Inter-Doms night one
The Inter-Dominions are back in New Zealand and the first round of heats kick off this evening at Alexandra Park. We have Henry Hubert and Classie Brigade to contest the pacing heats, while Valloria, Pres Da Belle, Woodstone and Bonnie Highlander all go around in the trotting heats.
Trotters Heat One - Race Five
The first of the trotting heats is Race Five and sees Valloria and Pres Da Belle both step out for us.
Valloria was superb after an early break in the Dominion. He lost significant ground early, settling well back, but came home as well as anything in the race for his 5th placing. He is drawn very well in barrier three and should be able to slot into a handy spot in the running. If he can reproduce his Dominion run, then he is definitely capable of running in the first three.
Pres Da Belle ran a really nice race on Show Day off her 20m handicap. She should appreciate getting back to the mobile here, but the draw is no help for her at all. There may be plenty of early pace which could allow her to find a spot. If she can, she too is a place hope.
There are many chances in the race, but the Australian visitor Big Jack Hammer and the Dominion winner Habibi Inta, both drawn handily must be the two hardest to beat.
Pacers Heat One - Race Six
This year there are only the two pacing heats, representing two large fields. Henry Hubert comes from four off the back row in the first of the pacing heats.
"He didn't really cop the Auckland way of going when we were up here mid-year, but he does seem a lot better this time," said John.
"It's going to be really tough from where we are and I am picking that the pacing heats will be run under 2.38 for the 2200m, so we are going to need a lot of luck."
With three Australian visitors on the frontline, it should be a truly run affair and after his win in the pacing free-for-all, Chase Auckland does look the toughest to beat.
Trotting Heat Two - Race Seven
Woodstone and Bonnie Highlander have both shown a liking for Alexandra Park in the past and go around in the second of the trotting heats. Woodstone is by far the better served by the draw.
Woodstone to be driven by Blair Orange has been down on his best form of late but has performed very well on the track in the past, with the four wins, from just the eight starts.
"Hopefully he gets off the gate well and from that draw he should land a nice enough spot early."
Ability wise Woodstone has shown he can match most in this grade when he is on his game. If he can turn around a late-spring slump, he is a clear place chance in this race.
Bonnie Highlander was so good both days of the cup carnival, but is also hampered by a niggly outside draw here.
"We will need some luck for sure," said John.
"She is a good mare though and hopefully we can find the back of the right one at some stage."
On paper the race looks set to be dominated by Marcoola from barrier one and Tough Monarch coming off his second in the Dominion.
Pacing Heat Two - Race Eight
The second of the two heats for the pacers is definitely the stronger of the two heats. From three on the second line, Classie Brigade will need to match up to his cup carnival form to figure.
"It is a hard race to figure out this one," said John.
"You would think that they will be some real pace early off the front and hopefully we can get dragged through on the back of it."
There is no doubt that Classie Brigade is back to his very best form and if he is able to get a decent run into it at some stage tonight he will be a factor. Bling It On and Cruz Bromac look the two toughest to beat.
The four heats look set to present some quality racing. The injection of the big numbers of Australians through the four heats should only spice up the racing and threaten the record books over tonight's 2200m trips.
Posted: Fri 29 Nov 2019