A two mile trotting race isn’t a common occurrence at Cambridge Raceway, however, the Waikato track has managed to attract three of the country’s best square-gaiters to contest the Melbourne Cup Day 2 Mile Hanidcap Trot (3200m) on Tuesday.
While many of New Zealand’s leading trotters are heading towards Christchurch to tackle New Zealand Cup week spoils, Group One winners Massive Metro, Temporale, and Lemond are staying closer to home in preparation for next month’s Inter Dominion series at Alexandra Park.
Cambridge trainer Ross Paynter will line-up Lemond and Gershwin in the six-horse field and he is looking forward to Tuesday after a series of issues resulted in Lemond being ruled out of a trip south.
“We were just having a few little issues with him,” he said. “We have just been working on a few little things and have treated a couple of things.
“We just missed a few runs and you can’t go down there when you are not getting the runs and have had an interrupted preparation.”
While Ross is happy enough with Lemond’s progress, he said he will need the run in preparation for next month’s rich targets.
“He will definitely need the run on Tuesday. It’s just a run for him heading forward to the Inter Dominions.
“All those good horses need to have runs under their belt. I think they all have had some issues this season, all three of them.
“The other two went really well at Auckland the other night (Massive Metro finishing second and Temporale third over 2200m at Alexandra Park).”
Paynter is also pleased with Gershwin heading into Tuesday after coming off the back of a 3-3/4 length last start victory at Cambridge, but said he will need every bit of his 20m advantage over Massive Metro and 30m benefit over Temporale and Lemond.
“He is right on top of his game at the moment,” Paynter said. “He has struck some pretty good ones on Tuesday, but they have got to give him a little head-start.
“He is fit and hard, so it will be interesting to see how he goes. He is best suited to left-handed. He has been going thereabouts, but he just doesn’t really get right-handed.”
Meanwhile, Paynter will line-up four other runners at his home meeting on Tuesday.
Aoraki and As Free As Air will start behind the 10m tape in the Marsh Equine And Livestock Insurance Handicap Trot (2200m) and Paynter believes they are both good chances.
“As Free As Air probably goes a little bit better left-handed, she is good when she is on her game,” Paynter said.
“She will be thereabouts on Tuesday, while Aoraki always goes an honest race.”
Paynter will also line-up maiden pacers Super Actor and New Frontier and he is hoping stable junior driver Fergus Schumacher can steer them both to their first victories on Tuesday.
Paynter is expecting a good showing from New Frontier in the PGG Wrightson Standardbred Mobile Pace (2200m), but is slightly concerned with drawing gate six with the son of Mach Three.
“He doesn’t fair too well in the draws, he draws out wide. Six is not a great draw, but it’s not the worst.
“If you go forward from there and work your way to the front, often you have to work that bit harder to get there.”
Earlier in the card, Super Actor will head into the Black Dog Furniture Mobile Pace (2200m) in a fresh state and Paynter has labelled him as his best chance of the night.
“He had a little freshen-up when there were no races at Cambridge for a while, so we put him out in the paddock for two or three weeks,” Paynter said.
“He is quite a nice horse, he just hits his knee a bit when he gets tired. He has gone some quite nice races. I think he will go pretty well on Tuesday.” – Cambridge Raceway