THE final dash to the line will reveal the Del-Re National A.G. Hunter Cup champion but it’s the first steps in the 2760m affair that may matter most to who wins the great race.
And one stable appears to hold the key to how this year’s edition of the Grand Circuit classic will be run.
NSW trainer Belinda McCarthy has race favourite and two-time Australian Harness Horse of the Year King Of Swing drawn beautifully in barrier one, while in-form stablemate Spirit Of St Louis is not far away in gate four.
McCarthy’s husband and top reinsman, Luke McCarthy, will drive King Of Swing – the winner of the race in 2020 – while young gun Jack Callaghan is sticking with Spirit Of St Louis after recent Bendigo, Shepparton and Ballarat cup triumphs.
“I think, and I’m confident, King is quick enough to hold the front,” Luke McCarthy said.
“Of course, Spirit Of St Louis is going fantastic, he’s got good gate speed and he’ll work forward. Arty (Lochinvar Art) goes forward.”
The latter, the defending champion, will start in barrier six and while unlikely to find the initial lead, trainer-driver David Moran is expected to have Lochinvar Art towards the front before long.
Another of the major players is Triple Eight, but Jess Tubbs’ last-start Casey Classic winner doesn’t appear to have the gate speed to find the pegs from gate two.
“Our tactics will be dictated by what others do,” driver Greg Sugars said.
“I haven’t got the tactical gate speed to use it, so where we lob is where we lob. The horse is racing in super form and just needs the right trip.”
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