WHILE many of my AFL peers direct their attention towards Melbourne’s spring thoroughbred racing carnival, I look forward to the standardbreds taking centre stage.
Harness racing is my preference and I have fallen in love with the sport thanks to my father-in-law-to-be’s insistence on me sitting down and watching VHS replays of his great mare, Mendelico, winning races at Moonee Valley.
I nodded my head and told Harvey how great his replays were but, in truth, I was wondering what the heck a sulky was and who the heck ‘‘The Puppet’’ was. Today, hardly a day goes by where I am not checking the racing results or reading about the sport.
Harness racing is a sport true to its roots. You can own a share in a horse for about $10 a week and while stables ran by Emma Stewart, Mark Purdon and Gary Hall Sr dominate many feature races, there are just as many hobby owners and syndicates claiming a slice of that winning feeling.
Scroll through my Twitter account and you’ll see you can get as much joy from winning a country race at Maryborough on a Monday as you do winning a Group 1 at Melton.
Saturday night marks a special time for Victorian harness racing with the return of the Inter Dominion. Western Australia proved a magnificent host for the past three years with Lennytheshark, Smolda and Lazarus victorious.
There is no horse engaged this series with the class of a Lazarus or Lenny, but there is an evenness about the crop.
Will fan favourite San Carlo continue his meteoric rise or does the amazing story of Kima Frenning continue with Wrappers Delight? Or does the phenomenon that is the All Stars stable continue with Cruz Bromac or Spankem?
Any horse can win this series and that’s what will make it so fantastic.
I am stoked to be heading trackside and on grand final night when these horses go to war to be crowned Inter Dominion champion and join some of the true greats of the sport.
Come along, say hello and make sure you give me a good tip.
MY TIP: Wrappers Delight $7
MY ROUGHIE: My Alpha Rock $41
NIGHT ONE HEATS
My Alpha Rock is apparently desperate to lead which should leave Tiger Tara in the breeze and Wrappers Delight one-one. Wrappers Delight becomes my winning pick in that scenario but the x-factor is Kiwi Im Pats Delight who has been in ripping form in New Zealand. Spankem is the only other winning hope but he’s be a surprise because it’s hard to know where he lands in transit and this barn is notorious for slowly winding up their horses throughout the series.
Selections: 1 Wrappers Delight, 2 Tiger Tara, 3 Im Pats Delight, 4 My Alpha Rock
Ellmers Image has been incredibly heavily backed in early markets but fellow New South Wales pacers Franco Nelson and Mach Doro seem more likely winners. Victorian hopefuls San Carlo and Shadow Sax are the top picks in the race but gates 10 and 12 will prove difficult to overcome. West Australian Galactic Star won a heat last year and looms as the only knockout winning hope.
Selections: 1 San Carlo, 2 Franco Nelson, 3 Shadow Sax, 4 Mach Doro
Cruz Bromac will be leading but will he be winning? The $1.28 is poison in my opinion but finding one to beat him is tricky. Let It Ride is proven at the level but will be buried on the pegs while Cash N Flow will get a perfect trip but was convincingly beaten in last week’s Geelong Cup. Our Uncle Sam looks a nice place play however this race looks certain to be dominated by horses on the markers.
Selections: 1 Cash N Flow, 2 Cruz Bromac, 3 Our Uncle Sam, 4 Let It Ride