A question was posed on Victorian radio last week as to whether the upcoming New Year’s Eve VicBred Super Series is the only card in world racing – of any code – with 12 Group 1 races in the line-up.
An answer was not positively attained but it’s hard to imagine a race day anywhere else in the world where such a card of racing exists.
After the brussels sprouts we’ve been served up in 2020, we’ve earned a major serving of dessert and NYE promises to deliver an absolute smorgasbord.
I’m looking forward to joining Rob Auber on the Trots Vision coverage for the massive night of Harness action from Tabcorp Park Melton.
Here is how I see this gigantic night of racing playing out – with a dozen races, surely we can get one or two right…
RACE ONE – 4YO TROTTING ENTIRES & GELDINGS
Again, I’m the first to admit I’m no expert when it comes to those who do not wear any hopples. But, I’m here to have a go and this looks like a really competitive way to begin the night.
Yabby Dams entrant, Always Ready, is the standout but he has to overcome gate 11. Having said that, even money for him seems fair because his best form is excellent.
Sammy Showdown has a real chance at leading from gate 7 and being really hard to catch. He’s not quite at the level he was a few months back but still a realistic winning hope should others cop traffic issues.
Craig Cross entrant, Flingandwingit, is a nice horse but gate 8 is real tricky.
Who Wins: Always Ready $2
How I’m Betting: Always Ready win $2
Knockout Chance: Nephew of Sonoko $51
RACE TWO – 3YO TROTTING FILLIES
Another competitive trotting event, particularly after No. 1 seed Pink Galahs was scratched from the series and second favourite I’m Ready Jet broke in its semi-final and missed qualification.
Stable mate Arignee Flair looms as a winning chance after drawing the ace, Golden Sunset is loved in some markets and disliked in others whilst Imamaorijet will also give Yabby Dams another nice winning hope.
Beginning from gate 11, favourite Illawong Stardust deserves top billing but the $2 on offer at most corporates seems a little tight to be taking. Luckily I’m on at much bigger odds…
Who Wins: Imamaorijet $4.40
How I’m Betting: Golden Sunset each way $10
Knockout Chance: Venkman (emergency) $101
RACE THREE – 3YO TROTTING COLTS & GELDINGS
When you’re unbeaten in your career (8 starts) and already have a Group 1 in your keeping, it’s hard to believe you’d be copping close to even money for him in this event.
But, that’s the way things lay as Cover of Darkness – who will have to overcome gate 10 – will aim for nine straight.
Cracker Jet was only beaten two metres in the Breeders Crown Final and gate two gives him another chance to upend the favourite. Powderkeg is another with smaller winning claims, but gate eight probably does no favours from a winning perspective but there’s no doubt he goes into exotics.
Who Wins: Cover of Darkness $1.70
How I’m Betting: Cover of Darkness win $1.70
Knockout Chance: Builder Bob $41
RACE FOUR – 3YO PACING COLTS & GELDINGS
Speaking of heavily favoured runners having to overcome bad barriers and Pacifico Dream certainly looks like he fits that bill. An impressive – and comfortable – semi winner, the Andy Gath-prepared colt has won 10 from 20 and has been the most well credentialed performer of this crop.
He does have a running line draw (gate nine) but his major weapon is his ability to win from in front, something that looks unlikely in this event.
Beat City was a blowout semi winner and gate one (with the removal of the emergency) gives him every opportunity to repeat his winning ways.
Kowalski Analysis is an improving type and Sanday was super impressive from the back last week.
This is a race where you either need to decide whether Pacifico Dream is the clearcut winner or something at double-figures steals the show.
Who Wins: Sanday $13
How I’m Betting: Sanday each way $13
Knockout Chance: Forever Yin $26
RACE FIVE – 3YO PACING FILLIES
The favourite for this event, Amelia Rose, looked a hopeless chance at different stages this campaign. The Emma Stewart-trained filly now looks in the zone and with supreme gate speed and no clear leader on paper I’d expect the daughter of Art Major to find the top and be hard to topple.
Alice Kay is one that caught my eye last week, scorching home to qualify for the big one. She’s proven capable against the best of her age and sex and with $3 a place available, she seems a beaut bet.
It’s Beaujolais is another I’ve tracked, and she does have talent, but it’s hard to see her winning this. Maajida is the class filly but is yet another horse tasked with looping the field from gate eight or taking her chances on the pegs.
Who Wins: Amelia Rose $2.10
How I’m Betting: Alice Kay place $3
Knockout Chance: Dancing With Flo $31
RACE SIX – 2YO PACING COLTS & GELDINGS
This is a race where any scratching will play a major part in who I’d prefer to be with. As things stand, Idyllic will move from gate two to gate one whilst race favourite, Major Moth, will follow out a horse far less likely to get heavily involved at the start.
Should any horse be scratched (aside from Idyllic, of course) then Idyllic jumps from two and Major Moth will trail out and almost immediately be in the breeze. From there, I can see the Tonkin horses being leader and behind leader with Idyllic handing up.
The boom on Idyllic has been there throughout, so I’m happy to say he can zip up the sprint lane and win his own Group 1.
There are countless others engaged who are all 20/1 or larger who are quality animals.
(Update: a scratching has occurred and it’s thrown even more sparks into the air with Major Moth now starting from gate eight, meaning he’ll need some slick driving from Damian Wilson in the early stages)
Who Wins: Idyllic $2.40
How I’m Betting: Idyllic & Major Moth quinella
Knockout Chance: Kimble $51
RACE SEVEN – 2YO TROTTING COLTS & GELDINGS
We’re familiar with the Stewart-Tonkin team dominating pacing ranks, but they’re hoping to take a stranglehold on the squaregaiters as well. Cover of Darkness may have snared Group 1 glory for the team earlier in the night and Utopia should start as favourite in this event.
