat.
One of Big Jack Hammer’s great strengths is his gate speed and Luke McCarthy will likely use all of it early to try and find the marker pegs, especially given the trotter looked “lost” away from the pegs on Tuesday night.
As far as the final goes, Alchin has been most impressed with Majestic Man and Paramount King through the series.
“Majestic Man is the one to beat, he just looked to jog that in fast time the other night,” he said. “And Paramount King’s two runs have beenoutstanding.”