Premier racing is the pinnacle for any horse trainer and Gavin Smith can head to Addington today proud of the fact he’s got six runners engaged on one of the bigger days of racing on the harness calendar.
And the best part of all is that his horses aren’t just there to make up the numbers. There are some serious winning chances among the half dozen who will be loaded on the float and trekked into Harness Headquarters.
The stable is of course spear-headed by the chances of the exciting Great Things Happen who will lock horns with Harriet Of Mot once again in the Sires’ Stakes Aged Trotting Classic.
The rangy son of Love You left a few tongues wagging with his victory last week where he smashed his rivals with consummate ease and Gavin is expecting further improvement out of the four-year-old this afternoon.
“You would like to think that he would be pretty hard to beat again on what he did last week.
“Once again we haven’t done a lot with him in between runs, but he still doesn’t look completely hardened to the eye yet so he should keep improving.”
Two-year-olds trotters, Miracle Rising and Di’z Luck get a shot at some big money when they compete in the New Zealand Yearling Sales 2YO Trotting Final which carries a $65,000 stake.
Miracle Rising was an impressive winner when last produced two weeks ago against on the Addington surface but he hasn’t been served well in the barrier draw department and will start from one on the second line.
That will leave Kim Butt, who takes the reins today, need to find the clear air as early as she can to give herself the best chance of success.
“That draw is going to make things difficult for him, as he will probably end up giving Enghien and Di’z Luck a head start.
“But his work has been really good this week, so if he gets his chance I’d expect him to run a big race.”
Di’z Luck might have appeared slightly disappointing when she ran a promoted third last Sunday, but after battling illness for the best part of a month, Gavin was happy enough with the performance.
The half-hopples have been added to her gear for this week.
“She’s definitely improved with that run last week, I’m certain of that.
“I worked her with the half-hopples to try and get her a little more confident in her gait, which will make her sharper I think.
“She didn’t feel a whole lot different, but race day pressure should answer that question. We’ve also got her off the unruly which will help her settle pretty handy to them.”
Three-year-old filly, Scarlett Banner will tackle the biggest prize of the day when she takes on the best fillies in the land in the Group One Nevele R Fillies Final.
Originally in the consolation, she worked her way into the final field through scratchings and will start from barrier three in the $140,000 event.
“She probably would have been better off in the consolation to be honest, but it’s a Group One and an honour to be in there.
“My concern is that she has developed a bit of a wind problem which may end up with her being operated on. The Cornell Collar goes on to try and help that, and it seemed to work at the workouts last week.
“That said she still wasn’t at her best and it’s doubtful even that her best would have her competitive with the top three fillies in the race.”
Gavin is quite prepared to put a line through the effort of Allison Stokke last week too after a few issues were found in bloods taken following the fillies performance.
“There were a few deficiencies there that we have treated and she seems fine heading into this week.
“We haven’t had a stand for a while but she was a really good beginner so hopefully she can settle in a forward spot and I think she will be a great chance.”
He’s Like The Wind rounds out the stable’s chances at the Premier meeting and although in likely need of the run, Gavin knows the talented trotter is good enough to be very competitive if things go his way.
“We gave him a freshen up, he’s had a few issues too. His work has been really good though.
“He will probably be a run short, but we needed to get a run into him before the Sales Series race next week and also to put him under race pressure in his new shoes.
“He can definitely win a race like this on his ability, but he would need a bit to go his way.”
Gavin has just the one outside drive at the meeting – Cullect A Guiness for the Robert Dunn stable.
Unsighted since his run in the Rangiora Classic the talented pacer wouldn’t be the worst place option against a good field which includes superstar pacer, Christen Me.