Whenever I talk to my team mates about Harness Racing I hear a common rebuttal about one of the reasons they cannot get into the sport as much as they do thoroughbreds – short-priced favourites.
Many of the boys think whenever a $1-something fave is engaged that that horse almost always wins.
I hope a few of my team mates were watching last night as favourites endured pain at Menangle on the middle night of Sydney’s Carnival of Miracles.
Eight of the 10 favourites went under in a night of extremely competitive and entertaining racing.
Much of last night’s priority for trainers, drivers and owners was to secure a spot in next week’s big one – whether that be the Miracle Mile, NSW Oaks, NSW Derby or Ladyship Mile.
Next week promises to be amazing!
The barrier draws for the Miracle Mile will ensure a brutal speed throughout and Have Faith In Me’s 1:47.5 mile record is in real danger – make no mistake.
But before we move forward, let’s look back;
ALLIED EXPRESS TRANSPORT SPRINT
Connections of Anything For Love demanded driver Lauren Tritton attempt to lead throughout and she carried out those instructions to a tee.
The Rocknroll Heaven gelding kept them running all the way with Soho Tribeca sitting at his wheel all the way.
Lennytheshark burned off the arm but could only manage the get to the breeze, eventually handing it back to Soho Tribeca. Lenny at his best would never relent the death to anyone – showing us all that the great horse is winding down.
Anything For Love matched a 54.7 first half with a 54 second last 800m, meaning Anything For Love is now the fastest ever Australian-bred horse. Something which needs to be addressed at a later date.
Soho Tribeca was enormous, doing all the work in the blistering mile and continuing to dive for the line, just missing with rank outsider Charlaval producing another surprising performance for third and gaining a spot in the Miracle Mile.
Moonrock was fair behind the leader in fourth whilst Heaven Rocks – an expectant Menangle star – failed miserably into eighth position meaning we will be without his enigmatic brilliance next week.
CANADIAN CLUB SPRINT
Tiger Tara always draws the ace (he has again for the MM) but he almost always falls short in Group 1’s against Lazarus. Not this time.
Tiger Tara retook the lead from a blazing Mach Doro with Lazarus forced to get off the pegs and sit outside the Tiger who was again burning around his home track.
Mark Purdon – knowing Lazarus was off – allowed Todd McCarthy to get away with a 29.7 second quarter which was the winning of the race.
My Field Marshal stormed into second, breaking the clock in his last 600m.
Lazarus only managed to remain in third thanks to his heart and determination because he was under immense pressure entering the lane.
In a close finish, Mach Doro hung on for fourth and Franco Nelson produced a magnificent late dash for fifth.
NEW SOUTH WALES DERBY
Earlier in the week, wiz New Zealand trainer Mark Purdon saw enough deterioration in his runners to alert the NSW stewards to their condition. A bug went through his entire Sydney-based team with All U Need Is Faith apparently suffering most.
His performance suggested as much as he led comfortably enough and got away with a 61.3 opening half of the last mile.
Emma Stewart’s colt Maratei was not about to let All U Need Is Faith get away with murder as he whipped around and eyeballed the favourite down the back.
Maratei put the Purdon-driven horse away early in the straight whilst fellow Victorians Code Bailey and Higherthananeagle surged into second and third respectively.
The second NSW Derby heat saw powerful favourite Poster Boy claim an early race-to-race double for Stewart and driver Chris Alford.
Major Times, also from Stewart’s Victorian barn, snagged second spot to secure a place in the $200,000 2400m event next week with The Black Prince easily holding third.
Divine State secured a cosy run but failed to show the speed he displayed as a juvenile as he just held on for fourth and a spot as an emergency in the big one.
Poster Boy’s winning rate of 1:57.9 mirrored the time of Maratei in the opening heat.
Race four on the card was the final NSW Derby qualifier and it was the Queenslander who claimed the Victorian Derby who took this one out.
Colt Thirty One – trained and driven by Grant Dixon – acquired the lead early in the race and was never truly tested as another All Stars favourite, this time The Devils Own, struggled. Victorian Little Peanut ran a belter of a race storming into second place proving again his love of the big track at Menangle.
Thanks to a quicker overall race, Tam Major locked up the final spot in the Derby final meaning Emma Stewart will have four competing for the riches.
NEW SOUTH WALES OAKS
I was supremely confident of Nostra Villa leading and winning but no one could foresee the brutality of the pressure that Arts Treasure placed on her in the middle stages.
The $1.20 favourite never shirked her task and was only beaten a neck by fellow southerner Shez All Rock in an impressive 1:55.7.
On a great night for Shane and Lauren Tritton, Ideal Pleasure marched into the Oaks Final by finishing third.
Heat two was another victory for Stewart and Alford as Imprincessgemma got the lead early and held off a desperately unlucky Soho Burning Love who could never get clear air in the lane. Driven by Greg Sugars, Soho Burning Love was climbing all over the back of the winner late.
The Trittons boom filly My Sweetchilliphilly went a beaut race for third, showing she is not just a miler.
After Colt Thirty One’s success in the Derby heats, stable mate Fame Assured followed suit in her Oaks qualifier ahead of Michael Stanley’s Macey Jayde and local War Dan Bad Girl.
A move for the front from Dixon proved the masterstroke as the breeze horse dropped sharply into Macey Jayde’s lap, forcinf her three-wide.
Nathan Jack drove the double-figure hope War Dan Bad Girl excellently, conceding the front to the winner and ensuring a spot for next week.
Next week’s slate of Group 1’s will be magnificent, with the Miracle Mile set to be one of the all-time great races.