Women harness energy
GIRL power is dominating Australian harness racing’s marquee event.
Heading into the final round of Inter Dominion qualifying heats at Cranbourne in Victoria tonight, half the field for the grand final looks set to be trained and/or driven by females.
Throw in the fact Tornado Valley, the raging hot favourite for the trotting final, is driven by Kate Gath, and this series is an exciting sign of the times.
In the pacing series, former Gold Coast horsewoman and Inter Dominion “Queen” Natalie Rasmussen leads the way as co-trainer and driver of the two current equal favourites for the final, Cruz Bromac and Spankem.
Punters think she will win again with both horses at Cranbourne, with Spankem $1.55 in his heat and Cruz Bromac even shorter at $1.08.
Rasmussen, who is now based in New Zealand, is yet to decide which of the pair she will drive in next week’s $500,000 grand final. Her partner Mark Purdon will drive the other.
“I can’t split them … and I don’t have to yet,” Rasmussen said. “Both have thrived over here and it’ll probably come down to luck in running when they meet.”
Rasmussen has driven in six Inter Dominion grand finals – all on her former champion pacer Blacks A Fake – for a staggering record of four wins and two seconds.
In partnership with Purdon, she has trained the past two grand final winners, Smolda (2016) and Lazarus (last year).
Outside of the Rasmussen factors, the other key female players in the pacing series are Bec Bartley (driver and cotrainer of San Carlo), Kima Frenning (driver of Wrappers Delight), Lauren Tritton (cotrainer and driver of Maximan) and Amanda Turnbull (trainer-driver of Ellmers Image).
The Inter Dominion fields will be finalised after tonight’s Cranbourne heats.