By Michael Guerin
Gavin Smith has got the one draw he didn’t want with Great Things Happen at Addington today, but it could win him the New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All.
Great Things Happen has been the huge mover in the elite trotting ranks this season, with two massive performances at a time first Monbet and now Habibti Ivy are out of the carnival.
So he is not only favourite for today’s 1950m mobile Group One but also the Dominion on Friday, yet trainer Smith had his confidence dented when his free-going trotter drew the inside of the second line today.
“It was the one draw I didn’t want,” he said.
“He has great gate speed and likes to get rolling so I would have rather drawn the front line obviously, or wider on the second line.
“I can’t fault the horse and I think he is the horse to beat in both the big trots this week but I’m worried about the draw.”
But if Great Things Happen had to draw the inside of the second line he couldn’t have asked for a better rival to follow out than Marcoola.
The sometimes brilliant enigma of the trotting ranks has looked a shadow of his best self for much of this year, but was one of the few horses to make up serious ground wide, late at Kaikoura two weeks ago.
That suggested he is returning to his best, which this time last year was good enough to push champion Monbet to a national record in this race.
He is most potent when rolling along in front and trainer-driver Clint Ford will undoubtedly be keen to adopt those tactics today, which could give Great Things Happen the perfect trail.
“I will have to punch through behind him and see how that works out, but my fella is definitely better out and rolling, so I am not sure he is a passing lane horse,” says Smith.
If the pair lead and trail it is hard to make a case any of their rivals can give them a start and a beating, with Ronald J the most obvious danger.
He galloped when set to win last start but trainer Paul Nairn says that doesn’t overly concern him today.
“He just lost concentration because he wasn’t wearing the winkers last start but I think he will be fine and he actually has pretty good gate speed.
“So he will be handy and this is the race I have set him for, because he is not in the Dominion on Friday.”
Trainer Nathan Williamson says last start flop Dark Horse was too fresh on that occasion and needs racing, so will start today and in the Dominion, but she faces an enormous task drawn the second line with the favourites likely to be near the speed.
Earlier in the day Nairn warns to watch out for improvement from Lothario in race three, with the chestnut trotter who won on this day last year working well.
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