CATCH A WAVE or LEAP TO FAME?
It’s quite remarkable that 16 months out from the contest, the conversations around the above star three-year-olds is already generating discussion ahead of the inaugural TAB Eureka.
Of course, it won’t be that simple and there will be several other horses emerge into contention, including this year’s relatively unexposed two-year-old crop.
At this stage, it looks unlikely that Queensland and Victoria’s top commodities will meet until the Victoria Derby in October, with both stars staying closer to home until that time-honoured feature.
Leap To Fame is enjoying some down time, while Catch A Wave (pictured) is looking for his first big-season target on Saturday night at Melton.
With half of the 12-race card Group 1 features, Catch A Wave will be a highlight when he goes around as a short-priced favourite in the three-year-old colts and geldings’ APG Gold Bullion Final from gate four. His heat performance when wide in a ridiculously fast opening 1200m before careering away to win untouched was outstanding, and third-up from a lengthy spell, he should be near his best. The other heat winner in progressive Rodney Lakey trainee LOCHINVAR JAG has been cruelled by a second row draw, along with LIGHTNING DAN and DISTRICT ATTORNEY.
With only seven starters in the three-year-old fillies’ division - five of which are from the Emma Stewart stable - JUST HOPE is looking to add to her NSW Oaks success of earlier this year after drawing the ace.
Winning her prelude against the same opposition from a wide gate, her early speed looks unlikely to be tested from gate one which should give Nathan Jack every opportunity to control the contest.
The APG Gold Bullion Victorian finals for two-year-old pacers will also be a Group 1 highlight, as will the Vicbred Home Grown Classic finals for juvenile squaregaiters.
New South Wales will again highlight its strengthening trotting calendar with this Saturday evening’s NSW Trotters Derby at Group 1 level for $100,000.
Last week's Oaks winner TOUGH LOVE will be looking to achieve the big double on her home track, and her manners and early speed will certainly play a major role.
COURAGE STRIDE was forced to play second fiddle to PLYMOUTH CHUBB in all the major Victorian juvenile features last year, but will be looking to snare a Group 1 of his own at his maiden trip away from home. Successful in two of his three runs back this time in, he will be driven by his champion trotting trainer Chris Lang (pictured).
Anton Golino will also form part of the strong Victorian assault with three runners representing the Yabby Dam team. AMANDINE was excellent when narrowly going down in last week's Oaks, and she will be looking to put it to the boys this weekend from the ace gate. Anton gave a very strong push for IRON LOVE on Thursday morning’s edition of ON THE PACE, declaring that he believes the colt will be one of his top horses going forward, however is still learning his craft. He will start from gate three, while KINGS GUARD will have to overcome the outside barrier after an indiscretion last time out.
The NSW Trotters Derby will be race five on Menangle’s nine-event Saturday night card, followed by the Group 3 Golden Easter Egg and Group 3 Bulli Trotters Cup.
The Queensland Constellations Carnival is only a few short weeks away from taking flight, and this week another big player was announced as an attendee.
LADIES IN RED has accepted an invitation to the Group 1 Rising Sun after her narrow defeat to TOUGH TILLY in last week's APG Final, with the latter staying closer to home.
Only tasting defeat on four occasions in her 22-start career, Ladies In Red will be looking to emulate last year's inaugural winner AMAZING DREAM with mares starting from inside the four-year-old boys in the preferential barrier draw system.
There are talks of another invite being offered within the next fortnight, so we will keep an ear to the ground!
BEST of the weekend – R6 N6 @ Albion Saturday Will The Wizard
VALUE of the weekend – R4 N4 @ Albion Saturday It Aint The Money
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.