News & Events

Breeders Crown Semis this Friday

By Michael Guerin

Two New Zealand pacers have been the centre of huge plunges to start the Australasian Breeders Crown carnival.

And that may only be the start as harness racing fixed odds undergoes a renaissance in Australia.

The semi-finals of the Breeders Crown are on this Friday at Melton, with the super rich finals nine days later.

Australian harness bookmakers, headed by TAB Sportsbet, have broken tradition that usually only sees them open fixed odds betting on final fields - outside the Interdominions - and have started betting on the ABC grand finals winners already.

And the Kiwi punters, or those who love the New Zealand horses, quickly stepped in.

Canterbury pacer Bit Of A Legend was the most sensationally backed, from $16 to $5 after a string of $1000 bets. And three-year-old Fly Like An Eagle has also been smashed, in from $6.50 to $4.

TAB bookies were stunned by the reaction to their new fixed odds policy, which is good news for harness punters on both sides of the Tasman, giving them more options.

Most of the Kiwi pacers in Friday’s semi-finals drew well enough to suggest they will be qualifying finals, with Cheer The Lady (4), Bit Of A Legend (3), Major Star (4) and Texican (3) well placed in their respective semi-finals, while Twist And Twirl and Border Control have wide front line draws but the respect to negate that.

Harness Jewels winner Delightful Christian, who is now trained in Tasmania, will have to cop a second line draw though, as will unbeaten Welcome Stakes winner Franco Nelson. He has been one of the surprises of the early fixed odds betting as he is rated the favourite for the two-year-old male pace division, even though he is barely known in Australia. And he does meet a strong Kiwi contingent headed by Border Control and Bit Of A Legend.

One of the Kiwis facing the toughest task is Lets Elope, for recovering injured Kumeu trainer Frank Cooney. He has drawn the outside of the front line in the second three-year-old male pacing heat, which will leave stand-in driver Todd MacFarlane with some thinking to do.

The New Zealand TAB, who has also been expanding their fixed odds coverage on harness racing, will provide fixed odds betting on all Friday’s semi-finals on race night as well as next week’s finals, but not until after the fields and draws are released.