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This year's Victorian racing calendar has an exciting new addition with the most prestigious event in Australasian harness racing, the Inter Dominion (ID18), returning to Victoria after a decade-long hiatus. Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) is today pleased to announce the official launch of the ID18 website - The new site is your one stop shop for everything ID18, including dining packages, raceday information, race history and programming, transport and accommodation. All raceday events offer a great variety of options with something that is sure to cater for all tastes and budgets ranging from General Admission tickets (from just $10!) through to all-inclusive premium hospitality packages in a range of exclusive settings. Australia and New Zealand have several trots headline events throughout all regions and across the calendar, but nothing matches the Inter Dominion for the interest of sports and racing fans. Opening with the hard-fought Heats at Tabcorp Park Melton (Dec 1), Ballarat (Dec 4) and Cranbourne (Dec 8) and culminating in the Grand Final at Tabcorp Park on Saturday December 15, ID18 will showcase some of Australasia's greatest equine athletes. With four different champions in the past four years, the scene is set for the next champion to etch their name in harness history. While racing is the central theme, ID18 is about more than horses and their trainers and drivers as the worlds of sport, entertainment, food and fashion collide in a unique spectacle. The Grand Final will be a celebration for the young and the young at heart, with a wide selection of sought-after food trucks (think lobster rolls, Korean fried chicken and sweet crepes) - now such a vital part of Melbourne's epicurean ecology - and the fun of roving entertainment, children's activities and celebrity guests. Check out the new site, grab your tickets and leave some petrol in the tank after this year's spring carnival because the party continues - see you at ID18!  Media enquiries: CODY WINNELL MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER HARNESS RACING VICTORIA PO BOX 184, MOONEE PONDS, VIC 3039 400 EPSOM ROAD, FLEMINGTON, VIC 3031 t: 03 8378 0288 | f: 03 9214 0699 | e:  

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) today officially announced the return of the time-honoured Inter Dominion (ID) Trotting Championship.   The ID Trotting Championship was placed in a period of hiatus after the win of I Can Doosit at Tabcorp Park Melton in 2012, no longer forming part of the annual Inter Dominion carnival in following years in New South Wales and Western Australia.   However, the recent decision by Harness Racing Australia (HRA) to rescind a previous motion “preventing the use of the term and conduct of the Inter Dominion Trotting Championship” paved the way for the current Inter Dominion hosts – HRV, Harness Racing New South Wales (HRNSW) and Harness Racing New Zealand (HRNZ) – to reinstate the ID Trotting Championship.   “It is a wonderful outcome for the trotting gait, to have the Trotting Inter Dominion reinistated alongside the pacers’ Inter Dominion,” HRV CEO David Martin said.   “There has been significant growth in trotting in recent years and the 2018 Australasian Premier Trotting Sale produced strong results.   “The Inter Dominion Trotting Championship has a rich history and has been won by some famous horses, including Sundons Gift, who went back-to-back at Moonee Valley in 2009 and 2010, Lyell Creek, Pride Of Petite, True Roman and Scotch Notch.   “We’re proud to announce the Inter Dominion Trotting Championship will feature as a key part of our ID18 line-up of races and we look forward to hosting the best trotters in Australasia as they target this illustrious series.”     Victorian Square Trotters Association (VSTA) President Nick Youngson celebrated the decision.   “The promotion of the squaregaiter through the Inter Dominion series has always been enormously important and the VSTA wishes to thank HRA and the Inter Dominion hosts HRV, HRNSW and HRNZ for this action,” Mr Youngson said.   “We can’t wait to see the best trotters vying it out for the Inter Dominion trophy at Ballarat, Cranbourne and Tabcorp Park Melton later this year.”     CODY WINNELL MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER HARNESS RACING VICTORIA

