Racing: Rough cut for many Jewels gems

By Michael Guerin

Big names have poor draws at today’s $1.2m meeting so let’s look at the odds.
Democrat Party (6) will contest one of the toughest races of the day in the opener at Cambridge. Photo / Trish Dunell
Democrat Party (6) will contest one of the toughest races of the day in the opener at Cambridge. Photo / Trish Dunell

The least-talked about section of the races may prove to be the pivotal point of many of the Jewels at Cambridge today.

Analysis of the start and the finish rightly dominate harness racing coverage but with so many of the big names at today's $1.2 million meeting drawn poorly, the second 400m of the all-mile races could be just as crucial.

Mile races, particularly now Kiwi drivers have got their heads around them, are often decided by momentum, with the winners tending to be those who keep going forward.

Almost every Cambridge Jewels winner has been in the first three starting the last 800m so for poorly-drawn favourites like Monbet, Dream About Me and More The Better, how quickly and smoothly they can get into a challenging position will be vitally important.

Leave it until the 800m mark and they may be too late.

So before you think of backing a horse who is likely to settle back among traffic today, think again.

It doesn't mean they can't win, it is just that most of them don't.

Race one, 4-y-o mares, 11.45am:
Democrat Party is the only group one winner here and has the gate speed to go very close to leading. If she does she should win but if she loses an early burn it sets the race up for those off the second line.

If Miss Daisy holds the front from the ace then the heavily-backed Rocker Band comes right into play as the passing lane at Cambridge is paved with gold.

The tempo will be so crucial in what is one of the toughest races of the day as course specialist Better B Amazed, On The Town, Lusty Mac and even Lightning Mach have shown enough at their best to win.

Suggested bet: Democrat Party (5) to win, On The Town (13) the saver.

Race two, 2-y-o trot, 12.20pm:
Enghien's recent dominance of this crop suggests if he doesn't gallop he will win. Trackwork reports from Wednesday were much better than last Saturday's public gallop so it is hard to bet against him.

Custodian has just joined the All Stars and is working well and with his manners and the mile will take catching if you would rather take the chance on a $5 hope than the favourite.

Habibi Inta looks to have weakened off slightly but could still win while the rest would need a miracle.

Suggested bet: Enghien (3) if he gets to $1.50, otherwise take the chance each way on Custodian (5).

Race three, 2-y-o fillies, 12.55pm:
Spanish Armada has been the star of the show so far and trainer Mark Purdon is not worried about her bobbling workout last Saturday.

But coming three wide she is going to need to be clearly superior to her stablemate Partyon and Delightful Memphis.

That pair could control the tempo of the race and the slower they go the harder it will be for Spanish Armada to overpower them.

Strawberry Stride looks the early leader then trailer so is a trifecta must.

Suggested bet: Bracket Partyon (5) and Delightful Memphis (7) to beat the favourite, you will get about $2 for either to win.

Race four, 4-y-o trot, 1.28pm:
Monbet is the best trotter in Australasia and one horse Ricky May is not scared to drive hard.

So expect to see him on the charge early and even if he has to sit parked he should win, with Sunny Ruby the only rival with the motor to go with him.

The Almighty Johnson and Harriet Of Mot look the place hopes in a skinny race with a champion in it.

Suggested bet: If multi betting anchor Monbet (8); place punt on The Almighty Johnson (10) not silly.

Race five, 3-y-o fillies, 2.03pm:
An All Stars filly should win but which one could be decided by luck.

Dream About Me is the best of the group-one winning trio but will be driven for early luck and that is a huge risk, although there really isn't another option.

If she gets clear air early she might blow them away but that is a big "if" so Golden Goddess gets her chance to find the front and will take a power of catching.

If, and it is another big if, Piccadilly Princess can get across to trail she becomes a threat, with the addition of blinds maybe helping her concentrate early.

Suggested bet:It's hard to bet against a champion but Golden Goddess (3) can beat Dream About Me.

Race six, 2-y-o males, 2.38pm:
The big boys are off the second line here and whoever out of Pacing Major or More The Better gets around to press for the lead or parked position first has a huge advantage.

More The Better has been the best juvenile this season and follows out a fast beginner but has more potential for traffic problems than Pacing Major, who follows out a gate flyer in Mitch Maguire and could look to get away from the markers straight away.

It really is a traffic lottery but one of the big two should win.

Suggested bet: Pacing Major (9) only because he is paying more.

Race seven: 3-y-o trot, 3.13pm:
Marcoola (5) has been by far the best of these and has been massively aided by High Gait heading to Aussie and Lemond, Temporale and Wilma's Mate drawing the second line.

While defending champ Missandei looks to be back in form her best isn't as good as Marcoola's best and if he leads he should win, but can still do so from parked.

Suggested bet: Take the skinny odds Marcoola (5) for your multi.

Race eight, 4-y-o males, 3.48pm:
This is Field Marshal's race to lose.

He has brilliant gate speed and the draw to use it and looked over his recent colic attack at the workouts here last Saturday. As the Taylor Mile and Messenger winner he deserves hot favouritism.

Titan Banner has been immense since joining the All Stars but will need to be a genuinely good open class horse to sit parked and win.

My Kiwi Mate looms as the stalker and maybe the only other winning chance.

Suggested bet: Field Marshal (1) to win.

Race nine, 3-y-o males, 4.28pm:
The manners, or sometimes lack of them, from Heaven Rocks could decide this. He has a group one motor with a maiden's brain but has settled well this week and the fact those drawn inside him are long odds suggests he might be able to work his way to the lead.

But there will be pressure from his outside with Classie Brigade and Chase The Dream, while if the race opens up Shandale and even Motown and Walkinshaw come into play for a place.

Suggested bet:
Risky race, maybe Walkinshaw a place the safest play.

All Stars stable has a few favourites and punters can pick the tally

The greatest juggernaut in harness racing history is going to continue at the Jewels today but the question is just how many races will the All Stars stable win?

And you can bet on the answer.

The TAB has four wins for Purdon-Rasmussen as the $1.90 favourite, with three winners rated $3.50. The leading stable not training a winner today is rated 500-1.

That has never happened with the All Stars having won at least two Jewels races at every carnival for a total of 25 wins over the nine years. Last year was their best with a scarcely believable five victories, including four quinellas and two trifectas.

They are set to dominate the three-year-old pacing fillies and juvenile male pace today as well as having both favourites in the male three-year-old pace.

And Mark Purdon is going into today satisfied all on his team are at their peak.

"They all worked well on Thursday morning and have handled the week well," he told the Weekend Herald.

"I was really pleased with how Chase The Dream worked and how he has come on this week.

"But I still just rate Heaven Rocks our better chance in that race. I think he will behave himself at the start."

Purdon has reiterated his attitude with champion filly Dream About Me, believing he has no option but to try and punch through from one on the second line and then get off the markers, rather than pull back to secure clear air.

"I can't pull back, she would simply be giving away too much of a start so we will need some luck.

"But all three of those fillies are as good as they can be."

And expect Purdon to get busy early on Titan Banner in the four-year-old pace.

"I have no doubt he will handle the track all right but I do think Field Marshall is going to be very hard to catch."

- NZ Herald

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