By Jonny Turner
The march towards a massive spring of harness racing will take another step forward when star 2yr-old Krug returns to racing at Addington on Friday night.
The group 1 winning colt will clash with older horses when he steps out for the first time since March in race 5.
Harness racing’s recent shutdown came at just the wrong time for trainers Cran Dalgety and Nathan Purdon after Krug cemented his spot as the country’s top 2yr-old male pacer with his win breakout win in the Cardigan Bay Stakes at Alexandra Park.
Though the trainers were naturally disappointed Krug’s season came to a screeching halt over lockdown, it has not been completely bad news.
“We were sort of brassed off that we missed out on the Stakes races, but the horse thought it was a good idea,” Dalgety said.
“Because he did bulk up in the time he had out and so he should, too.”
“So, we are on track there and hopefully we can start off with a winning note.”
Krug comes in to his 1980m resumption having had just one post-lockdown workout.
The 2yr-old showed he had lost none of his zip when dashing home to beat subsequent winner, William Wallace, at Rangiora.
Despite his lack of public appearances, Dalgety is confident Krug’s fitness levels are where they need to be.
“He is pretty close, he has had some good runs to get him ready.”
“It is a bit funny starting a 2yr-old against the older horses, but that is sort of what is happening at the moment and we can’t do a lot about that.”
“So, we will make a start here and move on to the Sires Stakes heats that are coming up.”
Krug looks to have the gate speed to cross most of the rivals starting inside his barrier 6 draw if driver Blair Orange chooses to push forward early.
Whether that is the right option for a horse having the first run of his new campaign would be left up to the leading reinsman at the start, Dalgety said.
Dalgety and Purdon start another of their big guns for the first time since lockdown when Bettathanfast resumes in race 8.
The 4yr-old chased Krug home in his workout win before winning at the Ashburton trials, late last month.
Like Krug, Bettathanfast has thrived during his lockdown break and has emerged a better horse for it.
But that does not necessarily mean the horse will instantly return a winner when he takes on race fit opposition.
“He has lifted a bit, too, since his break,” Dalgety said.
“But, he is racing quite a few form horses that are pretty tight and race fit.”
“We are going to have to be on our game to compete with them.”
“But in the weeks to come we will be on song with him.”
Admirable comes in to his debut for Dalgety and Purdon after winning both of his post-lockdown trials.
The 2yr-old has the class to win on debut in race 2, so long as he behaves.
“He is doing good, he is a wee bit of a wild boy, he is a bit of a typical Rock N Roll Heaven.”
“But, ability-wise, he shouldn’t be a maiden for too long.”
Im A Gigolo also chased Krug home at the workouts ahead of his resumption in race 9.
Dalgety expects the 3yr-old to be a place chance in his first run since February.
“He just levelled out on us a bit, I am happy with him but just not excited with him at the moment.”
“He should be a good place chance.”
Arden’s Sweetheart rounds out Dalgety and Purdon’s Addington team in race 11.
The 3yr-old was turned out after just one run in her last preparation after going through a growth spurt.
“She won really nice in her first start as a 3yr-old and just went through a growth patch and I just wasn’t happy with her.”
“She has come back nice, but there might just be some form runners ahead of her.”
“She will race in to form as well, though.”