There has been much to discuss this week coming out of the Inter Dominion heats on the weekend and the changes announced by Harness Racing New Zealand on last friday - February 16
- Inter Dominion Grand Final Field Found: After the Australasian-wide heats Terror To Love, Lincoln Royal (Sir Lincoln), Excel Stride, Pub Blitz, Chariot King, Caribbean Blaster, Keeyang Cullen, Jaccka Clive, Mah Sish, Mach Alert, I'm Themightyquinn, Mysta Magical Mach, Washakie (1st Wild Card), Dasher VC (2nd Wild Card). Since that field was announced Dasher VC’s connections have pulled the pin (lame in a fetlock), allowing Bitobliss into the race. An interesting side note of the Inter Dominion heats on Saturday night we have unconfirmed reports that the turnovers on the five heats fell short of the opening round of heats in Perth last year (four heats).
- Sales Details: Yesterday’s Australasian Classic Sale was an interesting barometer for harness racing as it often proves to be. Good to see the average was up from $28k last year to $29.5k this time. Clearance rate not so hot though. 73.5% versus 80% last year. Bettor’s Delight as a stallion was immense. 12 of the top 20 lots including four of the top five. Top lot $210k for Bettor’s Delight colt ex Lauraella – and why wouldn’t it be!! He’s destined to become …something Stride in Australia for his career.
on’t forget you can watch the Sales tomorrow and Thursday live through the PGG Wrighton Standardbred website http://www.standardbred.co.nz/
- Sir Lincoln definite for Interdom: Despite needing a pre-race vet and experiencing some minor hoof issues in the build up to last Saturday, the big bay entire full steam ahead to the Inter Dominion Final on March 3. Mick Guerin reported on twitter Sir Lincoln will be beach-trained this week before shooting off to Sydney next Wednesday. He will have also taken tremendous improvement from his run the other night. The lead time ran by Sir Lincoln and Gold Ace on Saturday night of 39.4 represented the fastest ever lead-time over 2200m at Alexandra Park over 2200m. They buttoned off mid-stages and wound it up late but those early efforts didn’t hurt the cause of Terror To Love.
- Dr Hook’s demise give Sovereignty green light: Dr Hook’s twisted bowl last week has paved the way for Sovereignty to make the five-horse NZ team for the Glenferrie Farm Challenge at Menangle on March 3. Reports suggest Dr Hook will thankfully make a speedy and full recovery. Yesterday the Aussies announced their team of five for the $200,000 event: ’s Gift, Mister Zion, I Didn’t Do it, Cyclone Jake and Keystone Del - the latter pair both NSW trotters.
- I Can Doosit sound in Melbourne: In his returning second he was very game but as he’s done at the start of several previous campaigns he’s been vulnerable and not as fluent as he possibly can be first-up. In fact the champ has a remarkably poor fresh record. Just two wins from eight goes in a fresh state. Though beaten by I Didn’t Do It on Saturday night in the EB Cochrane Cup he’ll improve sharply with the exertion. One would also think the big track at Menangle, with it’s long straights will help his cause also.
- Harness Jewels 5YO races: The addition of three more Harness Jewels races will ensure the second day of the Ashburton Queens Birthday meeting this year is a cracker too. How the races will be broken down is yet to be 100% confirmed by it is hoped that meetings this week with between the Ashburton Trotting Club and HRNZ will make these determinations. The IT Department already has the additional three divisions up on the website. Have a look and get a feeling for those that will be heading for Jewels day/weekend. http://www.hrnz.co.nz/harness-jewels/leader-board Reports from connections of Terror To Love are that they’re keen to see their charge there to sign off what could be a record-breaking and sensational five-year-old season.
- Adore Me a chance at a Woodlands Northern Derby start?: Don’t be surprised if after she dominates her rivals in the Northern Oaks on March 1 that Adore Me backs up in the Derby against the boys a week later. The exciting filly, perhaps the best we’ve seen for many years has her trainer Mark Purdon fizzing and considering the prospect of tackling the boys. As a trainer with several very smart three-year-old males you’d expect the yardstick he uses to be pretty accurate.
- Franco Nelson resumes: Franco Nelson is back on the track this week, at Auckland for the first time. He’ll be taking on a handy 2 to 3-Win field from barrier one. Franco Nelson is of course this season’s Sires’ Stakes champ and owner of the fastest 400m at Addington of 25.8. He lines up in Race 8 at 9.05pm.
- Three Kiwi chances in Ladyship Mile: NZ will have three nice chances in the Ladyship Mile at Menangle on March 3. Bettor Cover Lover will spearhead the trio but she’ll have able accomplices in Elusive Chick and Cheer The Lady. It will be a very classy field and well worth the $200,000 prize money.
- Australasian Young Drivers Championship next week: This Sunday our three fearless reps in the Australasian Young Drivers Championship travel to Sydney to compete in the championship that includes nine races culminating in a final heat on Inter Dominion Grand Final Day. Josh Dickie, Zac Butcher and Matthew Williamson are our charges. Josh has won the championship before. Matthew came very close the year Josh won in 2011 and Zac has never driven as well as he is at the moment so our chances of picking up another major harness racing trophy out of Australia are looking promising. Race dates for the series are Goulburn (Monday 25th), Menangle (Tuesday), Bathhurst (Wednesday), Penrith (Thursday), Menangle (Sunday)
- Milestone watch: Ken Barron now on 993 NZ winning drives. Ken is a chance to advance towards the milestone with some nice drives at Addington on Friday night.