Day At The Track

Chariots sponsor and short list announced

04:33 AM 01 Aug 2008 NZST
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The build up to the 2008 Chariots Of Fire has been given two major boosts this week - the announcement of a shortlist of contenders and confirmation of a race sponsor!

 Australasia's pinnacle event for four-year-olds will be held at Harold Park on August 29, with the $200,000 invitation-only race to be sponsored by breeding giants, The Stallion Station.

As for the shortlist, New South Wales Harness Racing Club Racing Manager David Wonson Junior has been busily conversing with his counterparts in various States to come up with a group of leading contenders.

Champion pacer Lombo Pocket Watch heads the list, with other big names such as Fleur De Lil, Melpark Major and Miss Hazel all in the mix.

On the back of the two big announcements, a blow has also been dealt to the race with Twelve Paces being withdrawn from the race for invitations due to greasy heel.

Star New Zealanders Changeover and Gotta Go Cullen will also be missing from the race.

The shortlist is as follows:

New South Wales
Bold And Regal

omet Prince

ranco Nestor

ombo Pocket Watch

econd Dollar

iss Hazel


eayang Hanover

elpark Major

uv Tha Aces Lombo

hat's Mister Ali

West Australia



e Diligent

leur De Lil

ery Cool

New Zealand
Ebony Gem

NSW Harness Racing Club Chief Executive John Dumesny said he was pleased with the cross-section of talent on the shortlist.

"The Chariots Of Fire is shaping as a three-State battle," he stated.

"With that in mind, you must also consider that New Zealand are now back on course concerning the EI restrictions.

"We missed out on having Auckland Reactor contest the New South Wales Derby or having any filly race in the New South Wales Oaks.

"With Changeover and Gotta Go Cullen out of play, hopefully Ebony Gem can add another dimension to the race."

Dumesny also said it was pleasing to establish a corporate relationship with The Stallion Station.

"Gary (Lyons) is a forward thinker which is evidenced by the establishment and expansion of the set up in Victoria," he said.

"This will advantage all broodmare owners not only in Victoria, but throughout Australasia."

Gary Lyons, principle of The Stallion Station, has been involved in the sport for over two decades and has been a keen follower of the Chariots Of Fire since its inception in 1995.

"I've always loved the race but have never been fortunate to have one good enough to compete in it," he said.

"My first horse was about 20 years ago and I leased it and ended up winning a handful of races.

"After that, I spent plenty of money buying expensive horses from New Zealand and had some success there also.

"In the end, I decided that if I was ever going to own a champion that I would have to breed one, hence, why I started the stud.

"We encountered big challenges this season due to EI and although we haven't been able to meet some of our targets that we set this season, I have no doubt we will recover from that little setback without any problems."

Twelve Paces' trainer Stephen Conroy, who finished third to Oaxaca Lass in the 2003 Chariots with Blue Gum Forest, said he was devastated but had no alterative but to withdraw his stable star from contention.

"We have battled the greasy heel over the past fortnight or so," he revealed.

"What hasn't helped matters is that where we are based (Hartley), it's been cold most nights and the ground has been damp.

"In the end we were hoping and praying that we would be able to get on top of it but unfortunately, it didn't happen.

"We had him treated with penicillin and that takes up to 35 days to clear a horse's system, meaning we would run out of time for the Chariots."

Conroy said that they were still attempting to clean the heel out completely but added that all going well, the son of Live Or Die would be able to resume work in a matter of weeks.

"There won't be much around for him at the time so I guess we will have to look towards the spring," he pointed out.

Wonson Jnr said he spoke to connections of Gotta Go Cullen and Changeover earlier in the week, with their preparations being aimed towards the New Zealand Cup.

"Both parties informed me that their pacers were only back in light work and wouldn't be ready for the Chariots," he stated.

"As such, their preparations will be focused on the New Zealand Cup."

Courtesy of Andrew Georgiou
National Trotguide & Harness Weekly


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