Day At The Track

Three year old division is a bumper crop

09:00 AM 06 Jul 2018 NZST
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Ignatius,Harness racing

Early indications are that this year’s three-year-old top pacing boys’ division is a bumper crop.

Ignatius stamped his authority at Menangle last weekend in the Group 1 Breeders Challenge to take his record to 14 wins from 15 starts.

Is he the benchmark? Some are comparing him to Beautide – but that may be merely because both were trained by Jimmy Rattray.

The picture should be clearer – but of course could be muddied – after Saturday night’s Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series final at Tabcorp Park Melton.

Emma Stewart-trained Ride High carries a 100 per cent win strike rate into the $125,000 big dance but has to overcome barrier 12 against an outstanding field, including rising star stablemates Poster Boy and Konan.

Poster Boy is the reigning Vicbred champ and New South Wales Derby winner, while Konan has looked every bit the barbarian in his Vicbred heat and semi-final wins.

Whichever young prodigy wins Vicbred has legitimate claims to be part of the ‘best three-year-old’ discussion, but if Ride High overcomes the draw and delivers a KO despite doing a power of work in the run, he might just be No.1 seed.

Among the conversation are Brisbane gun Colt Thirty One from Grant Dixon’s stable, who outpointed Poster Boy in the Victoria Derby, reigning Breeders Crown champ and WA Derby winner King Of Swing and south-west Victorian luminary Lumineer, last year’s APG Final victor.

Then there's the mystery of the Kiwis. Chase Auckland has a magnificent record with eight wins from nine starts, including victory in the Great Northern Derby for the Mark Purdon All Stars team, while Jewels winner Pats Delight for Cran Dalgety is a serious youngster. 

Deciding which beast is best this year is hard enough, predicting how the alumni will be positioned looking back years from now is next level difficult. However, there are parallels between this season’s young guns and that of the super draft of 2012-13.

The latter crop contained superstar Lennytheshark, millionaire earners Ohoka Punter and Bit Of A Legend, Dixon-trained Majestic Mach and Stewart-prepared Guaranteed.

Of the most impressive three-year-olds in recent seasons only some have gone to be genuine Grand Circuit stars – think Bling It On (2013-14), Chicago Bull and Lazarus (2015-16).

Others like Menin Gate – Victorian Horse of the Year at three in 2014-15 – and Our Waikiki Beach – 11 out of 12 at three in 2015-16 – looked potential world-beaters at three but are yet to necessarily replicate that at open-age.

So will the next champion please stand up?

Cody Winnell

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