Bolt For Brilliance confirmed for IDs
By Michael Guerin
Inter Dominion glory is a possibility for New Zealand again after trotting series favourite Bolt For Brilliance booked his tickets for Victoria with a private workout on Saturday.
The Trans Tasman series, one each for pacers and trotters, has long been one of harness racing’s great annual events but has struggled to hold the same allure for Kiwi horses in the last two years because of Covid, reduced stakes compared with other feature races and increased travel.
That means Bolt For Brilliance was the only big-name New Zealand horse set for the series and his campaign looked on the rocks when he pulled up with a lung infection after being unplaced at Addington on Cup Day.
The treatment needed to get on top of that infection forced him out of the $300,000 Dominion three days later but he has improved every day since and a workout on Saturday, followed by a veterinary examination, convinced trainer-driver Tony Herlihy to head to Victoria.
Bolt For Brilliance will fly to Melbourne on Wednesday with Herlihy to be based there and driving him for the entire series, rather than travelling back across the Tasman to drive in other features, like the $100,000 NZ Trotting Oaks he has Double Delight in this Friday.
Stable foreman Tony Cameron will head to Addington to take that drive.
Bolt For Brilliance is the $2.50 favourite to win the Interdom trotting title which is decided at Melton on December 10 after three rounds of heats around Victoria starting at Ballarat this Saturday then Shepparton (next Tuesday) and Geelong (Dec 3).
“I wouldn’t be going unless I was sure he was back to full health,” says Herlihy.
“There was a virus going around some of the stables down south but my vet Ivan Bridge thinks it was a lung infection, which is easier to treat and, we think, get over.
“He has felt really good in his work and his scopes after have been clear so we are good to go.”
As the Rowe Cup winner and one of NZ trotting’s big three alongside Sundees Son and Muscle Mountain, Bolt For Brilliance looks to have a class edge on his Australian rivals but should also be better suited by the last round of heats and Final over staying trips than the shorter heats on the first two nights.
He will attract plenty of Kiwi eyeballs during the series which has no New Zealand-trained pacers for the second year in a row, a situation that could continue unless the pacing stake rises past the A$500,000 available on December 10, which makes it only the sixth-equal highest pacing stakes available in Australasia in the next year.
The leading Kiwi pacers who could have gone to the series in Copy That and Self Assured will instead stay home and race at Alexandra Park or in Self Assured’s case at Invercargill.
They will then be aimed at later summer targets in Australia like the Hunter Cup and Miracle Mile, which don’t require them to contest three heats to make the final.