By Greg Prichard
Through The Cracks advanced to the $400,000 Polytrack Provincial Championships Final with a slashing run in a qualifier despite experiencing setbacks in his preparation - and now trainer Angela Davies says he's 100 per cent for the big dance.
"I think he gets his opportunity," Davies said.
"He's had quite a few hiccups through this prep, always something niggling, but I'm confident we've sorted everything out and that he'll turn up 100 per cent on Saturday. The 1400m is what he's looking for now."
The lightly-raced five-year-old gelding, trained at Gosford, was last of 14 around the home turn in a 1200m qualifier at Newcastle on March 19.
The eventual winner, the Kris Lees-trained Asharani, was second-last and two lengths in front of Through The Cracks.
Both horses motored home with Asharani winning in record time of 1:09.26 and Through The Cracks only half a length behind in second.
Davies said Through The Cracks, currently an $8 chance for the final in TAB fixed odds betting, needed the run that day.
"He pulled up quite big," she said.
Through The Cracks runs second at Newcastle on March 19
"He was only about 90 per cent fit, so he's got quite a bit of improvement left in him going to the final, but he still ran the fastest last 600 in about 32.9.
"We gave him a hit-out in a trial on the Kensington track at Randwick last week and he ran super and hit the line hard behind Happy Clapper. James McDonald was very pleased with the way the horse went for him that day and was quite happy to be riding him in the final.
"The horse needed the trial hit-out because he'd missed a bit of work here and there with a heel issue. We put a bit of hoof filler in him ahead of the trial and it certainly seems to have corrected the problem. He's been fit and good for a full week, so it's onwards and upwards from here."
McDonald has ridden 11 winners across the three-day Golden Slipper carnival and first day of The Championships and Davies was naturally delighted to secure him - but not just for the obvious reason that he's in great form.
"James riding him in that trial is an important box ticked for us because he's now got an idea of how the horse likes to race," she said.
"He's a bit quirky. He likes to go back, he does his own thing, and some riders think they can push that out of a horse. But you've got to accept that's how to ride him.
"I was tickled pink to get James because if you look at those Godolphin horses he rides, a lot of them get well back and he has to be patient with them. This is how Though The Cracks likes to be ridden and James has had plenty of practice doing that.
"He'll naturally drift back from his wide barrier and the big Randwick track should really suit him."