Five things to make sure you don’t miss this week
By Michael Guerin
With so much going on in the harness racing industry it is easy to miss some of the good stuff.
So to help you keep tabs here are the five things you should try and catch this week
1: Hannon Memorial: The decent-sized open class spring fields continue and this time bring together some of the players from Addington last Friday, Pembrook Playboy and a mare we really don’t know the limits of yet in Aardie’s Express. But the most fascinating horse in the $40,000 feature is U May Cullect, who is back as a nine-year-old nearly two years after he last raced. He has still only have 17 starts, for 9 wins, and is a little bit special so while he probably won’t win I hope he does.
2: The chase for the three-peat: Copy That is back and we ALL know what he is aiming at. That second Tuesday in November and his shot at becoming only the fourth horse to win three New Zealand Cups. His quest gets a little more serious at Alexandra Park on Thursday night (R10, 9.17pm), which he really should win up against only four rivals but then again mobile miles at The Park can be a trick. Still, I doubt anybody here is going to be in the mood for a fight with him.
It is good to have the race stand up, even as a loss leader, because a meeting with a genuine superstar is always better than a meeting without one.
3: The Oamaru support card: I don’t know what I expected the Hannon Memorial Day support card to look like and I didn’t really put a lot of thought into it. But it is splendid. The Diamond Creek Stakes is a small but tasty juvenile event while the Nevele R heat has a real North vs South vs Further South feel to it.The Group 3 Jasmyn’s Gift Trot reminds us mare’s trotting races attract some really good fields with The Ivy League, Resolve, I Dream Of Jeannie up against a genuine flyer in Hidden Talent. This is a beaut spring surprise of a raceday and Oamaru deserve it.
4: Baby trotters: They are two words that can make even the hardest punter sweat but the reality is our juvenile trotters are way, way better than two decades ago when many were juvenile gallopers. And they are out and about at all four meetings this week. We see a small but fun race headlined by a good horse in The Moonstone (R3, 6.22pm) at Alex Park on Thursday night then a bigger field at Addington for their freshman trot on Friday which boasts three winners and some rich bloodlines.
Two exciting babies in Kracka Looka and Black Pat go around against the older horses at Invercargill on Friday (R5, 3.32pm) and there is even a couple of maidens doing the same at Oamaru on Sunday. Might give us some clarity around what lies ahead for our most unexposed crop.
5: A Group 1 dozen: Group 1s are always worthy of a look but at Melton on Saturday night there are 12 for the Vicbred Super Series. That is almost certainly a record for any of the three codes anywhere in the world but this Saturday comes with a twist after Emma Stewart trained a record-equalling 9 winners on semi final night last week. She won’t go close to that this week because six of the races are for trotters and she only has two starters in those six races but she has a heap of well-known pacers headed by Kiwi-owned Amore Vita (R9, 11.30pm NZ time). Nathan Purdon will be there with (The Real) Sherlock in Race 6 and We Can Have It All in the juvenile fillies trot.