Harness Racing Australia (HRA) members yesterday unanimously endorsed a motion to rescind a previous motion preventing use of the term and conduct of the Inter Dominion Trotting Championship. The Special General Meeting was the final piece in the puzzle required to allow co-hosts Harness Racing Victoria (HRV), Harness Racing New Zealand (HRNZ), Harness Racing New South Wales (HRNSW) and Club Menangle to conduct the Inter Dominion Pacing and Trotting Championships together for the first time since 2012, and follows the recent decision of the Inter Dominion Event Committee (IDEC) to support the return of the trotting feature. HRA Chairman, Mr Michael Taranto, who is also one of two Australian IDEC members, was delighted with the outcome. “While the Special General Meeting decision was mostly procedural, the importance of the decision cannot be understated as it now formally returns and elevates the Inter Dominion Trotting Championship, and all its history, to the pinnacle of Australasian trotting features – its rightful place many would say.  I sincerely thank the HRA Membership for their support of the motion and now look forward to the co-hosts providing a rotation of outstanding Inter Dominion Championship Series’ for both pacers and trotters in the years ahead”. For more information contact Andrew Kelly on 03 9227 3000.   Harness Racing Australia

Ballarat and Cranbourne clubs will each host 2018 Inter Dominion heats, providing a significant boost to both local economies. Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) today announced the two clubs had been selected to host the second and third rounds of the Inter Dominion series, which returns to Victoria for the first time since 2008. General Manager of Racing Glen Canty said HRV was delighted with the quality of the seven submissions from clubs wishing to host Inter Dominion heats. “The Board was in no doubt that each of the seven clubs could successfully host the heats, but ultimately only two clubs could be selected,” Mr Canty said. “The Board wishes to convey its appreciation for the quality of club submissions, which bodes well for the future when the Inter Dominion returns to Victoria in 2021 and 2024.” In further exciting Inter Dominion news today it was also revealed the Trotting Inter Dominion would make a return for the first time since 2012. “The trotting population now comprises almost a quarter of the total harness population in Victoria, so it was vital to recognise that appropriately. The 2018 Inter Dominion will now showcase both gaits,” Mr Canty said. Cranbourne and Ballarat were ecstatic to receive the news they would play a key role in the 2018 Inter Dominion. “We’re very excited and proud that our magnificent facility has been chosen to host the penultimate night of this time-honoured series,” Cranbourne President Bill Hutchison said. “The Ballarat Club is extremely excited to be given the opportunity to participate in the 2018 Inter Dominion to be conducted by Harness Racing Victoria. The club has a proven track record of hosting premium events and hopes to capitalise on the exposure of the 2018 PETstock Ballarat Cup experienced in a record-breaking year,” Ballarat CEO Paul Rowse said. “We’re looking forward to working closely with HRV and the City of Ballarat to showcase the best of harness racing and at the same time sharing the spotlight with Ballarat’s world-class tourist attractions.” Tabcorp Park Melton will host the first round of Inter Dominion heats on Saturday December 1 before the action heads to Ballarat for the second round on Wednesday December 5. The third round of heats will be run at Cranbourne on Saturday December 8 before the Grand Final night back at Melton on Saturday December 15. Racing conditions are yet to be determined, with discussion points in coming weeks to include the possibility of Ballarat installing a temporary sprint lane if required. Trots Media - Cody Winnell

The Inter Dominion will retain its traditional three rounds of heats followed by a Grand Final in Victoria next year. Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) has worked with Harness Racing New South Wales/Club Menangle and Harness Racing New Zealand to agree on an approach that will maintain the traditional Inter Dominion heat format. "We, along with our partners, have agreed it is in the best interests of the Inter Dominion series to run with three rounds of heats," HRV CEO David Martin said. "Feedback from punters, participants and fans suggests this is what people want, and given how exciting the build-up was to the Perth Inter Dominion, this is also what works. "We thank the Inter Dominion Events Committee (IDEC) for approving this request." Last month, Harness Racing Australia revealed Victoria, NSW and NZ would be hosting the Inter Dominion for the next nine years, with consideration of other jurisdictions joining in during the second or third rotations. HRV has invited Victorian clubs to apply to host Inter Dominion heats next year, for heats to be held at venues away from Tabcorp Park Melton. Melton will host the Inter Dominion Grand Final on December 15, 2018. Harness Racing Victoria

