Pembrook Benny has been forced into a radical lead-up to Australasia's fastest race. But even a 70m handicap shouldn't be enough to stop him winning at Cambridge tonight.
The two-time Auckland Cup placegetter faces one of the biggest handicaps a New Zealand open-class star has been asked to start off in many years in tonight's lowly $6000 handicap pace. Despite that, TAB bookies will open him as short as $1.10.
Up against mainly three-win battlers he should overcome the long handicap but trainer Barry Purdon would rather be starting at the Alexandra Park meeting tomorrow night.
"I was disappointed he didn't get a start there to be honest," said Purdon.
"But he needs a race so I am thankful that he gets a race at all."
Purdon's desire for a race this week stems from the fact Pembrook Benny will contest Saturday week's A$200,000 Len Smith Mile at Menangle.
That was the race Smoken Up set the Australasian mile record of 1:48.5 last season and with Smoken Up back next week a 1:50 mile looks likely.
"To go that sort of speed you need to be fit and that means racing. So while it's not ideal we will be starting."
While pacers winning off 70m handicaps is a throwback to the good (or bad) old days, Pembrook Benny deserves to be at short odds tonight.
He should catch the back of what will almost certainly be a strung-out field inside a lap and then has nearly a mile to round up opponents who are likely to pace around 3:30 off the front for the 2700m, whereas he is a 3:21 horse from a standing start.
That is around a nine-second difference, whereas 70m equates to a 5.5-second gap, meaning mathematically he should be way too good.
Purdon won't be quite so confident tomorrow night when Raydon takes on I Can Doosit at Alexandra Park.
"He is very well but I Can Doosit is just going extra at the moment so you can't be confident against a horse like him," said Purdon. "But this is only the first of three races in three weeks for them so I am hoping he can get a good draw next week in the Anzac Cup because that is a great stake."
The field for that $200,000 race will be finalised next week but the strength of the local open-class trotters looks set to scare away any Australian visitors.By Michael Guerin Email Michael