ID22 preview - BALLARAT
The Inter Dominion is the Harness Racing brand recognised across the broader sporting community.
The ever popular juvenile racing series' and the evolving pop-up or slot races are gaining traction but an Inter Dominion series is the pinnacle of our sport.
And, if we learned anything from 2021, this is a series where you can never ever take anything for granted. Just ask Expensive Ego… and just ask eventual champion Boncel Benjamin.
In the trotting ranks, it feels are we have an exposed pecking order with some of the sport’s very best engaged. 34 trotters, headlined by Andy Gath’s star MAJESTUOSO, Brent Lilley’s super young mare QUEEN ELIDA and Kiwi raider BOLT FOR BRILLIANCE with the incomparable Tony Herlihy here to oversee the 5-year-olds campaign.
The pacers look more even - and perhaps with a genuine superstar in the ranks.
EXPENSIVE EGO is a proven performer across an ID, MAJESTIC CRUISER is in rare form whilst SPIRIT OF ST LOUIS has been in plenty of big races and performed incredibly well in almost all of them.
Then we have local hopes, BETTER ECLIPSE, HONOLUA BAY and MACH DAN - among others.
We kickstart the series at Bray Raceway, Ballarat this Saturday night - where we hope - the weather will be kind… because the recent weather has been very very unkind.
For those unfamiliar with an Inter Dominion series, we race unlike anything the gallopers can ever dream about completing.
Three heats within a 7-day period and then a massive Grand Final 7 days later!
Ballarat opens the series, with Shepparton playing host on Tuesday evening then we circle back to Geelong Saturday week.
Then… the ID22 Grand Final - for both the trotters and pacers - will be on December 10 @ Tabcorp Park Melton.
What a series we have ahead.
Let’s get stuck into the six heats…
TROTTERS - HEAT 1 (Race Two)
QUEEN ELIDA is the headline act but the Tubbs/Sugars runner JUST BELIEVE will likely be on the pace earliest. The Queen will get a nice run through and can cruise along and make any kind of move the race demands. The Love You mare has only missed a place 4 times across a brilliant 28-start career!
LOTAMUSCLE is a talented trotter who performed well in ID21 but was a shade disappointing last weekend when a short-priced favourite.
CHINESE WHISPER might be the blowout hope whilst PARISIAN ARTISTE is also a hope on its best form.
TROTTERS - HEAT 2 (Race Three)
This will be the race of the evening.
Drawn one, the 2022 Great Southern Star champion MAJESTUOSO….
Drawn next door is the multiple Group 1-winning Kiwi star BOLT FOR BRILLIANCE who has shaken off any doubts and made his way down under for a shot at this Inter Dominion.
Also in this amazing heat, SUNDONS COURAGE, off the back of a nice win, and ALWAYS READY who will go around massive odds but is a very talented horse.
And we must not forget the fan favourite… PINK GALAHS.
The mini-mare has not raced for 11 months but her class is undeniable.
Her handful of Group 1’s remind us she cannot be discounted despite a less-than-desirable preparation.
TROTTERS - HEAT 3 (Race Four)
We lack the class of heat 2 in this one, but we are nowhere near knowing who will win thanks to an intriguing barrier draw.
MUFASA METRO is a quality animal for John Justice - but - his major weapon is elite gate speed and he’s drawn 10, so we can cancel out that as an advantage.
ONE OVER ALL is the 2nd of the Tubbs/Sugars gun trotters and this 4YO gets the barrier advantage. His runner-up performances in the Yarra Valley and Maryborough Cups were solid but he will need to step up to be winning a series like this. The talent is there!
BEEFOUR BACARDI is a West Australian trotter joining the all-conquering Stewart/Tonkin team off the back of nine wins from his past 10 runs.
No doubt this is a rise in grade but he’s a proven winner and he leaves Michael Young to join the No. 1 stable in Victoria… big watch.
ROBBIE ROYALE, MAJESTIC HARRY - for our very own Brittany Graham, good luck Britt - or VACATION HILL could all bob up.
PACERS - HEAT 1 (Race Five)
Now we move onto the pacers.
MACH DAN gets the prime gate to jump, lead and be winning the opening heat for Emma Stewart. It’s a deep heat, though, with last year’s ID runner-up EXPENSIVE EGO drawn out the back, you’d imagine Luke McCarthy will be putting this big fella into the race at some stage. But there is a real query whether big Ego is at his brutal best…
ACT NOW was dominant in the 4YO Breeders Crown but likely needs to ride the breeze here… THE BLACK PRINCE is always dangerous as are horses like WOLF STRIDE, LONGFELLOW and CRIME WRITER who loves tracking the speed.
MACH DAN looks the likely winner but whatever happens behind that is up for significant debate.
And as we know… ensuring you avoid dropping out in a heat is key to getting toward an Inter Dominion Grand Final.
PACERS - HEAT 2 (Race Six)
This is one of the most unknown quantities on hand.
Sure, we have three of the series favourites in MAJESTIC CRUISER, HONOLUA BAY and SPIRIT OF ST LOUIS but all are drawn out the back and will need to do work or rely on early pace. The decision for Cam Hart on Majestic Cruiser is so interesting… off the back of an NZ campaign… does he stick to the fence and drive for luck or come off and drive his horse like the best in the race ?
ZEUSS BROMAC is an interesting runner who has gate speed and might be keen to lead throughout. He’s a Group 1 winner in Victoria.
TRIPLE EIGHT is capable, as is TANGO TARA from barrier one.
PACERS - HEAT 3 (Race Seven)
Another Tubbs/Sugars entrant gets the gun run here and every possible opportunity to strike a blow. BETTER ECLIPSE draws 1 but deciding whether to lead - or who to trail - is the big decision for connections.
There might be speed rushing across early from A G WHITE SOCKS, BONCEL BENJAMIN and MAX DELIGHT so the pressure could be on in the opening two furlongs.
TORRID SAINT might get run of the race and potentially a look at the new Ballarat sprint lane whilst West Aussie runner TOO FAST TOO SERIOUS will be a fun watch.
MY SELECTIONS AND BEST BETS
Race Two - (9) QUEEN ELIDA win ($2)
Race Three - (6) ALWAYS READY each way ($101)
Race Four - (8) VACATION HILL each way ($34)
Race Five - (10) EXPENSIVE EGO win + (3) CRIME WRITER and (1) FOCUS STRIDE each way
Race Six - (12) SPIRIT OF ST LOUIS win ($4.40)
Race Seven - (8) TORRID SAINT each way ($11)