Inter Dominion day draws ever nearer and despite being north of the border, the prestige that comes with the sport’s biggest race has quickly spread across the nation and into New Zealand.
For Victoria, the hopes of a state will rest on four top class horses but there was a clear victor when the draw was conducted Monday morning.
Keayang Cullen, coming off a track-record breaking win, drew not only on the front row, but also inside his major speed rival Mach Beauty.
And if that’s not enough, many of the favourite would be lamenting tricky barriers.
It’s something Marg Lee faces last season when she took the relatively inexperienced five-year-old to Menangle on this day 12 months ago, but that won’t be the case this time around.
“We drew a lot better this year and being inside Mach Beauty does help so we are pretty happy with how it all worked out on Monday,” Lee said.
“The plan is to be first to the pegs and hold Mach Beauty and I can’t see why we won’t. He is super brilliant out of the gate.
“He’s a lot stronger than 12 months ago and he just seems to handle his work a lot better. I’m sure the experience of last year should go a long way to helping as well.”
It will be over a fortnight since his last run when Sunday dawns but it’s not something that will bother connections.
The option was there to take on last weekend’s Terang Cup, a race he won last year, but instead the six-year-old gelding was paraded for the crowd before being whisked away prior to the main race.
“The Terang Cup probably just came a little too close to the Inter Dominion, I just thought another hard run after breaking the Melton track record could be too much but we worked him here at home and he worked really well,” Lee said.
“It’s a really tough field so we are just happy to be there and we’ll be hoping for some luck on the day.”
And TAB fixed odds bookmakers agree, with a market that sees the first eight horses in the market all under $15.
Keayang Cullen, who was originally $35 in the all-in market, firmed to $26 following the draw and was then backed into $21 before again shortening to his current quote of $18.
Beautide is the current favourite for the race at $3.60.
By Blake Redden (Harness Racing Australia)