The longer the harness racing season goes on, the more Kentuckiana Lodge star Krug continues to thrive.
Trainers Cran and Chrissie Dalgety could not be more delighted with the way the Northern and New Zealand Derby winner has progressed leading into the Harness Jewels.
The star colt will have his last hit-out before he seeks a fourth career Group One title at Alexandra Park on Friday night.
Cran has been so impressed with Krug leading into the race that he almost didn’t want to admit it.
Because the idea that the horse has gotten even better following his last three brilliant wins could sound a little crazy.
“I don’t really want to say it because you don’t really know if they’ve got any better until they’ve shown it at the races and you can look silly if they don’t,” Cran said.
“But every indication at home suggests he has gone up another level.”
“We couldn’t be happier with him heading into the Jewels and with his first trip to Australia coming up.”
Krug had two trials before heading to the North Island.
He won the first comfortably before running third in what was a perfect hit-out at Rangiora behind Tyron’s Bit Of Lemon, who won in a scintillating 1-55.0 mile rate.
“I was hoping we could go around a 1.55 mile rate but I didn’t want us to be the ones out setting it up,” Cran said.
“That trial worked out perfectly, sitting on their backs and having a good hit-out without overexerting him himself.
“He has come through it and then travelled up north super.”
“He has had a few trips up here now so he has settled in really well, it's like his second home.”
Anyone thinking they might not see the real Krug a week out from his Harness Jewels mission doesn’t have anything to worry about.
There will be no quiet run for the three-year-old at Alexandra Park on Friday night.
Cran is mindful that the horse needs a stern test to be ready to run an extraordinary time next week.
“We had Bit Of A Legend go down a whisker in the Jewels, he ran 1.50 and that was eight years ago,” Cran said.
“Now in the modern era they are going even faster, so Krug has got to be fit and ready to run that kind of time.”
“On Friday night he is going to need a testing run, without breaking the world record or anything silly, to have him on song for next weekend.”
“He won’t be going out there for a quiet trial, that is for sure.”
Trixton Time has headed north with Krug and he also starts at Alexandra Park on Friday night.
After consistent efforts, including running second to a middle-grade trotter in Blink N Bones in his last start, the four-year-old is well overdue a win.
“Surely he can win one up here, if he can’t win one on this trip I would just about give it away,” Dalgety said.
“He has arrived up here in good order, it’s his first trip away so it has sparked him up a bit and hopefully that might be the difference he needs on the track.”
Blair Orange takes the reins behind both Kentuckiana Lodge runners on Friday night.
- by Jonny Turner