The Harness Jewels in New Zealand is among my very favourite Harness Racing days on the calendar thanks to the gathering of age-restricted superstars taking part in the nine Group 1 races.
Superstar after superstar has saluted in Jewels of years gone by and often gone onto become open-age performers, so whilst Saturday’s racing will be brilliant, you can expect to see some of tomorrow’s Grand Circuit competitors in action.
Again, a handful of Australians have boarded the jumbo jet with the aim of becoming the first ever Aussie to collect a Jewel.
Alison and Chris Alford have a live hope with the brilliant but enigmatic trotter Wobelee, Shane and Lauren Tritton have a pair of freshmen in Pete’s Big Jim (colts & geldings) and Platinum Revolution (fillies) whilst Dance Craze and likely our very best hope Shez All Rock compete in the four-year-old trot and three-year-old fillies races respectively.
Let’s breakdown all nine Group 1 races, all worth between $125,000 and $150,000;
RACE 1 – Two-year-old Diamond (Fillies)
Princess Tiffany has been dominant but stepping on a nail interrupted her reign over the rest of the New Zealand freshmen fillies.
Kayla Marie stepped up in her absence to nab a group one and Lauren Tritton’s charge Platinum Revolution has plans on leading from start to finish.
The speed map looks pretty easy here with Platinum Revolution leading, Buzinga trailing it throughout and the Purdon-Rasmussen combo of Princess Tiffany and Kayla Marie lobbing the breeze and one-one.
Princess Tiffany is unbeaten and whilst Lauren Tritton will have them running quick sectionals, I expect the All Stars to kick off Jewels day with a quinella.
1 Princess Tiffany (8)
2 Kayla Marie (7)
3 Buzinga (9)
4 Platinum Revolution (1)
Best Bet – Exacta: Princess Tiffany (8) to beat Kayla Marie (7)
RACE 2 – Two-year-old Ruby (Mixed sex)
The All Stars train looks set to get off to a roaring start with the three main contenders in the first of the trots all hailing from their Rolleston stables.
Cheerful looks competent and competitive, Enhance Your Calm has done everything right and remains unbeaten through three starts whilst newly-acquired Oscar Bonavena will again test out the favourite, Enhance Your Calm.
The key here is with scratchings, Oscar Bonavena follows out Enhance Your Calm, meaning a 1-2 finish looks a certainty.
Tickle Me Pink is unbeaten but from the extreme outside gate, things look real tricky.
1 Enhance Your Calm (4)
2 Oscar Bonavena (12)
3 Cheerful (5)
4 Tickle Me Pink (8)
Best Bet – Boxed Exacta: Enchance Your Calm (4) and Oscar Bonavena (12)
RACE 3 – Three-year-old Diamond (Fillies)
She’s trained in New Zealand and owned by Americans but Shez All Rock was bred in Oz and cut her teeth in Oz – so she’s Australian.
And the $1.33 favourite looks set to become Australia’s first ever Jewels winner after announcing herself to the Kiwis with a dominant Oaks win a few weeks back.
Her stable mate, Elle Mac, has a poor draw in 12 but she’s consistently been the premier filly of this age group despite Dizzy Miss Lizzy and Bettor Joy pinching big races at different stages.
IF Elle Mac can latch immediately onto Shez All Rock’s back then things might become easier but it’s hard to see anything holding out the former Mark Pitt-prepared filly.
Dizzy Miss Lizzy looks likely to lead then concede to Shez All Rock making her a nice place option.
1 Shez All Rock (5)
2 Elle Mac (12)
3 Dizzy Miss Lizzy (2)
4 Delight In Me (8)
Best Bet: Dizzy Miss Lizzy (2) place
RACE 4 – Four-year-old Diamond (Mares)
With Spanish Armada’s retirement, the unfortunate passing of Aussie megastar Petacular and the recent scratching of Carlas Pixel, this race is wide wide open.
Delishka has been heavily supported in early markets but has had a very long season and would need to lead from five to win whilst Bonnie Joan and Partyon will need significant luck from back row barriers.
