Racing editor Michael Guerin analyses the opening heats of the Inter Dominion pacing and trotting championships ahead of tonight's action at Alexandra Park.
R5, 8.04pm: First Trotting Heat, 2200m mobile
Tactics will be crucial here because if Habibi Inta (4) runs to the front he should win after the way he destroyed the best trotters in the Dominion. Doesn't have to lead to win but if he does lead it should be race over. That could put likely first leader Big Jack Hammer (1) in the trail and make him a logical chance while Massive Metro (5) is good enough to capitalise if there is more early pressure than expected, although the scratching of McLovin with a temperature yesterday seems to reduce the likelihood of a mid-race challenge. The blowout place chance is Valloria (4).
• Suggested bet: Habibi Inta to win.
R6, 8.33pm: First Pacing Heat, 2200m mobile
Chase Auckland (3) hit peak form during the Cup carnival at Addington and races just as well here. Has decent gate speed on not a fast front line so should get to the marker pegs and have options. Ultimate Sniper (6) is not quite as daunting right-handed but if he leads or gets to control the race he can win but his fixed odds look unders. Colt Thirty One (8) is a very good Queensland pacer who loves to follow a hot speed and could get that here is fellow Aussie rep San Carlo (5) attacks. Ashley Locaz (2) and even Solid Gold (1) have First4 chances while Our Uncle Sam (11) was brave here last Friday but in weaker company.
• Suggested bet: Chase Auckland to win, Colt Thirty One small saver.
R7, 9.03pm: Second trotting heat, 2200m mobile
If the best version of Marcoola (1) turns up he should win. He clipped over a second off the national record for this trip last season and has a stunning sprint record. If he holds the front, and the withdrawal of Credit Master increases his chances of doing that, your only concern is a below-par performance. That scenario would put Majestic Man (9) in a perfect slot to run in the money while Tough Monarch (7) was very good both days at Addington and has enough gate speed to at least have a miracle shot of crossing the favourite. Temporale (5) is a force in this series but might need others roughed up tonight to win. The enigma is Winterfell (11) who isn't the horse we all hoped he would be but the penny might drop one day. Maybe tonight, maybe never.
• Suggested bet: Marcoola to win but Majestic Man also a great fixed odds place bet with TAB paying back to fourth for the heats.
R8, 9.40: Second pacing heat, 2200m mobile
Heat of the night and a lot will depend on whether the NSW pair of Atomic Red (1) and Bling It On (7) play nice or nasty. If Bling It On, a special horse, can run to the front over possible early leader Atomic Red then the race is his to lose. But, and it is a big BUT, if Atomic Red leads and stays there then Thefixer (9) gets a trail and maybe the confidence boosting run he needs after a ho-hum Cup week. If the tempo is fast early (that means a sub-41 opening 600m) then Cruz Bromac (10) is the most likely mid-race mover as he is in the zone. So much will be decided by how fast they pace that opening lap.
• Suggested bet: You could split bet the two favourites for a percentage profit but if you want one, Bling It On straight out.