Racing: Trial key to Angel's hopes in the Jewels

By Michael Guerin

Field Marshal is the $1.55 favourite for the four-year-old male pacing division. Photo / Greg Bowker
Field Marshal is the $1.55 favourite for the four-year-old male pacing division. Photo / Greg Bowker

A trial watched by just a handful of people today could be a crucial pointer to Australia's chances of a first Harness Jewels victory.

Miracle Mile placegetter Arms Of An Angel is red hot to win the four-year-old pacing mares division of the Jewels but gave futures punters a scare when she galloped and was beaten into third as a $1.04 favourite in her comeback race recently.

So her connections are hoping for a more relaxed performance when she trials between races at the Menangle meeting today.

Owner Zac Cornell is adamant Arms Of An Angel is on a plane to New Zealand regardless, but those taking the $1.55 quote about her will be hoping she can control her early aggression today and again at the June 4 mega meeting.

"She actually went super last start and we clocked her at 1:50.5 for her mile but she just had a little buck in the score up which cost her," said Cornell.

"But after this trial it is all go and she is definitely still going to New Zealand. We can't wait."

Arms Of An Angel left New Zealand last year a virtual unknown but her transformation into a 1:48 miler has been remarkable.

When she does behave she has blistering gate speed, shown when she led the Miracle Mile, and on her best form and with a front line draw in the Jewels she looks near unbeatable.

But another temper tantrum in today's trial and her army of supporters may not be feeling so confident.

She heads a four-strong Australian assault on the Jewels, reduced by one after two-year-old trotter Illawong Byron withdrew because he was declared unruly, his connections not willing to come to Cambridge to start off the second line.

While the meeting will lack the high wattage star power of Have Faith In Me and Lazarus, Cambridge boss Kerry Wells says that hasn't impacted on corporate sales.

"I think the Jewels has become an event and a lot of the people there don't really mind if a top horse or two is missing," says Wells.

"Our pre-sales are even better than last time and as long as the weather is good we expect a big crowd. What we do have is more Australian visitors booked that previous years. I've got no doubt having the Australian horses here helps and it adds to the day."

TAB bookie Richard Wilson says punters have been busy with multi bets but cautious about jumping into even the favoured runners before next Friday's barrier draws.

"We are expecting a lot of the action to start after the draws," says Wilson.

"Everybody is seeing pretty much the same races, like the big ones at Addington the other day, and they realise draws will be crucial for a lot of the races."

One exception is the heavy action on four-year-old Titan Banner, who became as short as $3 yesterday to win the four-year-old male pacing division.

He was second to Christen Me at Addington on Saturday in his first start for the Mark Purdon-Natalie Rasmussen stable and is now clearly the TAB's worst result of the day.

But Purdon has a word of warning for those plunging on Titan Banner.

"He feels like a good horse and hit the line well the other day but he was actually hitting a knee and that could be a worry around Cambridge," Purdon says.

"So we still have some stuff to work on with him."

Field Marshal, off the back of a Taylor Mile-Messenger double, is the $1.55 favourite for that division, drifting slightly on the back of the Titan Banner support.

Purdon says he expects to have 16 starters at the Jewels.

Harness Jewels

What: Nine group one races on one day.
When: June 4, daytime meeting.
Where: Cambridge.

- NZ Herald

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