This year’s edition of the Interdominion has created an enormous amount of hype and conversation leading into the four-race series.
And rightly so.
Aside from perhaps Hectorjayjay and Bling It On, harness racing fans have been blessed with the very best group of horses all clamouring for a slice of glory throughout the $1.3m carnival.
We entered night one with many questions but only a few were truly answered. That’s what makes this event so intriguing. It’s almost like a mini-AFL season where having good health and good form at the right time of the season matters most. And fortunately for us as fans, the big guns are all somewhere very close to the peak of their respective powers.
The series kicked off in style.
Boom local Soho Tribeca – going as good as any horse could be going without winning – welcomed the champion New Zealander Lazarus to town with a barnstorming performance.
Opinions were split as to who would win but in the end, simple maths won out and thanks to some very comfortable early sectionals the Rob Watson-owned horse was never going to be run down – even by a powerhouse two-time NZ Cup winner.
The 11m margin looked a bold statement from trainer/driver Kim Prentice and perhaps it was but to my eye, Lazarus’ champion horseman Mark Purdon identified early on that Soho Tribeca was not going to be caught and he was right as the American Ideal colt ripped home in 54.5 seconds for the last 800m.
Those in the know were adamant Soho Tribeca would beat Lazarus and that he did but how much we read into the opening night’s result only time and hindsight will tell.
The second heat saw Victorian champion Lennytheshark blessed with a kind barrier (3) and very little resistance as he claimed his $75,000 heat in front of a gallant and incredibly tough Tiger Tara who must begin to show the effects of significant travel and racing. He is a consistent and tough horse.
Aside from Lenny’s 1:54.1 go-to-woe victory and Tiger Tara’s brave runner-up, Motu Premier ran on strongly for fourth and will enter the next round of heat’s in Bunbury as a nice place hope.
Majordan made a surprising mistake at the start of the race and threw away his gate one advantage and perhaps any hope of making the final.
Pocket rocket local Chicago Bull rounded out the opening night of heats with a comprehensive and very comfortable win with Egodan coming off the Bull’s back to run second ahead of the much improved Galactic Star and Victorian Major Crocker, who ran third and fourth respectively. Major Crocker is in desperate need of a gate which will allow him to race on the speed but fourth is no disgrace.
After a 61.1 opening half of the last mile, Chicago Bull was never going to be seriously challenged.
Hype horse San Carlo looked a shade uncomfortable on the tight Gloucester Park circuit but perhaps racing closer to the speed will suit him whilst Purdon’s other participant Have Faith In Me continues to race lengths and lengths below his Miracle Mile-winning best.
So what did we learn ?
– This may well be Soho Tribeca’s chance to claim Interdominion glory with the race on his home track but this fella is getting better and better and Prentice has openly proclaimed his love for the horse. Injuries seem about the only thing that will stand between the tough colt and being in the mix for the next 3-4 ID events.
– Those counting out Lazarus need only rewind their memories 12 months. Smolda looked completely shot entering the Grand Final of the series but master trainer Purdon resurrected his campaign and guided the Courage Under Fire gelding to glory. Lazarus is considerably more talented than Smolda so discounting him this early would be utter madness.
– Lennytheshark is somehow going under the radar – despite his standing among the very elite of the sport. He is remarkably around $6 with some bookmakers to win the December 8 final and after a walk in the park win on opening night, he looks to have a similar run of it in heat two. Trainer David Aiken has openly admitted that his charge is in close to career-best form which makes it baffling why Lenny is still underrated by some.
The other two major races on the card were rippers even though the leaders both ended up winning with something in hand.
New South Wales turned Victorian mare Ameretto took the front from WA mare Ideal Alice with a lap to go before cruising away for to claim the $50,000 Norms Daughter Classic.
Third favourite A Piccadilly Princess never got into things for Mark Purdon but will still remain close to an equal favourite with Kerryn Manning’s Ameretto for the Mares Classic on ID Grand Final night.
Race six was the four year-old Yes Loans Classic at group one level and Kiwi Ultimate Machete dominated this affair. He was crossed from his gate one alley but soon retook the lead and was never headed as he made his rivals look second-rate winning hard held by 11m.
He looks to have a mortgage on the series ahead of the $200,000 Golden Nugget which was claimed by Soho Tribeca 12 months ago.
Night two will be upon us before we blink and I will have a preview – and hopefully a few winners – Tuesday afternoon.
I hope you enjoyed the opening night of the Inters as much as me!