On the eve  of their final workouts leading Race By Grins hopes Self Assured and Akuta are in the right frame of mind heading toward the big clash on Friday according to Mark’s assessment

There’s tomorrow morning’s work to consider but as they are today by my judgement they are in a good place. I am very happy with both” Mark said on Tuesday

Late entry No Matter Wat is fine too but she faces a huge challenge holding top open class pacers out in gate speed at this stage of her career even with ace driver Tony Herlihy in the bike.Midrail or at least 3 back is not an impossible spot but it leaves her at the mercy of the pace dictators.

The barrier draws have been a talking point since Monday and Mark is still trying to sum up all the variables. He admits that is not easy with the All Stars duo not necessarily the masters of their own destiny

“Our horses won’t have much say in what happens in the first 200m from the second row so it depends what is happening on the front.” he said

“If Copy That gets an easy run to the front we are going to be up against it though I do think everything taken into account he is beatable if the race doesn’t go to suit”

“From the speed he showed the other night I expect Old Town Road to cross early. Akuta follows Copy That who is going forward so where we end up will be crucial. It could be the right place it might not.

I was very pleased with Akuta the other night and he has the speed to make his luck. Self Assured will have to be back a bit early but he won from the rear last year and he really is firing at his best. We are looking good condition-wise at this stage and I am looking forward to the final workout”

While many believe the race is now Copy That’s to lose Mark and Natalie will certainly not be conceding anything in their leadup plans. Copy That has been lethal in front on Kiwi tracks though he has not found it so easy in the top Australian events where a front runner can be vulnerable to mid race attacks.

Of course driver Blair Orange could accept a trail in that situation but the favourite is certainly more effective fighting off attackers than chasing them.

Mark, as with all top drivers, is not about to play his cards before the game starts but it is doubtful if this will be a race dominated by one horse all the way

With the All Stars pair stepping up from a mile to 2200 both have the blinkers off and the second row marbles would have been an influence in that too.

Meanwhile the All Stars Auckland team will be boosted next week with the trotters Oscar Bonavena and unbeaten High Energy on the float north next Monday. Oscar Bonavena has several Free for All opportunities and the Northern Oaks will be on High Energy’s dance card.

But this week it is all about The Race-and Mark is in an optimistic frame of mind.

PIC: The so often underrated Self Assured.Won it from near last in 2022.Repeat on the cards.



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