A Harnessed Triple-Treat
Harness Racing begins with a Country Cup at my hometown, Swan Hill, and rolls along all weekend with Group 1 racing in New South Wales, Saturday at Melton and at Maryborough on Sunday afternoon with the all-trotting card.
On this week's edition of HARNESSED I was joined by RSN's Gareth Hall for an in-depth look at the Swan Hill feature, the Queen of the Pacific and 4&5YO Championships at Melton as well as the New South Wales Breeders Challenge and Len Smith Mile at Menangle.
Gareth also strutted his stuff in regards to Sunday's Redwood Day at the 'borough where he tipped a few for us. He also declared a couple of MORALS - which we love, although it's very dangerous!
Alright, time to get stuck into this mammoth weekend of Harness action.
LEN SMITH MILE (Group 1, 1609m, $100,000) Expensive Ego enters as the top dog - there's no mistaking that but there are a few in the mix to knock off the $1.80 favourite.
Burnham Boy and Ignatius have drawn inside Expensive Ego and both can muster enough speed to get to the top. Ego lacks gate speed but if the rest burn up early you'd imagine Luke McCarthy may be able to roll to the top at the 1000m or simply sit outside them and be too good, just like its Chariots of Fire victory.
Of the roughies, Spirit Of St. Louis has a boom on him and Line Up must be respected as a Derby winner although this is a considerable step up.
Alta Orlando possesses wicked gate speed and may well be wound up at the start whilst who'd have thought Boncel Benjamin would be in the market in a race like this?
TIP - Expensive Ego $1.80 (very confident).
NSW BREEDERS CHALLENGE FINALS TIPS 2YO COLTS & GELDINGS: My Ultimate Byron $2.25 2YO FILLIES: Captain's Queen $2.80 3YO COLTS & GELDINGS: Bar Room Banta $4 3YO FILLIES: Anntonia $1.55
QUEEN OF THE PACIFIC (Group 1, 2760m, $100,000) Amazing Dream clashes with her own sex again, which should mean an easier task but she has a habit of knocking off the boys and getting upended by the girls.
She draws well here but may not be the leader. The Pantheist led and won in great fashion last week so you'd imagine the intentions would remain the same.
Whether the class and staying prowess of having Amazing Dream breezing up against you is too much is a good debate. Handing up to Amazing Dream also all but counts out Spellbound as a winning chance as she'd be three back on the fence and needing luck.
Maajida and Techy's Angel are quality mares but will need to overcome incredibly difficult barriers. Of the blowouts, It's Ebonynivory was a brilliant run last week and could be thrown into quaddies.
TIP - Amazing Dream $1.75.
4 & 5YO CHAMPIONSHIPS (Group 2, 2240m, $75,000) OK - I'm confused.
Honolua Bay is a richly talented pacer who jumps from Team Aiken to Team Stewart-Tonkin. His best is extremely good but he's first up in a deep and strong race. And he's by no means assured of leading.
The horses who ran the quinella in the Maryborough Gold Cup - Willie Go West and Our Millionaire - both draw handsomely here, particularly Our Millionaire who should be leaders back or at worst three-back from the ace alley.
Willie Go West has immense talent and Gareth was talking this horse up as a future Group 1 performer - so he must be in the finish here.
I can entertain a few drawn off the back.
Boots Electric has been lethal off cold trips (see his 4YO Bonanza win) and Pacifico Dream is a horse with the class and force to breeze up and be in the finish.
Out To Play enjoys following a tempo and Max Delight is a last start Victoria Cup winner but champion driver Chris Alford jumps off to steer Willie. Anthony Butt takes the steer on Max Delight, so he loses minimal.
On a tempo dependent basis, I think the class runners are all drawn off the back so I'm keen to play a few who are around 10/1.
TIP - Out To Play, Pacifico Dream, Max Delight all each way.
VICTORIA TROTTERS DERBY (Group 1, 2690m, $75,000)
What a deep and classy renewal we have of this three-year-old classic for the trotters.
Some of last week's heats were of immense quality and could've passed as Finals in their own rights. Kyvalley Hotspur was a fantastic winner of his heat and draws to lead from two. Mufasa Metro - a recent addition to Aussie trotting - will get the plum trip from one whilst Senitas Strength adds to the early tactics in three.
Aldebaren Zeus was excellent winning last weekend, but he cops a slightly tricky draw from six whilst Central Otago, Utopia and even Ollivici can factor in from their back row alleys.
I've left a couple out who are prominent in the market but that goes to show the strength and depth of this Group 1 trotting event.
TIP - Mufasa Metro each way $8.
REDWOOD CLASSIC (Group 1, 2190m, $50,000) How can you not love Plymouth Chubb?
As a baby trotter, he's been incredibly mature and professional, winning all eight races he's fully participated in. Kerryn Manning drives him beautifully for dad, Peter, and not even a back row gate should stop his winning streak.
King City is an interesting NSW raider for Rickie Alchin, whilst Chris Svanosio takes the reins on Alchin's other entrant - Tough Love. A winner of 4 from 8, the daughter of Love You can be in the finish.
Courage Stride represents nice each way value whilst Emma Stewart can be a factor in this trotting Group 1 with Just A Bit Touchy leaving from gate four with Kate Gath doing the steering.
High On Love is another intriguing runner from New Zealander Josh Dickie's barn. Gate eight should see this horse get a cosy trip, looking for gaps from the 600m mark.
TIP - Plymouth Chubb $2.50.
BEST BETS: MENANGLE 6/4 Expensive Ego $1.75
5/11 My Ultimate Byron $2.25 7/3 Anntonia $1.55
MARYBOROUGH 6/11 Plymouth Chubb $2.50
Enjoy a gigantic Harness weekend... and gamble with absolute responsibility!!