Michael Guerin's punting strategy for the IRT Harness Jewels
By Michael Guerin
One of New Zealand’s greatest race days returns after missing last year because of Covid when the IRT Harness Jewels are held at Cambridge on Sunday.
On a day with plenty of odds-on favourites but some facing tricky barrier draws, racing journalist Michael Guerin looks at the key questions and the best way for punters to attack the all-Group One day of $100,000 mile races.
Race 1 Woodlands Stud 4YO Diamond, 12.17pm:
We all know Amazing Dream (9) is the best mare in the race. After all, she won the Auckland Cup against the big boys.
She got about the only draw she would be vulnerable from at one on the second line so she has to either pull back to near last or push off early.
While all that is happening Need You Now (6) should run to the lead, probably from Pearl Harbour (1).
Amazing Dream is best suited following a hot pace but has such a class edge she can get away with playing the bully as realistically Need You Now is the only other winning chance and she hasn’t won a race for a long time. So class should prevail but it could be a nerve-wracking watch.
Top pick: Amazing Dream.
Suggested bet: Pearl Harbour to finish Top 4 fixed a strategic way to start the day.
Race 2 Montana Food And Events 2YO Ruby, 12.44pm:
The key to the race is whether Highgrove (7) trots all the way because when he does he has panels on most of these.
He did gallop at his last start but had been temperamental all that week and should be suited by drawing wide this time. If he trots, he almost certainly wins and the fixed odds are overs.
Mystic Max (4) is the clear danger but also has some shifty moves while Mr Love (2), Kowhai Sunset (3) and Double Delight (8) have all done enough in different ways to suggest they can be in the first 4.
Top pick: Highgrove.
Suggested bet: Highgrove to win at higher end of your betting range. Then cross your fingers.
Race 3 Dunstan Horsefeeds 3YO Diamond, 1.11pm:
Not dissimilar to race 1 in that Bettor Twist (8) is the best filly but she may have to sit parked, probably outside a natural front runner in La Rosa (3), if the latter behaves. If that happens Natalie Rasmussen is certain to try and use Bettor Twist’s stamina and she may well buckle La Rosa late but at $1.55 the fav she too short to back outright. The beneficiary of a battle of the favourites should be Off N Gone (1) who could well trail and use the passing lane.
Top Pick: Bettor Twist.
Suggested bet: Off N Gone top 3 fixed.
Race 4, Hardwood Breeding Syndicate 2YO Diamond, 1.38pm:
True Fantasy (3) has been stunning in the north and actually has better gate speed than she has been allowed to show. If she runs to the front this is as good as over.
Her stablemate A Bettor You (2) looms as a huge place and quinella chance IF she can cross to the lead and then trail while in order Suntan (5), Montana Glory (4) and Miki Montana (1) have done enough to get some money and valuable Group One black type.
Top pick: True Fantasy.
Suggested bet: 2-3 quinella.
Race 5, Mitre 10 3YO Ruby, 2.05pm:
One of the races of the day because while Five Wise Men (7) is the star of this crop he has drawn wide on a wickedly quick front line.
If he rolls around to the front he should win but is too short at $1.75 and Outamyway (3) appeals as an each way chance if he gets his head in the game early.
Any of Leaf Stride (5), Time Up The Hill (6) or Regal Attire (2) could also win without stunning while almost anything could run a place here if there are a few breakers
Top pick: Five Wise Men.
Suggested bet: Outamyway each way.
Race 6, McMillan Equine Feeds 2YO Emerald, 2.40pm:
Akuta (5) was so brutal bashing most of these at Addington it is impossible to go past him and surely his rivals hand up and he leads and wins.
Cosmic Major (6) has been clear second best of this crop but from his widish draw might have to divide up the crumbs from Akuta’s table with Franco Mac (3), Major Perry (4) and for smaller portions My Ultimate Chevron (2) with most of the others in trouble from their draws.
Top pick: Akuta
Suggested bet: Trifecta: 5-2/3/4/6 second and third.
Race 7, IRT 3YO Emerald, 3.15pm:
The great thing about fun and games is they are ….fun.
What unfolds early between B D Joe (1), stablemate Alta Wiseguy (3) and the best pacer in the race in Krug (9), who follows B D Joe, not to mention anybody else who wants to get involved makes this a can’t-miss race.
If Krug gets a fair crack he should still win but if he is three back on the markers driver Blair Orange may need a can opener or the money to pay a decent fine to get out. If he does, Krug will explode.
If he doesn’t then B D Joe has options of how to win the race. If he leads, perhaps after a re-take, he can win and if he trails he gets the passing lane and can win.
Tempo and settling positions will determine how close Pace N Pride (2), Shan Noble (7), American Dealer (10) and Ragazzo Mach (11) get and there are a few others who can run boomers. So yep, this will be fun.
Top pick: Krug.
Suggested bet: B D Joe each way.
Race 8, Garrard's Horse And Hound 4YO Ruby, 3.50pm:
There are some very good trotters in this but maybe two potentially great ones.
Muscle Mountain (7) and Bolt For Brilliance (11) are already open class forces who can do stunning things but Muscle Mountain has enough gate speed to suggest he can roll to the front. If he does that it will take something epic to beat him because he is the real deal.
So too is Bolt For Brilliance and if he gets a decent run through and Muscle Mountain has had to work or sit parked, Bolt can down the southerner but his real odds are about $4.
Midnight Dash is so reliable and he should get handy so is a threat if the big boys pummel each other.
Top pick: Muscle Mountain.
Suggested bet: Muscle Mountain to win, maybe double up on Midnight Dash top 3 fixed.
Race 9, Civtec 4YO Emerald, 4.21pm:
The race of the day as the open class warriors of the future look set to play hard.
Copy That (13) is the big dog but he loves leading whereas he has been far less potent as a swooper. He can still win coming wide but probably needs the right three-wide cart into the race and even one spot too far back could cost him. Still, he is the best horse here.
Bad To The Bone (5) may hold the key to the race. If he can show more gate speed and lead then he, and whoever trails him, will be hard to beat .
If he sits parked then a horse like South Coast Arden could be left wider so Bad To The Bone’s movements might dictate tempo and the ability of others to move mid-race.
South Coast Arden can win but will need a lot to go right in that first 400m while Kango looks set to be first to the marker pegs and could give the locals a rare victory but there could be a tonne of pressure. At least he has options.
If that pressure comes then Pembrook Playboy could be the sneaky, driven cold and waiting for gaps that Cambridge rarely provides.
Should be a classic.
Top pick: Copy That.
Suggested bet: Split win bet Copy That mostly, cover on Kango.