Day At The Track

Jilliby Kung Fu leads Aussie charge at Jewels

04:12 PM 16 May 2018 NZST
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Jilliby Kung Fu, harness racing
Jilliby Kung Fu will be among the Australian contingent at the Harness Jewels meeting in New Zealand on Saturday week
Stuart McCormick Photo

It is more than 30 years since a team of Aussies so large and talented raided New Zealand harness racing.

You have to go back to the 1995 Christchurch Inter Dominion, won by champion Aussie stayer Golden Reign, when this many talented Australian horses crossed the Tasman to tackle the Kiwis at home.

Seven Australian pacers or trotters have been invited to contest seven different Harness Jewels finals at Cambridge racetrack, two hours south of Auckland, on Saturday week.

They include exciting open-class pacer Jilliby Kung Fu, champion young trotter Wobelee, flying mare Carlas Pixel and record-breaking three-year-old filly Shez All Rock.

Surely Australia has the ammunition to finally post the first win by an Australian-trained raider at the Harness Jewels in the 12 years.

Australian-trained horses have gone close to claiming one of the Jewels. Our first raider and subsequent Miracle Mile winner Divisive ran second to Monkey King in the 2007 Jewels final for four-year-old pacers at Ashburton.

Another 11 Australians have contested Jewels races since and the closest they have come is a pair of seconds, courtesy of Mr Mojito and One Muscle Hill at Ashburton last year.

Given the depth and quality of this year’s seven raiders, one will be essential, but the bar should be set at two or more.

Depending on final fields and crucial barrier draws, Australian horses could be favourite or at least be right near the top of betting in four, five, maybe even six Jewels’ races.

Here is an early look at the seven Aussie invitees and how they stack-up on Saturday week.

2018 NZ HARNESS JEWELS — THE AUSSIE RAIDERS

SHEZ ALL ROCK (3yo pacing filly): She’s a special filly. Has blasted her way to stardom winning the heat and final of the NSW Oaks and heat and final of the Victoria Oaks. First filly since Jane Ellen in 1988 to win NSW/Victoria Oaks double. I’m sure she’s at least as good as Elle Mac and we get to line them up in the NZ Oaks this week.

JILLIBY KUNG FU (4yo pacing entire/gelding): Australia’s most exciting pacer. So much to like about the way he powered his way to the 4YO Bonanza win. He ran super time winning the Chariots Fire and did such a terrific job when second to My Field Marshal in the Miracle Mile. Light preparation for this, but goes well fresh. Certainly some depth in this division with Eamon Maguire, Star Galleria, More The Bettor, AG White Socks, etc, but could any of them have done what he did in the Miracle Mile?

WOBELEE (3yo trotting colt/gelding): Such a talented yet fascinating horse. Oozes talent, but far from the complete package. Great to see him blow them away in the NSW Trotters’ Derby last time, but not ideal him having a gallop at the start. Certainly respect Winterfell and to a lesser extent Majestic Man. If the right Wobelee turns up and does it all right, then look out!

CARLAS PIXEL (4yo pacing mare): Keen to see how she goes against Australia’s best mares in the Group 1 Queen of the Pacific at Melton this weekend. Beat a hot field winning the Group 1 Ladyship Mile in February and two runs since have been excellent without winning. I think she’s got NZ contenders like Bonnie Joan, Utmost Delight and Seaswift Joy covered at her top.

 

PLATINUM REVOLUTION (2yo pacing filly): Real “pro” of a filly with a dash of class — just what you’d expect from Shane and Lauren Tritton. She’s no star, but has shown enough in her best runs to say she can be competitive. Whether she can beat the best “All Stars” locals like Princess Tiffany and Kayla Marie is the big question. Rough chance.

CUSTODIAN (4yo trotting entire/gelding): Great to see him returning to where he won the 2YO Jewels final when part of the All Stars barn. Nursed back from injury with a campaign specifically aimed at this by Nathan Jack. Sure to be primed, but will need the right draw and luck to beat the leading locals like Enghien, Habibti Inta and Musculus. Rough chance.

PETES BIG JIM (2yo pacing colt/gelding): Great to see connections riding the wave of a fairytale invite. Best pointer is second to College Chapel — who ranks in Australia’s top 2/3 juveniles — in a 1min52.6sec Menangle Mile on February 24. You’d also expect improvement with the recent switch to Shane/Lauren Tritton barn. Still hard to seeing causing ripples against big guns like Jesse Duke and Another Masterpiece.

Reprinted with permission of The Herald Sun

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