Have we caught our breath yet? Saturday night’s TAB Inter Dominion Pacing Final delivered the first result reversal in the series due to a protest after BONCEL BENJAMIN's connections successfully pleaded a case of interference.
This is not an ideal scenario for anyone involved, let's get that straight.
The eventual winners did not get to celebrate and revel in their horse crossing the line first, and then had an agonising 30-minute wait to eventually be awarded their result. Even something as simple as not having the winning photo with their horse’s head in front is another element that they don’t get to enjoy.
THE Inter Dominion is a series that was designed to reward the toughest and most durable standardbred in their chosen gait, by requiring all competitors to compete under gruelling conditions.
In its traditional format, three heats in a week followed up by a final the following, tests not only the physical stamina but the mental capabilities of the animal and in many ways their human counterparts as well.
These were the principles this time-honoured series were founded upon and the end result is the greatest racing that stands above all others.
Inter Dominion 2021 has finally arrived and this time around New South Wales plays host.
After an extended absence due to COVID-19, Australasia’s great harness racing prize hasn’t been up for grabs since December 2019 when staged in Auckland, New Zealand.
Each Inter Dominion is slightly different, with the host state responsible for setting their own conditions.
This is how the New South Wales 2021 edition will transpire.
THIS Saturday at Tabcorp Park Melton 10 Breeders Crown champions will be decided.
With just shy of $1.5million on offer, the big guns have come out to play and the racing is set to be outstanding.
The barrier draws on Monday evening threw even further intrigue to the eight Group 1s with extremely even contests and tough maps for a few of the major players.
While it doesn’t quite carry the glamour attached to the winter alternative, the exciting Queensland Summer Carnival will get underway tomorrow evening at Albion Park.
A bumper weekend awaits harness enthusiasts with a mammoth eight Group 1s across three different cards to be run in the next 72 hours.
THE final pieces of the Breeders Challenge puzzle will fall into place tomorrow night at Menangle.
Two semi-finals for the three-year-old fillies and two for the colts and geldings will take place, with the first five home in each guaranteeing their spots in next weekend's Group 1 finals.
The colts and geldings will have the first opportunity in races three and four with both looking to be hotly contested.
IN the Southern Hemisphere, particularly Australia, the pacing gait in harness racing has long been the dominant force.
With larger crop numbers, more prizemoney and a perceived larger popularity base for participants and punters alike, pacers have held much of the spotlight.
The winds of change are sweeping through, however, and the ‘squaregaiting squad’ is growing.
THE highly anticipated Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup meeting has arrived at its new location of Bendigo and the fields assembled have lived up to all expectations.
Open class pacers will clash in the marquee event for $300,000 after the $200,000 Lather Up Victoria Derby for the three-year-old colts and geldings, the Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Oaks for the girls and the best trotters will have their opportunities in the Aldebaran Park Bill Collins Sprint.
While it's disappointing the COVID situation won’t allow an on-course audience to enjoy such elite harness racing in the flesh, the buildup has been exciting with plenty of hotly contested lead ups, and Sky Racing Active will take us into the heart of the meeting tomorrow evening.
After a deep dive into the form for the four Group 1s, here are my thoughts.
FASTEN your seatbelts harness racing fans: Things are about to step up a notch with a frenetic last three months to come in the 2021 season.
Bendigo is the centrepiece of the Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup Carnival, hosting the TAB Smoken Up Sprint and the Aldebaran Park Chris Howe Trotters Free For All as well as the Derby and Oaks heats this weekend before a blockbuster card of four Group 1s the following.
Ominous signs were signaled out of the Menangle trials on Wednesday for those targeting the Victoria Cup.
One of the narratives of the 2020 season was the brilliant rivalry that developed between LADIES IN RED and TOUGH TILLY throughout their futurity features.
In a wonderful closure to their season-long stoush, Tough Tilly (pictured) turned the tables on Ladies In Red at their final meeting in the Vicbred Super Series, after the latter had seemingly had the advantage.
Preparations take another step up for the Victoria Cup tomorrow evening at Bendigo.
The Group 1 VHRC Caduceus Classic has brought together a field of high-quality aspirants for the $300,000 prize pool on offer come October 9, which is rapidly approaching.
Who is the best four-year-old in the west?
That may become a little clearer this afternoon at Gloucester Park after the running of the York Cup.
The score is currently one apiece between MINSTREL and MAGNIFICENT STORM after they clashed during the 4yo Classic and Golden Nugget earlier this year, with there only being a neck separating the duo at their last meeting.
Group 1 racing will return to Kilmore tomorrow evening with two trotting features for a select but strong group of three-year-olds.
Graduates of the Australasian Premier Trotting Sales will line up for $50,000 in their gender divisions over the 2180m trip, with further big race features over the coming months no doubt in the plans for most.
Last year’s crop of juvenile trotting fillies was an incredibly open division, with the spoils shared and luck in running the winning of most features.
THIS week, COVID has reared its ugly head in the harness racing community and brought the industry to a halt in Victoria.
In what has been a challenging now 18 months for everybody, racing in Australia has come through in the big scheme of things, relatively unscathed.
When most other major sports were forced to stop and pivot, racing has done a remarkable job of continuing in a regular manner for the majority of jurisdictions.
THE future of harness racing is in safe hands.
Right around Australia, fresh faces are making their presence felt on the racetrack and subsequently premiership standings.
In Queensland, seven of the top ten drivers on the state-wide premiership are under the age of 30, with Pete McMullen on target to go back-to-back come season’s end. The success story of Angus Garrard is no secret, and he continues to make a name for himself with plenty of supporters, however there is several others driving plenty of winners with the state being renowned for concession claim opportunities.
The Australasian harness racing scene now takes a few months of feature race rest and recovery after a jam packed first half of the year.
While there are still feature races here and there over the coming months, the next carnival of note will be when Victoria steps back into the spotlight headlined by the Pryde's EasiFeed Victoria Cup meeting on October 9.
In past years, we would be well in truly in the thick of Breeders Crown preparations, however, with that series pushed back to November, most of the big guns are taking the opportunity for a freshen up.
So where are the stars out of the carnival off to next?
It's Queensland’s night of nights with the running of the TAB Blacks A Fake at Grand Circuit level tomorrow.
Named after a Queensland modern day pacing champion and a winner of 4 Inter Dominion’s, the field will go over ‘Blackie’s’ favourite trip, the staying distance of 2680m.
With an undercard, if you could call it that, of a further five Group 1 status events – Saturday night is certainly the jewel in this carnival's crown.
While there have been some blow out results across the feature races so far, it's important we finish strong, and this is how I have assessed the Group 1s at Albion Park this weekend.
NIGHT two of the Albion Park TAB Constellations Carnival is on our door step with another superb 10-race card to get under way just after 5pm tomorrow evening.
The festivities grow to three Group 1s this week, including the time-honoured Sunshine Sprint and Darrell Alexander Memorial Trotting Championships, while another new prestige event will have its first running, with the mares doing battle in the Golden Girl.
An event which was strongly advocated for by the voice of harness racing in Queensland, Chris Barsby, an open class mares feature does really compliment the carnival with basically every category of horse now catered for.