Day At The Track

Puppet on Kualoa, Pegasus next big strides

03:00 PM 28 Mar 2020 NZDT
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I Am Pegasus,Harness racing
I Am Pegasus
Stuart McCormick photo

Racing’s welcomed return at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight not only brings short-term relief but may also provide a platform for the long-term if Chris Alford’s book of drives are any gauge.

The Schweppes Metropolitan Drivers Premiership leader has enjoyed two Group 1 wins with both Kualoa and I Am Pegasus, and tonight the once star three-year-olds continue their evolution as they progress to the open-age ranks.

This is particularly the case for Kualoa, the Emma Stewart-trained mare who has won 13 of her 19 starts to date and more than $300,000 in stakes, and steps out in the Alabar Pace at 9.05pm an even money favourite with the TAB.com.au.

The short price is despite a couple of question marks, with Kualoa first up since July 6 and taking her first steps in a transition that will define her future.

“It is always hard when they come up from three-year-old into open age,” Alford said. “It’s the toughness of it. In their age group when they are better than the others you can give them a breather here and there. When you are up against the best open age horses the pressure is on from the get go.”

Alford thinks that may well be the case for Kualoa tonight, with the mare drawn gate one, so well positioned to push for the lead but also susceptible to early pressure.

“I’m not sure if she will hold the front,” Alford said. “Vandanta could be the problem, but she does get out pretty good.

 “She’s a quality mare. She had one trial six weeks or so ago and felt really good. I’m sure she’s the best horse in the race, but she is first up in a long time and am sure she will improve for the run.”

Courtesy of victory in the Group 1 Breed For Speed final in February, I Am Pegasus has had a more substantial into tonight’s test, the Group 3 VHRC Carlottas Pride Trotters Free For All.

But the Joe Vassallo-trained trotter also comes in with question marks, having been pulled up last start after being squeezed early in running and racing roughly. Alford said it was the result of a wider concern.

“She seems to have a lot of trouble off the second row,” he said, a fate she’ll have to deal with again tonight, being drawn in gate nine as a result of her out of the draw status. “Last run at Melton she was out control when they got away and she got squeezed up.

“We have done a bit of work and hopefully that settles her down a bit. If she settles she is just as good with a sit as she is out in front, we just haven’t seen it yet.”

Alford’s remaining drives include Vouchers for trainer Jess Tubbs in the Allied Express 3YO Classic, who he said was “pretty good at Cranbourne running a mile in 1:55 and did it easy”. But Alford said Tubbs’ husband, Greg Sugars, “would know her better than me” and he’s chosen to keep the steer on brilliant filly Maajida.

Alford will also steer Stewart’s Born To Rocknroll in the Hygain Captain Sandy Free For All, noting “his first run was plan when he was second, but his Charlton Cup run was really good and he is getting back on track”.

And finally Freddy Funk in the first, the DNR Logistics Pace, who he said was a “bit out of his grade”.

 

HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

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