After crossing the line in third in Friday night’s Inter Dominion grand final, Bathurst product Todd McCarthy was the first to shake the hand of harness racing trainer-driver Mark Purdon. While McCarthy did all he could to see Tiger Tara win the $1.1 million classic at Gloucester Park, he knew he was beaten by a special horse in Purdon’s Lazarus. Starting as the $1.90 favourite, Lazarus was one out and two back early before making a move to sit in the death outside Tiger Tara ($7.20) with just over two laps to go. McCarthy had pinched a 99.9 seconds lead time in the 2,963 metres contest and had the Kevin Pizzuto trained horse travelling well after securing the lead from barrier one. Tiger Tara had beaten Purdon’s champion five-year-old in the heats of the series and McCarthy was looking to repeat that success. But through the final bend Lazarus drew level with McCarthy’s chance and then ran away from the field down the straight. Clocking 27.4 and 27.2 splits in the run home, Lazarus picked up his 14th Group 1 win. “He is the best horse I have ever trained”, Purdon said post-race.  He finished 4.1m clear of Chicago Bull ($4.60) who was able to get past a tiring Tiger Tara after spending a bulk of the journey in the trail. Tiger Tara did well to hold on for third, a further 1.6m back, to give McCarthy his second top-three finish in the biggest race on the Australasian Harness Racing calendar. He previously Seel N Print to second in 2014. By Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

The only thing more startling than Kiwi pacer Lazarus's demolition job in last night's $A1.1million Inter Dominion Final was trainer Mark Purdon reaction to it. The Canterbury pair crushed Australia's best harness horses with one of the greatest ever displays by a New Zealand pacer across the Tasman. After settling midfield Lazarus was forced to work harder than his key rivals sitting parked for the last two laps in a move that could have had the punters who backed him into odd-ons favouritism feeling nervous. But those nerves were calmed when Purdon had a stranglehold on his champ starting the last 600m and actually chose to hold Lazarus back to his rivals to not let them gain clear air. At the top of the straight Purdon finally gave the magnificent five-year-old stallion his head and the result was electrifying as he bolted clear to beat two former NZ pacers in Chicago Bull and Tiger Tara. The ease of the win was stunning but Purdon was almost pragmatic about it. "I wasn't surprised. Not at all," he dead panned. "I knew I had them beaten a long way from home and Tiger Tara in front was actually quite fired up so I had couple of little looks at him to keep him keen. "I knew I had him beaten down the back straight but I held Laz back to them so horses like Chicago Bull couldn't get out till late but it wouldn't have mattered. "He was right in the zone tonight and he was bolting. He is just a champion." So Purdon's exaggerated whip flourish at the line wasn't from excitement, more satistaction at a job well done. "It was hard to come over here and win, especially with the series being so close to when he won the New Zealand Cup. "And his defeats in a couple of the heats showed how hard it can be to beat good horses this far from home on this track. "But he got better every run through the series and I think he showed people what a great horse he is tonight." The victory was Lazarus's 33rd from 40 starts and over $3.2million and only Monkey King has won mire money than him among New Zealand harness horses and that was from 95 starts. Lazarus should erase that stakes difference and then some over the summer as he still has over A$2million worth of races on his radar before March. He will remain in West Australia to contest the Fremantle and West Australia Cups next month before the Hunter Cup in Melbourne and the Miracle Mile in Sydney in February, the latter being the only blemish on his stellar season last term. So he is unlikely to race in New Zealand again this season but all going well could be back to defend his New Zealand Cup title in November, trying to become just the fourth horse to win that iconic race three times. While a very commercial stud career eventually beckons his connections have indicated they get more joy out of racing Lazarus so if he stays healthy and holds his form he could become harness racing's six million dollar man. Later in the night Purdon and training partner Natalie Rasmussen also won the A$200,000 Golden Nugget with four-year-old Ultimate Machete but were denied the perfect evening when Piccadilly Princess was luckless in the Mares' Classic. Michael Guerin   Lazarus winning the Inter Dominion Final

