There are more than a few who have been following Harness racing longer than I and even many of those are saying this Interdominion Grand Final has all the ingredients to be among the greatest races ever run.
The final edition of Gloucester Park’s three-year promises to be an absolute thriller with a myriad of scenarios, all as likely as the next.
Firstly, breaking down the field gives you a snapshot of just how incredible this race is;
Seven horses have won group one races with all but Soho Tribeca winning multiple group ones – you can add Soho Tribeca to that list soon enough.
Hunter Cup, Victoria Cup, Miracle Mile, New Zealand Cup, Blacks A Fake, West Australian Cup, New Zealand Free For All… the list actually goes on and on and on.
Yes, this is a staying race and racing is a very quickly evolving beast but when the fastest ever pacer in Australasia is a $41 pop, you know you got a good’un. Speaking of said 1:47.5 miler Have Faith In Me, his effort outside Lazarus was truly remarkable last week and he is arguably the wildcard of this race.
Here’s my look at the big guns in what promises to be a magical ID Final.
1 TIGER TARA
You must admire this fella. He’s raced in Sydney, Melbourne, New Zealand and Western Australia since October 14 and has had eight starts in eight weeks. Boy he must sleep well at night but the admiration is derived from his unrelenting desire to compete at the highest level.
He has breezed in a New Zealand Cup, ID heats and set up a NZ FFA record-breaking pace where he was beaten a neck.
He just keeps fronting up… Until he has had enough…
In my opinion, handing up – which would go against the way Kevin Pizzuto trains his horses – would give Tiger Tara his best chance at winning even without a sprint lane. Handing the front to Lennytheshark and allowing Lazarus to barrel him would be a dream scenario for the Tiger!
His second consecutive NZ Cup win was barely more than a glorified trial but the improvement we have seen from the megastar from the Shaky Isles has been phenomenal.
Ask anyone who knows and they’ll tell you should Lazarus find the lead then he is basically unbeatable but the lead looks highly unlikely. He is almost certain to be off the markers, hence making him a far more vulnerable $2 favourite. He looks the type of horse who could reel off a few ID’s in a row but winning his first one might be the hardest.
4 SOHO TRIBECA
Thanks to Mick Stanley I have had the pleasure of meeting Tribeca’s owner Rob Watson a few times and it’s great to see such a dedicated standardbred contributor rewarded with a live hope in the ID Final on his home track.
This horse has strapped a jet-engine to his back since arriving in Perth under Kim Prentice’s care and his opening night heat victory over Lazarus certainly caught everyone’s attention and at one stage, the son of American Ideal was equal favourite with the Kiwi.
Where he ends up in the run is interesting but he possesses gate speed and is extremely tough so versatility will be his weapon in a race that promises to deliver surprises.
He’s won the race before. The race favourite could not get past him in a Miracle Mile after peeling off his back. He has excellent gate speed. He’s a bonafide champion of the sport yet many are writing him off.
The popular Victorian veteran will have a large army jumping aboard at $14 and with good reason. Yes, his Bunbury effort was awry but he gained some ground on San Carlo and Soho Tribeca on night three as the leaders exploded home in 55.4 seconds.
There are reasons to jump off him but more than enough to jump back on and thanks to his gate speed he is sure to end up very handy and none of us need reminding just how tough this bloke is.
7 SAN CARLO
He already goes home a winner! Some forget he is already a 7 year-old but this is his first go at the big time and he has more than matched it with the big guns. See his night three heat win for evidence.
His draw looks awkward but he may be able to settle back and track a horse like Have Faith In Me into the race.
Whilst winning this race off the track would seem impossible, he would still get a chance to sprint hard at tiring horses.
9 HAVE FAITH IN ME
This guy intrigues me no end. We all know his best is extraordinary but even his legendary trainer Mark Purdon is, at times, at a loss to explain his performances.
Some say he is fed up with chasing good horses from stand starts and perhaps that’s true but here he can run the mobile and based on his last start, he has more than enough bottom to compete with these.
His future apparently lies abroad but he may give the All Stars barn one last run to remember!
10 CHICAGO BULL
His name ignites interest and his speed reminds us of Im Themightyquinn and on his home track, he is sure to be a factor over the concluding 200m.
IF Tiger Tara keeps the lead throughout then this guy is an absolute winning hope but should he end up three-pegs or needing to circle them he is almost a 10/1 shot.
One thing is for sure, he will be fresh and willing and able to unleash devastating sprint against a bunch of horses who will have more than likely put each other to the sword.
1st) LAZARUS – His best just seems better and his gradual improvement has been astonishing. No one will love the extended trip more than he.
2nd) SOHO TRIBECA – He’s destined to be just out of the action early and his toughness and versatility will see him run a mighty race. He can win the ID this year but he can also win it across the next few.
3rd) HAVE FAITH IN ME – This may be more hope than anything but who cares, I hope this superstar can give us one last monster run IF he is to be headed elsewhere after the race. His best is frighteningly good.
4th) CHICAGO BULL – He’s exactly where he wants to be from gate 10 but I have subscribed to the Tiger Tara hands up theory which would almost guarantee this guy cannot win but he’s more than capable.
We do not need to spend too much time on this one.
Ultimate Machete drew the pole and after his Yes Loans Classic obliteration of a similar field, he has had a rest and been prepped especially for this one.
Make no mistake, he will be winning.
In behind, ex-stablemate Motu Meteor gets his chance to run a drum from a decent alley whilst Space Junk, Herrick Roosevelt and Rock Diamonds are likely place-getters.
Eden Franco drawing one here makes things very interesting as Ameretto is likely to be parked throughout.
The dramatically improved Kerryn Manning prepared charge is more than capable of winning from the death but I think she is more than likely going to set things up for Piccadilly Princess who will be stalking the pace thanks to her barrier (10). Should Ameretto find the top, Piccadilly Princess will need to get off the fence early.
I am very very keen on the Mark Purdon mare provided Eden Franco holds up all of the way.
It’s destined to be a magnificent night of racing with a historically great Interdominion Grand Final the highlight so have an extra coffee, stay up late and enjoy the very best this sport has to offer!!