If you love the sport of harness racing then make sure you tune into Sky Racing 2 this Saturday night for the special coverage of the six TAB.COM.AU Inter Dominion heats across Australasia. Kicking off at 8pm (AEDT) the two hour coverage is back again after last year's success and Sky Racing has an added bonus for all Foxtel subscribers with the announcement of open access for the night's action.
HEAT 1 - Addington 8:15pm (AEDT) Terror To Love won last year's three horse heat at Alexandra Park and looks hard to beat at Addington this year after drawing barrier one. The Addington track has been the scene for his best victories including his New Zealand Cup victories. Smolda looks set to get a cosy run behind Terror To Love and has been well supported in markets to win the overall series. With two horses set to qualify from the New Zealand heat it would be a major shock if Terror To Love and Smolda do not earn their ticket to Sydney.
HEAT 2 - Sydney 8:30pm (AEDT) Beautide has been favourite for the Grand Final since the markets were first released and it is very hard to see him being defeated in this heat. The beauty with Beautide is that he is so versatile and James Rattray has so many options with the gate speed the horse possesses. The Gold Ace has been racing extremely well for Belinda and Luke McCarthy despite the hiccup in the Ballarat Cup. He looms as the obvious danger. It would be no surprise to see Suave Stuey Lombo fire off the wide draw and attempt to find the lead which would give him a chance to qualify while Terrorway at his best is another place chance. Best of the rest is Gaius Caesar and Two Eye See off the good draws.
HEAT 3 - Melbourne 8:45pm (AEDT) Restrepo has been solidly supported to win this heat after drawing barrier one. His win in the Ballarat Cup signalled his ability to mix it with the 'big boys' and with three horses set to qualify from this heat he looks almost certain to be there on Grand Final day. Caribbean Blaster just missed out in the Hunter Cup when beaten narrowly by Christen Me, the outside of the second row will make things tough for him but he still should get through comfortably. Abettorpunt was in terrific form during the Miracle Mile carnival and only just missed out on an invitation to Australasia's greatest sprint event. His run in the Hunter Cup was strong while Im Corzin Terror, Bitobliss and Keayang Cullen will all have supporters.
HEAT 4 - Sydney Supplementary 9:00pm (AEDT) This heat has been made all the more interesting after the defeat of Victoria Cup winner For A Reason last week at Menangle. He was simply outstanding at Goulburn prior to that and he should take plenty of beating this week. Mach Beauty will lead off his wide draw and despite the step up in distance will be in the fight right until the finish. He needs to be rated perfectly in front but has a chance to qualify. Franco Nelson was solid in the Hunter Cup and looks a strong hope. Last year's winner of this heat Mah Sish looks set to be buried on the markers early and will need plenty of things to go his way and had Monifieth drawn closer to the pegs I would have given him a solid place chance, he is clearly the best roughie in the race.
HEAT 5 - Brisbane 9:15pm (AEDT) Only one runner will qualify for the final from this heat so the cut throat nature of the event should ensure a competitive race. Forever Gold has drawn barrier one and after speaking to a few good judges in Queensland they think she can do enough to hold the early lead. I'm not so sure, she has a fast beginner in Avonova drawn to her outside but should Forever Gold hold the front then the chances for Field Officer sky rocket. He loves a soft pegs run and would be the one to beat should he get the run behind the leader.
HEAT 6 - Perth 9:30pm (AEDT) Local star Im Victorious is back at the races for the first time since the WA Pacing Cup. Trainer Michael Brennan has adopted the same tactics with the horse as he did when returning from the east after his performance in the Victoria Cup. I expect him to be ready to go and with Gary Hall Jnr driving in career best form, Im Victorious deserves to be the favourite. David Hercules has drawn poorly again in a big race but with some luck he can qualify for Sydney while Gary Hall Snr will be expecting a big run from Livingontheinterest after drawing barrier number two with driver Clint Hall announcing he will be attempting to lead throughout.
The racing is set to be first class and with the wild cards set to be revealed in the coverage on Sky 2 on Saturday night, viewing for the true harness fan will be a must. Make sure you join me and my panel of experts including Adam Hamilton, Greg O'Conner, Gareth Hall, Jason Bonnington, Michael Polster and Brad Hallows for all the latest news.
Don't forget Sky Racing will have special coverage of the barrier draw and 'Breakfast WithThe Stars' in the week leading up to the TAB.COM.AU Inter Dominion Grand Final.
By Greg Hayes (Harness Racing NSW)