On the eve of one of Australasia’s biggest harness racing events the 2017  $1.1Million Inter Dominion Pacing Championship Grand Final at Gloucester Park, Perth, Western Australia Friday 8th December local time, lets look at the field of 10 finalists. Half the field {5} are made up of progeny by champion sire/stud Bettors Delight, three of these well performed pacers are out of Christian Cullen broodmares. When we drill down to family related winners of past Inter Dominion Grand Finals we see number 1 Tiger Tara is from the same family as, Young Mister Charles 1996 winner and Tactician winner of the 1955 Inter Dominion Grand Final. San Carlo drawn 7 in the final is from the family of 1977 winner Stanley Rio. The past 77 winners of the Inter Dominion Grand Final are from the family's below which break down as follows. 28 winners from Australian Maternal family Line Descendants . 39 winners from New Zealand Maternal family Line Descendants . 10 winners from American Maternal family Line Descendants . For all previous winners of the Inter Dominion Grand Finals 1936 thru to 2016 click this link then click the horses name for six generation breeding pedigree. Below is the barrier draw for Fridays final with breeding and career data..{enjoy} Sire....Dam...Six Generation Pedigree and Career Data. (1) TIGER TARA...7 year old Entire/Horse. By Bettors Delight out of Dream Away mare ..TARA GOLD Career...78 Starts..25 Wins..18 Seconds..11 Thirds..Best of 1.49.8MR.. Prizemoney..$1,136,931. Click this link for Tiger Tara’s six generation breeding pedigree. (2) LAZARUS...5 year old Entire/Horse. By Bettors Delight out of Christian Cullen mare.. BETHANY. Career..39 Starts..32 Wins..4 Seconds..3 Thirds..Best of 1.49.0MR.Prizemoney...$2,712,139. Click this link for Lazarus Six generation breeding pedigree. (3) VULTAN TIN ..6 year old Gelding. By Dawn Of A New Day out of Pacific Fella mare..ELLEVARRAC.. Career..90 Starts..13 Wins..16 Seconds..11 Thirds..Best of 1.55.9MR..Prizemoney..$200,956. Click this link for Vultan Tins six generation breeding pedigree. (4) SOHO TRIBECA..5 year old Entire/Horse. By American Ideal out of Art Major mare..PIXEL PERFECT .. Career..46 Starts..18 Wins..15 Seconds..5 Thirds..Best of 1.53.8MR....Prizemoney..$558,239. Click this link for Soho Tribeca's six generation breeding pedigree..   (5) GALACTIC STAR ..5 year old Gelding. By Bettors Delight out of Christian Cullen mare.. PETRA'S STAR. Career..39 Starts..20 Wins..7 Seconds..5 Thirds..Best of 1.53.1MR..Prizemoney..$248,037. Click this link for Galactic Star's six generation breeding pedigree. (6) LENNYTHESHARK...8 year old Entire/Horse. By Four Starzzz Shark out of Albert Albert mare..BOTSWANA.. Career..73 Starts..38 Wins...17 Seconds..12 Thirds..Best of 1.49.2MR..Prizemoney..$2,872,085. Click this link for Lennytheshark's six generation breeding pedigree. (7) SAN CARLO..7 year old Gelding.. By Mach Three out of Classic Garry mare..BRIDGE PLAYER Career..27 Starts..21 Wins..0 Seconds..3 Thirds..Best of 1.54.6MR..Prizemoney..$187,048. Click this link for San Carlo's six generation breeding pedigree. (8) SHANDALE ..5 year old Entire/Horse. By Art Major out of Bettor Delight mare DELIGHTFUL DALE. Career...47 Starts..14 Wins..5 Seconds..7 Thirds..Best of 1.53.7MR..Prizemoney..$274,505. Click this link for Shandales six generation breeding pedigree. (9) HAVE FAITH IN ME ..6 year old Gelding.. By Bettors Delight out of BGs Bunny mare ..SCUSE ME. Career..40 Starts..16 Wins..8 Seconds..2 Thirds..Best of 1.47.5MR..Prizemoney..$1,444,872. Click this link for Have Faith In Me's six generation breeding pedigree. (10) CHICAGO BULL..5 year old Gelding. By Bettors Delight out of Christian Cullen mare..CHICAGO BLUES.. Career..42 Starts..27 Wins..4 Seconds..6 Thirds..Best of 1.51.6MR..Prizemoney..$1,112,069. Click this link for Chicago Bull's six generation breeding pedigree. For all your breeding data click on this link.  

