Day At The Track

Ride High-Lochinvar Art clash looms

08:59 AM 22 Sep 2020 NZST
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Ride High,Harness racing
Ride High
Stuart McCormick photo

Tabcorp Park Melton is about to kick off three extraordinary Saturday nights of open class pacing with superstars of the season Ride High and Lochinvar Art set to collide.

Both are among nominations for the $30,000 Minuteman Free For All, which will headline Saturday night’s racing at Melton, the first time participants from outside metropolitan Melbourne have been able to descend upon Victoria’s harness racing headquarters since covid-19 restrictions were installed in July.

Trained by Ballarat’s Clayton Tonkin and driven by Long Forrest’s Kate Gath, Ride High has been declared “the best pacer in the world” and the “most talked about thing on four legs” by fellow trainers and broadcasters, having crushed track records amid an 11-race winning streak.

His stunning season has seen him installed a favourite for the Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup at Melton on October 10, a $300,000 feature that will funnel some of Australasia’s best horses to Tabcorp Park.

Among that number is Ride High’s leading threat Lochinvar Art, the Shepparton superstar who holds the honour of being Victoria’s fastest ever pacer for his 1:48.6 victory at Melton in January’s 4YO Bonanza.

Their expected clash this Saturday night draws to a head a season-long, mesmerising rivalry, which has formed without the pair actually racing.

Early nominations for Saturday night’s pace also featured reigning New Zealand Trotting Cup champion Cruz Bromac, though owner Danny Zavitsanos said trainer Amanda Grieve was still finalising whether to run the million-dollar pacer in this Saturday’s Minuteman Free For All or the following Saturday’s Smoken Up Sprint.

Either way, Cruz Bromac’s certain to be a key fixture in the Victoria Cup on October 10, with Zavitsanos declaring “he’s as good as when he won the New Zealand Cup last year, if not better”.

The fields are also likely to see a considerable New South Wales influence, with Craig Cross and Luke McCarthy signifying that their team would attack the Cup and its lead-up races.

The stable’s nominated Zennart for Saturday night’s hit-out, while Cruz will likely target the Smoken Up Sprint and all of Cash N Flow, Balraj, Alta Orlando and Bling It On are expected to be entered for the Victoria Cup.

Uncertainty surrounds the stable’s A. G. Hunter Cup champion King Of Swing, with connections wanting McCarthy to travel with and drive the horse, but that would require an easing of New South Wales border restrictions.

Regardless, the jostle for starting places in the 12-horse Victoria Cup is sure to be intense, making the lead-in runs over the coming fortnight all the more critical.

Emma Stewart’s speed machine Hurricane Harley put his name forward for inclusion at Bendigo last Saturday night, when he led all the way in track record time, holding Lochinvar Art to a brave second placing.

Reinswoman Amanda Turnbull said Hurricane Harley’s “just a machine, he loves running along” after the four-year-old’s eye-catching win in a high-class open pace.

“This is as strong a field as you can get and he just proved tonight if he gets a good draw he’s going to be hard to catch (in the Victoria Cup),” Turnbull said.

Saturday night’s fields will be finalised Tuesday afternoon. To see who gets a start head to thetrots.com.au, where you can watch live, free and extended coverage of all Victorian racing on Trots Vision.

Owing to covid-19 restrictions, the track remains closed to all but participants and essential staff, but the racing can be watched live on Sky Racing or Trots Vision (at thetrots.com.au), or listened to on RSN 927AM or SEN Track on 1593AM.

 

Harness Racing Victoria

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