PROMISING pacer Waitpinga Lad faces a daunting first-up task on Saturday night.
Forced to the sidelines following his Southern Cross heat win at Globe Derby on November 28 – which saw him miss the Final – Waitpinga Lad will make his return in the Mount Gambier Cup.
Along with being fresh from a break, the son of Cullens Hope has drawn poorly along the second row.
“It’s not an ideal starting point for him,” trainer Ryan Hryhorec said. “Unfortunately I couldn’t find a suitable lead up.
“The way the draw has panned out hasn’t helped and 2590 metres will also test his fitness.
“That said, he trialled very well a couple of weeks ago and his work has been pretty good.
“He’ll need the right run on the night, but can play a role in the finish.”
Citing Highway To Heaven as the one to beat, Hryhorec expects Kenya to make his presence felt.
Unbeaten from three starts this season, Highway To Heaven has drawn the pole for Victorian trainer Marg Lee.
Also a Victorian raider, Kenya will begin from barrier four for the in-form Aaron Dunn stable.
“Highway To Heaven has the form, fitness and draw on his side,” Hryhorec said. “He’s the one they will all have to catch.
“Kenya’s form is also solid and he wouldn’t be making the trip for no reason.”
With the four-year-old owned in Victor Harbor, Hryhorec revealed the club’s Pacing Cup on April 4 is Waitpinga Lad’s next target.
“His owners come from Victor Harbor and they would really like to win their local Cup,” Hryhorec said.
“That will see him step up to open class pacers over here, which is a problem for horses like him still on the way up under the national rating system.”