Racing: Trainer eyeing sole bragging rights

Boizel is one of two Dominion contenders for Pukekohe trainer Derek Balle today. Photo by Matt...
Boizel is one of two Dominion contenders for Pukekohe trainer Derek Balle today. Photo by Matt Smith.
Derek Balle is no stranger to winning the Dominion Trot - it's just that this year, he wouldn't mind it all for himself.

Balle will gear up Cool Cobber and Boizel for the $250,000 feature at Addington this afternoon, as he looks to add to the 2002 title earned by Martina H.

However, it was not an outright victory 12 years ago, as the judge could not separate Martina H and Take A Moment, providing the first dead heat in the Addington feature since 1944.

Cool Cobber was rated as a $10 chance by the TAB bookmakers yesterday afternoon, with Boizel an outsider at $61, but Balle is happy with both trotters.

Cool Cobber demonstrated he was capable of getting the 3200m distance with a bold fourth in the Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park in May, and he has been in excellent form coming from off the speed at Alexandra Park this year.

''He didn't do any work earlier on and he improved with each run,'' Balle said.

''Fitness-wise, he had a nice trial at the cup trials last Wednesday and ran home nicely, and steered a little better than I thought he would left-handed.''

Cool Cobber has raced left-handed before, having started his career in Southland with Colin Baynes and Robin Swain. Despite having travelled the length of the country in the past, Balle said the Pegasus Spur gelding was not the most relaxed standardbred.

''He's probably taken a little while to settle in down at Christchurch,'' he said.

''He's a bit of a nervous horse - or he can be - he's quite immature mentally for a 7yr-old.''

While the head might still be a work in progress, Cool Cobber is not lacking in speed or stamina, judging by the Rowe Cup effort.

''He didn't get the best of luck. He got pushed out three-wide at the 900 and he stuck on pretty well. He could have easily finished closer, so I think he's a genuine two-miler.

''I think racing right-handed has really helped him - he's grown in confidence.

''He's got a ton of potential, and I think even next year, barring accidents and he stays sound enough, he'll be a better horse too.''

Balle did not know much about the trotter when he arrived at his stables in January, but conversations with Maurice McKendry and Tony Herlihy, who had driven Cool Cobber, suggested he had a good horse in his barn.

''They reinforced what I thought, that he's a nice horse - he just had to grow into his frame a bit and strengthen up.''

Balle labelled Sheemon and Stent as the horses to beat, although a conversation with Mark Jones at Riccarton on Wednesday suggested to Balle that Master Lavros could be a danger again.

''He seems a little happier with Master Lavros, so if he's anywhere near right, he'll be hard to beat.

''There are probably half a dozen or even eight winning chances.''

Balle said Boizel had settled in well and he was very happy with the 8yr-old ahead of today.

''He's probably not the worst chance either, if he gets a handy position - he usually steps away pretty quickly.''

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