KIWIS READY TO STEP UP IN NSW DERBY FINAL
Kentuckiana Lodge trainer Cran Dalgety believes fellow Kiwi Courage To Rule may be the hardest for Smiling Shard to beat in the $A100,000 Christian Cullen NSW Derby at Menangle on Friday night, April 23.
“From the two hole, Courage To Rule is probably the one to beat. He’s really improving,” Cran said of February’s Victoria Derby winner.
“Everything is good health-wise with our fella. I wouldn’t say the 6 draw is good _ its probably half good and half bad,” he said.
“We’ll look at going forward and maybe sit parked _ it doesn’t seem to worry him _ and being run over 2300m is a help.”
Photo: Smiling Shard, looking for another big Aussie classic win on Friday night.
Smiling Shard was given as quiet a run as possible to win his heat in a 1:56.1 mile rate (2300m) on Monday and is ready to lift a notch further for the Final.
Contrary to a media report earlier week, Cran confirmed Smiling Shard has yet to be withdrawn from the Cambridge Harness Jewels in June.
“We’ll be making a final decision next Monday, whether we go ahead and attempt to qualify him for the Jewels,” Cran said.
“We want to see how we go in the NSW Derby, and whether Kotare Mach (another top 3YO) can beat a 3-4 win field easily at Addington on Friday, first.”
“Smiling Shard will need to win twice in 4 win races at Addington in May, and probably run a second as well, to earn enough to get in the Jewels field anyway.”
Meanwhile Kentuckiana Lodge stablemate Bettor’s Strike is primed for another big showing in Friday’s $A100,000 Len Smith Mile, but Cran says it won’t be easy for him from the nine hole.
“He’s really flying,” Cran said of this season’s Victoria and Tasmania Cups winner.
“We didn’t mind going over because whatever barrier draw you get isn’t the end of the world, opposed to racing on the dinner plate at Harold Park.”
“Lance Justice (Smoken Up, barrier 6) will make things interesting whatever happens,” he said.
By Jeff Scott