The beauty of sport is that your best opportunity is your next opportunity.
And that’s what awaits 24 horses who are out to be the Inter Dominion champion.
A dozen pacers and a dozen trotters have the opportunity to be crowned.
So, despite the dominance of Ultimate Sniper and his famed stable mates from the All Stars and despite favourite after favourite after favourite going under in the trotters, the next race is the most important race. Form is important, but form is temporary. It’s time to go and give everything you got and see whether you can come out with inter Dominion glory.
Here’s how I’m breaking down each of the Group 1 Grand Finals;
INTER DOMINION PACING GRAND FINAL – Group 1, 2700m, $500,000)
5 Ultimate Sniper ($1.40) – In the absolute zone of destruction. Driver Natalie Rasmussen even had the audacity to say she’d prefer to be in the breeze, such is the way he’s racing and mauling these horses. The only way they beat him is with speed but the gate means Natalie can control the race pace and dominate.
11 Cruz Bromac ($7) – Been amazing. Going under the radar as Ultimate Sniper receives all the accolades. He’s a NZ Cup winner and his heat runs have been immense. IF there’s an upset, you can be sure this bloke will be the cause.
13 Thefixer ($10) – Going much better than Cup week when he plodded in both the Cup and FFA. He’s going to have to make a move to the breeze and probably needs to go early to ensure he’s not sitting outside Ultimate Sniper copping more work than
1 My Kiwi Mate ($34) –Will follow speed all day and his gate speed should be sound enough to land either leaders back or three pegs which could be an even better position for him in transit. Has progressed steadily throughout the series and the $7 a place is worth a few bucks.
7 A G’s White Socks ($11) – Has to go back, which makes life tough but he’s shown a penchant for late game heroics so he’s a must for exotics, especially IF Sniper runs them along trying to break their hearts.
9 Chase Auckland ($17) – Has had opportunities to win but failed to do so. Is going well but not well enough to win, especially from gate nine. A mid-race move looms but what eventuates is not overly enticing from my point of view. Place, maybe.
2 Sicario ($61) – Like My Kiwi Mate, Sicario has improved as the series has gone on. His run on night three across this same distance was remarkable, blowing up the clock whilst wide on the track. Where he lands in the run is crucial and it’s not without chance he can cross the polemarker and be in a perfect striking position.
3 Ashley Locaz ($26) – Is he the forgotten horse? His runs have been meritorious and he can burn late with a great finish. Unsure where he lands in the run but he’s worth consideration for placings and exotics.
4 On The Cards ($201) – Has been excellent and deserves his spot. Could blast off the arm which means one of two things – he lobs a lovely trail or he fails to cross and burns his petrol tickets and it’s race done.
6 Mach Shard ($201) – Been awesome, using gate speed and late bursts to score massive points. Six is wide but he could have another look, hoping to land the trail behind Sniper.
10 San Carlo ($41) – Is simply not going good enough. Or, maybe he’s not quite up to these. He’s dogged, brave and will stay the trip but he clearly lacks the brilliance required.
1 Ultimate Sniper $1.40
2 Cruz Bromac $7
3 My Kiwi Mate $51
4 Thefixer $10
INTER DOMINION TROT CHAMPIONSHIP – 2700m, Group 1, $150,000
1 Big Jack Hammer ($41) – A perfect alley to get a perfect trip. The Victorian has excellent gate speed and can choose exactly who he hands up to. Winterfell is the obvious choice but in these big races being three-back instead of chasing a tearaway leader can be a better situation. I give him a decent place chance.
2 Winterfell ($1.70) – He’s turned the corner after many missteps, particularly in his native Canterbury. Has been immense throughout the series and draws to lead and dictate. Only bad manners would bring him undone and I am happy to have a ticket on him at $4.
3 Destiny Jones ($101) – Fifth in each heat sees the veteran mare get through. The gate helps somewhat but it’s unlikely she can figure in the top few. Beating a handful home and earning a cheque is a great result.
4 Majestic Man ($5) – Been one of the strongest performers in the series and is the clear second favourite thanks to the draws. Likely gets to the chair early but then can hand up to a Marcoola or Massive Metro who will need to be getting into the race at some point. A great place chance and small win hope.
5 Monty Python ($151) – A genuine staying type but yet to put anything strong together in the series. Has qualified through so-so runs and nothing threatening so hard to have him here.
6 Valloria ($151) – Liked the run on night three so the trip should suit. Tricky gate and likely has to go back and hope for a silly speed up front.
7 Bonnie Highlander ($151) – Another blowout chance who’ll have to go back and hope for extreme luck.
8 Marcoola ($7) – Not for me but a few good judges like his chances. Will stay the trip and has the class but he had his chances to win at least two of his heats without doing so. Can win, but won’t be running with my money.
9 Temporale ($13) – I’ve backed him twice in the series and he’s delivered but it’s hard to see him winning. Will cop the distance, has class and has proven determined in big races so he certainly is a first four hopeful.
10 Habibi Inta ($21) – Cannot have. Came into the series with a boom and is yet to fully unwind. A sixth and seventh in the heats tells you all you need to know.
11 Tough Monarch ($26) – Will start bigger odds but is a rough place hope. Improved gradually throughout and gets a nice trailing draw. Anthony Butt knows how to drive a big race on either side of the Tasman.
12 Paramount King ($17) – Loomed to beat Temporale last week but just peaked on the run so perhaps there is some improvement to come. Draw cruels him but he’s a trotter on the rise.
13 Massive Metro ($21) – Horrendous draw but may be one looking to make a move into the chair. IF he gets around cheaply, can be among the top four hopes.
1 Winterfell $1.70
2 Majestic Man $5
3 Big Jack Hammer $41
4 Temporale $13
Away from the Inter Dom, there are a few magnificent – and rich – races on the programme with some slick three-year-olds, some debutante babies and the best mares in NZ going around. Below are my tips in the big races;
Race Two – Alabar 3yo Classic
1 Copy That
2 Flying Even Bettor
3 One Change
4 Smooth Deal
Race Four – Caduceus Club Stakes
1 Amazing Dream
3 Need You Know
4 Stylish Memphis
Race Five – Group 1 Queen of Hearts
1 Belle of Montana
2 Wainui Creek
4 Some Do
Race Seven – Lincoln Farms ID Classic
1 Another Masterpiece
2 Colt Thirty One
3 Our Uncle Sam
4 Classie Brigade
Race Nine sees budding superstar Self Assured back in action, so even after the Group 1’s are run and won, make sure you check out what could be the best pacer in Australasia in 12 months time.