Group 1 contests are the pinnacle of any of the three codes of racing.
It’s what almost all participants (jockeys, drivers, trainers, owners) strive for and something that is merely a pipe dream for most – with that Group 1 glory so elusive and so hard to attain.
Saturday June 1 marks a special day in New Zealand Harness Racing.
Saturday marks the 13th edition of Jewels Day which will see an amazing NINE Group 1 races with more than $1.2 million on offer – one of the richest days of the Australasian Harness Racing season.
The perennial juggernaut known as All Stars has dominated this day for many years with the stable amassing an incredible FORTY Jewels victories, including half a dozen last year at Cambridge Raceway.
This season brings about a first for the Jewels with Addington Raceway – the home of the NZ Trotting Cup – playing host. It’s the first time the Jewels have moved away from Cambridge in the north and Ashburton in the south.
Addington’s short course distance is also a first with the 1980m journey scheduled which could add some intrigue to an already exciting day.
Here is a look inside each of the nine Group 1 events;
Race 1 – WOODLANDS 4YO DIAMOND (Mares)
Elle Mac is the obvious class act here but drawing outside the front row perhaps brings her back to the pack some. Aussie participant Major Occasion is also classy and would have been a significant winning prospect but she will now need massive luck from one on the second row. Sweet Mary could be a blowout hope following speed whilst Baquero could earn from gate one.
1 Elle Mac (8) $1.20
2 Major Occasion (9) $7.50
3 Sweet Mary (12) $34
4 Baquero (1) $17
Race 2 – HANLEY FORMULA 2YO RUBY
Purdon-Rasmussen charge, Tailored Elegance, has improved rapidly in her four starts winning at her most recent try. Muscle Mountain looms as a threat from the ace alley and Ultimate Stride was the top seed before misbehaving last time out. Majestic Sunrise is probably the only other winning hope.
1 Tailored Elegance (11) $2.50
2 Muscle Mountain (1) $3.70
3 Ultimate Stride (4) $3.40
4 Majestic Sunrise (3) $201
Race 3 – TERROR TO LOVE 2YO DIAMOND (Fillies)
Barriers have all but secured Sweet On Me as a lock to take out the freshman fillies edition on Jewels Day. The great Adore Me’s daughter has proven to be an outright star but stable mate Amazing Dream is closing the gap. She will need to be on song this weekend to overcome a draw discrepancy. Robert Dunn-trained duo Tiffany Rose (gate six) and Spellbound (gate one) will be sniffing around the podium but an All Stars quinella is almost a foregone conclusion.
1 Sweet On Me (7) $1.75
2 Amazing Dream (10) $2.40
3 Spellbound (1) $10
4 Tiffany Rose (6) $17
Race 4 – McMILLAN EQUINE FEEDS 2YO EMERALD (Colts & Geldings)
Should things go sour for All Stars on Jewels Day, then this is the last race you expect them not to win considering the top four in the market are likely to be theirs. One Change only ever wins by a nose but he’s unbeaten and Virgil, Flying Even Bettor and Dina Bolt all show something promising. William Wallace and Zeuss Bromac are knockout hopes in a race which could be a Purdon-Rasmussen procession.
1 Virgil (4) $8
2 One Change (6) $1.55
3 Flying Even Bettor (10) $2.50
4 Zeuss Bromac (13) $101
Race 5 – THE GOOD HOME PEGASUS 3YO RUBY
Interesting race here despite yet another short-priced All Stars favourite. Enhance Your Calm is said favourite but his previous two runs have seen him gallop away. He got away with it in Auckland at the Northern Trotting Derby as he was able to balance up, re-take the front and win easily but that was over 2700m – any poor manners here could end punters hopes. Should he underperform or misbehave, quality animals like filly Tickle Me Pink and pole-marker Lotamuscle look the likely candidates to claim the Ruby. Aussie All Cashed Up is a lovely trotter and can figure in the finish with luck.
