By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
The renewed training partnership of Barry Purdon and Scott Phelan will have a strong presence at Alexandra Park on Thursday night, with 18 representatives.
The stable’s charge will be led by Wainui Creek, Belle Of Montana, and Mach Shard in the Garrards Horse & Hound Pukekohe Handicap Pace (2200m), where they will tackle impressive last start winner Copy That.
Wainui Creek has drawn one on the front row and Phelan is confident of a bold showing from the Group One winner, who he will drive on Thursday.
“Wainui Creek is generally pretty good away from the stand and being 2200m it is a race that will suit her,” Phelan said. “I think she will be a decent enough chance on Thursday.”
Phelan labelled Belle Of Montana as the stable’s leading light in the race after her first-up runner-up effort, but he said she will need to be on her game from her 20m mark.
“It was a good performance first-up,” he said. “It’s a small field, but 20m is enough of a handicap. She will finish off the race as she usually does and hopefully it is good enough.”
Mach Shard will also start from the 20m mark and Phelan said if he steps away well he should be competitive.
“He is generally good away from the stand. If he can get in front of Copy That he will be a pretty good chance,” he said.
While hopeful his trio will perform well on Thursday, Phelan admitted it will be a tough ask to beat the in-form Copy That, who will start behind the 10m tape.
“Copy That dominated last time and he looks like he has stepped up, which you expect from the good ones. It will be a really good race,” Phelan said.
Earlier in the night the Clevedon horsemen will be looking to kick off the night in winning fashion, with five representatives in the opening race on the card, the Jeremy Young Racing Stables F & M Mobile Pace (2200m).
Phelan will take the reins behind consistent filly Sky Delight, who has finished runner-up in all three of her career starts to date, and pleased her trainers with her workout win at Pukekohe last week.
“Sky Delight is a really nice filly, she raced really well last time,” Phelan said. “She has trialled up well, so I expect a good run.”
Last start placegetters Jemma and Dixie Reign, along with debutants Angel Of Montana and Miss Montana, will complete the stable quintet in the race.
“Jemma went a pretty good race last time, she won’t be too far away,” Phelan said. “Dixie Reign is going to need a bit of luck from out there (barrier 7). She has had a few starts now and is hardened enough.
“Angel Of Montana has got a bad draw (8) and will have to be driven for luck this week, but she is a nice enough filly.
“And Miss Montana has been pretty good at the trials. She is quite a nice filly, so it will be good to see her go around.”
Of the stable’s other starters, Phelan highlighted four-year-old trotter Horace Horse as one of their better chances on Thursday.
The son of Quaker Jet has won his only start to date and he will be out to keep his undefeated record intact in the Haras des Trotteurs Handicap Trot (2700m).
“Horace Horse has come back really well,” Phelan said. “He looks quite a nice horse. He has trialled up really well and we expect him to be pretty hard to beat as long as he does everything right.”