Punter’s favourite Smolda primed for big run at SA Pacing Cup

SMOLDA will be having its first start since taking out the 2016 Inter Dominion final when it lines up in Saturday night’s Group 1 SA Pacing Cup (2645m) at Globe Derby.

Prepared by powerful NZ harness training duo Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, Smolda is the $1.22 favourite with WilliamHill.com.au to take out the prestigious feature.

After four runs in two weeks throughout the Inter Dominion series, Purdon explained his stable star has been taking it easy after winning the most sought-after trophy on the Australasian harness racing calendar.

“He has been based in Melbourne since the Inter Dominion final in preparation for this race,” Purdon said.

“He needed a bit of time to recover after the series because he had three hard runs in the first week and the final was a gruelling race too.

“Since then he has freshened up nicely – he has gotten over the arduous campaign in Perth.

“I am hoping he will perform well this week; he normally does race well fresh.”

Smolda will start from the outside gate on the second line. Purdon says he was expecting to be awkwardly drawn in the $100,000 feature.

“From the draw he will be back in the field.

“We knew he wasn’t going to get any favours because it is a preferential draw, that was something we accepted going into the race.

“I am not too concerned though because the race is over a bit of ground so it will give him the time he needs to get around the field when the time is right.”

The eight-year-old son of Courage Under Fire and Under The Mattress has been plagued by injury throughout his 62 start career, however that has not stopped him from amassing 30 wins, 20 minor placings and more than $2.1 million in prize money earnings.

Despite the allure of the Group 1 Fremantle Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday which is worth three times the stakes of the SA Pacing Cup, Purdon says he is happy to be targeting the Globe Derby feature with his iron horse.

“It is nice to take a horse to a place where the people in that part of the harness world don’t normally get to see a group of great horses.

“He has had his share of setbacks throughout his career, but he has always bounced back to the elite level every time which is hard to do.

“He is a real competitor and he definitely has a lot of sentimental value.”

Whilst Purdon and Rasmussen, who trained three-time Inter Dominion champ Black’s A Fake, have won 188 group 1 races between them, Purdon says he still gets an enormous thrill out of competing in and winning big races.

“You strive to be the best and Natalie is a great partner and horse woman too – she is also younger than me so I think she motivates me a lot – we make a great team.

“The enjoyment comes from the people you have around you and who have supported you over the years – we have got some great owners and first and foremost we enjoy having the success for them.”

According to bookmakers, the biggest threat for Smolda this Saturday night will be the Brett Lilley-trained Messini which will start on the inside of Smolda on the back row.

A winner of 22 races and over half a million dollars in stakes money, Messini is a $7.50 shot with William Hill, with Lilley conceding his charge will need luck.

“Smolda obviously is going to be awfully hard to beat,” Lilley said.

“Realistically we’re thinking if we run second it’d be great. But it’s a race and you never know what can happen.

“He’s trained on well and I’m confident he’ll go a good race on Saturday night.”

The Group 1 SA Pacing Cup is race seven on the card at Globe Derby on Saturday night and is set to be run at 9:15pm.

Group 1 SA Pacing Cup – market

Whenmechief $16
Hickstead $21
Lost In Bangkok $51
Keayang Storm $71
Tezz Khora $31
Jilliby Jagger $11
Bettor Party $34
Adam Cartwright $26
Mark Dennis $34
Desdon Murruffy $18
Messini $7.50
Smolda $1.22 @ WilliamHill.com.au

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