Brad Williamson isn't willing to concede New Zealand's most exciting trotter Bolt For Brilliance has the wood on his southern star Cracker Hill — but he says tomorrow night's $50,000 Sires' Stakes Championship at Alexandra Park may not be his best chance of proving that.
The pair headline an outstanding 4-year-old crop that also includes race rival tomorrow night Ultimate Stride, and Muscle Mountain, who beat the open-class trotters at Addington last week.
As good as the quartet are Bolt For Brilliance might be the best of them, setting national records for 2200m in both standing starts and mobiles, the latter last start when he was too strong for Cracker Hill.
But Williamson, who trains and drives Cracker Hill, says while that result was fair, Cracker Hill can beat Bolt For Brilliance.
"He is an excellent horse but my fella is very, very good too," says Williamson. "Because it was our first start at Alexandra Park last start my horse wasn't entirely comfortable right-handed and I think he will be better this week.
"I know Bolt For Brilliance is outstanding and at Alexandra Park he might be better than us at the moment.
"But put this horse in front left-handed and I don't think Bolt For Brilliance could come sit parked or three wide outside him and beat him."
Tomorrow night's race may play out more favourably for Cracker Hill than last start as he had to work early when Ultimate Stride took him on and led, meaning Cracker Hill had to come off the trail at the 600m to keep Bolt For Brilliance wider.
Tomorrow night he looks an unchallenged leader and should be able to dictate the terms and it wouldn't surprise to see him trot the last 800m in under 56 seconds, which would make it awfully hard for Bolt For Brilliance to catch him.
Still, Bolt For Brilliance is well-named and might end up being the best trotter of this generation so while the race shape may not suit him tomorrow night, he has to be top pick.
Tomorrow night's main pace sees genuine open-class performers Star Galleria and On The Cards taking on newcomer South Coast Arden and surprisingly — considering the latter is only a rating 72 horse taking over horses rated over 100 — he is the favourite. South Coast Arden was brave pushing Copy That close last start but that was with the advantage of a 30m start on his two main rivals whereas tomorrow night they are off level marks behind the mobile.
So you can make a strong case for a split bet on both Star Galleria and On The Cards giving you two chances to beat the less-experienced rival.
The best 3-year-old fillies come north to prepare for the Sires' Stakes Championship and the southern form would suggest Bettor Twist should be too classy for the locals while her stablemate Darling Me has opted to start against predominantly older pacers in race seven but should still be too good.