Plenty of Vic hopefuls will be chasing northern glory at Albion Park on Saturday, when features will include the Garrards Sunshine Sprint.
Let's take a closer look at news in the trots and preview the big races, including top tips for night two of the 2023 Queensland Constellations Carnival.
The heat's about to rise this winter as Victorians cast their eyes north for the Queensland Constellations Carnival.
Josh Jenkins fires up his Harnessed show for a special look at our raiders ahead of this Saturday's Group 1 The Rising Sun.
Today is New Zealand Trotting Cup day. A monster build-up in two countries culminates with a gruelling two miles to find out who is the champion stayer of Australasia.
An ordinary Monday morning involves dragging yourself into another week of working, preparing, caring for and planning for the week.
Whether you are an admin assistant, a plumber or harness racing trainer - a Monday morning can seem overwhelming.
But this is no ordinary Monday morning and there is no complacency or monotony here in Christchurch.
My next few days need to be shared with The Forum’s readers - I'm on my way to Addington, Christchurch, New Zealand for the 2022 NZ Cup. And I am as pumped as pumped can be.
We have all been guilty. We have all been a prisoner of the moment.
And some of us are in that boat right now - after a Summer of Glory to remember, one which has presented harness racing with so many positives and so many ways to build the sport moving forward.
The world has endured unthinkable challenges for two years.
Right here right now, COVID-19 is still haunting our everyday life. The masks are back. The case numbers are sky high. The concern is real.
But, harness racing is prevailing. And there's simply no better way to showcase the sport than Vicbred Super Series finals night.
The Breeders Crown series can mount a strong argument that it's the best age-restricted racing we have in harness racing.
The prizemoney is outstanding and the competition always even, with horses and connections coming from far and wide to attack the heats and semi-finals for a run at a Crown.
So, as we inch closer to the mammoth Saturday evening, with eight Group 1s and a pair of Group 2s, I thought I’d stroll back through some of the more memorable performances in Breeders Crowns across the past decade.
It’s time for a few to stand up.
Harness racing is blossoming in so many areas. TrotsVision is humming, our drivers and trainers are as competitive as ever and engagement in our great sports seems vibrant and constant.
What we need right now is for some good horses to turn into attention-grabbing superstars.
At my count - in Victoria - we have just one household name.
Sports broadcasting has never been more important.
Yeah, sure, it’s always been ‘cool’ (in a completely uncool way) to diss the media, but with the conditions we are almost all currently living in we’ve never relied upon the media more. And, across the next few weeks, we are blessed to still have elite level harness racing on offer.
There are few feelings as good as that winning feeling.
Trying to associate just one word with where the sport of harness racing currently stands is hard to do.
The incredibly unfortunate reality with any level of competitive sport is injury.
Countless athletes across every sport you can think of have had their respective careers cut short, or ended, because of devastating - and often completely random - injuries.
And harness racing is unfortunately not immune to this fact, with some of our brightest stars going amiss far too early in their racing lives.
Trainers are continually learning about advanced preparation and recovery techniques and the equipment they have to train the stock is getting better and better each year. Yet, we continue to see gun horses succumb to often unpreventable issues.
This is not a column bemoaning injuries or even querying the reasoning for injuries, because I know first hand how well my own horses are cared for and how far trainers and connections will go to ensure the health of their horse is of the utmost importance.
This is about reminiscing on some of my favourite horses who did have their racing career’s cut short but when healthy performed at the absolute elite level.
Here are a bunch who were breathtaking in full flight but lost to the track at or before they reached the peak of their powers…
In the last column I wrote for The Forum, I posed a question as to which race you’d most like to win as an owner?
And despite this race being the most taxing on the animal and carrying the lowest cash purse, the feedback overwhelming went towards the prestige of the Inter Dominion.
That did surprise me but it also speaks to the brand recognition that comes with the Inter Dominion.
I pose a simple question … which race would you most like to win?
Let’s just imagine you own one of harness racing’s big guns and you can choose which race he/she goes on and wins. Fanciful, I know, but it’s fun to dream every once in a while.
Every horse I buy into is the next superstar of the sport until he’s not! So why not dream big!?
Winning major races comes via hard work, collaboration and everyone playing their role to a tee.
A horse needs to have some god given ability thanks to it’s breeding - or the odd freak of nature who defies all the breeding buffs - a trainer is tasked with giving the horse the very best care and therefore the very best chance come race day and the driver’s job is to make split-second decisions to give the horse every chance of victory.
Each role is crucial and none any less important than the next.
Anyone who has taken the time to check out my Unofficial Harness Racing Power Rankings (my completely unofficial name for the best horses in the game) will know I love a list.
I mean, who doesn’t!?!
Usually the power rankings are reserved for the best of the best - the open class stars who win a Miracle Mile or a Hunter Cup or a New Zealand Cup, but I’m changing tact for this list and - due largely to a pair of needy twins - the list has been cut back from 10 to an elite five.
This bunch of standardbreds are the ‘it’ horses of today. Those who are in the midst of their stardom and will own the headlines for the next 12 months.
Basically, we’ve lined up every horse in Australasia and picked out the top five … just like we did when picking our school footy team for lunch time at primary school.
Unable to see any of the racing from Tabcorp Park Melton last week due to those pesky footy commitments in Sydney, I eagerly jumped online as we travelled home to check on the results and what has become a familiar scene awaited me on thetrots.com.au.
Once again, the female brigade dominated the card with a handful of winners coming from the opening six races on the Melton card.
Reigning driving premiership winner Kate Gath led the way teaming up with husband Andy to win the opening two races as well as guiding Yianni to victory for another dominant Harness Racing female, Emma Stewart. Record breaking driver/trainer Kerryn Manning claimed a win aboard Glenavril King at generous odds and Sofia Arvidsson left them standing with Crime Writer winning race six.
In my short time as a harness racing fan, I’ve seen no more dominant participant than Mark Purdon - that includes horses, trainers, driver or owners.
For many years before my interest in the trots picked up, Mark has been a leading figure in the sport on both sides of the Tasman, but it was his training partnership with Natalie Rasmussen that saw the All Stars barn become completely and utterly dominant in basically any race they decided to compete in.
Last week, I had the fortune of meeting up with Mark as he takes a break from the sport he has dominated for so long.
Welcome to 'JENKINS' - a column where we’ll explore some of the lighter and more positive and enlightening aspects to our great game, the trots!
I hope to bring you some of the stories, which are perhaps not as topical but are exactly what make our great sport tick.
Lists are always fun, so keep an eye out for the top 5 young horses, the top 5 female drivers, the top 5 beaten runs of the season … discussion of that nature we all enjoy, and everything else in this busy world needs our attention.
Here’s column #1. Hope you can find five minutes to have a look each fortnight.