If Lazarus is going to win tonight's A$1.1 million Inter Dominion Final in Perth he is almost certainly going to have do it the hard way. It is looking increasingly unlikely the Kiwi pacing hero is going to secure his favoured pacemaking role in the 2936m mobile and that his enormous stamina is going to be tested like never before. Punting on tonight's race — it is actually 1am tomorrow but punters don't think that way — is a battle between perception and reality. The perception is Lazarus, after a track record heat win last Friday and the seemingly perfect barrier two, will work his way to the lead and win. If that first part proves true then so will the second, as Lazarus has never been beaten in front and unless he has to do something crazy in this race, from in front he would win. But the reality may be different. Tiger Tara, drawn the ace and with more natural gate speed than Lazarus, could hold him at the start and New South Wales driver Todd McCarthy says he would like to stay in front throughout. That could change, especially if any of the big three outside him in Lazarus (2), Soho Tribeca (4) or Lennytheshark (6) seriously try to cross him early and soften Tiger Tara up. But if it doesn't happen then Lazarus faces having to work harder than the horses inside him on the marker pegs. He might be able to work over Tiger Tara and break him but that could still leave him vulnerable to swoopers such as Lennytheshark, Soho Tribeca or most dangerously Chicago Bull. And as great as Lazarus is, his two heat defeats in this series prove he can be beaten when asked to sit parked, with coming from further back even more difficult. So where the muscular black stallion is after a lap of the tiny Gloucester Park circuit could decide the race. Not only would he be near impossible to run down in front but Lazarus leading would also put Chicago Bull three back on the markers, and that would flip the script enormously. So by all means back Lazarus to win because he might simply outstay his Australian rivals over a distance which favours him, but the reality is unless he gets that unlikely lead, his $2 price is way too short. Still, to beat him most of his rivals are going to have to run past him, something no horse has done in a race before. It is going to be a fun watch for those who stay up late. They could also be rewarded by a Kiwi victory in the A$200,000 Golden Nugget, where only bad luck looks a serious threat to Ultimate Machete but stablemate Piccadilly Princess faces a trickier test in the A$125,000 Mares Classic. She has drawn the inside of the second line, which will be great if Eden Franco can hold the front from barrier one but a disaster if favourite Amaretto runs to the lead early. Yet another All Stars big name should provide one of the highlights at Alexandra Park tonight when the enigmatic Heaven Rocks falls beautifully into the Summer Cup against semi-open class opposition and should win if he gets things right. Michael Guerin

Seven months ago, Chicago Bull had his right eye removed from the socket while a veterinary surgeon operated to cure an eye ulcer, known as a melting eye, and West Australian Hall of Fame harness racing trainer Gary Hall Snr had doubts about the small, inconspicuous-looking gelding recovering fully and being able to maintain his status as the State’s best pacer. The operation was successful, but then Chicago Bull had a few issues which concerned Hall and his son, champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr. “So, we had a few little concerns, but now everything has gone smoothly and I give Chicago Bull a very good chance of winning the Inter Dominion championship at Gloucester Park on Friday night,” said an upbeat Hall Snr. “He’s had the fastest finishing sectionals of any horse during the series and you would have to say that he’s going to get a very good run from his barrier (the only horse off the back line in the outstanding field of ten). And I’ve got the best driver. “Chicago Bull is a bit of a sniper. He’s a little, tiny horse and even though he has been phenomenal, you look at him and get overawed looking at all the other horses against him. “He should have the last crack at his rivals and I think that there will be a few people (drivers) in the race who will be looking over their right shoulder.” There is little doubt that Chicago Bull is the best sit-sprinter in the $1.1 million TABtouch Inter Dominion championship final over the 2936m journey. Hall Jnr said that he