TAKING on the world’s best trotters is a huge ask, now it’s just even bigger for brilliant Aussie mare Maori Time.
Owner-breeder Fred Crews was sweating on a good barrier for the radical Elitlopp series in Stockholm, Sweden which consists of two qualifying heats and the final on Sunday night our time.
Instead the barrier draw has been cruel with Maori Time out wide in gate six and French megastar Bold Eagle, the pre-post favourite for the final, drawn right inside her in gate five.
Bold Eagle, who boasts 39 wins and eight seconds from just 51 starts, is $1.45 with the TAB to win the heat and $2.70 for the final.
Maori Time is $17 in the heat and $41 for the final.
Her heat is scheduled for 11.22pm Sunday and will be shown live on Sky Racing.
The second heat is 11.49pm with the final slated for 1.38am.
Realistically, just making the final – which requires a top four finish in the heat – would be a huge performance by Maori Time given champion Down Under trotters of the past like Lyell Creek and Sundons Gift have failed to do so.
“She’s quick out, but I’m told there’s plenty of speed drawn inside her,” driver Todd McCarthy said.
“So much is going to hinge on where we can settle early.”
Maori Time is only the seventh Aussie or Kiwi trotter to be invited to the Elitlopp with the best performer being former champion Kiwi mare Pride Of Petite, who ran fourth in a heat and sixth in the 1996 final.
The Brent Lilley-trained mare caught the eye of Elitlopp officials when she blazed an Australasian record 1min51.5sec mile winning the Group 1 Trotters’ Mile at Menangle on February 24.
She led throughout in that race.
The second heat boasts more depth with the US-bred star Propulsion (gate four) and Italian raider Ringostarr Treb (gate one) shaping-up for a stirring clash.
Propulsion is $1.70 with TAB and Ringostarr Treb at $2.10 for the heat and they are second and third favourites at $2.90 and $3.80 respectively for the final behind Bold Eagle.
Australia’s Anthony Manton will call the race in English for Sky Racing and Sky’s harness anchor Greg Hayes will be trackside for the coverage.
DOWNUNDER RAIDERS IN THE ELITLOPP
1977: Petite Evander (7th in heat)
1978: Petite Evander (6th in heat)
1996: Pride Of Petite (4th in heat – 6th in final)
1999: Special Force (7th in heat)
2001: Lyell Creek (5th in heat)
2007: Touch Of Flair (8th in heat)
2009: Sundons Gift (6th in heat)