Attention on international racing
With Country Cups done and dusted for the season and both the Vicbred and Breeders Crown Series yet to start, lovers of the trots can turn their attention to New Zealand and Sweden during the next few weeks.
Across the ditch, the Harness Jewels is New Zealand’s premier championship harness racing event of the year, where the season’s best horses, drivers, trainers, breeders and owners compete for the Harness Jewels Crowns in nine, group-one races.
With more than $1.2-million in stakes, the Harness Jewels, first run in 2007, is the richest race day in New Zealand and is yet to see an Australian horse in the winners circle.
But this year might finally be the one where the Aussies take home some of the Kiwi spoils, with a record number of our invitations being accepted.
To date we have Wobelee, Jilliby Kung Fu, Custodian, Carla’s Pixel, Shez All Rock and Platinum Revolution as confirmed starters at Cambridge Raceway on Jewels Day, June 2.
In Sweden, our star trotting mare Maori Time has arrived after a daunting 40-plus-hour journey to tackle the world’s best trotters in the iconic Elitloppet Trot at Solvalla for her owner Fred Crews, trainer Brent Lilley and driver Todd Mccarthy.
As prominent harness historian John Peck said: “Let no-one be under any illusion of the challenge that Maori Time is confronted with, to even qualify for the final in the same-day heats-final affair – to get through would be a magnificent achievement.”
Only six horses from down under have raced in the Elitloppet and only one, Pride Of Petite has qualified for the final.
Solvalla on Elitloppet Day is sensational, so make sure you turn to your television, tablet or mobile phone late on May 27 for the coverage and cheer on the Aussie team.
Ararat Harness Racing Club will host Harness Racing Victoria chief executive David Martin for the Wimmera edition of his 2018 Roadshow at R.T. White Raceway at 7.30pm on Tuesday.
The public forum will see Mr Martin review the state of play for trots in Victoria, examining the progress since 2017 and looking towards the challenges and priorities for 2019 and beyond.
It’s a great opportunity for harness participants, industry stake-holders, fans and interested community members to update their knowledge, hear first hand from major decision-makers and make genuine contributions with their input to the continuing forward momentum.
Further information is available from Ararat club secretary Amanda Kilpatrick on 0421 550 774.
Harness Racing Victoria’s 2018-19 racing calendar reveals 441 race meetings across the state during the year, starting on July 1.
It includes more than 40 Saturday night meetings at Tabcorp Park, Melton.
The Vicbred Super Series has also undergone changes, with semi-finals spread over two nights in 2019, on June 28 and 29.
Across the Wimmera, Ararat will stage six meetings, with its cup meeting moved away from Easter to a Friday night, on February 22.
Stawell will race at Laidlaw Park nine times, including its cup meeting on December 2, The Maori Legend meeting on July 19 and Australia Day trots on the Monday public holiday, January 28.
Horsham is set to stage 10 meetings, with the Noel Smith Memorial Invitation Drivers Championship on Labour Day Monday, March 11, and The Weekly Advertiser Horsham Pacing Cup meeting three weeks later on March 31.
The St Arnaud Club again hosts two meetings, with its cup meeting on November 11 and the Birchip Mallee Bull Sunday event will be on March 10.