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Canterbury raiders look ready to make an impact on the first meeting of the new Southland harness racing season at Gore on Saturday.
Trainers Mark Jones, Michael House and Ivan Court spearhead the attack from red and black country on the eight race card.
Jones and Court are set to square off in race 3, with their talented pacers Plutonium Lady and Silk.
Silk comes south on the back of an incredibly eye catching performance behind Corona at Addington, last month.
The 4yr-old blew the start, not for the first time in her career, before working around the field and sticking on gamely to run second.
Her bad manners arguably make her barrier three on the second row in her 2200m mobile event irrelevant.
Plutonium Lady is in totally the opposite position in barrier 1.
The Mark Jones trained filly has the game to take advantage of that, in a race that should feel like a plummeting drop in grade for the 3yr-old.
Each time Plutonium Lady has gone to the races she has run in to Sweet About Me and Amazing Dream.
“From the draw and just on ability alone she should be hard to beat,” Jones said.
“The one draw is going to help and getting back to maiden grade is going to help even more.”
Plutonium heads south after pleasing Jones with her effort for third in a trial at Ashburton, last week.
It is hoped that beyond Sunday’s race the Bettor’s Delight filly can realise her potential and live up to her pedigree.
“She is a late developing filly that we paid a bit of money for at the sales and we think she will do a pretty good job,” Jones said.
Fellow Jones trained 3yr-old Willison has not been blessed with a handy draw in race 2.
The Bettor’s Delight pacer has drawn barrier 14 in a capacity maiden event over 2200m.
“The visitor’s draw is the only concern, but he is quite a nice horse,” Jones said.
Like Plutonium Lady, Willison is a purchase that Jones think can do a good job on the track.
His recent trial win at Ashburton suggested he could start living up to that opinion at Gore, after making a slow start to his career with 11th and 4th placings.
“He is also a horse we had a bit of time for early on, but he had a bit of a mishap,” Jones said.
“His first run was poor and then his next start, he probably improved from that, and trialled good at Ashburton.”
How My Design fares in race 7 could be known soon after the barrier strands fly.
The 4yr-old stepped cleanly, before going a good race for third in her last start at Forbury Park.
However, she blew the start of her previous race at Oamaru.
My Design’s manners are set to be put to a stern test when she is asked to step from the often tricky barrier one spot in Saturday’s 2200m handicap.
“She is hit or miss from a stand and is she misses, she misses bad,” Jones said.
“One is not the best draw for her, but if she was to step she is an eachway chance.”
Rake looks the horse to beat in race 7 for trainer Michael House.