Trainer Dean Braun expects Mustang Mach to show his class in tonight's Gr I Noel Taylor Mile at Alexandra Park, writes Garrick Knight.
Don't worry about fitness being a factor for Australian raider Mustang Mach in the Gr I Taylor Mile tonight.
That is the frank assessment of his Victorian trainer Dean Braun ahead of eight-horse, 1700m feature at Alexandra Park.
The New Zealand-bred son of Mach Three has had just one lead-up race since returning from a successful trip to Perth in December.
'His fitness doesn't worry me at all,'' Braun said yesterday.
"He's had four trials back home plus a race, and is right where I want him to be.''
The small but select field features three of the ``big five'' of New Zealand's four-year-olds - Gold Ace, Terror To Love and Bettor Cover Lover. Carabella is out injured, while Hands Christian is in Sydney.
Mustang Mach is no stranger to Gold Ace - they ran the quinella in the Gr I Golden Nugget Championship in Perth in November, with the Kiwi pacer coming out on top.
A week later, Gold Ace was scratched from the Gr I 4yo Classic, leaving Mustang Mach - who began his career with Canterbury trainer Jamie Gameson as a two-year-old before he was exported - to take the spoils with an impressive performance.
Braun believes the trip to Perth could have been the making of the horse.
"He didn't really travel over to Perth that well and lost some condition. So to race how he did was a great,'' Braun said.
"I'm happy that I've got the right horse to win this week and he has travelled over well.''
Braun, who is staying with Gareth Dixon in Clevedon, said Mustang Mach would contest next week's New Zealand Messenger Championship and, if he has earned sufficient stakes to qualify, then stay with Dixon for the Harness Jewels at Cambridge in a month's time.
"We will just leave him here with Gareth if we can. I have known him for many years from my days working in New Zealand.''
Braun, who had a stint working for Canterbury trainer Robert Dunn about 12 years ago, said the decision to come to New Zealand was mainly to avoid Excel Stride and Sushi Sushi in tomorrow night's Chariots of Fire in Sydney, where that pair takes on Hands Christian.
"We sort of tossed up what to do, but in the end we wanted to avoid them and the programme fitted in well with the Jewels.''
Braun has had a good run with New Zealand imports in recent times - Chain Of Command, Pacific Playgirl and Night Of The Stars others he has enjoyed success with.
"I buy 90 per cent of my horses from over here. But I won't buy any off Gareth; he's too smart for me,'' Braun quipped.
Meanwhile, Terror To Love's co-trainer Graham Court said this season's New Zealand Cup winner had travelled to Auckland in good order and had pleased him in the leadup to tonight's race.
"I was disappointed with his run in the Easter Cup as he didn't kick on like he should. But he's trained on well and is as good he can be. I couldn't be more happy with him,'' Court said.
The Taylor Mile is one of a several features at Alexandra Park tonight.
The inaugural running of the Gr I $200,000 Anzac Cup for trotters, created to replace the now-defunct Interdominion Final, has drawn a stellar field including I Can Doosit, who could pass the $1 million mark in earnings, and Cambridge trotters Sovereignty, Paramount Geegee, and Fayanni.
Escapee will be the shortest favourite of the night as she shoots for eight straight wins in the Gr II Sires' Stakes Trotters Championship for three-year-old trotters.
Canterbury filly Pacific Rapture will start favourite from barrier one in the $175,000 Listed Yearling Sales Series Final for two-year-old pacing fillies.
- © Fairfax NZ News