Mark and Natalie have been doing their homework in the leadup to the $1m Race By Grins Friday night but that means working out not only what they might do but also working out what rival drivers will.

We asked Mark what he thought might be the tactics other drivers of the leading chances might do when the gate pulls away in such a highly staked race or what he would do in their carts

Tony Herlihy No Matter Wat

“Tony won’t have much say in the race especially early. She is not the smoothest goer early in lesser races and there is some pretty impressive firepower coming out of the gate. You wouldn’t expect her to be matching that so Tony will probably have to take his chances further back on the rail”

Blair Orange: Copy That

“There’s been talk from some stables about how they will be aggressive early and that suggests  to me Blair will probably take the early rush to sum up who can get there and who can’t and make his decisions from there. He’s done that in other big races and it is what I expect Blair to do here. I would be surprised if he didn’t end up heading to the front at some stage of course”

Zachary Butcher Old Town Road

“The way Zach went out last week leads me to think he will be doing something of the same thing. He will probably get to the front early in that case and it is then a question  who he is prepared to hand up to. That’s a short list and Blair’s horse would be his pick if it unfolds that way. It means he is likely to go really strongly further than just from the gate and that could alter the way the race opens up for some of the others”

Chris Alford Triple Eight

“Traditionally we expect the Aussie drivers to be aggressive but I am not sure Chris has a lot of options early because the form of Triple Eight compared to some on the front line may limit them. It is a tricky gate too.  I am picking Chris,who is a top driver by any measure, might take a sit and wait to see what unfolds”

Tim Williams BD Joe

“They have made no secret that BD Joe will be put in the race and if he has the gate speed it could be on early. I am not sure he is quite as sharp as he was in the spring and I think the standing starts that he is so good at helped him then, but he can get out of the gate and if Tim pushed hard early it could also just break up the field a bit more than most expect as well”

Greg Sugars  Better Eclipse

“Not quite sure what Greg will do but I do know the stable does their horses  well and how good a reinsman he is. I get mixed messages on the horse. Some say he goes best at Menangle (Chariots of Fire) and that is because the longer straight suits his style best and that he likes to take a sit early for that reason. I probably feel that Greg will read the race like that and perhaps not be aggressive early on.

David Butcher  Kango

“I think David will assess the situation after a couple of hundred metres. Kango is one I will be keeping an eye on because of where he has drawn in relation to us. David can play a role in the race with what he decides to do which could affect us and the horse has gate speed”

Matthew White Nicholas Cage

“May struggle to play a prominent role against some in here”

Natalie Rasmussen Self Assured

“The way I see it she has options and while it is up to her it will be interesting to see what develops. She is following Old Town Road out and if he goes hard and puts a wee break on them she could go hard too,easily follow him and end up trailing . Or she could be more conservative hopefully end up in the running line if the field breaks up a bit.She will know what to do as she showed last week ”

Mark Purdon Akuta 

“Our two are really good. I couldn’t be happier with them after their last hitout on Wednesday. The gates can be funny in a race like this because a lot depends on the pace of the race. I say we are better off drawing the second row than 8 on the front but then Self Assured won from there last year.

That was partly because the pace was really strong early and then they backed it off.Brent Mangos took off, we went and  just kept going when the pace picked up. The horse was good enough to do it. We are following either Copy That or maybe Old Town Road and they are two tops to follow but I could play it quietly early too depending on what unfolds.

If you are in the trail and the leader doesn’t get you to the lane you can be in more trouble than doing a bit more further out.

Akuta is almost there when it comes to elite all aged racing but not quite yet so I would want him not to have to do too much. He has a terrific sprint if he can get into the right spot.

Self Assured has done it all,won it before and has the big match experience but there is not much in it. I wouldn’t split them. Its the run of the race. And you can never be too sure what is going to unfold in any race”

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