Talented but erratic trotter Credit Master will be carrying the hopes of the locals when he contests the Gr.2 Group 1 Turf Bar Trotters Flying Mile Mobile Trot (1609m) at Cambridge Raceway on Thursday.
The Cambridge trotter will meet a small but select field on Christmas Eve and will have his work cut out against the likes of Group One winner Sundees Son, Group One performer Majestic Man, and arguably the most exciting square-gaiter in this part of the world, Bolt For Brilliance.
Credit Master heads into Thursday in good form, having won two of his five starts this preparation, and placing in two others, including the Gr.2 Lyell Creek Stakes (2200m) at Alexandra Park last start.
“His run in the Lyell Creek sharpened him,” said Andrew Neal, who trains in partnership with his wife, Lyn. “He knocked off a bit with a round to go. He just drifted and wouldn’t go and all of a sudden he took off again.”
The son of Muscle Mass has been battling some mental issues in previous campaigns, which halted a southern campaign this spring, but Neal is hoping he is starting to mature.
“He is in good form, but his issues are still there, we are working around them,” Andrew Neal said.
“It’s been a combination of a whole lot of things, but we have been using a few herbal tonics on him.
“The more racing he gets he is starting to settle a little bit. He wasn’t too bad at Auckland last start, it’s more prior to the race that he gets wound up in the stall area. He is not so bad on the track. I think he is learning to manage that now.
“Last season he was really stressed in the stalls and then would make a break in the running just because he was so wound up.
He is maturing, but has been a slow learner.”
Neal will hop in the cart himself on Christmas Eve and is delighted that his charge has drawn the ace barrier, but expects fireworks early from a couple of his rivals.
“I’ll trot out as quick as I can,” he said. “Majestic Man usually likes to run forward so we will just see what happens. The worst we will end up is possibly the trail.
“He has got good form over that distance. He trotted 1.56 twice last year and is probably a better horse now.
“We have made a couple of gear changes and he is racing with the blinkers on this week and I think that will help him, especially over a mile.”
Neal will also line-up Ideal Agent in the Mark Wambold Memorial Mobile Pace (2200m) where he will be reunited with last start-winning driver Matthew White.
“He has been unlucky at Auckland and has got some bad trips. In every one of them he has run home well,” Neal said.
“The other night Matty go him out nice and dropped him in the trail and he really showed his true form.
“I am looking forward to giving him another start. He really relished the run last start and he should be as good, if not better.”
Meanwhile, Neal is looking forward to the raceday return of exciting pacer Alterior Motif, who has had a slight setback in his preparation since returning from a two-run campaign in Christchurch over the New Zealand Cup Carnival.
“He hadn’t been away before and when he got home he was a wee bit down, so we gave him 10 days off,” Neal said.
“We were planning on having him race on Thursday night but he got a stone bruise, which set him back another week.
“He is not far off it now, but it wasn’t worth pushing him for Christmas Eve. But he will line-up in the next couple of weeks.”
Neal was happy enough with his runs at Addington Raceway, but said he will now space the gelding’s races in the future.
“The first day he went well (despite carrying a flat tyre over the final stages) and David (Butcher, driver) said he just has to learn to race. He was over-racing and not settling,” Neal said.
“The second day he didn’t really back-up. It was only his fourth start and I thought he may have handled the second day, but he just didn’t back-up.
“We are learning what he can do, and we will just space his races.” – Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk