Records continued to tumble at Tabcorp Park Menangle today as star four-year-old Guaranteed continued his climb towards champion status with an amazing win in the $200,000 Form 700 Chariots Of Fire. Still it took all of master reinsman Gavin Lang's talents as Guaranteed was forced to do it tough, racing wide for almost the entire race before outstaying Ginger Bliss and Majestic Mach to win in an Australasian record mile rate of 1:50.4. That broke Christen Me's 1:50.5 record set in winning last year's Chariots. John Dunn's New Zealand hope Franco Nelson led the Chariots early as the field came out in a slick 27.3 seconds with fellow Kiwi Border Control (Luke McCarthy) having a brief lick for the front before settling back and looking for some cover. Despite a 28.8s split, Guaranteed provided that cover when he moved up to the outside of Franco Nelson and raced without cover for the rest of the journey. The gutsy Victorian worked to the front turning for home after a 27.5s third split and as they came home in 26.8 he simple refused to let anything get past him. No doubt Guaranteed is a four-year-old that will move into the Grand Circuit with ease and may be him we're talking about as an Inter Dominion favourite this time next year. Harness Racing NSW
If you wanted to bank on a big-race player coming into ID14, then there would only be one choice. Caribbean Blaster. His big race record in the past two years is almost unparalleled. A winner of the Chariots of Fire, Breeders Crown, Victoria Cup and SA Cup, he has also placed in two Hunter Cups, a Cranbourne Cup, a Ballarat Cup and another SA Cup. And there’s nothing that seems to stop him, winning from almost any barrier, Andy Gath has simply had to prepare his pacer to peak on Sunday. That came with a Tabcorp Park trial Tuesday when the son of Bettors Delight ripped home in 55.8secs. “We were just there to keep him ticking along and keep some sharpness in him. He hit the line quite well and seemed to enjoy himself and he got through it good,” Gath said. “From there draw there is a good chance he is going to have 13 horses in front of him at some stage which is never easy when they are top quality. In saying that I’m not losing any sleep over it, I’m not sure what draw I would have been happy with to tell you the truth. “It gives you a bit of confidence going into a race knowing you are going to get 100% every time. As yet he really hasn’t let us down in a big race and hopefully this is no exception.” But what Gath did have to rely on was a coveted wildcard position, because with only three spots available from the Victorian heat, a fourth wasn’t enough to see the six-year-old through to the final. That came swiftly after the last heat however and deservedly so according to Gath who rated his run as good as any he has shown this time in. “It was up there with any of his runs this season I think. There’s no worse place to be than sitting in the death when they are running a track record so unfortunately he was there, but he battled on strongly,” he said. Owner Rob Nalder drew barrier nine on Monday and while on face value it looks to have made his job even harder, there are some upsides. One of those being the speed drawn on the front row and the likelihood that Lauren Panella and Mach Beauty will be doing everything they can to force Keayang Cullen and Glen Craven into relenting the lead early. And with a raft of mid-race moves expected, it could turn into a survival of the fittest. “Last year we all went in to the race a little bit blind. It was the first time over 3000 metres at Menangle and no one really knew what to expect and maybe drove a little bit cautiously,” Gath said. “I think it will be a little bit different this year now that we’ve got a template to look at. Given the field is so even and there are a lot more winning chances this year there will probably be more mid-race moves.” Gath also explained that squaregaiting stable star Elegant Image had been dealing with issues but after a pleasing return on Friday night, will head to the Glenferrie Challenge on Inter Dominion day. Purdon Has Gelding Smouldering For Inter Heading into an Inter Dominion final third-up from a 9 month spell would be unheard of a decade ago. In fact, it would have been unheard of a year ago. But such is the confidence Mark Purdon holds in his talented young pacer, Smolda will emerge from the Shaky Isle on Sunday to try for an unconventional win in the $750,000 Group 1 race. A win over 2600 metres first-up, followed by a strong second in a record-breaking last quarter has set the five-year-old up for what could be a famous victory. “He’s a great horse and it isn’t a typical build up but I’ve got a lot of confidence in the horse and he’s good enough to be there,” Purdon said on RSN’s dedicated trots show Gait Speed this past Tuesday. “All up it was probably close to five months preparation before he stepped out so he had a lot of foundation miles under him.” Given most of the groundwork has been covered off and the barriers have now been decided, tactics will play an integral role in the early stages. And with an expected speed war between Keayang Cullen and Mach Beauty, many would have had Smolda pegged to continue rolling forward and look to take the top off whichever horse eventually wins that battle. That’s not necessarily going to be the case however with Purdon considering his options and suggesting a mid-race move isn’t out of the question. “We’ll probably just see what happens but I wouldn’t be fussy getting into any speed duels early. He’s one horse that can make his own luck so if he settles back I’m not hesitant to make a move on his own at some stage,” he said. TAB fixed odds have Smolda the current third favourite at $5 behind Beautide ($3.60) and Im Victorious ($4.60). Purdon’s hopes won’t just be pinned on one horse though, he brings an army of star Kiwi’s to Menangle on Sunday. Adore Me, rated as New Zealand’s best mare, she is a winner of 16 of her 18 starts but has drawn the carpark in the Ladyship Mile. And her trainer wasn’t mincing his words when suggesting she could have been competitive in the Inter Dominion final had she been set for it. “I think she would have been (competitive),” Purdon said. “I don’t rate her as being as tough as Smolda but she would certainly be as quick and given the right run she wouldn’t be far away in a race like the Inter Dominion final. It is wonderful to train and drive her and to bring her across to take on some of the best horses in Australasia.” Adore Me is the $1.30 favourite for the Ladyship Mile with TAB fixed odds. Purdon also has Border Control in the Chariots of Fire, Isaiah in the NSW Derby and My Willow in the NSW Oaks. By Blake Redden (Harness Racing Australia)
With 7 Group 1 races this Sunday afternoon, the overall meeting is clearly the best day of harness racing in the southern hemisphere. For the code of harness racing it is what Victoria Derby Day is for the gallops. The best of the best racing against one another for stacks of prize money. Horses, trainers and drivers have come from all parts of Australia and New Zealand to have a horse compete on the day is a feat for any participant. The 'jewel in the crown' is clearly the TAB.COM.AU Inter Dominion, it will be race 7 and will be run at 3:40pm. The barrier draw looks set to enhance the spectacle and now everyone is hoping that Mother Nature plays her role and the rain stays away. If it remains dry I am expecting the horses off the back row to prove hardest to beat. With Mach Beauty and Keayang Cullen drawn well on the front row I expect there to be an early speed battle and while the fire should die down pretty quickly the early burn should help those run on horses. I like For A Reason, Belinda McCarthy opted to miss the Hunter Cup and concentrate on the Inter Dominion which is a plus. He was scintillating at Goulburn and while beaten at his two subsequent runs, with the right run he has a devastating turn of speed. He looks set to stalk Beautide throughout and he is clearly the hardest horse to beat. His versatility is a huge advantage and James Rattray has the option of making a move midrace should he deem it necessary. Im Victorious will be in front of his main dangers early and I wouldn't be surprised to see Gary Hall Jnr try and get off the pegs early in the race while Smolda might land in a good position early despite a wide front row draw. The best roughie is Seel N Print, he is flying at the moment and is a very good stayer. Of the other chances Restrepo might be suited out of the fireworks early and has proved his toughness in Victoria. While the best Terror To Love would be ultra competitive, will we see the best of him on Sunday and Caribbean Blaster could be set to cover some territory from his wide draw. The first Gr. 1 of the afternoon is the NSW Oaks. Nike Franco has drawn gate one and that isn't ideal but Chris Alford will be off the pegs and her toughness will take her a long way. She is still green and when she learns what the racing caper is all about she will be even better. Hardest to beat is the kiwi filly My Willow, she will be better for her first look at Menangle last week while the Victorian fillies Quick Draft, Mindarie Priddy and Whereibylong are all hopes. The best roughie is the NSW trained Shes A Runa. The Ladyship Mile has attracted the best mare from New Zealand in Adore Me but the visitors draw gives her rivals some small hope of an upset. Baby Bling is a Miracle Mile winner that hit the line strongly last week against the boys and she is the best local hope to upset the favourite. There are plenty of trifecta and first four chances including Steam Washed after three straight wins including a scorching 1:53.3 win at Melton last start, Elusive Chick has drawn well and could be dangerous should she settle close to the leaders with her quick sprint while the form around Leda McNally in WA is very strong but the draw is a concern. The NSW Derby market is dominated by Bling It On and while with the right run he could blow his rivals away I am happy to take the each way odds being offered about Yayas Hotspot. The Shane Tritton three year old is back to his best after going off the boil late last year and I would expect him to go for an all the way win this week after handing up the lead in the heat. Hardest to beat is the McCarthy pair Bling It On and Allblack Stride while Isaiah and Iam Mr Brightside have small winning hopes as well. Last year's Chariots Of Fire has turned out to be one of the form races of the season with Smolda, Restrepo, Mach Beauty and Im Victorious all coming out of that race and into this year's Inter Dominion. There is depth across the board but with plenty of early speed in the race I'm tipping Guaranteed to prove too strong. He stormed home last week to win the Paleface Adios and he loves racing on the big Menangle track having only tasted defeat once on the circuit in his career. There are plenty of other chances though, Franco Nelson, Elios, Border Control, Chilli Palmer and Nowitzki all could be in the finish with the right run. The Bohemia Crystal FFA sees Jivin Cullen arrive from New Zealand with some solid form behind Terror To Love and Smolda and he looks the leading chance in a tough race. Im Corzin Terror has been racing well in Victoria and won the Terang Cup last week and if he turns up at his best he looks to be the main danger. Mah Sish is clearly not the horse he was a year ago but his form is not as bad as it reads on paper while Ardghal is a hope, he will be an even better horse in twelve months time and should blossom from the experience racing the better horses. Abettorpunt was very brave at Terang as well and can win at his best. The Glenferrie Farm Challenge for the trotters sees the battle of the Anzacs and after a surprise win last year I think the Australian's can make it another win in the series. My High Expectations is in the best form of his career and has performed extremely well at Menangle in the past. Last year's winner Keystone Del has drawn terribly but is in great form while Stent and Master Lavros look to be the best of the visitors. My best bet of the day is Yayas Hotspot in the NSW Derby but it looks to be one of those meetings that if you can find just one or two winners in the ten races then you should go home a winner. Don't forget you will see all the action on Sky Racing1 from 11am with a full preview of the meeting. Harness racing just doesn't get any better, enjoy your Sunday afternoon! Greg Hayes - SKY Racing Harness Racing NSW Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales | 22 Meredith Street Bankstown NSW 2200 T: 02 9722 6600| F: 02 85805792 | E: email@example.com| W: www.hrnsw.com.au & www.trotstv.com.au Warning to recipients: This email and any attachments are confidential and subject to copyright. If you are not the intended recipient any use, disclosure or copying is unauthorised. If you have received this email in error please advise us immediately by reply email and delete all copies. It is your responsibility to examine this email and any attachments for viruses. Any personal information in this email must be handled in accordance with privacy legislation.
Terror To Love’s Menangle nightmare continues even before he gets on the plane to Sydney for Sunday’s A$750,000 Inter Dominion Final. And while the men behind the $2million earner are trying to put on a brave face after drawing the outside of the second line, the great Kiwi pacer could need a miracle come Sunday. Terror To Love drew barrier 14, meaning he will start from four on the second line in the 3009m thriller, with fellow Kiwi pacers Smolda (8) and The Gold Ace (10) rounding out a horror draw for the New Zealanders in the race. That saw all three drift in betting for the final, with Terror To Love now $15 in Australia, amazing odds for a three-time New Zealand Cup winner. The lack of love from Aussie bookies in understandable though as Terror To Love was dreadful when finishing last in the Miracle Mile at Menangle last November and has yet to win in six starts at the Sydney track. His connections openly admit they lack confidence with the stallion in Sydney and now face settling a lot closer to last than first in the giant field. “At first glance it is not ideal,” said co-trainer Paul Court. “But at least the other favourites Beautide and For A Reason as well as Smolda will probably settle back there too. “So if they go hard then we will all end up moving into the race later and that could work out well. “But sure, after how he went in the Miracle Mile there it is hard to be confident.” One excuse given for Terror To Love’s poor Menangle record is the track surface, which is soft on top of a hard base but Court says the big pacer will be re-shod to try and gain more grip. Smolda drifted to third favouritism of $5 in Australia and will start longer as he is unlikely to be asked to run the gate hard so looks certain to settle rearward. Beautide remains the favourite with his draw of two on the second line suggesting he will end up midfield in the running line without doing any work. “To be honest, the draw is perfect,” says trainer-driver James Rattray. Smolda’s trainer-driver Mark Purdon also had no luck in the draw for the A$200,000 Ladyship Mile, one of the seven group one at Sunday’s amazing meeting, with his champion mare Adore Me to start from the outside of the front line. But she is so highly regarded in Australia, where she has never raced, that she is still the $1.30 favourite for the race. Stablemates Isaiah (NSW Derby) and Willow (NSW Oaks) has both drawn perfectly though while Border Control heads a super-strong Kiwi team in the Chariots of Fire. The big winner in the draws for that race was trainer Robert Dunn, who has Franco Nelson drawn the ace and Elios barrier three in a powerful field. Meanwhile, Smolda has opened the $3.50 favourite in a confused market for the Auckland Trotting Cup on Friday week. He is one of six Interdom finalists who will only be confirmed to make the trip back to Auckland depending on how they perform on Sunday and would be 50-50 at best to start in the Cup. Terror To Love is more likely to back up and is the $4.50 Cup second favourite while Adore Me is $5. The field for the A$750,000 Inter Dominion final at Menangle on Sunday.---- I’m Victorious (1), Livingontheinterest (2), Seel N Print (3), Keayang Cullen (4), Forever Gold (5), Mach Beauty (6), Wartime Sweetheart (7), Smolda (8), Caribbean Blaster (9), The Gold Ace (10), Restrepo (11), Beautide (12), For A Reason (13), Terror To Love (14). Emergencies: Pub Blitz and Ardghal not draw in field and would take barrier of any scratched runner. By Michael Guerin (Harness Racing New Zealand)
The barrier draw for the $750,000 TAB.COM.AU Inter Dominion Grand Final was conducted this morning at The Star in Sydney. The Grand Final field in barrier draw order is: Barrier Horse 1 Im Victorious 2 Livingontheinterest 3 Seel N Print 4 Keayang Cullen 5 Forever Gold 6 Mach Beauty 7 Wartime Sweetheart 8 Smolda 9 Caribbean Blaster 10 The Gold Ace 11 Restrepo 12 Beautide 13 For A Reason 14 Terror To Love 15 Franco Nelson 1st Emergency (Withdrawn) 16 Pub Blitz 2nd Emergency 17 Ardghal 3rd Emergency Note that the Emergencies are not drawn into the field and take the place vacated by a scratching. The Grand Final at Tabcorp Park Menangle is scheduled for 3:40pm and is to be broadcast nationally on Channel Nine. The mega race day will consist of seven Group 1 events including the Form 700 Chariots of Fire, Camarda and Cantrill NSW Derby, Form 700 NSW Oaks, Cordina Farms Ladyship Mile, and Glenferrie Farms Trotters Challenge. Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |
Kiwi harness racing pacers hold the key to the 2014 Form 700 Chariots Of Fire. Shortly after the barrier draw was released at Tabcorp Park Menangle tonight, Franco Nelson was posted as the $3.60 favourite with TAB Fixed Odds after drawing barrier two in the $200,000 Group One to be run on Inter Dominion Grand Final day March 2. Franco Nelson’s stablemate, Elios has drawn well in four and is also one of the early fancies at $4.80. Meanwhile fellow New Zealander Border Control is the second elect at $4 after coming up with barrier six. See the Form 700 Chariots Of Fire field below: Lettuce Fib (EM2) Franco Nelson Ginger Bliss Elios Majestic Mach Border Control Flaming Flutter Guaranteed Holy Camp Clive (EM1) Brigadier Bronski Nowitzki Chilli Palmer Harness Racing New South Wales
Barrier draws for four of the seven Group One races on Inter Dominion Grand Final Day at Tabcorp Park Menangle (March 2) will be conducted at that track this Saturday night. While the all-important draw for the TAB.COM.AU Inter Dominion will take place next Monday at The Star 24/7 Bar, starting positions for the Cordina Chicken Farms Ladyship Mile, the Camarda and Cantrill NSW Derby as well as the Form 700 Chariots Of Fire and NSW Oaks will be known this weekend. The first draw to take place is the Ladyship Mile after Race 3 on the night (7.10pm AEST). This will be followed by the draw for the Chariots Of Fire after Race 5, the NSW Derby after Race 7 and the NSW Oaks after Race 9. The rest of this stellar meeting on Sunday week will be finalised this Sunday (February 23) at the Harness Racing New South Wales office. Harness Racing New South Wales
The weird twilight zone Terror To Love inhabits is best summed up by his price for the Inter Dominion final in Sydney --- $13. He is the eighth favourite for the A$750,000 classic at Menangle on March 2, even though he won his heat at Addington on Saturday night with the fastest last 400m ever recorded on the iconic track. This is Terror To Love, who looked one of the all-time greats when he overcame losing 30m in an early gallop to win his third straight New Zealand Cup in November, on a day when he looked unbeatable. But so ingrained in punters and bookmakers minds is the notion that Terror To Love hates Menangle that he is rated a $13 chance for the race by the Aussie TAB, while fellow Kiwi pacer Smolda, who he beat on Saturday, is the $4.20 second favourite. In fact, six of the seven horses who are tighter in the market than Terror To Love got beaten in their Interdom heats on Saturday, the only winner being I’m Victorious and that was in a very weak Perth heat. The lack of respect for Terror To Love is almost understandable as he has regularly performed lengths below his best in Sydney, even though he finished second in last season’s weak rescheduled Miracle Mile. His connections are playing their part too. Driver Ricky May is openly critical of the Menangle track surface and trainer Graham Court calls the Sydney track “the graveyard.” But after topping $2million in career earnings on Saturday, Terror To Love will still return to Sydney, seeking respect and broodmare bookings for his future stud career. Saturday night’s six heats spread across five tracks provided plenty of drama, none more so than in Sydney where the two series favourites Beautide and For A Reason were both beaten after leading. Beautide’s defeat was blamed on the wet track being too soft on the inside, but when Mach Beauty won the second heat from the trail and the main mares race was won along the inside, the track bias excuse started to look a little ragged. Keayang Cullen set a track record in the Melton heat running down Restrepo after he looked home while I’m Victorious was very good in Perth and Forever Gold will add a female flavour to the final after winning the Brisbane heat. Auckland-owned pacer The Gold Ace secured one of the two wild cards in to the final, with Caribbean Blaster, who was brave in the Melton heat getting the other. So the field of 14 looks set, only to be confirmed at noon today after trainers accept for the race content their charges have come through their heats well. Canterbury pacer Franco Nelson is listed as the first emergency but is more likely to contest the A$200,000 Chariots Of Fire the same day. The 14 invited pacers for the Inter Dominion final, plus six emergencies who will be reduced to two today, are: Terror To Love, Smolda, Seel N Print, Beautide, The Gold Ace, Keayang Cullen, Restrepo, Wartime Sweetheart, Caribbean Blaster, Mach Beauty, For A Reason, Forever Gold, I’m Victorious, Livingontheinterest. Emergencies: Franco Nelson, Pub Blitz, Im Corzin Terror, Ardghal, Mah Sish, Abettorpunt. By Michael Guerin (Harness Racing New Zealand)
Buzz Queensland pacer Brigadier Bronski is on target to qualify for the Chariots Of Fire. The in-form four-year-old has arrived safely in Sydney in preparation for the Gr.2 $50,000 Hondo Grattan Sprint at TABCORP Park, Menangle this Saturday night where he meets fellow Sunshine State star Majestic Mach and boom Kiwi pacer Border Control. A top three finish this weekend will see him stamp his ticket for the $200,000 feature on Sunday, March 2. And his owner/breeder/trainer Stuart Hunter is happy with his stable star. “We arrived on Monday and he handled the travelling well and appears to have settled in nicely to his new surroundings. We have landed a good draw and everything seems to be in order so hopefully he continues with his good form.” Hunter said. This is the first time Brigadier Bronski has raced outside of his home state but his current form is unequalled, boasting eight victories at his last nine starts. Two starts ago, he produced a jaw-dropping performance at Albion Park to beat Majestic Mach and Caesar Augustus after racing three-wide solo over the final 800m in blistering sectionals. Brigadier Bronski cruised to an effortless victory in a career best time of 1;54.9 at Albion Park last week proving his previous victory was no fluke. “It was good effort last week but I told Shane (Graham – driver) before the race to look after him and not knock him around so he basically cruised around last week, the plugs still in while he was basically shut down over the final furlong. “We’re here for the Chariots and another forward showing this week should see him gain an invitation but it’s a tough field with several in-form pacers but I can’t fault my guy and the draw, it makes it easier from a good draw. “Obviously Majestic Mach and Border Control have big reputations and deservedly so considering what they have achieved to date so they have my attention and respect but my horse continues to improve and his form lines are brilliant currently. I think the big track will suit his style of racing.” Shane Graham will travel south on Saturday to continue his association with the Art Major entire. Queensland is chasing its third Chariots Of Fire victory following the success of Slipnslide (2005) and Lanercost (2011). By Chris Barsby (Harness Racing Australia)
The line-up for the coverage of the TAB.COM.AU Inter Dominion Grand Final on Channel 9’s Wide World of Sport has been finalised. The panel will be spearheaded by popular sports journalist and presenter Yvonne Sampson who is a self confessed “horse lover”. She will be joined by fellow station star Emma Freedman along with industry experts Adam Hamilton and Greg Radley. Harness Racing NSW CEO Sam Nati said: “It’s exciting to have our greatest race showcased nationally on free-to-air television again in 2014. The broadcast of the Qualifying Heats as a dedicated package on Sky and the Grand Final on Channel 9 are very important to the objectives we set-out to achieve during our three-year tender”. The one-hour programme commences at 3pm (AEDT) on Sunday 2 March and will include live coverage of the Chariots of Fire and Inter Dominion Grand Final in addition to a feature colour story. “They are looking at doing the human interest piece on James Rattray and Beautide, but of course he still has to make it through to the Grand Final”, Nati said. Beautide is currently the Championship favourite and will start long odds on in Saturday night’s second Inter Dominion Qualifying Heat at 8.30 (AEDT).
Mark Purdon knows that racing and luck don’t always go together. That is why he is sending his star four-year-old Border Control to Australia a week earlier than what was initially anticipated, giving him two chances to qualify for the $200,000 Chariots Of Fire on March 3. “We originally planned on using the Paleface Adios to qualify for the Chariots Of Fire, but after thinking things through, we have decided that if anything went wrong and he didn’t qualify in Paleface Adios we would have regretted not coming sooner,” said Mark Purdon. “That is why he will now head to Australia this week in order to contest the $A50,000 Hondo Grattan on Saturday,” he added. “If he wins he qualifies for the Chariots and if he doesn’t he will be able to start in the Paleface Adios the week later, effectively giving him two bites at the cherry.” Purdon said that he was thrilled with how the One Mile New Zealand Record Holder had worked last week and that he was expecting some big efforts from him across the Tasman. By Mitchell Robertson
Chilli Palmer officially set the track alight on Victoria Derby night, scorching the ground in the harness racing Garrards 4YO Bonanza. With Ginger Bliss and Guaranteed battling it out at the head of affairs in a 58.6sec first half after the 7.2sec lead time. From there the foot was put firmly to the floor with Guaranteed applying the acid test with a half mile to go as they roared through the third quarter in 26.6sec and the last quarter in 26.8secs. It was the son of Elsu, Chilli Palmer, with the one by one sit who peeled off the two leaders backs and charged through the line to go within 0.4sec of the track record. Coming off the back of a preparation that included a breathtaking win in the McInerney Classic in Perth, he has returned on the way to what could become a vintage Chariots Of Fire to be run on Inter Dominion day at Menangle. The race is likely to included runner up Guaranteed as well as Franco Nelson who was running on in the Hunter Cup. by Blake Redden Harness Racing Victoria
Miracle Mile entrant Im Victorious had a week's break in the paddock after finishing sixth in the WA Pacing Cup but will be ready to perform at his best in the Western Australian heat of the Inter Dominion on February 15th. Trainer Michael Brennan confirmed he is set to have his first serious workout this week and will have two more before he races again. "Im Victorious raced so well in the Fremantle Cup after coming home from the Victoria Cup off a similar preparation that I have decided to do exactly the same thing," Brennan said. "He was a little bit flat the day after the WA Pacing Cup but I guess that was a little bit expected after he carried the flat tyre for nearly the entire race but it didn't take him long to brighten up in the paddock and when I brought him back in after a week he was raring to go." Brennan is unsure of the travel arrangements should Im Victorious qualify for the Inter Dominion Grand