Track: Alexandra Park
Track Surface: All Weather
There IS a sprint lane.
R6 Northern Trotting Derby 2700m G1 Mobile Start
2015 – Speeding Spur
2014 – King Denny
2013 – Blitzthemcalder
2012 – Escapee
2011 – Paramount Geegee
Looks a straight forward speed map here with Marcoola to lead and High Gait on its back. Lemond should sit three pegs and get the cushy run over the longer journey. Expect Wilma’s Mate to head forward at some stage.
1. High Gait: Filly taking on the boys who was favourite last time here in the lead up (Sires Stakes Trotters Champs – Group Two) but galloped out from the same draw. Lost approximately 50 metres that night but recovered well to finish fourth. Prior to that she was second at Addington in the NZ Derby to Marcoola.
Has been to Australia twice where her record is an imposing eight wins and a second from nine starts including wins in the Need For Speed, Redwood Classic and the Breeders Crown. Gets a gun run here and I think she can beat the boys up from the sprint lane.
2. Marcoola: Has been a revelation winning six in a row including the NZ Derby at Addington where he did a ton of work to lead but was still too strong down the straight. Was very good last week here in the lead up when did everything right at his first look at the track. Will be improved for that and looks to get a soft lead here – the obvious top pick and one to beat.
8. Wilmas Mate: Possibly the most talented here but can do things wrong as she has done at her past two starts in the NZ Derby and then again here last week. She does have a victory over High Gait only four weeks ago in the NZ Trotting Oaks at Addington although High Gait did have her measure in the 2yo Ruby on Jewels Day.
Did everything wrong at her first look at the track last week but put up an enormous effort. Drawn wide is a minor problem – will probably take time to settle and surge forward. If she does everything right she is a big chance.
9. Lemond: Relatively inexperienced with seven starts resulting in three wins and three placings, he ran a big race last time when second to Marcoola. Prior to that won an easier class race beating Temporale at this venue. He is up in class but drawn to be three pegs and receive the right run and the Magic Man Maurice McKendry is on board. Looks a genuine place chance.
R7 NZ Messenger Championship 2700m G1 Mobile Start
2015 – Sky Major
2014 – Elios
2013 – Christen Me
2012 – Mustang Mach
2011 – Franco Emirate
All of these horses contested the Taylor Mile last week here so the form is well and truly exposed. Robbie Burns has drawn the pole and may elect to take a trail here. Field Marshall has blinding speed and Dexter Dunn may opt to come out humming. Little Rascal led last time but couldn’t hack the pace so there may be a different tactic here. My Kiwi Mate will come looking for the chair at some stage.
1. Robbie Burns: Was big odds when third in the Taylor Mile (behind Field Marshall) last week from Barrier 3. That was a good effort and although he has drawn beautifully tonight I think any single figure odds is under the odds but can see him filling a place.
3. Hug The Wind: Had to do some work early but did find cover after 600m. Tracked eventual winner into it but was no match when speed was applied. Started second favourite there after winning his last two at this venue. Has ability but Field Marshall looks to have a class edge and he’ll need to improve drastically to win.
4. Field Marshall: Has won five in a row including last week’s Taylor Mile where he settled towards the rear of the field early before taking off with a lap to go and showed blinding speed. Was way too good there and with the better draw it’s hard to see them beating him but he is a good things price. Has now racked up the impressive record of 13 wins from 24 starts and bad luck might be the only thing that beats him.
6. My Kiwi Mate: I thought this was the second best run last week where it took Jodi Quinlan an eternity to get to the death seat after being three wide early. He hit the lead on the home turn but the early effort told – still managed to run a close fifth. Prior to that had racked up three wins on the trot in Australia. Tony Herlihy takes the drive tonight and I’m sure that this horse will appreciate the longer trip.