Racing: Take a close look at leaders

By Michael Guerin

Smolda could be the worst affected from the outside of the front line (barrier nine) in the second heat. Photo / Stuart McCormick
Smolda could be the worst affected from the outside of the front line (barrier nine) in the second heat. Photo / Stuart McCormick

It might be a case of "buyer beware" for punters on the first night of the Inter Dominions in Perth tonight.

The series returns to its three rounds of three heats with opening night 2130m dashes at Gloucester Park, one of the few small tracks left in metropolitan harness racing.

That means leaders have a huge advantage, sitting parked is ok if you have the best horse in the race but getting back and coming three wide is notoriously difficult in better class races.

Hence the problem for those New Zealand punters who stay up late enough to catch the action which will run into tomorrow morning. Horses like Smolda and Franco Nelson are well known to Kiwi punters and they would seem lengths better than most of the WA locals on their New Zealand form.

But the New Zealand raiders have poor draws and the local horsemen will have no respect for reputations, especially as every heat is worth A$75,000 so for those who aren't going to make the December 9 final, every race is the Grand Final.

So expect some very good horses to be having tough runs in the heats.

Smolda could be the worst affected from the outside of the front line (barrier nine) in the second heat.

Trainer-driver Mark Purdon is happy with how he has improved in condition since lightening up when he first travelled over but his wide barrier draw means he will be sitting parked at best but more likely three wide for the last lap. Depending on the early pressure and how much the leaders come back to him he may still win but he is going to need to be clearly dominant to do so.

His chance may be aided though by the shock scratching of Ohoka Punter, who is out of the series, which promotes the chance Smolda could get handy easier with one less proven stayer to get past.

Franco Nelson's natural speed could be suited to Gloucester Park provided he doesn't have to work too hard in the last heat but he meets impressive last-start winner Bling It On and series favourite Hectorjayjay.

The latter has a terrible draw, too, but the blazing gate speed to maybe try and cross his rivals early. But don't go taking short odds about him.

Lennytheshark has proved he is good enough to sit parked and win at Gloucester Park at this level, winning the final in style last season.

He has to overcome barrier eight in the first heat but is good enough to do so, especially if Guaranteed can't hold the lead from the ace.

Closer to home both Alexandra Park and Addington race tonight, with the latter having two high-class three-year-old races.

Friday fancies

• Best bet: Donegal Bettorgretch (Addington, R10): Huge runs over Cup week and well placed tonight.

• Flying: Tiger Thompson (Addington, R6): Luckless in Sires' Stakes Final but killed them last start and set to win with the stars absent.

• Coffee on: The Inter Dominions start in Perth tonight but the action runs way past midnight.

- NZ Herald

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