1 Delishka (5)
2 Partyon (12)
3 Bonnie Joan (10)
4 Seaswift Joy (2)
Best Bet – Delishka (5) each way
RACE 5 – Four-year-old Ruby (Mixed sex)
Hard race to assess – mainly because my attitude towards the square-gaiting needs improvement but also because this is an even bunch.
Enghien is the short favourite but those in the know say he’s a tricky horse in regards to external factors dulling his performances.
Drawn the ace, Habibi Inta should lead and will give a sight whilst another newly-acquired Purdon-Rasmussen trotter in Musculus will be an interesting follow.
Aussie Dance Craze has a nice trailing draw but she will need to have some luck to be winning.
1 Musculus (4)
2 Enghien (3)
3 Habibi Inta (1)
4 Dance Craze (10)
Best Bet – Musculus (4) each way
RACE 6 – Two-year-old Emerald (Colts & Geldings)
Again, the New South Wales raiders have pinched the ace draw so expect an exceptional mile here. Pete’s Big Jim has come from nowhere to land at Cambridge and now looms as a decent place hope.
This race looks to be dominated by the All Stars. Despite drawing the four widest gates off the front, Another Masterpiece, Jesse Duke, A Bettor Act and even War Dan Delight seem like overpowering figures.
Lauren Tritton will be a 99% chance of leading throughout but the All Stars boys will just keep coming.
Another Masterpiece will be to the breeze quick-smart, then Jesse Duke will take that role and maybe even A Bettor Act. I do expect War Dan Delight to go back.
It’s hard to see anything else becoming a factor here.
1 Jesse Duke (6)
2 Another Masterpiece (5)
3 A Bettor Act (7)
4 Supreme Dominator (12)
Best Bet – First Four: 5,6 from 5,6 from 1,7,8 from 1,7,8,12 ($20 gets 111%)
RACE 7 – Four-year-old Emerald (Geldings & Entires)
No Vincent, no Ultimate Machete, no More The Better yet strangely this is a better race despite those omissions.
When I say better I mean more competitive with AG’s Whitesocks, Eamon Maguire and Star Galleria all being able to lay claim to favouritism pre-draws.
AG’s Whitesocks won the barrier draws but he does have Eamon Maguire planted on his back to begin whilst Zac Butcher has declared he will be immediately onto Eamon Maguire’s back as well.
I give nothing else a shot at winning this one.
1 Eamon Maguire (10)
2 Star Galleria (11)
3 AG’s Whitesocks (2)
4 Northview Hustler (1)
Best Bet – Eamon Maguire (10) to win
RACE 8 – Three-year-old Ruby (Mixed sex)
Winterfell has been dominant for Mark Purdon but Wobelee is here!
Wobelee, the clear-cut superstar two-year-old of last season looks ready to spoil the favourites party and driver Chris Alford reckons he will.
Winterfell has been excellent and seeing him lead into the opening bend almost guarantees victory but Group 1 winner Renezmae and Stress Factor could run top four.
1 Winterfell (1)
2 Wobelee (8)
3 Renezmae (2)
4 Stress Factor (12)
Best Bet – Boxed Trifecta (and cheer for Wobelee!) 1,2,8,12
RACE 9 – Three-year-old Emerald (Colts & Geldings)
Always a highlight, this edition looks incredibly even with Chase Auckland missing through injury.
Sheriff won the NZ Derby but he looks a better stayer than miler whilst any one of a handful of others are winning hopes. This race looms likely as the one with a knockout winner – ending punters days with tears!
Sicario is better this season than last and has the Purdon-Rasussen aura, Pat’s Delight will get a sweet trip from Dexter Dunn, Natalie Rasmussen will give Funatthebeach every hope and Hail Christian and the in-form Ohanzee can be said knockout hopes.
1 Sicario (12)
2 Pat’s Delight (2)
3 Funatthebeach (6)
4 Sheriff (3)
Best Bet – Funatthebeach (6) place.
R2-5 Early Quaddie ($20 gets 66%)
R6-9 Main Quaddie ($20 gets 83%)
R3 N2 place into R5 N4 place into R8 N1 win (approx $4.40)
R2 N12 place into R3 N5 win into R7 N10 win (approx $3.25)
BEST VALUE BET
R5 N4 Musculus $5.50