There’s an air of excitement in the voice of Gavin Smith when he speaks about what the next few months might entail.
Not only has the prominent horseman got a strong looking Spring racing team from his own stable, but there’s the prospect of jumping behind a couple of exciting horses as they work towards the two biggest features of Cup Week in November,
And the path towards then begins tonight at Addington when Gavin’s two major drives, Cullect A Guiness and Sunny Ruby make their resumptions.
The Robert Dunn trained Cullect A Guinness will tackle Locharburn and Tiger Tara among others in the Maurice Holmes Vase - a race which carries an automatic entry into the Cup for the winner.
It’s no easy task first up, but Gavin’s hopeful of a forward showing from the promising pacer.
“On what I’ve seen at the trials and workouts, I don’t know if we can beat Locharburn if everything goes right for him,” Gavin said.
“But my guy is a very nice horse, he worked his way through the grades pretty quickly last season and seemed to handle the rise up to the top grade alright when he got there.
“His trial last week was good, I was pretty happy with it actually, we just need to ping away this week and try and get a drag along and hope there’s enough speed to bring us into it.”
Gavin spoke confidently of Cullect A Guinness’ ability to follow speed and he firmly believes that a strong 3200 metres on Cup Day is going to be very beneficial to his chances of coming into contention.
“He will just keep running, he’s got great staying ability.
“I really think a race like the Methven Cup, a distance race on the grass will be where we see the best of him first.”
On the other side of the coin, Sunny Ruby looks to be a grand chance of resuming with a victory.
The Sam Smolenski trained mare, who was crowned four-year-old Trotting Mare of the Year last season, looked well on song when she won a trial by a big margin last week at Rangiora.
“They weren’t going much so I looped them and found the front but there was a strong wind behind us.
“She did it pretty easily and she does seem very forward, Sam has her really ready to run this time in whereas in the past she has taken a couple of starts to come to it.
“I’m really excited about this season with her, and I’m excited to have another crack at Monbet and the other stars in the big races, I really think she’s going to surprises a few people with how well she goes against them.”
Off a handicap tonight, Sunny Ruby will have to be good to win fresh up especially with the quality alongside her.
Amaretto Sun will be looking to continue it’s good run of form for the Ford family while Sheemon and Bordeaux also resume.
It’s a busy night tonight for Gavin with four stable runners and close to a full book of drives.
Imola, Blade, Allison Stokke and All Settled Down will wear the stable colours with Gavin on board three of them and Kimberly Butt renewing her association will Allison Stokke.
“They’ve all got a chance of winning if everything went their way I think.
“It might be a bit hard for Imola from out wide and for Blade fresh up, but they are all capable.”
Gavin spoke strongly of the chances of All Settled Down who was a brave second on Sunday at Oamaru.
“If we can jump to the front and give them something to chase she might really enjoy being out there and rolling along.”
Gavin’s other outside drives aside from Cullect A Guinness and Sunny Ruby all look to have at least an outside chance.
Nic Mac Willy will enjoy a slight drop in class and could be dangerous if driven in front, Dana Duke will be a lot handier to the speed this week and therefore should be right in contention and Elite Excuse, a first start from Phil Burrows stable has good trial form but an awkward draw on debut.