Jewels draws set up intriguing edition

By Michael Guerin

Australia’s long Harness Jewels drought looks certain to end at Cambridge next Saturday.

Because the barrier draws for the $1,275,000 mega day with nine group ones have played into the hands of the Australian visitors, none more so than superstar filly Shez All Rock.

She has drawn handy on the front line and looks set to find the front in the $150,000 three-year-old Diamond and will start long odds-on, especially with Elle Mac drawn the second line.

While she is being trained for her two-race New Zealand campaign by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, Shez All Rock is very much counted as an Australian, having been invited before her NZ Oaks win and she will wear the green Australian Jewels colours in her mobile mile.

If she is successful she will become the first Australian horse to win a Jewels since the meeting became such a huge part of the New Zealand harness racing calendar 11 years ago.

While Shez All Rock will be clearly the best backed of the six Australian reps next Saturday, the chances of Shane Tritton-trained stablemates Platinum Revolution (race one) and Petes Big Jim (race six) improved after they both drew the ace. 

And even four-year-old mare Carla’s Pixel may not be too badly disadvantaged by drawing one on the second line behind a potential leader in Seaswift Joy.

Australian trotters Dance Craze (four-year-old trot) and Wobelee (three-year-old trot) face trickier draws but the latter in particular still looks a winning hope as gate speed has never been his forte.

With barrier draws so crucial for mile racing at Cambridge the final fields will see plenty of movement at the top of the markets as some long-time favourites fared poorly.

Elle Mac is one of the most obvious while Princess Tiffany will have to overcome the outside of the front line is she is to remain unbeaten in the two-year-old Diamond.

The four-year-old pacing divisions have both been thrown wide open with the two favourites in the male pace, Star Galleria and Eamon Maguire, having their gate speed weapons taken away by second line draws.

And the same applies to Bonnie Joan, Partyon and Utmost Delight in the mare’s races.

Remarkably the four Purdon-Rasmussen trained juvenile male pacers, who held the top four spots in that market, drew alongside each other in the outside four spots on the front line.

NZ Derby quinellamates Sheriff and Pat’s Delight gained crucial advantage over Sicario with inside front line draws in the three-year-old male pace while Habibi Inta has the ace draw inside Enghien (barrier three) in the four-year-old trot.

One of the questions of the day will be how hot three-year-old trot favourite Winterfell handles his barrier one draw after being occasionally rocky in his gate last start.

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