Breeders Crown Finals
One track across 24 hours - eight Group 1 races, another six Group 2's and for dessert, a further two Group 3 events.
IF that's not mouthwatering then racing may not be for you.
Tabcorp Park Melton plays host to a two-night extravaganza of pacing and trotting finals with a tasty entree set down for Friday evening before the Group 1 action gets rolling Saturday night just west of Melbourne town.
Harness Racing is littered with excellent nights of racing action - whether its for the open age horses or for the youngsters who are out to chase the riches in series such as this Breeders Crown.
We are blessed with such gigantic cards of racing.
On this week's edition of the HARNESSED podcast, Adam Hamilton again joined me to preview the major races and track down a few bets for the weekend. Click on the link to listen to the podcast, but here is a snapshot of how we see things playing out, who we like in the main races and why.
3YO FILLIES (2240m, Group 1, $200,000) Where else should we start but the main event!?!
Our very best filly - Ladies In Red - versus New Zealand's killing machine - Bettor Twist.
Throw in Beach Music - unbeaten across this series - as well as Group 1 winners Tough Tilly and Joanna and we have all the ingredients for a race for the ages.
The barrier draw has been kind to us spectators as well, with Beach Music primed to lead, a role she so dearly loves, whilst the Kiwi superstar will almost certainly occupy the breeze - a position driver Anthony Butt says suits her well.
Ladies In Red - beaten just twice in her career - has the back row alley to contend with but she's an incredibly versatile and speedy filly who we know can win from anywhere. There's really no such thing as a bad barrier for a filly of her versatility and brilliance.
Beach Music almost certainly leads with King of Swing's little sister sitting in the breeze. There will be cat and mouse out the back as David Moran and Jackie Barker try and avoid doing the hard yards carting up the three-wide train.
In my view, whichever horse leads up the three-wide crew cannot win, but the horse immediately on its back most definitely can.
All in all, it's a race I doubt I'll bet into but will be most eagerly anticipating such is the depth of this crop of three-year-old fillies.
For what it's worth, I'm tipping Bettor Twist but the current price is poison. Anything north of $4 and Ladies In Red cannot be allowed to go round without something on.
Beach Music is also currently over the odds with most corporate bookies.
TIP - BETTOR TWIST to win but the best is LADIES IN RED at $4
3YO COLTS & GELDINGS (2240m, Group 1, $200,000) Like most of these races, Team Stewart/Tonkin are in this up to their ears.
Major Moth, Act Now and Beyond Delight are all brilliant colts at the head of this market. Act Now was the destroyer in the Victoria Derby and deserves favouritism from his front line alley but a back row gate is no enemy of Major Moth thanks to his stunning closing speed, whilst Beyond Delight brings incredible x-factor and untapped brilliance into this Group 1.
Tough talk has began with Andy Gath saying Yambukian may be keen to lead all of the way whilst Matthew Craven also believes his horse, Bettor Call Me, would not be relinquishing the lead should he cross from two.
Group 1-winning Queensland Derby winner, American Dealer, also comes back into contention after his dashing run in the semi.
Should Act Now get the top - a scenario I think is likely - then he becomes mighty hard to beat. He's a mean leader when Jodi Quinlan can allow him to bowl along in front.
Beyond Delight's sizzling final 200m caught everyone's eye. He must be respected but his price is too short for now. It's a race where I am almost certain one of the big three - Major Moth, Act Now, Beyond Delight - will win and I'm almost as confident Act Now gets the front - and wins.
TIP - ACT NOW to win $2.30
2YO COLTS & GELDINGS (2240m, Group 1, $300,000)
A strange old ruling has seen Catch A Wave removed from the draw, meaning he will contest this $300,000 event from gate 13.
In a way, it's made the race because this fella seems to have endless amounts of ability. His semi win was arrogant and he deserves to be a very warm pick, despite the ugly gate.
He's only been beaten once but he's tried to throw a few wins away thanks to some quirks that Team Gath are still trying to iron out.
In behind him, Interest Free dashed home to claim the opening semi so he must be respected but after Catch A Wave it's a race with a million scenarios and winning chances.
Three horses drawn well - Heza Son Of Agun, My Ultimate Baxter and He's Charlie's Angel - will all be desperate to get handy, either in front or in the breeze before Kate Gath jogs around to occupy a handy position. The longer it takes Kate to get around the less likely it becomes that whomever is in front decides to hand up.
From a knockout perspective, My Ultimate Skeeta and Queenslander Tim's A Trooper deserve some hope.
But, unless he beats himself, I am strongly in the corner of Catch A Wave.
TIP - CATCH A WAVE to win $2
2YO FILLIES (2240m, Group 1, $300,000) Professional thoroughbred punters who make a killing using SP (starting price) profiles as a guide to their betting will be shaking their collective heads with this one.
Emma Stewart filly, Sounds Perfect, was 50/1 on debut when running a gallant fourth from the death. Then, she was drawn out the back in her semi and went around at 30/1.
We now know that price was silly because she lopped them all and gave them a beating up the lane. Kerryn Manning produced her and went wide on the home bend and she just kept on trucking to the line.
Now, with a sweet draw (gate 4) we're being asked to take around $3. Madness!
She may well be a star on the rise but I cannot be pushing anyone into that short quote after she started such big odds in her first two tries.
