THE Harness Jewels certainly lived up to some high expectations in my book last weekend!
Whilst the weather wasn’t perfect, it certainly didn’t dampen what was an extremely entertaining day of racing. Even the best cards generally have a race or two that may not live up to extreme levels of excitement, however, that could not be said for Cambridge’s meeting.
Star after star rolled on to the 1000-metre circuit in search of Group 1 success and, although the prizemoney may have been on a decline from prior years, very few big names were absent.
The Jewels concept is embraced by the industry in New Zealand and ensures the very best in each division have an opportunity to compete for an end-of-season title. It does not matter what sale the horse went through, or which state it was born in, it is open to all who have competed hard all season long.
Of course, it all comes down to the almighty dollar, but why couldn’t the concept work here?
In particular, feature two-year-old racing in Australia is heavily futurity based, with very few open Group 1 races scheduled, and they are Perth based. And when it comes to four-year-olds, the options are limited with many forced to take on open class races potentially too early.
The Breeders Crown looks best placed as the alternative, however it has become more Victorian centric in the past few seasons, and the move away from state-based heats have forced interstate visitors to travel away for extended periods lessening the support.
It would be great to see this series in its new time slot be tinkered with to really entice all comers for the superb prizemoney on offer.
Race days such as the Harness Jewels create build up and excitement for weeks prior, offer extended wagering opportunities in the lead up and I really love the Sunday afternoon time slot for luring new and old fans to the track.
GROUP 1 racing returns to Gloucester Park this evening with the running of the Pearl Classic for the juveniles.
Three heats were contested last week with FLOEWRITER, WHOS THE DAD and WHATARETHEODDS all saluting and subsequently drawing the front line.
The early burn for positions will be crucial, with several runners possessing good gate speed, however TAB punters can’t currently split THE MIKI TAKER (gate 4) and WHATARETHEODDS (gate 7) who are presently $3.10 equal favourites.
The star power certainly doesn’t end there this evening with LAVRA JOE lining up in tonight’s fourth event, whereas CHICAGO BULL is looking to find his winning form this preparation after being rolled as a short price favourite again last week.
Trent Cooper will be on track for Sky Racing this evening from harness headquarters in WA, bringing viewers plenty of winners!
THE King is back in business tomorrow night at his home base of Menangle.
The dual Miracle Mile victor and defending Blacks A Fake champion kick starts another campaign in the fifth event on the card over the 2300-metre distance, where he will go around as a very short punters elect.
Off the back of a 1.52.4 trial victory last Wednesday, the stallion will look to have two lead up runs at his home base before a Queensland assault, which will include the Group 1 Sunshine Sprint and Blacks A Fake.
His stablemate Bettor Enforce will also return on the card in what will be the fourth race, as she also eyes off Queensland Winter targets over the coming weeks.
Speaking of Queensland, SPANKEM will look for much better fortunes at Albion Park this week where he makes his official local debut.
After being wiped out at the start of last week’s Flashing Red handicap, the former Miracle Mile champion and last year's New Zealand Cup runner-up will face the mobile this time around over 2138 metres, starting from the outside post position.
Throughout the Albion Park, Menangle and Melton cards tomorrow evening there are several TAB Constellations hopefuls looking to raise their hooves for feature race slots.
Best of the weekend: R4 N7 at Menangle, Rocknroll Angel
Brittany Graham is a regular host on Sky Racing and the Sky Racing Active app, plus In The Gig with Ben Way and Gareth Hall every Tuesday night on Sky Racing 2 from 6pm.
The opinions expressed in The Forum are those of the author and may not be attributed to or represent policies of Harness Racing Victoria, which is the state authority and owner of thetrots.com.au.