Bruce Andrews has been to the Inter City Pace plenty of times before.
Born and bred into the harness racing game the now 35-year-old knows the significance of the city’s feature harness race.
But this Sunday he will be on the other side of the track and in the running to claim the $40,000 event with Mondo Seelster taking part in the 2422 metre heats.
Mondo Seelster will be driven by Andrews after being prepared by his father and trainer Jeff at their Farley property.
“We’ve never had a runner in the heats or the finals of the Inter City Pace,” Andrews said.
“Given the nature of the race it will be good to be out there and there is normally a good crowd and good atmosphere.”
Mondo Seelster, a five-year-old bay gelding, won last start at Maitland a fortnight ago with Andrews pleased with the performance on home soil.
“It was a really good run and even though he was the only C2 in the race he got outside the leader early and held on to win,” Andrews said.
“It was a good chance to have a look at the Maitland track as well with an eye towards the pace.”
Mondo Seelster, owned by Wendy and Maurie Mondolo of Tamworth, has drawn the outside of the back row for the second heat and will start from barrier 11 for the second straight start at Maitland.
“We had [barrier] 11 last start and 11 this start ... we were hoping to draw a bit better,” Andrews said.
“But hopefully it won’t be a drama and we can get through to the final next week.”
Qualification for the 51st Inter City Pace final will be different from previous years with only three heats of 10 runners part of the nine-race program.
Event organisers are disappointed with numbers with five heats generally run and the top two from each progressing to the decider.
This time around the first three runners from each heat will go through to the January 4 final along with the fastest fourth.
Keinbah combination Shane Tritton and Lauren Panella have a chance in each heat (Thomas Dylan, Marty Monkhouser and Ardghal) along with Gillieston Heights driver Peter Hedges and Tamworth trainer Ken Natty (Jedi Superstar, Leighmont, Gotta Feeling) as well as Aaron Garaty of Holmesville (Hit For Six, Mincarlie, My Aliyana).
Other local connections include Louth Park trainer-driver Darren Elder (Blueridge Shannon, Shannonsablast), East Maitland trainer Steve Coleman and Dungog driver Brett Bates (Bandan), High Street’s Brad Miles (Beckie Grace), Lochinvar’s Graeme Glover (Graduation), Bolwarra’s Geoff Dorn (Mista Tapto Lombo), Jessica Dart of Bishops Bridge (Another President) and Paul Bourke of Raymond Terrace (Bennys Ace).
Seaham husband and wife pairing Jenny and Peter Sellers return to the heats with Rollon Gidget after a crack two years ago while Kearsley trainer Margo Lennox and Sawyers Gully driver Clayton Harmey have Thingimajig from the inside lane in the opening heat but have late entry Dan as an emergency in the third.
The heats (races six, seven and eight) begin at 3.24pm.
First race jumps at 12.39pm.
Courtesy of Josh Callinan