Some excellent racing has been assembled for Wednesday, with Caulfield the main focus for Blue Sapphire Day. Here are my five plays for the afternoon.
The $1.1 million Group 1 Inter Dominion series has had three sensational heats with it all to come down to the Grand Final over 2936m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
It’s a big night of 11 races which include some great races in WA, including the Group 1 Golden Nugget and the Inter Dom Consolation race (The Golden Nugget likely certainty, Ultimate Machete, could probably run top four in the Inter Dominion but is about $1.10 or worse!).
The excitement will really peak for the Grand Final, where the likes of Lazarus, Lennytheshark, Soho Tribeca, Tiger Tara, and Chicago Bull will fight it out in the field of 10. It’s arguably one of the best harness races in years and there’s more buzz for this race than I’ve seen in some time.
Each heat has changed the shape of the expected Final, and the barrier draw has given the race a thousand possibilities with the best horses drawn on both rows.
That barrier draw has Tiger Tara and Lazarus drawn in barriers 1 and 2 respectively, with WA’s Soho Tribeca in four and Lennytheshark in six. That puts an obvious speed burn early, where Lazarus will be trying to cross and find the lead.
The warhorse Tiger Tara will be hoping to hold up against the mighty Lazarus, who set the track record in heat three just seven days ago over 2536m. The 2936m will test them all and that may mean we don’t see Soho Tribeca trying to fly the gate too early, but if that’s the only way he can win it, Kim Prentice might be pushing him hard early. Expect him to be just off the pace though.
Chicago Bull, in barrier 10, should find a trail from the second row and hope that the leaders spend all their tickets early – he’s at least an each-way chance in that case. Garry Hall Jnr, the wizard of Gloucester Park, has the drive which gives him a boost.
If Lazarus finds the rail without needing an incredible amount of petrol to do so at the start, he shouldn’t let anything run past him, but some great harness form analysts do like the local hero in Chicago Bull.
Lennytheshark was a little disappointing in a strong heat before this but will need some luck to find a position to challenge – he’s all class though. San Carlo, at $61, has had some fun in the heats and will be at his best close to the lead if he can find it.
Lazarus is in black-figures ahead of the race which shows how much uncertainty there is in the race, and it’ll be a thrilling spectacle. I can’t go past him, but the Inters often see surprises.
Lloyd Williams clearly hasn’t decided to settle with six Melbourne Cups – he’s already refreshing his horses with five Galileo-bred colts arriving into Melbourne this week, as reported by Racenet. All are four-year-olds, and the five come to Australia via Aidan O’Brien and Ballydoyle in Ireland:
Douglas Macarthur – winner of the Group 3 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial, and the most experienced runner with 11 starts.
Exemplar – third in the Group 2 Juddmonte Beresford Stakes at The Curragh in 2016, second in the G3 Kilternan Enterprise Stakes at Leopardstown in September. He looks the least likely of the lot on paper, which means very little at this stage of his career!
Orderofthegarter – winner of the Leopardstown 2000 Guineas Trial where he notably defeated the Group 2 Zipping Classic winner, The Taj Mahal, and Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes (where he
Spanish Steps – winner of the Group 3 Ballyroad Stakes in August, beating Johannes Vermeer.
Venice Beach – winner of the Group 3 Chester Vase – ran a notable second to Cracksman in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur, and was third in the G1 Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris. Possibly the pick of the five?
How did Jack Kennedy stay on? …and how did he then go on to win?
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) December 7, 2017