INTER DOMINION GRAND FINALS
The 2021 Inter Dominion had many question marks surrounding it in the weeks and months leading into the series - and most of those were negatively slanted.
But, with 15 heats of ID21 in the books, we have found more than our fair share of storylines leading into the pacing and trotting Grand Finals this Saturday evening at Tabcorp Park Menangle.
The Inter Dominion is - and always should be - the pinnacle of Harness Racing in this part of the world.
Since the move away from the Perth ID, Auckland, Melbourne and now Sydney have had an opportunity to showcase our grandest event.
The trotters and pacers will thunder around Menangle over 3000m in a gruelling test of stamina.
This week, I spoke with Luke McCarthy on HARNESSED about his chances in his partnership with training wife, Belinda. Team McCarthy has done a remarkable job across the pacing series, with Expensive Ego and King of Swing winning all three of their heat runs whilst Spirit of St. Louis also claimed a heat win as well as running two further placings.
Luke gave the lowdown on Expensive Ego's gate speed, where he thinks King of Swing will be in the run as well as the chances of Spirit of St. Louis and veteran Alta Orlando.
Here is my lowdown on the pacing and trotting Grand Finals...
INTER DOMINION TROTTING GRAND FINAL (3009m, Group 1, $150,000)
What an even and unpredictable race we have here.
There's no superstar trotter engaged here, that much is for sure, but we have a handful of really gritty and tenacious horses.
None fit that bill more so than Victorian mini-mare, Pink Galahs. She's fast and ferocious and you get the feeling she's ready to peak in this staying final. Matthew Craven knows this mare so well and will have her primed for a tilt at ID glory.
Maori Law is a horse I'm keen on. Greg Sugars is the right man in the bike and his form has been building nicely across the fortnight of racing.
You must also give great respect to Victorian trotter The Penny Drops, who is as tough as teak and Majestic Man who was anointed the pre-series favourite but has been up and down throughout the series and whether he can cop the extended journey is another query. Gate two will help.
Tough Monarch loves Menangle but is a way off his best form. Timothy Red also deserves a mention. A winner of two heats and driven quietly at Newcastle - he's a knockout chance, despite the tricky back row alley.
TIPS - MAORI LAW $5.50
INTER DOMINION PACING GRAND FINAL (3009m, Group 1, $500,000)
To me, this is most certainly a race in two.
King of Swing - the been there, done that champ - versus four-year-old stable mate, Expensive Ego.
Question marks were over Expensive Ego a few weeks ago before he blew them away at Menangle and rolled into the ID21 series in fine form.
He's been a powerhouse in all three heat runs, breaking track records and thrashing good horses.
No. 1 seed in the McCarthy barn, King of Swing, will need to be exactly that after drawing out the back. Luke McCarthy told us on Harnessed he was fine with making a mid-race move and believed the horse was now more versatile and proven in more ways than just leading in its races.
Outside of the major pair, I can cop Spirit of St. Louis and Triple Eight as place chances but how can you bet into that market if you believe - like I do - that the big guns will run one-two then you've playing for only one spot.
In a world where King of Swing or Expensive Ego fail, maybe Max Delight and Malcolm's Rhythm - both trained by David Aiken - could pounce.
Expensive Ego's main problem is ensuring he does not get buried on the pegs whilst King of Swing will not want to be burning too many tickets trying to get up onto speed.
Aside from those two troubles, I am as certain as can be that both will run the quinella.
TIPS - KING OF SWING $2.40
Thanks to Soho Tribeca, Harness Racing Victoria and Alabar for their ongoing support!