1 Enhance Your Calm (10) $1.80
2 Tickle Me Pink (6) $4
3 All Cashed Up (5) $8
4 Lotamuscle (1) $7
Race 6 – COMMODORE HOTEL 3YO DIAMOND (Fillies)
For the past few months opinions have swayed dramatically regarding which filly should be the favourite, Barry Purdon’s Belle Of Montana or brother Mark Purdon’s Princess Tiffany.
Barriers do not help us any with Belle Of Montana drawn to lead or trail the leader which makes her a mighty dangerous proposition thanks to her speed whilst Princess Tiffany will comfortably get to the chair or be the one who relieves Belle of the lead. Truthfully, I think I’m more comfortable seeing the Princess breezing against Belle and applying significant pressure. I’ll be surprised to see anything else run in the quinella, particularly should a lead-trail scenario arise.
Kayla Marie has been in exceptional form but gate 11 makes it hard whilst Northern Oaks winner Best Western, Kendra and northern raider Havtime headline the next tier of a deep group of fillies.
1 Princess Tiffany (5) $1.70
2 Belle Of Montana (1) $2.10
3 Kayla Marie (11) $15
4 Kendra (10) $31
Race 7 – IRT 4YO EMERALD (entires & geldings)
The certainty of the day seems to lay with a Grand Circuit-winning gelding competing against his four-year-old counterparts. Turn It Up – a winner of 10 from 14 – will start a long odds-on favourite despite quality horses like Ashley Locaz, Henry Hubert and On The Cards being engaged. Henry Hubert looks a good thing to run second after trailing the fave whilst Purdon-Rasmussen gelding Funatthebeach can mix his form but his best is up there with most of these.
1 Turn It Up (4) $1.24
2 Henry Hubert (1) $17
3 Ashley Locaz (6) $4.80
4 On The Cards (2) $34
Race 8 – McMILLAN EQUINE FEEDS 4YO RUBY
The most open race of the day looks to be this one with at least three genuine winning chances plus a handful of talented trotters who look set to have open class careers awaiting them.
Robert Dunn’s gun Sundees Son is on a tear with his previous two runs resulting in Group 1 wins. Gate 4 should see him lead and when he’s front he’s very hard to get past… unless he decides to break gait!
Kings Landing was the favourite for this race a while back but his best form has eluded him somewhat whilst, conversely, stable mate Winterfell was dominant last week, winning by nearly four lengths.
Majestic Man and Majestic Player will need to be very majestic to win from 10 and 11 but both have immense talent in a race where many can win.
1 Winterfell (8) $4
2 Sundees Son (4) $2.70
3 Kings Landing (6) $4.40
4 Majestic Player (11) $11
Race 9 – BLUE STAR TAXIS 3YO EMERALD (colts & geldings)
The big guns never made it to the start line here with Ultimate Sniper and Another Masterpiece both skipping the Jewels for health reasons.
That leaves stable mate Jesse Duke as favourite but his rivals will not fear him so an easy lead or pressure-free race seems unlikely.
Heisenberg is well placed from the pole but he’d need to improve to challenge. Aussie contender Pete’s Big Jim could zip up the lane from three-pegs whilst Global Domination and Memphis Tennessee can run a race from the back row.
1 Jesse Duke (5) $1.70
2 Pete’s Big Jim (9) $34
3 Heisenberg (1) $7.50
4 Memphis Tennessee (11) $21
R2 N11 Tailored Elegance win $2.50
R3 N7 Sweet On Me $1.75
R6 N5 Princess Tiffany $1.70
R4 N4 Virgil $8
R8 N8 Winterfell $4
R9 N9 Pete’s Big Jim $34
R2: 1, 4, 11
R3: 7, 10
R4: 4, 6, 10
R5: 1, 5, 6, 10
R6: 1, 5
R8: 4, 6, 8, 10, 11
R9: 1, 5, 8, 9, 10