The IRT New Zealand Harness Jewels is a concept with similarities to the Gold Coast’s Magic Millions but with a few cool wrinkles.
Prize money accrued earns you your trip to the Jewels, giving each horse its chance at a late-season Group 1 before the good horses are spelled for the winter months. The designation of yellow silks is a neat addition which is given to the leading stakes earner in each of the nine divisions as well as green silks for any Australian participants – of which there are none this season due to COVID.
Despite the Aussie horses and trainers being kept away due to the virus, there will be plenty of familiar drivers, trainers and horses for Australian racing fans this Sunday morning/early afternoon.
With many still in lockdown and plenty of the rest of us living under some kind od restriction, what better way to kill a Sunday than soaking up some NZ Harness Jewels action!?!
Staggeringly, the training combination formerly known as All Stars has won 28 of the last 54 Jewels, so with the disbandment of All Stars Racing that means there are nine Jewels on offer this Sunday where anyone not named All Stars will be taking them home – despite Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen taking part as drivers in most of the events and with plenty of favourites.
It’s a difficult looking betting card but where there’s a will, there’s a way so let’s look at each of the nine races and work out who will win and how to play…
NEW ZEALAND JEWELS (Cambridge Raceway, Sunday June 6)
4YO DIAMOND – Mares
Amazing Dream is comfortably the best horse amongst this crop but her winning hopes have been significantly dented after drawing one on the back row. To win here, the Auckland Cup winner will need to circumnavigate the field to win. Need You Now will be the chief rival, drawing well enough to lead and therefore win.At the end of the day, Amazing Dream is capable of winning no matter the tempo and no matter how the race fares but she will need to be at her Group 1-winning best to claim another Jewels victory. Pearl Harbour is the third pick and nice blowout opportunity and seems a nice bet on an each way basis.
My play – Small win, good place bet PEARL HARBOUR $10 & place bet PLUTONIUM LADY $2.80
2YO RUBY – Mixed sex
The famous Kiwi training name of M. Purdon takes the favourite into battle here but it’s not Mark putting the polish on this one, it’s son Michael. Mystic Max is 2/3 and draws to lead and deserves the almost-even money quote. Greg & Nina Hope know how to prepare a star trotter so you’d think Mr Love deserves respect from gate two whilst Highgrove for Team Dunn and Double Delight for Tony Herlihy are also in the mix. Highgrove is the dominant horse engaged but his manners can be a query.
My play – Each way MR LOVE $17/$2.25.
3YO DIAMOND – Fillies
Bettor Twist is the star of this show but gate eight will ensure she earns everything she gets in an event with a couple of types looking to upend the favourite. La Rosa is a consistent filly for Mark Jones and Off N Gone could give a sight in front or from the trail. Darling Me and Braeview Kelly are better horses than their $31 and $51 prices suggest.
My play – Quinella LA ROSA & BETTOR TWIST or LA ROSA to win $3.80.
2YO DIAMOND – Fillies
True Fantasy has emerged as the No. 1 seed in the baby girls division despite being beaten last start. Stable mate Suntan has continued to improve and will be a threat to the favourite whilst Miki Montana and A Bettor You can be prominent from handy barriers. Dance Till Dawn is one who has run a placing in five of her past six runs so could add value to exotics from a pegs trip.
My play – TRUE FANTASY win $1.40 (short but looks a nice all-up leg) + A BETTOR YOU place.
3YO RUBY – Mixed sex
Five Wise Men is a hugely impressive trotting three-year-old who’s won 8 from 10. Gate seven means he’ll likely be racing off the fence all the way but he’s got the talent to do so. Clear top pick. Mexicana and Regal Attire are talented types from the Cullen barn and Leaf Stride is a nice chance from Team Williamson.
My play – FIVE WISE MEN win $1.80.
2YO EMERALD – Colts & Geldings
At times, the title for top pacing colt has been up for grabs but Akuta has firmly established himself as the alpha dog amongst these youngsters. $1.18 is madness but he deserves top billing and should do the damage. Cosmic Major – a stable mate of the favourite – is a sharp Art Major colt and is yet to finish worse than 2nd from five tries. Montana DJ is a nice place hope from back on the markers and Major Perry is another blowout hope.
My play – F4 Akuta from Cosmic Major from 1, 3, 4, 9 and 1, 3, 4, 9.
3YO EMERALD – Colts & Geldings
One of the highlights of the day with Krug a deserved favourite but not without his challenges from gate nine. He’s instilled as a $1.30 favourite but you’d be mad to take any of that. B D Joe could try lead all the way but he’d be setting things up for Krug so expect him to hand up to either Pace N Pride or Shan Noble who should get him to the sprint lane in good shape. American Dealer, Ragazzo Mach and Sarmhara are all quality horses who could bob up north of 10/1.
My play – Win bet B D JOE $5 + small each way SHAN NOBLE $14/$2.40 and PACE N PRIDE $17/$3.80
4YO RUBY – Mixed sex
Muscle Mountain is a ripping gelding with a good horse’s record. The son of Muscle Hill will be another for the all-up players at his $1.40 quote. Bolt For Brilliance will be the most likely party-pooper but we might get better than $3.40 to find out. I’’d be happy to claim one of those two are certain winners however American Pride and Midnight Dash would be the likely show stealers.
My play – Chuck either MUSCLE MOUNTAIN to win $1.40 or BOLT FOR BRILLIANCE place in your all-ups + MIDNIGHT DASH place.
4YO EMERALD – Entires & Geldings
Bad To The Bone is a favourite of mine and on face value his most recent run was disappointing but a) every horse deserves a pass and b) that particular race was run for the leaders, of which he was not. Gate four helps but he will need to overpower Kango to get the top. Kango is a decent horse in his own right with winning claims. South Coast Arden is a Cup horse in the making and having N Rasmussen aboard helps immensely. Copy That will have to be SuperMan (horse) to be winning from 13. He can, but boy o boy he will need to do something else to do so.
My play – Safe play in the get-out stakes with a boxed trifecta, KANGO, BAD TO THE BONE, SOUTH COAST ARDEN, COPY THAT.
BEST BET – All-up: R1 N1 Pearl Harbour place, R3 N1 Off N Gone place, R4 N3 True Fantasy win, R6 N6 Cosmic Major place… should get $4 on the day!
BEST VALUE – B D Joe (Race Seven, No. 1)
BEST ROUGHIE – Shan Noble (Race 7, No. 7) & Pace N Pride (Race 7, No. 2)
I’ll be one foot in front of the other at training cum Sunday morning but I’ll have Foxtel IQ in readiness to catch up on everything when I get home and I look forward to refreshing the Sportsbet account to see it explode……..