Jewels alert at Bathurst

NZ HARNESS NEWS

HARNESS Racing NZ’s Jewels recruiter Darrin Williams is a busy man.

His phone and email has been running hot with calls from Australia to express unprecedented levels of interest in this year’s Harness Jewels.

There’s lots of reason, most notably the fact the Aussies finally got on the board with our first Jewels final win through megastar filly Shez All Rock.

More broadly, interest levels have continued to grow over time as awareness of the Jewels has grown in Australia and Williams has forged invaluable relationships with Aussie owners and trainers.

And, despite what some may think, make no mistake the Addington factor is a strong lure as well this year.

“At last count we were up to about 22 horses expressing interest in a Jewels invite,” Williams said. “It’s way ahead of any other year. It’s amazing really.

“It puts us in a good, but tricky position with up to five horses via for the one invite in a couple of the races.

“We’ve got to watch these Aussie races closely now and keep on contact with the people connected with the horses in case they change their minds.

“It’s fair to say I’ll be watching these Bathurst finals really closely on Friday night.”

As many as five Bathurst runners across the four major finals tomorrow night have expressed Jewels interest.

Heading the way is arguably Australia’s best three-year-old Lochinvar Art, who has been placed in both the Victoria and NSW Derby finals from bad barriers.

His torrid run of poor draws has continued for tomorrow night’s Gold Chalice final from gate nine (inside the back row), while his major rival Shoobee Doo has gate five, Given the draws, Shoobee Doo is actually a slight favourite on the Aussie TAB at $2 with Lochinvar Art, who won his heat on Monday by 40m, at $2.20.

In the 2YO colts and geldings Gold Crown final, connections of unbeaten youngsters Major Bob ($8.50, gate 12) and Mistery Road ($12, gate seven) have been contacted Williams.

Despite their potential, both faces big tests from bad draws against big guns Jilliby Nitro (gate eight, $1.70) and Mach Dan (gate five, $3.10).

Mach Dan’s trainer Emma Stewart hasn’t formally tagged Mach Dan as Jewels hopefully, but she mentioned the possibility of “taking a couple of two-year-old pacers” to the Jewels should her exciting three-year-old trotter Alpha Rock snare an invite.

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