By Michael Guerin
Trainer Michelle Wallis isn’t shying away from Oscar Bonavena with either of her stable trotting stars.
And she and driver Todd Mitchell are hoping to thrown down the gauntlet to the All Stars trotters at Cambridge on Friday.
Wallis and husband Bernie Hackett train Massive Metro and Temporale, two of the stars of the recent Inter Dominion trotting series even though they were both luckless in the final.
Their performances there encouraged the couple to take them to Victoria for the A$250,000 Great Southern Star on February 1, with the Dullard Cup on January 25 as a lead-up race.
But before then Massive Metro will tackle both Oscar Bonavena, who he will meet in Australia, and Interdom champ Winterfell in the $30,000 Flying Stakes at Cambridge and Wallis says it is the perfect opportunity to try and teach Massive Metro a new trick.
He has been a horse driver Todd Mitchell has tended to look after off the mobile gate to be safe rather than sorry but Mitchell’s confidence in Massive Metro’s gait grew as the Inters progressed, he just didn’t get the draw to put that to good use.
But they a better draw this Friday with Massive Metro to start inside both Oscar Bonavena and Winterfell and Wallis wants to see how quickly he can begin.
“We are taking him to Cambridge to get him used to left-handed racing again but also, now we have the draw, to see how he goes off the gate.
“If he gets a good draw he is going to need to be able to use it in Australia so we might as well find out this week.”
While his best performances, winning a National Trot and his booming third in the Inter Final, were both over 2700m, if Massive Metro could find the front around Cambridge over a mile he would make life difficult for the Purdon-Rasmussen trained favourites.
Temporale, who loves Cambridge and won this race last year, will be allowed to miss Friday.
“He had a very busy December with five races and the first Inter heat just a few days before that so he is having an easier week,” says Wallis.
“But at this stage they are both still definitely heading to Victoria. Todd is confirmed for Massive Metro and I presume Tony will come to drive Temporale.”
Wallis says as tough as the two races in Melbourne will be there is simply no feature trotting races available here so it is either fly there or head to the paddock.
The trip will be the first time Wallis has campaigned horses at Melton although she has, of course, won an Inter Dominion Final in Victoria, Delft winning at Moonee Valley in 2006. They still stay with former Kiwi trainer Brent Lilley.
Massive Metro has opened the $10 third favourite for Friday’s mile, with Oscar Bonavena at $1.30 and Winterfell reverting to left-handed racing at $3.20.