Jewels draws set to impact
By Michael Guerin
Welcome to one of the strangest days of the harness racing season.
Most race days have a familiar pattern to them for those close to the horses. They work first, then go to the race and work more, hoping the Racing gods smile on them.
Raceday is when, hopefully, when all the work pays off.
Tonight at Alexandra Park and Addington that will still be the case, the desire for winning omnipresent.
But unlike any other race day of the year what happens on the track tonight might not impact some quite as much as what is revealed on their computers and phone screens just after noon.
Because that is when the draws come out for Jewels days at Addington tomorrow week.
They are the draws that matter more than for any other meeting. These are, after all, group one sprint races with not only big stakes but enormous breeding repercussions.
So just after noon today some dreams will feel a step closer to becoming reality, other will feel like they have ended.
Then trainers, drivers, owners, punters and bookies can start an eight-day game guessing game before the first ever Addington jewels.
Barry Purdon is one trainer who knows his best Jewels chance Belle Of Montana could be odds-on or $4 next Saturday depending what number the computer spits out today.
He wasn’t at all disappointed with her third to Princess Tiffany in the NZ Oaks last week but if one draws handy and the other the second line this Jewels might be as good as decided.
“They are both very good fillies but if one of them gets a long way in front of the other the one, it is going to be tough to peg back,” muses Purdon. Purdon also has two four-year-old boys heading to the Jewels and they clash in the last at Alexandra Park tonight.
While Benson Boys is enormously improved and not finished winning yet, stablemate On The Cards looks one of the bets of the night.
“I don’t give the guys driving instructions but On The Cards seems to like rolling along so I can see him going forward and maybe leading,” says Purdon.
Fifth to Spankem in both the Taylor Mile and Messenger, if he leads tonight he should go to the Jewels a last-start winner.
At Addington some even more high-profile four-year-olds take centre stage as the main race becomes a $13,000 Jewels trial.
The two favourites for the four-year-old emerald in Turn It Up and Ashley Locaz have drawn wide in the 1980m event and the latter will be fitter. So tactics will be crucial but with next week’s race worth almost 12 times as much, don’t expect too many drivers trying to be heroes.
That race also features Elle Mac, one of the hottest favourites of Jewels day for the four-year-old Diamond