Inter Dominion Update
By Michael Guerin
New Zealand’s Inter Dominion assault could swell to seven after some surprise additions.
The annual trans tasman harness racing series returns to Victoria on Saturday week and has the added bonus of the return of the trotting series, which was last held in 2012.
Both series will consist of three rounds of heats spread across Victoria and 2760m mobile finals at Melton on December 15 but the series, like last week’s New Zealand Cup, has been hit by the extraordinary number of injuries, retirements and overseas sales in the open class ranks this year.
But while a brutal Cup week in Christchurch last week suggested New Zealand could have only two or three reps in the Inters, that number could double.
Yesterday was the day many trainers sat down, dusted themselves off and planned the rest of the summer and one of the big winners has been the Auckland and Cambridge summer carnivals, with some of the industry’s glamour names staying home.
That will include Thefixer, Dream About Me, Jack’s Legend, Turn It Up, Chase Auckland, Eamon Maguire and Elle Mac in the pacing ranks while Temporale, Lemond and Woodstone will also be coming north rather than heading to Melbourne.
Ultimate Machete, who missed Cup week with a hoof problem, has been on the water walker for the last week and co-trainer Mark Purdon will check on his progress before confirming an Auckland Cup campaign.
That leaves the All Stars with Cruz Bromac as their confirmed Inter Dominon pacing hope with the option that Spankem could join him.
“We are still finalising a few different things and will firm everything up later in the week,” said Purdon.
While speedster Star Galleria is out of the Inters and will need a minor surgery, one surprise addition to the Kiwi pacing team could be Pat’s Delight.
The Jewels winner has been both luckless and impressive over the last month and trainer Cran Dalgety is leaning toward going to Melbourne as the Inter Dominion final could be no stronger than the Auckland Cup.
“I am talking to the owner about it and he gets the final call but I am keen to go,” says Dalgety.
In the trotting series Speeding Spur was always likely to go and after jogging out soundly for trainers John and Josh Dickie on Monday morning he will be in the series barring anything unforseen happening this week
And he could be joined by three slightly unexpected fellow Kiwis in stablemates Alderbeck and Monty Python and the Paul Nairn-trained Wilma’s Mate.
Trainer Phil Williamson says the Inter trip is on with Alderbeck and Monty Python, who both had no luck in the Dominion last Friday.
“I think they are both good enough to go to the series, make the final and get some money in it so we are keen,” says the champion trainer of trotters.
But with driving sons Nathan, Brad and Matthew so busy at home, Williamson will use Anthony Butt as the pair’s driver in the series.
And Wilma’s Mate, who has had a disappointing spring but better at Addington last Friday, will go and be under the care of Brent Lilley for the series, with trainer Paul Nairn yet to confirm a
Speeding Spur is rated the most likely New Zealand winner of one of an Inter final at $3.80 in most markets, while Tiger Tara heads many Inter Dominion pacing markets although Cruz Bromac could continue to shorten after his NZ Free-For-All win last Friday and once his participation in the series becomes more certain.
Other plans for some of the big names from Cup week see three-year-old star Ultimate Sniper coming north for the Sales Series Pace at Alexandra Park on December 31 buy intermediate grade speed machine Alta Maestro will stick to a South Island standing start race programme for now to continue to educate him.