Who is harness racing’s best pacer in the land? Let’s not confuse the subject even further by bringing in that same question from an Australasian perspective!
After King Of Swing’s retirement earlier this year, there was a real opportunity for a ‘new kid on the block’ to stand up and be counted.
Spirit Of St Louis looked the obvious after chasing his predecessor home in both the Hunter Cup and Miracle Mile, but a Winter Carnival without a feature win left a few questions.
The much awaited ‘second coming’ of Lochinvar Art was short lived after the superstar turned in another disappointing effort on Saturday that was subsequently the last race start on Australian soil – maybe ever.
Bondi Lockdown had everyone shaking their heads after his stunning Chariots Of Fire second but in a handful of starts since he is yet to reproduce such a performance.
Then there is Majestic Cruiser who has made it two open age Group 1s this season with Trans-Tasman success now putting him firmly into the conversation.
Add to that the Stewart Tonkin juggernauts stars and the proven Larajay Group 1 performers of Better Eclipse and Triple Eight, the waters are muddied at best.
The current Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup market reflects the open class confusion with three equal $5 favourites presently in the form of Copy That, Expensive Ego and Spirit Of St Louis.
The path towards the Victoria Cup intensifies tonight (Sep. 23) at Kilmore with the time-honoured Jet Roofing Pacing Cup for $80,000 holding centre stage.
Emma Stewart has a three-pronged attack including the top two in betting, while the McCarthy raid arrives in Victoria headlined by the very well backed Mach Shard.
With only two weeks until the big dance, this year’s edition will be an integral form reference.
Those choosing to target a last-minute assignment next weekend in the shape of the TAB Smoken Up Sprint include Copy That for a seven-day back up through to the $300,000 Grand Circuit feature.
Saturday night’s (Sep. 24) Menangle Free For All will also have the potential to reshape the Victoria Cup with a few looking to put their case forward for a start.
Also on the line is an all-important Inter Dominion ‘Golden Ticket’ alongside the $30,000 prizemoney pool.
A very open contest awaits and all bar two of the 10-horse field have tasted success in their last five starts.
The Black Prince is on a title defence of the Len Smith Mile mission in a months’ time and is starting to build into his preparation nicely including a last start victory.
Despite Expensive Ego’s smart first-up win last Saturday, the runners up performance of Stingray Tara was certainly eye catching. Coming from a four-fence position, his own sectionals of 52.2 seconds for the last half and 25.5 seconds himself over the last 400 metres were exceptional, particularly for the 2300-metre trip.
As part of a big 10-race card, there will also be the three-year-old APG Gold Sovereign finals run as races six and nine for $30,000 each.
BEST of the weekend – R5 N3 @ Albion Park Major Jarod
VALUE of the weekend – R2 N2 @ Albion Park Bella Ball Terror
For complete upcoming race fields, click here.
by Brittany Graham, for Sky Racing