Five to watch on Diamonds Day

Southland’s premier harness racing event will go to a new level today with the first running of a Group 1 on Diamonds Day. Racing journalist Jonny Turner has picked out his horses to follow on the outstanding card of racing.

Summit Ultra

Summit Ultra opened at a tidy $7 win price in the fixed odds market for Sunday’s opener. On the strength of the pacer’s last start placing at Winton, that looks nice value. Summit Ultra showed excellent gate speed in his last outing, pointing to him being a big chance of leading from barrier 4 on Sunday. As most southern harness fans will know, the front is the place to be around the tight-turning Ascot Park track. While the favourite Secret Agent Man looks a big winning threat, there looks enough value in Summit Ultra’s price for each way, place and top-four punters.

Miki Bennett

Miki Bennett has had better chances to win a race than the event he lines up in on Diamonds Day. But his recent trials in Canterbury suggest he is ready to return in better shape than ever before. The pacer beat home Who’s Delight in his latest trial run, with that pacer third behind Mighty Looee and Franco Indie in a much higher class at Addington on Thursday night. It all adds up to Miki Bennett bringing an outstanding form reference to a rating 43-49 event on Diamonds Day. With his record to date, not everyone will want to put all of their faith in Miki Bennett. But his trial form suggests he will be hard to beat.

Julie Jaccka

An electric beginning set up Julie Jaccka’s impressive win at last weekend’s Winton Cup meeting. The same kind of getaway should give her her shot at making it two in a row on Diamonds Day. It will also be crucial in overcoming her 10m handicap on Sunday. Though she enjoyed a nice trip in the trail at Winton, the mare most importantly showed she was back in the kind of space that saw her place in the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks last season. Julie Jaccka’s best effort should have her right in the frame on Sunday.

Louies Girl

Adaptability looks the key weapon Louies Girl brings to the Southern Oaks Final. Recently the filly has been most noted for her scintillating speed, but she’s also shown the ability to press forward and race on the pace. Many of Sunday’s field haven’t got close to racing over 2700m, with most heats and other feature events over much shorter trips. Louies Girl looks to have both the motor and the tractability to thrive over a longer distance. If she leads from barrier 1 she is going to need to show that tractability, which I think she can.

Rubira

Rubira showed all of the qualities required for Group 1 racing in his Kindergarten Stakes win. On a testing track, the pacer worked harder than his rivals before sprinting faster than his rivals and leaving them with few excuses. While those who finished behind him are likely to have progressed since their last meetings, Rubira is sure to have done the same. At this very early stage of the season, he looks the best two-year-old seen in the South Island. And he looks a big chance of reinforcing that claim with a win on Sunday.

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