There’d be no better way to celebrate your birthday than with a Group One victory, but Gavin Smith feels it might be a bridge too far for his exciting trotter Great Things Happen tonight at Alexandra Park.
It’s not that he doesn’t think the imposing son of Love You isn’t up to the task on ability, but more down to race fitness with the five-year-old having his first start since the end of May against a field of race hardened open class trotters.
Initially there was no plan for Smith to even start Great Things Happen in New Zealand in the early part of the season with Australia touted as his place of resort for the majority of the season. But the decimation of the open class ranks here in New Zealand led Smith, who turns 35 today, to make a slight alteration in his plans.
“We could either drive up to Auckland and get a direct flight to Melbourne or fly from Christchurch to Sydney and then he would have had a big float trip after that,” Gavin said.
“I nominated him for the National Trot just in case things went pear-shaped for a few of the others without really intending to start him, but the way things have panned out I decided it wouldn’t hurt him to have a run.”
A winner of seven of his 16 career starts, Great Things Happen has fashioned an impressive record but comes up against the might of Marcoola tonight which will make the fresh up task difficult.
“I don’t think he’s completely comfortable the right way of going but he handles it. It’s just his fitness I’m most worried about.
“I think he’s up to them when he’s at his best, but just not having had a run is probably going to hurt us at the business end.”
Great Things Happen will start from barrier three in what is an open affair outside of Marcoola.
Gavin has plenty of inside info on one of his toughest rivals, Sunny Ruby, as he was the regular driver of the mare before she joined the David Butcher stable.
The stable was due to have two runners in tonight with Red Moon Rising in the final race of the night.
An injury has curtailed those plans though and Smith isn’t sure when the promising three-year-old will be back at the track.