Final preparations for Diamonds Day

By Mac Henery

A fortnight out from Southern Harness Diamonds Day, the top five qualifiers for the group two Southern Supremacy Stakes - which will feature on the day - go through their final dress rehearsals in three different races at Invecargill on Sunday.

Top qualifier on the basis of stakes won in Southland and Central Otago is Pulp Fiction who starts from 20 metres behind in the Regent Car Court Handicap.

At the Northern Southland meeting last Saturday, to the satisfaction of his trainer Tony Stratford, the colt put behind him the issues which led to him breaking at Winton on 28 February and finishing last.

After going from one off the front last week in the hands of Dexter Dunn, Pulp Fiction raced mid-field until the business end. In the straight there were only three possible winners, Onedin Mach and Sheeza Shark both had their chance but Pulp Fiction was superior. He won't find it as easy from the back mark this week but is hard to go past.

Up against him will be New Zealand record holder Tas Man Bromac who is unbeaten at Invercargill. In January he paced the same 2700 metres of Sunday's race in 3:22.0, the fastest ever in this country for a three year old colt or gelding.

 Tas Man Bromac meets Pulp Fiction for the first time since their paths crossed in the Sires Stakes heat at Forbury Park in October. Art Union won from Have Faith In Me, Tas Man Bromac was fifth, narrowly ahead of Pulp Fiction.

Tas Man Bromac goes from the 10 metre mark on Sunday in his first start since winning at Addington two months ago. He is well capable of winning and expected to improve further with the race.

Statham contests the Invercargill Partsworld Mobile 2200 and after the way he held out Rocker Band last week, with daylight to third, it would be hard to go against him this week.

Trainer and driver Nathan Williamson said after the win that the lightly-raced son of glamour sire Bettor's Delight would need to step up this week before a decision was made to proceed to the Supremacy.

However, he was clearly impressed with the manner Statham dug deep to withstand the challenge of Mainland Banner's little daughter last time.

Even after the win, Williamson saw Tas Man Bromac as his number one prospect for the Supremacy so there will be plenty of interest in how far Statham can advance his case on Sunday. From two off the gate, he has every opportunity to impress again.

Up against him is a three year old Williamson has had a lot of success on this term in the form of Costa Del Magnifico.

The striking black has raced 12 times since debuting in September, won three of them, been runner-up six times and only ever been driven by Williamson.

Until his rather tired performance at his latest outing on 15 February, Costa Del Magnifico looked every inch a valid Supremacy contender. He has been freshened and looked good when resuming in a two horse 2400 metre trial against Highview Anwell at Wyndham on Wednesday.

He was driven by his trainer Brent Shirley,the trip was cut out in 3:04.4, they ran home from the 800 in 58.2, 400 in 27.8 and Highview Anwell won by half a length.

Fifth on the list of qualifiers is I'm Full Of Excuses from the family of Happy Hazel, bred and owned by Ollie and Irene Haines of Cambridge and trained by Clark Barron.

He goes from one off the second line in the BP North Road Mobile

2200 for three year olds and will be driven by his trainer who still need three wins to crack the 1000.

Barron has always said the Jereme's Jet gelding has plenty of ability but will be best served by time.

His last start second to Derby candidate Smithy was a top one and with a good run he is a chance on Sunday but the Supremacy is probably coming up too soon for him.