Sometimes in life you do things that leave a mark. Donald Trump sparks endless amount of controversy, Oprah spreads goodwill whilst hundreds of thousands of footy fans have weekly debates about their favourite players and teams.
In essence, sports are about entertainment and creating interest for us as fans when we are watching. Sports are the large majority of peoples main hobby away from family life and work. For many – our sports teams are almost as important as our family, or at least feel like a part of it.
Okay – I’m getting carried away but releasing the debut Harness Racing Power Rankings was incredibly enjoyable.
Many trots fans reached out, some in dismay and some in support but that’s what a list like this is all about. For those of us who follow Harness Racing, it’s only natural we love to talk about the very best our sport has to offer.
Some horses picked themselves, some may have snuck in thanks to personal bias whilst a few are on the come-up.
We’ve seen many Inter Dominion participants return to the races, the Auckland Cup carnival has been run and won and some of Victoria’s premier country cups are going on each weekend.
The next time I punch out one of these lists we’ll have the results for the Fremantle Cup, West Australian Cup, Hunter Cup, South Australian Cup and a few other Group 1 races but before we get to those amazingly exciting races, here is what I think are the top 10 open class pacers in Australasia.
1 LAZARUS (New Zealand, Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen)
Unless he forgets how to pace, the Kiwi superstar is fast becoming untouchable. Unbeatable ? No, but boy is he close to it and after his ID success and subsequent domination at Gloucester Park last week, Lazarus enters the Fremantle Pacing Cup as an almost unbackable favourite.
The Hunter Cup looks his and you’d be shocked IF he left Perth without one or both of the cups. The Miracle Mile is the race that eluded him in 2017 and it’s perhaps going to be his greatest challenge in 2018.
2 VINCENT (New Zealand, Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen)
Could a horse be any more impressive entering open class racing. No need to answer that. Aside from his star stablemate who sits above him on this list, Vincent has strolled onto the open-age scene in brilliant fashion.
He won first-up against proven Group 1 horses like Heaven Rocks and Jack’s Legend and then cleaned them up in the Group 1 Auckland Cup. He was headed for Sydney but a change of plans will see him clash with Heaven Rocks and Lennytheshark among others in the Ballarat Cup.
The Bonanza and Chariots of Fire looks his and he seems the obvious choice to dethrone Lazarus and pinch the Miracle Mile.
3 LENNYTHESHARK (Victoria, David Aiken)
I hear the queries around where the great Victorian is at in his career. He’s in the twilight of his racing days and soundness is always the biggest concern with this guy but the fact remains, he currently holds the Victoria Cup and Miracle Mile crowns. His performance in the Ballarat Cup will be telling but not the entire story unless he really struggles.
Whether he can recapture his best or not will be a major storyline of this Summer of racing.
4 ULTIMATE MACHETE (New Zealand, Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen)
He was not entirely impressive winning the Group 1 Golden Nugget and he looked a beaten horse when resuming last week in a metropolitan race in Perth but like good horses do he picked himself up off the canvas and found the line in first place.
I have my doubts about whether he can match Lazarus – or even Vincent for that matter – but he looms as a factor in any Grand Circuit races he competes in.
5 SOHO TRIBECA (Western Australia, Bryan Cousins)
His status has been somewhat up in the air of late but one thing is for sure, this horse has an enormous future at the elite level.
His ID series was brilliant but incomplete due to an unfortunate run in the big one but I can certainly see this guy improving even more on the eastern seaboard.
His stamina and speed mean he can sit on the speed or make long runs from the back. He is my second pick for the Hunter Cup and he looms as a real threat for the Miracle Mile.
6 HECTORJAYJAY (Victoria, David Aiken)
How could a horse move up a list whilst still injured ? I’m unsure as well but it’s easy to forget how dominant Hector looked throughout his last campaign. His return is still some months away – if at all – but the David Aiken-trained gelding is the one horse missing from the upcoming big races.
7 BLING IT ON (New South Wales, Craig Cross)
His all-conquering return to the race track was stunted somewhat when he was beaten at Bathurst last start but he’s already equalled his career-best time in his four-race resumption.
He meets a decent field over 2300m at Menangle this weekend before he will trek south and attempt to retain his Hunter Cup title after smoking up the lane to claim glory in 2017.
8 TIGER TARA (New South Wales, Kevin Pizzuto)
Consistency is key and this big strong entire has it in spades. He offers gate speed, stamina and he’s always driven forward in his races meaning those invested in him can be assured of an honest and forward effort.
I still rate him a clear rung below the very very best but given the right run, he is capable of winning a really big one.
He will regularly be a factor and should remain in the top 10 for some time but placings will likely be his best result in the upcoming Group 1’s.
9 CHICAGO BULL (Western Australia, Gary Hall)
I write this column but I also listen to those who know more than I.
Therefore, Chicago Bull goes in. He’s a millionaire and has been dominant in Western Australia since moving across from the Shaky Isles.
IF I owned him, I would stay home and try claim a tight grip on the local riches – particularly if Soho Tribeca moves east – but as a fan of the game, I want to see all of the big guns in the same races so Mr. Hall, please book your man a plane ticket – he would nearly fit in your carry-on luggage.
10 THE ORANGE AGENT (New Zealand, Brian Hughes)
She’s off the scene and the longer she is the more the breeding barn looms large but her best places her comfortable among this lost. Heaven Rocks is not only wayward in his race at the moment but he also seems to be a few lengths off his brilliant best.
The final spot is well and truly up for grabs.
Agree, disagree or just want to have your say ? Leave a comment or Tweet me (@joshjenkins24)
Enjoy what promises to be a magnificent and memorable month of Harness Racing!