Living in Adelaide, I sure would have loved the opportunity to head out to Globe Derby Park to see some of harness racing’s biggest and brightest stars in action, so I hope the kind folk at Bunbury enjoyed a Tuesday evening which featured local, interstate and international superstars strutting their stuff at their modest but entertaining track.
The big guns performed as we’d hoped on night one at Gloucester Park but night two is considered as ‘moving time’ with many needing to get busy and aggressive in the heat to ensure they have a live hope at making the rich final on December 8.
Bunbury provided plenty of drama, much of which was captured by Sky Racing 2 who thought enough of the ID to show near-on uninterrupted coverage of the pre and post-race happenings. Congratulations and thanks to TAB’s Adam Hamilton, Sky Racing’s Greg Hayes plus Trent Cooper who provided great form and Gareth Hall who roamed the stalls and the track to acquire excellent insight into what may happen in the races as well as debrief from all the power players. It was like our very own racing.com for Harness racing!
Here’s how I saw the heats;
An upset was being forecast from New South Welshman Shane Tritton with his charge Yayas Hotspot after he drew the pole. And he was on the money however whilst Yaya did beat overwhelming favourite Lennytheshark home, it was emerging local Galactic Star who extricated itself from three back on the pegs to run over the top of Lauren Tritton and Chris Alford aboard Yaya and Lenny respectively.
A dashing Victoria Cup run and a tough placing on night one had many thinking Galactic Star was a certain first four hope but seeing him run past two excellent horses in a 26.8 second last 400m proved with the right run in the big one, he’s a knockout hope.
Lenny was the real story however after he bullied his way to the front with 1200m to go but looked under pressure a fair way from home.
Champion reisnman Chris Alford seemed to think the 2015 ID winner was off his game, perhaps owing to misfortune from his time at Bunbury 12 months earlier whilst trainer David Aiken explained to viewers that whilst Lenny had pulled up a treat, they would take every precaution to ensure he was healthy enough to press on.
Lenny was beaten a head by two horses off soft runs in a 1:54.8 mile rate with Alford also explaining the horse had been less than convincing in his warm-ups. For mine, we will see the real Lenny stand up back in metropolitan Perth and reaffirm his chances for the final.
Shandale ran a gallant race for fourth whilst Kiwi Have Faith In Me showed a touch more than night one but still looks a shell of his Miracle Mile-winning self.
This one was billed as revenge night for Soho Tribeca after he had run so many gallant seconds to Chicago Bull thanks largely to barrier draw advantages.
Well last night Soho Tribeca had the better of the draws and he made it count with a comfortable victory over Tasmanian Devendra and Chicago Bull who absolutely exploded in the last 200m of the race to take serious ground off the leader in a 26.2 closing split.
Kim Prentice has had everything go his way in the opening two heats and Soho Tribeca has looked invincible winning his two heats with ease.
Prentice now has the luxury of cruising through heat three knowing his horse is still fresh, fit and qualified for the big dance.
Chicago Bull has had two quiet runs as well and whilst he did not collect the major prize last night, it should be noted that he is the horse that could possibly come from the back and swoop in a hotly contested Interdominion final.
Devendra improved greatly just as driver Todd Rattray predicted whilst Vultain Tin ran another strong race to put himself around the mark for a spot in the final.
Ohoka Punter was driven conservatively and ran on fairly whilst Mr Mojito seemed disappointing on face value however nothing really made ground from off the pegs.
Lazarus dominated the recent New Zealand Cup with Tiger Tara sitting parked but the Kevin Pizzuto-trained stallion turned the tables Tuesday with a blistering all the way win over a marvellous effort from Lazarus in second.
The track record was obliterated with a 1:52.3 rate as the leading pair raced away from Victorians San Carlo in third and Major Crocker dashing home for fourth.
This race was extremely entertaining with Tiger Tara holding out San Carlo early before Lazarus attempted to come around to the breeze. Bec Bartley made a bold move to pull out in front of Mark Purdon to ensure she would be in the one-one which made Lazarus work just that much harder to chase the Tiger.
Purdon conceded to Gareth Hall on Sky Racing that the extra 200m of work three-wide was likely the difference between him really challenging Tiger Tara for victory.
The unknown will be Lazarus’ conditioning after two reasonably tough heat runs with another to come on Friday.
The disappointment of the race was probably Motu Premier who failed to run on and looks unlikely to make the final.
The last of the three nights of heats gets rolling again this Friday night back at Gloucester Park as well as some excellent support racing including the Parliamentarians Cup which looks a battle between A Piccadilly Princess and Ameretto as well as the $50,000 Westral 4 year-old Championship which will not contain Ultimate Machete.
Check back in a couple of days for a complete preview of Friday night’s heats. Enjoy.