Day At The Track

Harness Jewels taking shape

07:21 AM 23 May 2016 NZST
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Only two Australian's will compete in this years Harness Jewels
Only two Australian's will compete in this years Harness Jewels

And then were two. Seven short days ago, five Australian runners were confirmed to contest the 2016 Harness Jewels at Cambridge Raceway but following a dire week for Harness Racing New Zealand's (HRNZ) marquee event of the season, that number has shrunk to two.

Reina Danzante's​ withdrawal from the four-year-old Ruby over the weekend further compounds the misery following Illawong Byron (two-year-old Ruby) and Arms Of An Angel (four-year-old Diamond) both being withdrawn last week.

Reina Danzante, trained by ex-pat Kiwi Nicole Molander​, broke soon after leaving the mobile gate in a race at Ballarat on Friday night and refused to settle.

Following the disappointing showing, connections made the decision to stay home and skip the Jewels.

Arms Of An Angel was taken out because of a suspected virus and connections of Illawong Byron chose to stay home when the trotter was placed on the unruly.

HRNZ racing manager Darrin Williams said only having two Australian invites was frustrating but it was only bad luck that saw the other three withdraw.

The only Australian invites to wear the green Jewels colours will be My Kiwi Mate, who is  a $12 chance in the four-year-old Emerald, and Heza Bromac, who is a $26 chance in the three-year-old Emerald.

Nominations for the top 20 in each of the nine categories went up on the HRNZ website on Sunday evening and trainers have been sent acceptance notices.

Final withdrawals close on Friday with fields, including barrier draws to be out on Friday afternoon.

The top 13 stake earners in the seven divisions without an Australian invite will make the cut but only the top 12 qualify in the four and three year-old Emerald races to make way for the Australian invite.

Better B Chevron's maiden win at Oamaru on Sunday is enough to lift the Ken Barron-trained runner into the top 12 for the two-year-old Diamond.

Another two-year-old to win at Oamaru, James Dean, still sits just outside the main field for the two-year-old Emerald in 16th spot.

Sunday's Oamaru meeting was the final opportunity to qualify for the Jewels.

Destiny Jones, a race winner at Addington on Saturday, has forced her way into the top 12 of the four-year-old Ruby for Waterlea trainer Dean Hunter.

The horse she beat, Great Things Happen, has been withdrawn.

Last year's two-year-old Ruby winner Missandei​ has just managed to sneak into the three-year-old Ruby field in 13th position.

Missandei blew her chances of a win at Forbury Park​ on Thursday night when she galloped away from the start as a $1.40 favourite.

A win would have made her spot in the Jewels much more comfortable.

Better B Chevron

James Dean

Mat Kermeen

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