Day At The Track

Intriguing TABtouch Inter Dominion showdown

01:46 PM 05 Dec 2017 NZDT
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Grand Circuit, harness racing
Grand Circuit

The best has been saved for last. The stage is set for the $1.1 million TABtouch Inter Dominion Grand Final at Gloucester Park in Perth this Friday night, the third and final harness racing series to be held in the west.

Under their three year tenure, champions crowned include Lennytheshark (2015) and Smolda (2016) while another great name will be added to the honour roll.

And it’s a fascinating contest that is set to unfold.

The locals have stood tall throughout the series to date and provide half of the field including boom pacers Soho Tribeca and Chicago Bull while Galactic Star, Vultan Tin and Shandale could easily provide the upset result.

A victory this weekend would be a huge boost for the local industry.

Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall prepares pint-sized wonder Chicago Bull, the Bettors Delight gelding is the 11th finalist for the champion trainer, already a three times winner (Im Themightyquinn – 2011/12 & 13).

His other finalists include Faking It, The Falcon Strike, Livingontheinterest, My Hard Copy, Waylade, Beaudiene Boaz and Run Oneover.

Gary Hall Jnr will partner Chicago Bull; it will be his 8th Inter Dominion Grand Final drive.

Kim Prentice is no stranger to Inter Dominion success after winning with Baltic Eagle back in 2003 while finishing fourth with Big Town Walton the year prior.

This year, Prentice has an excellent chance with Soho Tribeca, a winner of two heats while finishing a game second in the other.

Galactic Star has qualified following his consistent efforts during the heats and provides Skye Bond with her maiden finalist, her husband Greg qualified Can Return Fire for the 2012 final.

In-form reinsman Ryan Warwick takes the drive on Galactic Star and is hoping to join his father as an Inter Dominion winner, Colin guided Rhetts Law to victory in 1982.

Trainer Mike Reed sends out his second finalist in Shandale after Libertybelle Midfrew represented his stable in 2015.

Shannon Suvaljko takes his maiden Grand Final drive.

Vultan Tin is the ‘true local’, born and bred in Perth by owner/trainer Phil Costello; the talented pacer will carry plenty of support.

Chris Voak takes his second Grand Final drive after partnering Our Jericho last year.

Champion New Zealand horseman Mark Purdon is chasing back to back triumphs and will be duly represented in the rich final by series favourite Lazarus and the fastest pacer in Australasian history in Have Faith In Me (1:47.5).

It’s a lethal one/two punch.

Purdon will partner Lazarus and it will be his 16th Inter Dominion Grand Final drive but his 8th in a pacing final.

His other drives in pacing finals include Mark Hanover (x 2), Nippon Home, Bogan Fella, Young Rufus and Smolda (x 2).

He is a dual Grand Final winner with Mark Hanover (1991) and Smolda last year – he has also won the Trotting Grand Final three times with Pride Of Petite (1996) and I Can Doosit (2011/12).

Have Faith In Me will be handled by local champion Chris Lewis, a winner of more than 5000 races during his career.

This will be his 13th Inter Dominion Grand Final drive; he scored with Carclew (1976) and Village Kid (1986).

Village Kid started in four finals.

His other drives include Black Irish, Hilarion Star, Ginger Man, All Hart, Crombie, Lovers Delight and John Of Arc.

Victorian based horseman David Aiken is chasing another piece of silverware in the west, mighty pacer Lennytheshark is aiming for another title following his success in 2015 while his stablemate Hectorjayjay went agonisingly close last year when runner-up behind Smolda.

Aiken has previously qualified Toby Duane, Tiffs Mystery, Ultra Jet, Insutcha, Karlsruhe, Jaccka Clive, Wartime Sweetheart, Lennytheshark (x 2) and Hectorjayjay for pacing finals while qualifying Twebby Twotter and Im Dejazzman for trotting finals.

Champion reinsman Chris Alford will take the drive behind Lennytheshark and chases his third triumph after previous success with Golden Reign (1995) and Lennytheshark (2015).

Alford lines up for his 9th pacing final drive after partnering Golden Reign, Tallowood Pursuit, Tailamade Lombo, Mont Denver Gold, Reba Rajah, Penny Veejay and Lennytheshark (x 2).

He has driven Buntys Pride, Noopy Kiosk, Cool Fortune, Truscott Steel, All Action Son, Glenbogle, Conquer All, Solar Active and Im Dejazzman in trotting finals.

Another Victorian trained finalist is San Carlo, prepared by Stephen O’Donoghue and handled by Rebecca Bartley, the Mach Three gelding is the winner of 21 races from 27 starts.

Bartley is the only female driver in this year’s Grand Final while becoming only the second female driver to score a heat victory at Gloucester Park following the win of San Carlo last Friday night.

Kellie Kersley became the first female driver to secure a heat when successful aboard Norms Daughter back in 1996.

Iron tough pacer Tiger Tara is representing New South Wales and is trained by Sydney horseman Kevin Pizzuto and will be handled as per normal by Todd McCarthy.

This is the first time Pizzuto has qualified an Inter Dominion Grand Finalist while McCarthy is lining up in his third final after previously partnering Seel N Print and Monifieth.

In barrier draw order;

1) Tiger Tara by Bettor's Delight

2) Lazarus by Bettor's Delight

3) Vultan Tin by Dawn Ofa New Day

4) Soho Tribeca by American Ideal

5) Galactic Star by Bettor's Delight

6) Lennytheshark by Four Starzzz Shark

7) San Carlo by Mach Three

8) Shandale by Art Major

9) Have Faith In Me by Bettor's Delight

10) Chicago Bull by Bettor's Delight

The Inter Dominion is the third leg of the 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit series and features both leg winners to date, Lennytheshark won the Victoria Cup back in October while Lazarus recorded another easy victory in the New Zealand Cup last month.

Both pacers have amassed 100 points while Tiger Tara sits nearby with 80 points after finishing third in both the Victoria and New Zealand Cups.

Just like the Inter Dominion Grand Final, the Grand Circuit battle is just as intriguing.

Chris Barsby

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