One of the most unheralded yet inspired decisions of the pacing season could pay its biggest dividend in Brisbane tomorrow night.

And again the man who made it, champion driver Tony Herlihy, will be watching on television rather than in the sulky.

Just six months ago the Herlihy-trained Ohoka Punter was battling for his best form and seemingly in the open class pacing wilderness, his future unclear.

Rather than keep his pride and joy close, Herlihy sent him on an Australian odyssey from which he may never return and it has netted over A$200,000.


He has won plenty of decent races, placed in the Hunter Cup, Len Smith Mile and last Saturday's Sunshine Sprint and can win tomorrow night's A$200,000 Blacks A Fake if he has luck from barrier six.

All of which is remarkable for a horse who raced bravely but without hardly earning a cent over the New Zealand summer. "I thought he would hold up to the racing over there but he has done an amazing job really," says Herlihy.

"And that is without a lot of luck in some races, like last Saturday.

"I'd like to see him have drawn a little closer this week but I think he will handle the distance better than most of them."

Ohoka Punter has spent much of his Australian campaign in the care of Mark Purdon's son Nathan, who also drives him tomorrow night, with Herlihy having no intention of jumping on so late in the Australian campaign.

While he is listed as an $18 chance in the New Zealand Cup, there is no guarantee Ohoka Punter will return for that race, with the Perth Inter Dominions and an extended campaign in the west a possibility.

To win tomorrow night he will have to hold out a red hot Hectorjayjay, the new rave horse of Australian pacing since joining the David Aiken stable.

Closer to home Herlihy could have another Australian contender lining up at Alexandra Park tonight in Temporale. The three-year-old trotter returns from a fourth in the Jewels to take on older horses and if the next fortnight goes well he could head to Victoria for the Trotting Derby and Breeders Crown there.

"He seems very well and if he behaves himself he should be very hard to beat," says Herlihy.

"His manners are usually pretty good so I think he will handle the standing start all right." Herlihy has a huge hand in tonight's main pace, with Hank Bromac, Bonnie's Kaleesi and Bettors Pocket in race six.

In a race with plenty of early gate speed luck in the running will be crucial and Herlihy admits it is hard to choose his best chance.

"Maybe Bettors Pocket but so much will depend on where they all end up. It looks a good race."

Brave little mare Liberty Stix can win race two for the stable but will need luck from her handicap while debutante Ultimate Angel (race four) is worth following but might need tonight's outing.

And Mr Euroman can win race five for the stable providing he can stay handy from a tricky draw.

Alexandra Park shares the Friday night billing with Addington, where the race of the night doesn't even have tote betting, being a three-horse Breeders Crown heat. It brings together Jewels winner Heaven Rocks against speedster Franco Christiano in what could be a tactical battle, hopefully one the TAB will provide fixed odds betting on.

The bookies say they will only do so if Trackside shows it live but that would have to be on Trackside2 as there is a Wanganui greyhound race which clashes with the Addington heat, with the dog race rightly having the rights to Trackside1.

Park picks

• Temporale (R3, No.1): High class three-year-old trotter who should win if he trots.

• Down in grade: Lincolns Superstar (R4, No.7): Last start fourth was in the Jewels.

• Deserved: Gotta Go Twinkle (R9, No.5): Huge run parked against most of these last start. Gets her chance tonight.