Big weekend looms on both sides of Tasman

By Michael Guerin

The harness racing season goes overdrive this weekend but New Zealand’s participation in the Inter Dominion is wavering.

Addington’s mega meeting this Friday sees most of the major New Zealand Cup chances engaged, with Self Assured, Spankem and South Coast Arden to return in the Canterbury Classic while Akuta will revert to three-year-old company in the Lazarus Stakes.

Across the Tasman defending New Zealand Cup hero Copy That will be a warm favourite in the Smoken Up Sprint at Melton on Saturday night after drawing barrier four but likely to start from barrier three.

And even fringe Cup players like Kango and Hot And Treacherous are back racing or in the latter’s case trialling so the local NZ Cup contenders are up and about with six weeks to go to

There is also increased and powerful Australian interest in the great race at Addington on November 8 with Victoria’s most in-form pacer Rock N Roll Doo very much on the Cup path after he bolted away with last Friday’s Kilmore Cup.

That saw him backed from $26 to $10 with the TAB and trainer Michael Stanley says safely through next week’s Victoria Cup, Rock N Roll Doo is likely to come to New Zealand and contest the Ashburton Flying Stakes on his way to the Cup.

A big, old-fashioned stayer with high speed, Rock N Roll Doo is a rarity, an Australian-trained pacer almost better suited to the New Zealand Cup than the speed-oriented racing style in his homeland.

While Copy That and stablemates Simply Sam and Argyle race at Melton this Saturday along with recent Alexandra Park winner Major Perry, who contests a Victoria Derby heat, the appetite for the Inter Dominions among Kiwi trainers seems to be fading.

The series starts on November 26 and sees heats run at three different Victorian tracks before the finals at Melton on December 10, with entries closing on Wednesday.

While Bolt For Brilliance has been nominated for the trotting series, for which he is the futures favourite, and South Coast Arden is entered for the pacing series, other trainers are still mulling over even entering.

“We will talk about it tonight but at this stage, because of all the travel involved, we are only lukewarm,” said champion trainer Mark Purdon, who could have Self Assured and Spankem in the series.

Bolt For Brilliance looks the most likely New Zealand representative.

“He will head to Addington for the Cup carnival and then a lot will depend on flights,” says trainer Tony Herlihy.

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