Alan Clark is brushing off comments from a frustrated
rival New Zealand trainer as he prepares The Fiery Ginga for
another Australian campaign.
Clark's trotting star, The Fiery Ginga, is preparing for the
Glenferrie Farms Trotters' Challenge at Menangle, near
Sydney, on March 3, in which five trotters from each side of
the Tasman are invited to contest the group 1 mile event.
The first two Kiwi invitations predictably went to I Can
Doosit and Stig, while Escapee's strong form in Australia in
recent weeks helped her get the nod. That left Dr Hook, The
Fiery Ginga and the Sean McCaffrey-trained Sovereignty
fighting it out for two spots, with a panel of four selectors
- including Harness Racing New Zealand chief executive Edward
Rennell and Auckland Trotting Club racing manager Kevin Smith
- making the final call.
Dr Hook and The Fiery Ginga got the call-up, leaving
Sovereignty as the first emergency. McCaffrey told the
Waikato Times the panel had ''a love affair with The Fiery
Ginga because he can win races in Southland''.
Clark believed The Fiery Ginga's last start, in which he ran
second behind Stig at Addington on February 1, might have got
him over the line.
''I thought it would come down to him and us, and that's
probably why that last run at Addington was a defining race
for me deciding that he was ready to go, and for [the panel]
making a decision,'' Clark said.
''He probably got as close to Stig as anyone has got in the
last three races and he was taking ground off him at the
That second placing, three-quarters of a length behind Stig,
is just one of several black-type placings for The Fiery
Ginga this season. He chased home Dr Hook in the Ashburton
Trotters Flying Mile for second, and was third in the two
group 1 races for trotters during New Zealand Cup week.
There is a strong possibility Sovereignty may get his chance
anyway, as Stig's transtasman trip is up in the air, due to
ongoing arthritis issues.
The Fiery Ginga, who now has 90 race starts under his girth,
flies to Sydney on February 26 where he will stay at Paul
His 2012 Australian campaign was a mixed bag, winning an
Interdominion heat before he lost form as he travelled
between Victoria and New South Wales.
''The warm weather seemed to agree with him and every race he
went pretty well, until he went up to Sydney and his form
tapered away,'' Clark said.
''He came back home and he had lightened up a lot, so he'd
obviously picked something up.''
After the Menangle mile, Clark will send The Fiery Ginga to
Noel Shinn's property near Melbourne, to prepare for the
Great Southern Star on March 23, where Australasia's best
trotters compete in heats and final on the same day. If any
horse can handle that, it is The Fiery Ginga, who has backed
up from one day to the next in the past.
''All the good trotters can really go, but I think two heats
would suit him,'' Clark said.
''I think they'll probably come out and run 1.55 in the heats
and 1.54 or 1.53 in the final because the class of horse
there is just so good.''