Speedy but injury-plagued pacer Scruncher will reappear after an absence of almost 11 months when he contests the 1700m TABforsale.co.au Pathway Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
The seven-year-old has changed stables and is now being prepared at Forrestdale by Jarrad Humphries.
Victorian owners Sam, Daniel and Patrick Mustica, Maurice Bloom and Graeme White have their fingers crossed that Scruncher will remain sound and improve on his impressive record of 64 starts for 19 wins, 18 placings and prizemoney of $130,742.
Scruncher, who last appeared when he galloped at the start of a stand and finished at the rear in a 2503m event at Gloucester Park on October 14 last year, possesses dazzling early speed and is capable of dashing to the front soon after the start from the outside barrier on the front line.
He has led in 11 of his 19 wins. In four of those victories Scruncher burst to an early lead from a wide barrier.
Humphries has engaged Colin Brown to drive the Badlands Hanover gelding for the first time.
Scruncher has, by far, the best record of the 12 runners in Friday night’s event and his clash with New Zealand-bred four-year-old Mighty Flying Thomas should provide plenty of fireworks.
Mighty Flying Thomas, trained at Bickley by Peter Anderson, showed a fine turn of foot at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week when he started from the outside of the back line, raced three wide in the early stages, dashed to the front after 500m and bowled along in front before winning in good style over 2100m at a 2.0.9 rate on a dead track.
Promising four-year-old Jefferson City is a noted frontrunner and is sure to be fancied at his first appearance after a spell. A winner at eight of his 36 starts, Jefferson City has changed stables and is now being prepared at Byford by Ron Huston.
Jefferson City, who has led in five of his eight wins (four in Victoria and one in South Australia), is well drawn at barrier three on the front line and Shannon Suvaljko is likely to attempt an all-the-way win. Suvaljko drove Jefferson City when he led from barrier four and sprinted over the final 400m in 28.2sec. to win a 2150m trial at Byford on Sunday.
The smart trial win showed that the Art Major gelding was primed to compete strongly at his first start for six months.
Eight-year-old Man In Disguise also is capable of a stout-hearted effort from the No. 2 barrier on the front line. Man In Disguise possesses good gate speed and has led in two of his nine wins.