Final. "I'm pretty sure Im Themightyquinn and Mysta Magical Mach got a Direct Flight into Sydney for the final from memory but it isn't really a concern for me until he actually qualifies, I am not getting too far ahead of myself." "I know the connections of Leda McNally are wanting to head across as well and then two horses might qualify from the Perth heat so it is all up in the air at the moment." Gary Hall Jnr will drive the horse for Brennan after partnering him in his last two starts. "Yeah that's the plan, nothing has changed after the WA Cup, Junior has got a Fabulous record and has won plenty of big races including the Inter Dominion." "It was a big thrill to be part of Inter Dominion day last year when Im Victorious competed in the Chariots Of Fire and it would be even more special to have a horse compete in the Inter Dominion itself, I'm looking forward to the series." Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |
Victorian trainer Andy Gath is planning on giving Caribbean Blaster only two more runs this campaign before the stallion heads to the paddock for a well deserved break. The son of Bettors Delight will head towards the Inter Dominion heat at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday week and if he qualifies will proceed straight to the final. "It is something that is different compared to what happened twelve months ago because last year I decided to give him a run at Geelong in between the Inter Dominion heat at Melton and the final at Menangle," Gath said. "The reason I did that last year is because he had contracted a virus which made his joints blow up and I was always pushing to have him fully fit because of the work he had missed during a crucial part of his campaign. This year with no hiccups it will be heat and then hopefully final." Gath was happy with how Caribbean Blaster recovered from his second placing in Saturday night's Hunter Cup. "That is one of his best attributes, he has an unbelievable recovery and even on Saturday night when he was swabbed after the race the attendant joked with me that surely the horse he was swabbing wasn't Caribbean Blaster because he didn't look like he had just competed in a two mile race." "I was really proud of him on Saturday night, even when he loomed up on the turn I didn't think he was the winner, he doesn't possess that real breathtaking quarter and if they broke 28 seconds for the final 400 metres I knew he was going to be up against it." Despite winning the Chariots Of Fire at Menangle Gath admits the horse has performed below his best when racing on the 1400 metre track recently. "He seems to drop the bit at Menangle and he did that in the Ballarat Cup last month and I now think he might have a tendency to do that when he is racing between horses so Kate (Gath driver) is going to have to keep that in mind in the future." Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |
Not even the bravest win of his career in the Hunter Cup has been enough to save Christen Me’s Inter Dominion campaign. The New Zealand pacing sensation will be officially withdrawn today from Inter Dominion series which culminates in a A$750,000 final in Sydney on March 2. That was even after he sat parked and fought off many of Australasia’s best pacers in the A$400,000 Hunter Cup at Melton on Saturday night. The Canterbury five-year-old was magnificent holding out Caribbean Blaster to break an eight-race drought and silence doubts about his will to win a decent group one scrap. But the victory took its toll. “He was a very tired horse today,” said trainer Cran Dalgety last night. “He has had a long, hard summer and to be honest he is about 25kgs below what I would like him to be because it is hard to put on weight while you are in full training. “So we are pulling the pin on the Interdoms, even though some people might find that strange because it is for such big money. “He will come home and go straight for an eight-week spell and then be set for the Grand Circuit again next season, when I am sure he will be bigger and stronger.” Dalgety said while it appeared Christen Me was sore soon after he crossed the line, he was sound yesterday and that in no way contributed to his connection’s decision. “He simply gave 101 per cent and you can only ask them to do that so many times. “And you have horses like Beautide, who was awesome at Menangle on Saturday night, Smolda and For A Reason who are going to be a lot fresher and harder to beat. “So our decision is made and is final.” Dalgety, who missed Saturday’s race because of a leg injury suffered on a jet ski, said Christen Me’s constant companion Murray Howard deserved much of the praise for Saturday’s group one victory. “Murray deserves so much of the credit,” says Dalgety. “I have been back and forth to Aussie and Auckland with this horse but