Day At The Track

Chariots invites to come after Paleface

03:09 AM 14 Aug 2008 NZST
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From a long time ago it seemed obvious that Lombo Pocket Watch and Melpark Major would be given early invitations to contest the $200,000 'Courage Under Fire' Chariots Of Fire.

Last Friday night, connections of those horses were issued their invites by Directors of the New South Wales Harness Racing Club.

Melpark Major, at 8:42pm, threw down the gauntlet to his Chariots counterparts with a stunning victory in the Christian Cullen Cup Final at Moonee Valley, cementing his invite in the process.

Forced to work early, driver Amy Tubbs secured the one-one at the expense of Mister Swinger before pulling out at the quarter mark to issue her challenge.

Sprinting sharply, Melpark Major put paid to the leading duo in the home straight to score by two-and-a-half metres over a gallant Mister Swinger, with an equally impressive Keayang Hanover close up in third.

"That was a machine-like win for him," trainer Alan Tubbs declared.

"He did a bit of work to get around the field early and then Geoff (Webster) gave us cover with Mister Swinger.

"From a long way out it was obvious our bloke was going to be the one to beat.

"He's pulled up from the run extremely well and now that the invite is out of the way, it is a big relief.

"I will take my time with him now and at this stage, go into the Chariots without another run."

Tubbs believes he has the son of Iraklis in prime condition for the event.

"He is a big-doing horse which I believe a lot of the really good horses are," he said.

"I'll give him a trial on the weekend prior to the Chariots and that should have him at his top for the race.

"If I see him getting away on me a bit then I will toss up the possibility of racing him again."

Lombo Pocket Watch, which raced last Tuesday afternoon at Menangle, scored easily, rating 1:55.5.

The highlight of the race was his opening stanza in 26.7 and his closing 400 metres, which was semaphored in a brilliant 25.9.

While issuing the first two invitations, Directors of the NSWHRC also stated that no further invites would be given until the Hondo Grattan and Paleface Adios Sprints were conducted.

Although both Keayang Hanover and Mister Swinger have made excellent cases for inclusion into the Chariots already, the two qualifying races will see four horses earn their invites which leaves only two spots left.

Criticised in the past for issuing too many invitations too early, the NSWHRC is now urging connections of any pacer hoping to contest the Chariots to race in one of the two qualification races.

"The connections of Mister Swinger have certainly made the correct decision by starting the horse in the Hondo Grattan this week," Dumesny said.

"There has been a debate raging for years as to the invitation process for the Miracle Mile and this has been addressed with the Chariots.

"Invitations, watch the contenders at Harold Park, automatic qualifiers and then the final two invitations which in the past have been based on those performances in the Hondo Grattan and Paleface Adios Sprints - that is the process so I encourage connections to carefully consider the options."

Courtesy of Andrew Georgiou
Harness Weekly/National Trotguide

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