By Josh Smith – Harness News Desk
The Diva will be vying to record back-to-back wins when she contests the Blue Star Taxis Pace (2000m) at Addington Raceway on Sunday.
The daughter of Art Major ran away to a dominant 2-1/2 length victory over 2600m at the Christchurch track last Sunday, a performance trainer Jason Thomas was expecting in her previous run.
“It was a good win,” he said. “I thought that was going to happen the first week, but she did run in around that last bend.
“We just changed a bit of gear around and tried to drive more aggressively and get to the markers, which is what happened, and she won.
“She is just a different horse when she can get down on the markers and get in front, or the trail.
“We will be aiming to do the same again on Sunday.”
Thomas took a lot of confidence out of her last start performance and is expecting a similar effort this weekend.
“She has come into it pretty nicely, it is pretty much the same sort of race. She has been in pretty good form and has worked on pretty well since last week,” he said.
“The 2000m is ideal for her seeming has she has raced three weeks in a row and last week was 2600m. She has drawn eight, but will come into seven, which will make a difference too.
“I reckon she should put in a repeat performance, she just seems in a good space at the moment.”
Thomas will hop in the cart himself to steer debutant trotter Martha Stewart in the Book Your Event At Addington & Be In To Win Trot (2600m).
The three-year-old filly impressed her trainer with her 2400m trial victory last week and Thomas is cautiously optimistic heading into her debut run.
“I have been driving her at the trials and Johnny (Dunn, driver) has got one in the race. She has been going not too bad for me, so I decided to stick with the ship,” he said.
“She has been trialling really nice. She has had great manners so far at the trials and workouts. I think she is quite a nice filly.”
Thomas has taken his time with the daughter of Superfast Stuart, who he said has had to overcome a few issues.
“She did kick the jogger towards the end of last year and we were planning on going to the Oaks with her, but that didn’t work out.
“We had a few other niggles with her after that, but we have given her a spell and she has come up really nice.
“We are reasonably confident with her going into Sunday. Sometimes the first start for trotters can be a bit tricky, but she is a nice mannered filly and she really wants to do it.
“There are a couple that she beat in her trial that she is racing on Sunday. They would have improved a bit as well, but she has too.”
While Thomas is confident with the chances of The Diva and Martha Stewart in their respective races, he is less upbeat about the prospects of trotter Shpeedy.
The nine-year-old mare disappointed when tailing the field home in her 1980m contest at Addington Raceway last Friday and Thomas said she will need to improve substantially in order to threaten her rivals in the New Trackside Dining Menu At Addington Trot (2600m).
“She was quite disappointing the other night, she just didn’t feel like she wanted to be there,” Thomas said.
“We will just change a bit of gear around. Her work was good this week but we are just trying to get her to switch on more on raceday.
“When she does switch on she doesn’t go that bad, but at the moment it just seems like she is going through the motions a bit.
“The blinds have gone on, so hopefully that will sharpen her up, but she will be looking for a lot of improvement.”
Thomas has highlighted The Diva as his stable’s best winning chance on Sunday.
“The Diva would be my pick, just because she has been out there doing it,” he said. “But Martha Stewart is a good chance.” – Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk