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Last weekend produced a tropical paradise of thoroughbred punting; now this weekend it is harness racing. Racing writer Jonny Turner previews 48 hours of brilliant trotting action on both sides of the Tasman.
Group 1 Cardigan Bay Stakes at Alexandra Park tonight at 8.28pm
I expect Krug to confirm his status as the country’s leading 2yr-old pacer in this race.
His Sapling Stakes win was not pretty, and it was never going to be in such bad conditions. But tonight should be a different story.
A perfect draw in barrier 3 on a hard and fast track means Krug will be incredibly hard to catch over 1700m.
It’s All About Faith is clearly in the same realm as Krug on ability, but he faces a big task from the outside of the front line.
Selections: Krug (3), Its All About Faith (8), American Dealer (5), Platinum Stride (1).
Group 1 Northern Derby at Alexandra Park tonight at 8.58pm
I have not rated this year’s crop of 3yr-old pacing colts and geldings particularly highly, and will put that assessment to the test tonight.
I think star Amazing Dream can test the boys and beat them.
Copy That and One Change are clearly going to be tough to beat and deserve to be the two favourites. Copy That looks the better horse, but One Change just keeps drawing perfect alleys in big races. So it’s hard to split them.
Bad To The Bone is the next best hope.
Selections: Amazing Dream (7), One Change (1), Copy That (4), Bad To The Bone (6).
Group 3 Northern Southland Cup at Ascot Park tomorrow at 4.43pm
Henry Hubert’s (9) form does not look flash, but his motor certainly is.
Some of his rivals could only dream to put in the kind of efforts he did at the New Zealand Cup Carnival.
His stablemate, Classie Brigade, has had some even better races in the top grade, and should handle most of his rivals pretty easily.
Henry Hubert gets a 15m head start on Classie Brigade, which is why I put them in that order.
Nandolo is another horse that has been to the top grade and faced tougher tests than this, so he must be included.
Southern hope Vintage Cheddar was excellent in his last start in a smart Addington field and is another strong hope in today’s feature.
Selections: Henry Hubert (9), Classie Brigade (10), Nandolo (6), Vintage Cheddar (7).
Group 3 Southern Lights Trot at Ascot Park tomorrow at 5.19pm
Heavyweight Hero has been a revelation since moving to Canterbury and his brilliant form is set to continue today.
He beat Pres The Belle home in their last starts at Addington and gets a 10m head-start on the mare today.
This pair look to have a good edge on their rivals and are clear first and second picks.
War Admiral was very good winning first up and Addington and I expect him to be competitive here.
The Dominator can make the odd mistake, but his recent form has been very consistent and he has to be included.
Selections: Heavyweight Hero (10), Pres The Belle (12), War Admiral (5), The Dominator (6).
Group 1 Miracle Mile at Menangle tomorrow at 11.26pm
The field will not go down as one of this great race’s vintage line-ups.
But that does not mean this year’s edition will not be a cracking race run in scintillating time.
Barrier 1 looks perfect for leading New Zealand hope A G’s White Socks.
He has stacks of gate speed, but even very fast horses find it hard to hold the lead from barrier 1 at Menangle.
Its not an entirely bad thing if he gets crossed early, but it will change the complexion of the race.
Lochinvar Art’s Chariots Of Fire win was brilliant, which has me putting him ahead of the New Zealander. Code Bailey is tough, too, and will not shirk any challenge.
King Of Swing is the horse most likely to cross AG’s White Socks and if he leads, he is a key player.
I left Otago-bred star Field Marshal out of my selections — a reflection of how even this year’s race is.
Selections: Lochinvar Art (9), A G’s White Socks (1), Code Bailey (5), King Of Swing (2).