Greg Sugars will be hoping he can balance up and acquire the lead and from there, he’d be real hard to knock over. Fighting over favouritism will be Keayang Ninja for Jason and Paddy Lee. His best is brilliant but he made a couple of mistakes two and three starts back.
Almost everything else in the race is at cricket score odds, so should we see the Ninja misbehave and Utopia struggle to get the front, a big big blowout could be on the cards… just in time to ruin the quaddie.
Who Wins: Keayang Ninja $2.40
How I’m Betting: Boxed F4: 5, 10 / 5, 10 / F / F
Knockout Chance: Central Otago $101
RACE EIGHT – 2YO FILLIES
It’s hard to go past Lochinvar Art as the headline act on the evening but Ladies In Red sure is a worthy entree. The daughter of Mach Three is gunning for the perfect ten career victories and a second Group 1 win.
Gate 8 will pose few issues as Dave Moran can either chase her up and bullock his way off the pegs or – the more likely scenario – snag back and circle the field before either leading or breezing and having his way with the rest of them.
She is just that good. The only tiny teeny knock would be whether she’s had enough after nine hard runs as a juvenile. That’s a risk I’ll take and I am happy to pile in at anything close to $1.75+.
Tough Tilly – the horse with the amazing owners and the racing style to match her name – will get the lead easily but there would be some chance she’d even hand up to the superstar stable mate to avoid getting eaten alive from the death. It’s hard to see Tilly not running top three.
Behind those, Beach Music and Rogue Wave are going really nicely and can run third or fourth whilst Soho Broadway is an improving type from a proven family but gate 12 spells trouble.
Who Wins: Ladies In Red $1.70
How I’m Betting: Ladies In Red win $1.70 and Beach Music place $4.40 and Rogue Wave place $3
Knockout Chance: Soho Broadway $121
RACE NINE – 4YO ENTIRES & GELDINGS
Here he is, the big dog of Victorian harness – Lochinvar Art. Under the new racing calendar, he’s just a four-year-old but he’s already done so much against open class horses that you’d be right for thinking he’s a moral in any age-restricted race he contests.
You’re correct – except for one small asterisk. Fellow 4yo phenom Hurricane Harley has knocked him off twice when able to lead. ‘Arty’ has drawn the pole and Harley is out wide in six so he may get the chance to rev up and cross but we saw how that ended when Harley worked hard early and was mauled by David Moran’s superstar in the final 800m.
The inside alley is of no concern to me. Good horses navigate most obstacles.
Aside from the top two, Out To Play was superb last week when breezing and winning and he should run third. Malcolms Rhythm could get the gun run in behind the pole horse and Western Sonador seems to be a horse on the absolute up.
Who Wins: Lochinvar Art $1.20
How I’m Betting: Out To Play place $2.20
Knockout Chance: Western Sonador $41
RACE TEN – 4YO MARES
At times since relocating to Australia, champion filly-turned-mare Princess Tiffany has looked many lengths below what we saw from her as a young horse.
Well, the old Princess Tiffany was back in the semi-final after she dismantled heavily backed favourite Miss McGonagall with a devastating three-wide move from the 600m mark.
I do prefer Tiffany coming from off-speed these days but given an easy lead here, you’d expect her to be winning with something in hand.
Error and Janjuc were excellent in the semi-finals and both could try zoom to the lead early whilst Two Times Bettor might get a sweet trip from three-pegs.
Who Wins: Princess Tiffany $1.30
How I’m Betting: Small place bets Error $2.80 and Janjuc $3.80
Knockout Chance: Good Time Grace $101
RACE ELEVEN – 2YO TROTTING FILLIES
I’m not about to pretend I am all over this race but – again – whenever you see E. Stewart listed as trainer you need to respect that. Unless Banglez gets double or triple crossed, Greg Sugars should be able to decide how this race pans out. Lead or trail both seem like good options.
Aldebaren Ursula will be making a move at some point, either early in the race to go and park up or making a late move down the back to try and win the race with sheer speed.
Should Banglez lead all of the way, Evas Image gets the gun run in behind and becomes a winning hope. From three fence, that winning chance drops but she’s still capable of top three.
Who Wins: Evas Image $8
How I’m Betting: Evas Image each way $8
Knockout Chance: Keayang Xena $21
RACE TWELVE – 4YO TROTTING MARES
Keayang Livana has won three on the hope and is clearly the benchmark for the four-year-old mares. Jason Lee steers trotters excellently and he should have little trouble getting to the top and controlling things.
Majic Fair is not without an extreme blowout chance from gate one for Ryan & Steve Duffy whilst Sleepee was excellent in her semi-final and Royal Charlotte is racing below her best but is a Group 1 winning horse.
Who Wins: Keayang Livana $1.30
How I’m Betting: Majic Fair small each way $81
Knockout Chance: Majic Fair $81
And, if there’s not a winner from those twelve races, here is how I’ll be playing the early and main quaddies as well as my best bets…
1, 2, 6, 11
1, 7, 8
5, 9, 10
R8 N8 Ladies In Red $1.70 (TAB)
R2 N2 Golden Sunset $8 (Ladbrokes)
R5 N1 Alice Kay $34 (Sportsbet)
Enjoy what promises to be a landmark and memorable night of Harness action from Tabcorp Park Melton and be sure to tune in Channel 7 Mate for live coverage of the night as well as Trots Vision on thetrots.com.au where you will see me pinning the shoulders back after a few winning tips or hiding under the desk after more than a few losers…