was planning to take the sit behind the likely pacemaker Tiger Tara, who has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier and that it was simply a matter of when and how he would be able to get the gelding off the pegs and into the clear to issue a serious challenge. Chicago Bull began the series with a convincing all-the-way victory over 2130m on the opening night and then started from the back line in a 2100m heat at Bunbury’s Donaldson Park before having to turn sideways 120m from the post to get clear when he flashed home to finish a splendid third behind Soho Tribeca. He then was not extended in setting the pace and sprinting over the final two quarters in 26.8sec. and 27.7sec. to beat Tiger Tara in a 2536m heat at Gloucester Park last Friday night. “That last run gave me so much confidence, the way he hit the line,” said Hall Jnr. “Going back three months ago he was just a rough chance, at best, I thought but I have been very pleased with his form in the series. The 26.8sec. he ran for the third quarter was done on his ear. He was really relaxed and had plenty left on the line. He’s the one horse in the final who maybe can win from anywhere.” Hall Snr explained that Chicago Bull had been in danger of losing his damaged eye. “And I’m still not confident that his vision is unimpaired,” he said. “After he got over the operation I brought him back and he was unbelievable, with four wins from four starts in the space of five weeks in June and July. We were very happy with him and I spelled him before getting him ready for the Inters. “I think that was a mistake and he was a first-up fourth behind Jambiani early in September when he was a bit big (in condition) and then he tied up one day. I have hardly ever had a horse who has tied up. So, we had our concerns but it has been smooth sailing lately and he has had the right draws in the heats and I think he’s got the right draw in the final.” Hall Snr said that he thought that he would never win an Inter Dominion championship after The Falcon Strike, the warm favourite, raced without cover and finished a nose second to the pacemaker Jofess in the Inters final at Gloucester Park in 2004. However, that was not to be the case and Hall and his son have won the big event three times --- with Im Themightyquinn, in Auckland, Sydney and Perth. “There is no comparison between Im Themightyquinn and Chicago Bull,” said Hall Snr “We thought that Quinny would win all three of them. Chicago Bull is not as good as Quinny, but he can win this year’s title.” Im Themightyquinn, who retired with a record of 111 starts for 58 wins, 21 seconds, 13 thirds and $4,567,456 in prizemoney, will lead the field out on to the track on Friday night. Five-year-old Chicago Bull, who was a $110,000 purchase, has already amassed $1,112,069 in stakes from 27 wins and ten placings from 42 starts. The ten runners in Friday night’s Group 1 event have won a combined total of 224 races and have notched 159 placings for combined earnings of $10,746,880. Retaining favouritism is the New Zealand star five-year-old Lazarus, who is favourably drawn at the No. 2 barrier for champion New Zealand trainer-reinsman Mark Purdon, who has won the big race with Mark Hanover (Alexandra Park in 1991) and Smolda, at Gloucester Park 12 months ago. Lazarus is a grand stayer who has won at 32 of his 39 starts and was at his imperious best at Gloucester Park last Friday night when he started out wide at barrier seven and settled down in eighth position before surging forward to take up the running 1450m from home. He was not extended in winning from his stablemate Have Faith In Me, rating 1.54.5 which broke Im Themightyquinn’s track record for 2536m by 0.2sec. This followed excellent seconds to Soho Tribeca and Tiger Tara from wide barriers in the first two rounds of qualifying heats. “He’s come through the heats well,” said Purdon. “And I’m happy with his barrier. I think it is an ideal draw for him. It’s better than being out wide and he’s going to be handier than he has been in the heats. “I will play it by ear at the start. There will be plenty of speed on and the connections of Tiger Tara (No. 1 barrier) have made it quite clear that they intend to hold the lead. So, rather than getting into any speed duels, I’ll just try to be handy. If we’re caught in the breeze it won’t worry me, no. Lazarus can win from the breeze. I think that if I’ve got a horse capable of winning from the breeze, it is this horse.” Purdon said that