The Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters has reached the fork in the road.
On Saturday night, the Gr.1 $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix will take place at TABCORP Park, Melton and the title to be crowned the premier trotter in the southern hemisphere is up for grabs.
It’s leg three of the five and there are a number of candidates vying for the top prize.
Star New Zealand trotter Monbet took the opening leg with his victory in the Dominion last November while Australian ace Glenferrie Typhoon proved triumphant in the Great Southern Star last month.
Neither is competing this weekend.
But quality performers Speeding Spur and Sunny Ruby are ideally placed to take control of the Trotting Masters if victorious.
Speeding Spur has 60 points while Sunny Ruby has 45 points, both well within reach of co-leaders Monbet and Glenferrie Typhoon who have 100 points.
And historically the New Zealand bred performers have a commanding edge in this event.
First staged in 2001, star local mare La Coocaracha proved successful before the Kiwi’s arrived in force with Take A Moment, Gold N Gold, Allegro Agitato, Sundons Gift, Vulcan, Stent and Keytsone Del all proving successful.
Joining La Coocaracha as Australian bred winners are Sumthingaboutmaori, A Touch Of Flair and I Didn’t Do It.
There are four Australian bred trotters competing this year in the shape of Glenferrie Burn, Maorisfavouritesun, Vincennes and El Paco while Itz Not Dark Yet is listed as the emergency.
The remainder of the field is New Zealand bred with Daryl Boko being Finnish bred.
The Chris Lang trained and driven Sundons Gift is the most successful trotter in the races history winning it four straight times (2007/10) while Stent went back to back in 2014/15 but reigning champion Keystone Del won’t get the opportunity to defend his crown owing to setbacks.
However, Speeding Spur gets the opportunity to go one better after finishing a gallant second behind Keystone Del in track record time last year.
Three mares have won the Grand Prix with La Coocaracha, Sumthingaboutmaori and Allegro Agitato the most recent when successful back in 2005.
Representing the fairer sex this year is Sunny Ruby, Glenferrie Burn and KD Muscles.
Leading reinsman Anthony Butt is chasing his third victory in the event when he takes the drive behind Sunny Ruby following his previous triumphs with Take A Moment and Keystone Del.
And Sunny Ruby looms as the horse to beat given her recent form; the Sonya Smith trainee has won 4 of her 5 starts on Australian soil including last week’s Gr.1 Knight Pistol at Cranbourne while she also prepares Daryl Boko.
Also duly represented is Andy Gath (Clover Mac & KD Muscles), Anton Golino (Glenferrie Burn & Vincennes) and Mattie Craven (El Paco & Uncas).
New South Wales trotter On Thunder Road will command respect along with the Nicole Molander trained Prince Fearless.
Leading trainer David Aiken prepares Maorisfavouritesun.
The Grand Prix is listed as race 7 and scheduled to start at 9.30pm local time.
The Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters will head back to New Zealand for the two remaining legs of the series with the ANZAC Cup followed by the Canam Rowe Cup in late April.
Both events will take place at Alexandra Park, Auckland.