Derek Balle isn’t too enthusiastic about lining up Cool Cobber in next Friday’s Dominion Handicap, but his hand might be forced if the open class trotter wins at Alexandra Park this evening.

“The owner Kenny Baynes is quite keen to go to the Dominion next week but I am not too fussed, non-committal,” he told HarnessXpress.

“He probably needs another run or two to be a serious threat in the Dominion; it has just snuck up on us a little bit.”

The son of Pegasus Spur is ranked 19th in the order of entry for New Zealand’s foremost trotting feature, this year worth $250,000.

“But I think if he won this week, he would probably sneak in to the field,” said Balle.

With Vincennes, ranked 6, heading for a spell after disappointing at Kaikoura and Monbet, ranked 18, a doubtful runner, Balle might just be right.

Cool Cobber had three workouts before resuming at Auckland a fortnight ago in the race won by Prime Power.

Ordinarily three workouts and two races might be enough to get a horse close to fit but Cool Cobber spent the past year away from the track through injury.

“He did a suspensory last time in and had to have a long break,” said Balle.

“But he’s pretty good now; we haven’t had any major issues.

“We have just taken our time with him – it is good to be safe with these kinds of things.”

Dominion aside, Balle is pretty happy with the horse and only being off 30 metres tonight, sees him as a major player.

“He should be fitter for that first run and I expect he won’t be too far away from them.”

Balle says Cool Cobber would want to be winning quite impressively to justify a trip to Addington.

“It would have been good to get another race in to him but if he won nicely I would probably go since the owner is so keen.”

Cool Cobber raced in last year’s Dominion, won by the late Jaccka Justy, but spoilt his chances with a gallop after 400 metres.

He is not far off the best trotters, evidenced by his close-up fourth behind Master Lavros in the 2014 Rowe Cup and placing in the Superbowlcheerleader’s Anzac Cup a fortnight earlier.

He is a half-brother to the prodigiously-talented Perth pacer John Of Arc, who has won 14 of 21 for Gary Hall and broke down recently for the third time.

His dam, Cool Maiden, is a daughter of Safely Kept, who has been known to leave the odd good trotter (La Coocaracha, Paris Metro) in spite of his pacing bloodlines.

So it is no surprise that she can leave quality horses by both pacing and trotting sires.

It is a small, but even, field in the C3-OC trot tonight and fellow back-markers Al Bundy and Charlemagne will be the hardest for Cool Cobber to beat.

Regal Petite was backed in last week and ran a nice second so must be respected off a leisurely 10-metre handicap.


by Garrick Knight.
The Harness Xpress