Murray is the hands-on man. “And he is the perfect man for the job, he has a great attention to detail and loves this horse.” Those sentiments were echoed by driver Dexter Dunn, whose own attention to detail probably won the Hunter for Christen Me. He let him settle early before pressing on to sit parked, as he has in most big races this season, but instead of going for home once he had the leader beaten, Dunn sat up until the 180m mark. That kept key rival Restrepo pocketed but also meant he didn’t need to use the whip much on Christen Me, a key factor has he seems to resent more than most horses. “I was just a little patient and it was a fine line but it is still a big win, sitting parked to win a Hunter Cup.” Caribbean Blaster was a brave second on Saturday but had his chance while Auckland-owned The Gold Ace was similar in third, both being realistic Interdom contenders. First-time open class contending Kiwi four-year-old Franco Nelson was an eyecatching fourth and will contest at Inter Dom heat in two weeks before his connections decide on that series or the Chariots of Fire the same day. Fellow New Zealand-trained pacers Pembrook Benny, Mah Sish and Easy On The Eye finished well back the former not helped by an early break. But his trainer Barry Purdon tasted success earlier in night when Our Maxim won his heat of the Victoria Derby after a beautiful Zac Butcher drive. Butcher will partner him in this Saturday’s Derby, in which Purdon will also have Our Sky Major, who was a brave third in his heat behind a supersonic Bling It On. By Michael Guerin (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)
Kiwi star Christen Me has raced to a clear lead in the Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit standings after a determined victory in the Gr.1 $400,000 Del-Re National Food Group Hunter Cup at TABCORP Park, Melton last night. Sitting atop of the leaderboard with For A Reason with 160 points, the Cran Dalgety trained pacer has now established a clear lead after earning maximum points defeating a brave Caribbean Blaster and The Gold Ace in the 3280m stand start event. Beaten narrowly in last week’s Ballarat Cup behind Restrepo, the Cran Dalgety trained pacer went one better to claim Australia’s richest stand start race after racing without cover over the final 1200m. Under free-for-all conditions, the big field began safely with Abettorpunt shooting to the early lead while aging warrior Smoken Up quickly raced up on his outside and pressed for the lead. The lead time was covered in 125.4 seconds. Smoken Up continued to lead the field as moves continued to be made behind him, Franco Nelson was the first to pull three-wide which was then followed by Mah Sish, Restrepo and then finally, Christen Me. The first half of the final mile was covered in 29.9 and 31.4 seconds. Heading into the back straight for the final time, Smoken Up led Christen Me while Keayang Cullen made his move wider on the track which gave cover to Caribbean Blaster and The Gold Ace. With the back straight quarter covered in a controlled 28.9 seconds, the big field was tightly packed as they prepared to straighten. Christen Me raced up to Smoken Up while Caribbean Blaster and The Gold Ace both let down with their sprints. In a driving finish, Christen Me lasted narrowly from Caribbean Blaster with The Gold Ace a further 2.5 metres away in third. The final quarter was posted in 27.3 seconds. The mile rate was 1;59.2. “I was happy with how the race unfolded and I felt comfortable at the quarter, he dug deep in the straight to hold out Andy and Kate’s horse. It was a gutsy effort and I’m thrilled with the victory.” Winning driver Dexter Dunn said. The victory providing New Zealand with yet another victory in the great staying race, the Kiwis have now won 13 of the past 22 editions of the Hunter Cup. For Christen Me, it was his first victory on Melbourne soil after gallant placing’s in the recent Victoria and Ballarat Cups, it was his first win in Australia since claiming the Chariots Of Fire last year. The Christian Cullen – Splendid Dreams gelding is raced by his breeder Charlie Roberts along with Vicki Purdon. It was also a first for both trainer and driver, Cran Dalgety and Dexter Dunn toasting their maiden success in the Cup. Only two legs of the Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit series remain this season, the $750,000 Inter Dominion Grand Final on Sunday, March 2 at TABCORP Park, Menangle followed by the $250,000 Trillian Trust Auckland Cup at Alexandra Park on Friday, March 7. Christen Me now leads with 260 points followed by For A Reason (160), Caribbean Blaster (130), Beautide (120) and Terror To Love (104). Who will be crowned the 2013/14 champion – the race continues. By Chris Barsby (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)