SMILING SHARD WILL HAVE MILLIONAIRE STATUS
Regardless of the outcome, Kentuckiana Lodge pacer Smiling Shard will become New Zealand’s latest millionaire pacer after Friday’s $800,000 Skycity – Inter Dominion Pacing Grand Final at Auckland on Friday night, April 8.
The pint-sized pacer with the big heart is sitting on $998,982 in combined New Zealand and Australian earnings, and just the appearance money for starting in the big one will crank him past $1 million in earnings.
Smiling Shard has only been further back than a dividend bearning place seven times in 39 career starts for owners, Chrissie Dalgety, Alastair Rooney, Allan Vernel and Peter Gorman.
Photo: Smiling Shard, warms up before his Kaikoura Cup victory last November.
However, trainer Cran Dalgety and driver Dexter Dunn know the Grinfromeartoear entire faces his toughest race yet this week.
Cran is under no illusions about the task ahead but is excited he has a 4YO good enough to take on seasoned Grand Circuit horses in the final.
“It was a massive effort from him last week. He was shagged at the 400m. Dex said he was and you could see it from the side too but he kept going.”
“He knew where the finish line was and wasn’t going to give up until he got there.”
“It took a horse with five million in the bank to get past him for second, so we were rapt. There were a lot of smart ones further back and he’s a year behind most of them.”
Smiling Shard, from his six draw, coming into five, in the Final, will try to get two out in the running line when the gate folds.
He’ll take his luck from there, and try to feature among the action with the four top Aussie chances.
Cran believes the draw has opened up the race to some extent with pre-post favourite Themightyquinn starting from near the outside of the back row, and with Smoken Up and Mr Feelgood also off the back row.
Four-time Inter King Blacks A Fake, starting from gate two, and Pembrook Benny from gate three, look the early front-runners, however Blacks A Fake with the advantage of the inside running may hold up enough to the first turn.
With Smoken Up drawn to follow Blacks A Fake through, there should be plenty of fireworks over the opening round.
Mr Feelgood tracks out Pembrook Benny, and his driver Luke McCarthy, is expected to try and find a place ahead of Smoken Up in the running.
Photo: Mr Feelgood, one of four top Australian-trained runners in the Pacing Grand Final.
But Cran says he wouldn’t be surprised to see Natalie Rasmussen (Blacks A Fake) let Lance Justice (Smoken Up) take the front mid-race.
“I think the Blacks A Fake camp let a little kink of the armour out at the Barrier draw,” Cran said.
“Although they said he is as well as he can be, they would have been happier to get another run into him, so I wouldn’t be surprised for Smoken Up to ruffle the feathers up front and then for her to let him go and trail for the rest of the trip.
“If that happens I just hope it won’t be sedate for the rest of the race,” he said.
Smiling Shard will try and make his presence felt over the final lap, with Cran saying he’ll probably need the right luck to win.
Connectons of WA champ Themightquinn, from gate 15, have no option but to wait and hope for a strong pace throughout to best suit the phenomenal finishing burst of their horse.
With a three wide trail over the final lap, Themightquinn is the horse they all have to beat on his heat runs, but its not going to be easy.
The stage is set for a strength-sapping survival of the toughest _ just the way an Inter Dominion Final should play out.
By Jeff Scott