I'm not sure how many times I've said this in recent weeks, but how good is the trotting ranks here in Victoria at the moment!?
Each and every week, there seems to be another star returning from a spell or an emerging talent throwing their name up in lights.
Friday night was just another example.
Maori Law's appearance in the John Slack Memorial Trotters Cup - Ballarat's annual squaregaiting feature - looked to many to be overshadowed by the first-up runs of Group 1-winning rivals such as Red Hot Tooth, Always Ready, Im Ready Jet and McLovin, but Emmett and Richard Brosnan's charge was having none of it.
The injury-plagued eight-year-old ensured his name will be linked to many of the big trotting races in coming months with a dashing, front-running success in the Group 3 event for driver Chris Alford, who scored a second Cup win.
Maori Law left a brilliant field of horses in his wake in claiming his first success since March of last year.
Owner Fred Crews took Maori Time to Europe for the Elitlopp a few years ago and has signalled his intentions to travel Friday night’s winner to the New Zealand Cup Carnival for the Group 1 Dominion Trot.
Maori Law's triumph elevates his rating to the national peak of 120, where he joins fellow Victorian-trained squaregaiters Majestuoso, McLovin, Monaro Maro - all from the Andy Gath yard - and Mattie Craven’s mighty mare Pink Galahs on that mark.
The champ Tornado Valley sits just under that rating on 119 and is being readied for one final preparation as connections chase the million-dollar barrier in prizemoney.
The depth of the trotting ranks was further evidenced at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night.
And while the Winter Trotters Cup Final was for the horses rated a rung below those that competed 24 hours earlier, the winner Kyvalley Chief certainly looks as though he will be competitive in the open class features.
He had been knocking on the door for victory before finally bursting through at Geelong during early July and racked up a third-straight triumph on Saturday. He beat Brent Lilley-trained stablemate Robbie Royale, with caller Dan Mielicki declaring Michael Hughes’ Is That A Bid “an eye-catcher that just has to win next start surely” for his fast-finishing third.
Week after week, these top-end trot races emerge as a genuine highlight and often present a punting conundrum that leaves you scratching your head due to their sheer complexity and breadth of winning chances.
And long may it continue.
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.