Workout today plays a crucial role in trotting ranks
By Michael Guerin
What would usually be an irrelevant workout in the grand scheme of the season at Rangiora today could play a crucial role in the first clash of trotting’s new crop of superstars.
Because the horses who dominate the markets for our richest trotting races are set to meet next week and going into today it won’t be a level playing field.
Sundees Son has emerged as our best trotter after a stunning end to last season has been matched by a brilliant beginning to this one, with two effortless wins in as many starts at Addington.
That has seen him leapfrog Marcoola as our most talented trotter and with Monbet struggling and Speeding Spur off trotting some impressive times in North America, Sundees Son is favourite for the Dominion (Addington) and Inter Dominion (Alexandra Park) later this year.
But he would be a lot shorter if it wasn’t for the new season form of Oscar Bonavena, whose looks something special even though he hasn’t beaten rivals of Sundees Son class yet.
The pair are both two from two and will meet for the first time in the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup at Addington on Friday week. The mutual respect from their trainers is obvious.
“Sundees Son has been very, very good and has gone to another level,” says Mark Purdon, who co-trains Oscar Bonavena.
“It will be interesting when they clash because they both have very high speed for trotters.”
John Dunn is the driver of Sundees Son and he takes a breath when asked about Oscar Bonavena.
“He has looked really good,” says Dunn.
“I don’t want to be giving him head starts in too many races because like my horse he can sprint like a pacer.”
Which brings us to the R50 to R60 pacing trial at Rangiora today, which will include the Sundees Son trotting.
Dunn has put him in the standing start heat against pacers to see how he handles starting among other horses on the front line, rather than starting on the unruly.
Last season that could have been a disaster as Sundees Son manners didn’t match his motor but in his last six starts he has been faultless.
“He has definitely grown up and strengthened up and I want to try him off the unruly in the workout to see whether we can take him off it for standing starts full time.
“He is already back in the draw for mobiles and the way Oscar is trotting we don’t want to be giving him 10m, 20m or even 30m start, which is what can happen when you start on the unruly.
“So if he handles the start well on Wednesday (today) we will try him back in the draw on Friday week.” The TAB has Sundees Son a $1.85 favourite in their new pre-nominations markets for the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup, with Oscar Bonavena rated a $2 chance. While the new pre-nom markets are a step in the right direction for TAB bookies, their percentages could do with some tinkering.
The next two steps on the open class trotting path are this weekend when the best northerners like Lemond and Massive Metro resume at Alexandra Park on Friday while the southerners tackle the grass in the Banks Peninsula Trotting Cup on Sunday.