Har­ness Rac­ing Vic­to­ria

It’s 10 years since Blacks A Fake and trainer-driver Natalie Ras­mussen led and won the 2008 In­ter Do­min­ion, the last time the great race has called Vic­to­ria home.

Ladies in Racing - - Contents - Story by Michael Howard • Im­ages HRV

Race caller Dan Mielicki stated “The im­mor­tal, the cham­pion,” as the horse many think the great­est of the mod­ern gen­er­a­tion se­cured the third of four In­ter Do­min­ion wins. There is no need for grandiose state­ments. The strength and depth of fe­male ex­cel­lence in har­ness rac­ing is in the num­bers. “I think you have to rate it above Makybe Diva,” turf ed­i­tor Bart Sin­clair told The Courier-mail in the wake of Blacks A Fake’s fourth In­ter Do­min­ion win from five at­tempts. “But Natalie has not only had the pres­sure of get­ting him ready but driv­ing him as well. Also, be­ing a fe­male driver there is al­ways more pres­sure be­cause peo­ple are very crit­i­cal of any­thing they do wrong. It is just an in­cred­i­ble per­for­mance . . . freak­ish.” Be­ing a fe­male, she also sits among a very small field at the head of af­fairs. Among reinswoman to salute in an In­ter Do­min­ion it’s a field of one. When it comes to train­ers Natalie is only joined by Lor­raine Nixon, who broke through with Yulestar in 2001. It’s per­haps an all-too-short list of fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tion given the trots is a sport rich with tal­ented ladies rewrit­ing the record books. The In­ter Do­min­ion, which Har­ness Rac­ing Vic­to­ria Chair­man Dale Mon­teith la­belled, “The great­est trots se­ries in Aus­trala­sia”, will peak with grand fi­nal night at Tab­corp Park Mel­ton on De­cem­ber 15th. Re­branded ID18, the stag­ing marks the start of a new era. A new tri­juris­dic­tion agree­ment will share the In­ter Do­min­ion be­tween Vic­to­ria, New Zealand and New South Wales un­til 2026, hav­ing spent the past three years at Perth’s Glouces­ter Park. And Vic­to­ria’s wealth of reinswomen and train­ers are well po­si­tioned to launch this era with a pro­lif­er­a­tion of fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tion, po­ten­tially adding a fur­ther name to the path blazed by Nixon and Ras­mussen some time ago. Could it be Shep­par­ton 27-year-old Re­becca Bart­ley, who stole a con­sid­er­able por­tion of the lime­light in the 2017 stag­ing of the great race se­ries when she and her mate ‘ Mur­ray’, on race night known as San Carlo, held off the sport’s heavy­weights to win a heat of the se­ries? “Here we are just two kids about to live that dream we have all dreamt about,” said Re­becca on the doorstep of last year’s In­ter Do­min­ion. The thought was al­ways that Perth was a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and 2018 would see a more ex­pe­ri­enced and bet­ter com­bi­na­tion. San Carlo is con­sid­ered a $17 chance in early mar­kets. Emma Ste­wart, who trains near Bal­larat, has is­sued a plan to di­rect reign­ing Trots Coun­try Cups Cham­pion Shadow Sax and prodi­gious tal­ent The Storm In­side to the In­ter Do­min­ion. It would be a wor­thy ad­di­tion to the shelves of the Ste­wart sta­ble, which in 2018-19 set a new mark for the most train­ing wins in an Aus­tralian sea­son. Great West­ern trainer-driver Ker­ryn Man­ning has climbed al­most ev­ery trots moun­tain – could bril­liant mares Ameretto or Our Golden God­dess de­liver her an In­ter Do­min­ion?

Trainer-driver Amanda Turn­bull has lead­ing hopes in Atomic Red and Tact Tate, ju­nior driver Kima Fren­ning is form­ing a per­fect part­ner­ship with Wrap­pers De­light, Sonya Smith will pre­pare Moon­rock, Lau­ren Trit­ton will likely steer Franco Nel­son and then there’s Ras­mussen. Team­ing with Mark Pur­don to form the for­mi­da­ble All Stars, their stock in­cludes Ul­ti­mate Ma­chete and Our Dream About Me, who are both on the first few lines of bet­ting mar­kets. It’s a ter­rific plat­form for a fan­tas­tic rac­ing se­ries, which launches with a Novem­ber 29th cock­tail party and won’t let up un­til its De­cem­ber 15th grand fi­nale. Tick­ets avail­able at id18.com.au

Ameretto and Ker­ryn Man­ning at Tab­corp Park in May 2018

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