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A torrid battle between Smoken Up and Caribbean Blaster in Saturday's South Australia Cup did not have Paul Court flinching at all, given Terror To Love's Interdominion campaign starts tonight in the Northern Southland Cup at Ascot Park.
In fact, Court, who trains the two-time New Zealand Trotting Cup winner with father Graham, enjoyed the rough-and-tumble racing across the Tasman over the weekend.
Terror To Love is equal favourite with Im Themightyquinn in futures betting for the Interdominion grand final, to be held in Sydney on March 3, and Court reckons the Terror To Love team will welcome any hard racing that eventuates on grand final night.
''If it is a bit of a slog, it's going to play into our hands, I think. I'm not going to get too worried about it,'' Court said.
He is also expecting to hear plenty of confident chatter making its way eastward across the Tasman Sea in the next six weeks.
''Those Aussies like to have a bit of a talk up, don't they?'' Court said.
Tonight's group 3 $50,000 feature is the immediate aim, but Court is upfront with the fact Terror To Love will not be at his absolute peak.
''These sort of races are never really easy.''
''I know he's won two New Zealand Cups and all that, but this is going to be his first run for a while. He's definitely not 100%. These are stepping stones towards the big one, which is the Interdoms for us.''
Despite Court's concerns, the TAB bookmakers have opened Terror To Love at the short quote of $1.40 to win the Northern Southland Cup, with Franco Ledger installed as second-favourite at $4.20.
After running third in the group 1 New Zealand Free-For-All on Show Day at Addington, Terror To Love went out to the paddock before winning a trial at Ashburton last week, beating Northern Southland Cup rival Glencoe VC.
''He had a couple of weeks off just to freshen up. He seems pretty good,'' Court said.
''That trial the other day would have tightened him up good and he's still on his way up.''
If all goes well, Terror To Love's next run will be in the Summer Cup at Addington, on February 1, before heading to Auckland for the New Zealand heat of the Interdominion. The format has changed for the next three years, with heats being run on the same night in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, along with Auckland.
''We hope that everything goes good between now and then and we get to Sydney [for the final].''