It's a race where I give almost every runner some hope. So many of these fillies are relatively unexposed.
Sergios Rockets will get forward and involuntarily inject speed and tempo from the breeze, Enchipher will likely be looking to get off the pegs from gate eight whilst Petillante and Amore Vita will need luck from the back row.
With so many questions and so many unknowns, I'm chasing the knockout blow in this one so I am backing a few absolute smokies.
TIP: RICH BEAUTY $23, RELENTLESS ME $51, HEAVENLY SIGN $81 all small each way
Here is a short summary on the remaining major races; FRIDAY - TABCORP PARK MELTON Race 3 - 4YO TROTTING MARES On her best, Yabby Dam mare I'm Ready Jet would handle these but she's such a scary punting proposition with her propensity to jump off stride or find a way to get beaten.
Of late, she's been sound and trotting a treat so perhaps they've figured her out once and for all.
TIP - I'M READY JET to win $2.20
Race 4 - 4YO TROTTING ENTIRES & GELDINGS Like the mares version of the 4YO's, on his absolute best Cover of Darkness would thrash these. He's won 10/14 overall but has been unsighted since failing in the Trotting Championships on September 11.
I'm looking away from him because of that reason and the fact he's so skinny in the market.
I'll have something each way Builder Bob for Snooze Svanosio, a winner two starts back.
TIP - BUILDER BOB each way $18
Race 6 - BREEDERS CROWN GRADUATE TROTTERS FFA The best version of Majestuoso just wins this event.
But the best version of Always Ready could probably do the same, especially from in front.
Just Believe is a quality trotter for Mick Hughes whilst Wobelee would need to regain some of his best form to be winning this free-for-all for the trotters.
TIP - ALWAYS READY to win $4
Race 7 - BREEDERS CROWN GRADUATE PACERS FFA There must be some chance Supreme Dominator tries to lead all the way but I think it's most likely Willie Go West gets the top and becomes the horse to beat.
He's a weapon in front on the pegs. Off them he's 10/1.
San Carlo is second up from a spell and will be around to the breeze at some point whilst General Dodge will again look to give them windburn like he has at his past two runs.
On what we've seen in his past couple, big General Dodge will be winning this under a hold.
TIP - GENERAL DODGE $2.10
SATURDAY - TABCORP PARK MELTON
Race 1 - 4YO ENTIRES & GELDINGS Mach Dan has come up very short considering his past performances, which have been up and down but more down than up.
Honolua Bay was a supreme talent with David Aiken and turned up first up for Emma Stewart and blew them away. He needs to overcome the tough gate (11) but the way he performed when winning the 4 & 5YO Championships suggests he can handle this bunch.
Pacifico Dream and Jilliby Sylvester deserve some respect but I'd be surprised to anything upend the favourite or Mach Dan.
TIP - HONOLUA BAY to win $2.80
Race 2 - 3YO TROTTING COLTS & GELDINGS
With Kyvalley Hotspur drawing out the back, this race is wide open.
Watts Up Majestic is a quality up-and-coming horse for NSW trainer Rickie Alchin and he gets gate one here. Ollivici draws next door whilst Aldebaren Zeus and Parisian Artiste will also be on scene.
Mufasa Metro has not done much wrong since coming across from New Zealand but gate 13 will make life tough.
TIP - ALDEBAREN ZEUS to win $4
Race 3 - 2YO TROTTING FILLIES Who knows? Not I.
I am still making my way as a trotting punter so backing 2YO trotting fillies is less than up my alley.
Tough Love is no doubt a talented and well-bred filly for Rickie Alchin, with Chris Svanosio taking the steer. Just A Bit Touchy is a classy trotter for the Emma Stewart yard, but needs to overcome gate 13 and is prone to making the odd mistake.
TIP - JUST A BIT TOUCHY to win $2.70 (no confidence at all)
Race 4 - 2YO TROTTING COLTS & GELDINGS Plymouth Chubb is easily my favourite trotter and despite the incredibly short odds looms as the best bet on the card. He's won 11 on the spin since making a mistake on debut.
His win in the Redwood Classic was that of an arrogant and dominant horse who raced more like an older trotter than such a young and inexperienced type.
Behind him, Courage Stride gets every chance of sneaking into the quinella from gate one.
TIP - PLOYMOUTH CHUBB to win $1.55
Race 9 - 3YO TROTTING FILLIES
Queen Elida has had the better of rival Baglez on a few occasions, with the former making the odd mistake in those clashes.
Banglez gets the better draw and has the talent to usurp the Brent Lilley-trained filly.
Aldebaren Ursula gets a nice draw to lead or take a trail but she's had her chance to beat these two and could not do so.
TIP - No opinion, sorry.
Race 10 - 4YO MARES
Techys Angel tried to break the clock - and break Amazing Dream - last week but was outgunned by 150/1 chance Belladonna Girl. She's again been disrespected in the market and comes up at $61 here.
Amazing Dream was mammoth last week, chasing all the way in a 1:51.9 mile so provided she's not taken any ill-affects from that should be winning here.
The 2240m suits more so than the sprint trip. Maajida is drawn well in gate one but I'm not sure she's going anywhere near her absolute best when she was a three-year-old.
In the last race of a gigantic 24 hours of racing, I think the most well-credentialed horse at the meeting can be winning and adding to her 1.38m in earnings.
TIP - AMAZING DREAM to win $2.30