WHILE Monday night’s Soldiers Saddle Final will be run over 520 metres, the outcome of the $10,000 feature at Kennerson Park is likely to hinge on the sprint to the first corner.
The box draw for the 2018 edition of the annual feature has acted as somewhat of a leveller, with Bathurst operations manager Jason Lyne feeling that it is now “anybody’s race”.
Though Graham Dixon’s Bogan Villa and the Sam Sultana trained Motor City Gem, who have drawn the three and four box respectively, should start as the favourites given they won their heats and semi-finals, they are by no means a sure thing.
“Box rise is everything and the run to the first corner,” Lyne said.
“Bogan Villa was very impressive in her heat, she got dragged down the first corner actually before rallying to win and it was no surprise to see her improve on the clock last week, she ran a 30.15.
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“Motor City Gem is now three from three at the track, and they’re both undefeated through the series.
“They’re obviously the two to beat and I think if Motor City Gem can get a crack she’s probably the stronger of the pair, but then again, the first corner is going to be everything.”
While Lyne admits there is the potential for an early tangle as the contenders battle for the lead into the first bend, he’s naturally hoping to see a clear run.
But just how it will unfold is something he can not make a prediction about.
“It is a very tricky race. Vansittart she’s begun brilliantly, but she steps up the track a little bit, she won’t go straight, she drifts off a couple of dogs wide as she finds her position early,” he said.
“There’s a length between them in the run to the corner pretty much on their best times. So it’s going to be very, very interesting, it’ll be no place for the faint-hearted.
“Even the five dog Hot Plate has brilliant early speed, but is not strong over 520, so it could be the knockout dog to open up the field early and give the outside position a cart across too. So there are so many scenarios that could play out.”
No matter which chaser ends up joining the list of winners in the annual feature, Lyne is excited to see what the future brings for the entire field.
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“Last year’s quinella Sky Wave and Little Digger have gone on to much bigger things racing in Group company … so it’s a race that produces really good dogs. Every year in the series, even dogs that don’t qualify for the final, have gone on to bigger and better things,” he said.
“The pleasing things is that seven of the eight runners are even owned or trained in the Central West too. Hot Plate is the only one which is owned and trained in Sydney.”
The final jumps at 6.07pm.