The warning light is blinking above the head of talented trotter Marcoola as he prepares for his belated return at Addington tomorrow night.

Because trainer-driver Clint Ford says while the 4-year-old is good enough to win only his second start of the year he may not find himself in a position to do so.

Marcoola is using tomorrow night's $20,000 trot as his lead-up to the Jewels at Ashburton on June 3 and goes into the race with only one trial in the last three months.

Complicating that is the fact he has drawn the outside of the front line over the mobile 1950m, with some major speedsters in Lemond, Wilma's Mate and Habibti Ivy inside him.


At his best this season Marcoola has been stunning - winning the Flying Mile at Cambridge by 12 lengths and pushing Monbet to a half-head in the NZ Free-For-All.

But he has also proved expensive for punters, finishing unplaced in three of his last four, with Ford admitting his driving tactics have not helped on occasion.

"I drove him too hard in a couple of races but I don't think that will be the case this week," he warns.

"Sure, I'd love to win but with all that speed inside me he is more likely to be driven in the field for at least the first half of the race.

"I think that will be good for him and if the tempo doesn't suit he might not be able to win."

Marcoola is in the strange position of being joined by Dark Horse, who has never even raced in a major trot, as favourite for the 4-year-old Jewels trot, incredible given Marcoola's open class achievements.

Ford believes the free-going stallion can peak for Jewels day and he won't make the mistake of bypassing the Jewels trials, as he did last year.

"That was my mistake and he was too fresh last season. But this year he will go to the Jewels trials and if he draws well I will be very surprised if he can't trot 1:55 (for a mile) around Ashburton at the Jewels."

Meanwhile, northern pacer Rhythm N Blues could win his way into the Jewels in a mere $7500 race at Cambridge tonight.

The speedster sits 14th in the entry of order so winning race five tonight would all but guarantee him his spot in the 3-year-old Emerald on June 3.

His divisions has an added question over it with trainer Cran Dalgety informing HRNZ that Northern Derby winner Raukapuka Ruler has been under a slight health cloud this week and could be doubtful for the Jewels, with more to be known tomorrow.