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Harness racing and hurdling - what more could a racing fan want from a winter weekend? Racing writer Jonny Turner previews some of the most interesting races coming up over the next two days.
• The Jo McGartland Memorial Hurdles at Timaru at 11.05am today.
If he is fit and ready enough, Zentangle should win. He has got the class on his side - his Australian campaign last year showed that.
The concern is that Zentangle has not had a jumping start since late May.
However, he has leading trainer Kevin Myers on his side.
Zentangle’s main rival looks to be Cashel, who was very good at Wingatui last month.
• The restricted open steeplechase at Timaru at 12.41pm today.
Delacroix’s fate is in his own hands - or feet.
If he jumps cleanly, he should win easily. If he doesn’t then it is anyone’s race.
If there were to be an upset, I think it could be Go Go Gonzo who could surprise.
• South Of The Waitaki Series Heat Two at Addington at 6.21pm today.
This looks an intriguing two-horse race.
The Croupier has shown he has above average ability, and he will need to call on that to overcome barrier 9.
Tartan Robyn should relish the 2600m staying test and is slightly better off in barrier 7.
The rating 64-79 mobile pace at Addington at 8.50pm tonight.
A Bettor Act has been excellent in his two starts since returning south and joining Mitchell Kerr’s stable.
He faces a big task over 1980m, but I still think he win.
It is a very even line up behind him, headed by Doitson, Pay Me Visa and Mikey Maguire.
• The Wellington Hurdles at Trentham at 1.20pm tomorrow.
At the weights and at a better price, I like Bad Boy Brown.
Despite beating the hype horse and favourite Gallante atTrentham last month, he meets his main rival 3kg better off.
Obviously Gallante is the horse to beat, and has a lot of class on his side.
I expect Laekeeper to go another good race after his good third at Hawke’s Bay.
• The Wellington Steeplechase at Trentham at 2.30pm tomorrow.
The Hawke’s Bay Steeplechase looks to be the key form reference here.
Though Perry Mason is 2.5kg worse off than when he beat Chocolate Fish, I have still gone with him.
He has a bit of class edge and has plenty of jumping under his belt.
Wise Men Say is another classy performer - I would like to see him go a big race, but I am not convinced he will.
• The Parliamentary Handicap at Trentham at 3.05pm tomorrow.
It would be brilliant if southern cups queen Lil Miss Swiss could continue her great form and win.
She will relish the anticipated heavy conditions at Trentham, but weight looks against her.
She has shot up in the weights and has 58.5kg minus Tanya Jonker’s 2kg claim.
I think that leaves her vulnerable to horses like Richard Of Yorke, Sylvester and Look Out.
• The South East Derby at Albion Park at 9pm tomorrow night.
It’s not the biggest or the best race, but it could be the harness race of the weekend.
Self Assured, who is threatening to be New Zealand harness racing’s next boom horse, will attempt to continue his unbeaten record intact.
He has to overcome barrier 10 and gives away a major draw advantage to his main rival, Lochinvar Art.
Usually a horse of Self Assured’s class would be a lay down.
But Lochinvar Art is very good, and has drawn well in gate 3.
This should be a cracking race.
• The Queensland Oaks at Albion Park at 9.33pm tomorrow night.
Princess Tiffany will not just win this, she will crush her rivals.
That is about all you need to know.
Miss Streisand is a good place chance for those looking at combinations with her.