Swayzee favoured to do Inter Dominion - NZ Cup double
By Adam Hamilton
Swayzee has the draw to add the Inter Dominion final to his recent New Zealand Cup romp.
Jason Grimson’s latest and best star yet had a big win in the barrier draw with gate three, compared to his half-brother and main danger, Leap To Fame in gate six.
It sparked a dramatic change in betting with Swayzee firming from as much as $4.50 pre-draw into $2, while Leap To Fame eased from $1.65 to $2.60.
Grimson is trying to become the first trainer in Inter Dominion history to win three successive pacing finals with different horses. He won with Boncel Benjamin on protest at Menangle in 2021 and I Cast No Shadow at Melton last year.
Much debate ensued after the draw as to whether Leap To Fame had enough speed to get across Swayzee in the dash to the first turn. That will go a long way to deciding the race.
Just as fascinating is the battle for the early lead between Swayzee’s stablemate and the “find” of the series Nerano from gate one and sparkling beginner Turn It Up in two.
Whichever wins that battle will sit on Swayzee or Leap To Fame, depending who is first to tackle for the front.
Grimson was thrilled with the draws for Swayzee and Nerano.
“They’re both about perfect for each of them,” he said. “I wanted one or eight for Nerano and for Swayzee to draw inside Leap To Fame.
“I think Nerano’s a chance of holding out Turn It Up early. He’s quick out. Being on the pegs is perfect for him.
“I thought he was a place chance before the heats because of his speed, but Cam (Hart) has driven him well and built his confidence through the series.”
Grimson isn’t fazed by Swayzee’s defeats in his second and third round heats.
“No, not at all. He hasn’t much go right and been terrific through the line both times,” he said.
“He’s actually put on weight through the series, so he’ll do some serious work this week and be primed for the final.
“If he can be up front and rolling, you’ll see the best of him.”
Swayzee won his first 10 starts for Grimson by controlling his races on the speed.
Leap To Fame, who will come into gate five if emergency Cantfindabettorman doesn’t gain a start from barrier five, has been plagued by tricky barriers in big races this year.
His four defeats in 14 starts have largely been because of draws and/or having to do the work outside the leader.
Sit-sprinters like Better Eclipse (gate 11), Spirit Of St Louis (nine) and Speak The Truth (10) will need Leap To Fame and Swayzee to go to war up front now they have all drawn the back row.
“We’ve never had him (Better Eclipse) better, but the draw certainly leaves us in the hands of others. There’s a big chance Swayzee and Leap To Fame will really go at each other and if they do, I think we can be a live chance.”
While the pacing draw has added intrigue to the final, the draw for the trotting final has seen Just Believe’s dominance become vice-like.
The defending champ drew gate four and most expect he will push forward and take the lead from polemarker Mufasa Metro.
Chris Alford has no option but to pull the ripcord on Kiwi-owned mare Queen Elida from (gate five) outside Just Believe and try to cross him, but Sugars can’t see that happening.
“Yes, Chris has probably got to have a crack, but I’m not worried. I’m sure we’ll hold him,” he said.
Just Believe has been supreme going through the heats unbeaten as he did last year, but in contrast to last year when he drew wide on the back row, this time he’s drawn the best of the big guns.
“He’s better than he’s ever been and the draw has been kind. We’re looking forward to Saturday night,” Sugars said.
INTER DOMINION BARRIER DRAWS
PACERS: Front row: Nerano, Turn It Up, Swayzee, Future Assured, Cantfindabettorman (emergency), Leap To Fame, Kanena Provlima. Back row: Classie Washington, Spirit Of St Louis, Speak The Truth, Better Eclipse, Petes Said So, Our Money Rocks.
TROTTERS: Front row: Mufasa Metro, Funny Face, Majestic Lavros, Just Believe, Queen Elida, Ollivici, Van Sank. Back row: Sir Fahrenheit, Constantinople (emergency), Plymouth Chubb, Thebestbourbon, Adelle, Gus.