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Oamaru trotter Cracker Hill has raised more questions than he has answered leading into today’s group 1 Dominion at Addington after his final lead-up event.
Trainer-driver Brad Williamson handed his 4yr-old a perfect run in the trial in Tuesday’s New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All, which had his backers waiting eagerly for him to let down with a winning finish.
But Cracker Hill’s finish peaked well short of expectations and he was caught and easily passed by Heavyweight Hero.
Williamson does not want to take anything away from the winner’s effort but has been left disappointed in his stable star.
“I was a little bit disappointed in him, but in saying that he did run second in a group 1 race.
“He was bolting in the trail and then when I came out at the top of the straight he just didn’t fire like he does.”
“He ran past the other horses then he just didn’t change up his gear like he can. And I am not sure why that was.”
“But in saying that the winner won well and was the best horse on the day.”
Williamson has been left scratching his head as to exactly why Cracker Hill had an off day on Tuesday.
Having such a fit and healthy horse in front of him has meant the trainer-driver has not found anything concrete.
So, he is pressing on to the Dominion in the hope trotting fans can see the real Cracker Hill today.
“He potentially could have blown out the last bit, but I am not sure, to be honest. He is so healthy and well.
“So, we are heading into Friday hoping for an improved performance.
“He has got a good draw, so if he gets a good run hopefully he performs a little bit better.”
Cracker Hill’s speed has never been questioned and he showed his explosiveness when reeling off brilliant sectionals in his two recent seconds behind Bolt For Brilliance.
However, the 4yr-old has not had much of a chance to display his staying qualities.
Cracker Hill has had just one start past 2600m, finishing second to Matua Tana, who was in red-hot form at the time.
Williamson will go into the Dominion confident his horse can handle 3200m.
“He is quite a laid-back horse — he is obviously very fast. But he doesn’t let too much worry him, so I think he will settle and get the distance.”
Williamson will compete against father Phil and brothers Matthew and Nathan in the Dominion.
Nathan trains and drives Dark Horse, while Phil and Matthew combine with Majestic Man.
Like Cracker Hill, the favourite, Sundees Son, comes into the Dominion after disappointing in his last start — but for entirely different and much more obvious reasons.
After stringing together two breathtaking wins at Addington, the Robert Dunn trained-trotter again galloped in the South Bay Trotters Cup at Kaikoura.
Sundees Son’s driver, John Dunn, told HRNZ it was not a case of his horse simply rolling into a gallop like he has done in the past.
Dunn put the incident to a combination of factors, including having to check off the back of a galloping Matua Tana.
“We will turn the page and move on, he has come through that great.”
“He worked really good [on Wednesday] – no ill-effect from it – so that is good.”
The Dunn stable also start Woodstone and Pres The Belle in today’s $270,000 event.