he was far more confident of winning with Lazarus than he was with 12/1 chance Smolda last December. “I wasn’t really confident of taking it out last year, but you never know how a race is going to be run on the night. The speed was so torrid up front last year that it took a toll of the horses doing the early work --- and this played into our hands. The level of confidence as far as Lazarus is concerned is much higher than it was with Smolda.” Purdon said that he was pleased with the way Have Faith In Me was progressing. “He’s improving with every run and he might be getting back to his four-year-old form,” he said. “He will go back at the start from the outside barrier and then I’ll leave the tactics up to Chris (Lewis). He knows the track as good as anyone, probably better than most, so I’ll leave the tactics up to him.” Lewis has won the Inter Dominion championship twice --- with Carclew (Adelaide, 1976) and Village Kid (Brisbane, 1986). West Australian Kim Prentice, who trained and drove Baltic Eagle to victory in the championship final at Addington in 2003, has high hopes of victory with five-year-old Soho Tribeca, the leading points scorer after two wins and a close second to San Carlo in the qualifying heats. Soho Tribeca will start from barrier four and Prentice said that he did not intend to get involved in a battle for the early lead. “Hopefully, we’ll be one-out and one-back or one-two,” he said. “Three or four of the ten finalists might not front up the way they started the series, whereas my horse has pulled up an absolute treat after three runs in a week. “I know that I’ve got a very, very special horse and if luck goes our way we can definitely win. To get an easy run in the final heat was very good. I wasn’t out there to break any records or peel off a 27sec. flat quarter.” Trainer David Aiken said that the 2015 Inters champion Lennytheshark was primed for a bold showing in the final after winning an opening-round heat followed by thirds behind Galactic Star and San Carlo. “He has pulled up really well after his last run,” said Aiken. “I don’t know where he is going to end up, really. A few things that are going to happen early will determine how the race is going to be run. Lenny is versatile and is a tough horse capable of doing it tough. “If they go really hard and it develops into a war, he’ll come off pace and run home well. Six is a tricky draw for Chris (Alford), but I think that a lot of drivers have to contend with a tricky draw. I’m not going to take any part in determining tactics. I’ll let Chris work it out for himself. “Listening to all the experts, they still don’t know how the race is going to be run. Chicago Bull has a great draw, but if Tiger Tara gets crossed, then it’s not so good.” New South Wales trainer Kevin Pizzuto was ecstatic when tough and talented seven-year-old Tiger Tara drew the No. 1 barrier and reinsman Todd McCarthy will be determined to jump straight to the front and attempt an all-the-way victory. “He’s been massive and I’ve been booming him all the way,” Pizzuto said. “I can’t ask any more of the horse. He has been prepared for this race and he’s getting better and better with every run.” Twenty-six-year-old Rebecca Bartley, the youngest driver and the only female driver in the final, is confident the inexperienced seven-year-old San Carlo will overcome his wide barrier (seven) and figure prominently in the final stages. San Carlo raced without cover for much of the way when a fighting third to Tiger Tara and Lazarus in a 2100m heat in Bunbury before his strong all-the-way win over Soho Tribeca and Lennytheshark in a final-round 2536m heat. “He’s a strong stayer and the distance will really suit him,” she said. “He hit the line really well last Friday and as long as the speed is genuine he shouldn’t be too far away.” Ryan Warwick will drive the Skye Bond-trained Galactic Star, who unwound a spirited finishing burst to win a 2100m heat at Bunbury from Yayas Hot Spot and Lennytheshark. He will start from the No. 5 barrier and Warwick will have the option of taking advantage of the five-year-old’s excellent gate speed or preferring to angle toward the pegs and rely on a strong finishing burst. Ken Casellas

And, to be honest, he was never sure it would come. When Prentice climbed harness racing’s Mt Everest to win the 2003 Christchurch Inter Dominion, he never thought he would experience that buzz again. Nor did he think he’d get another horse as good, let alone better than, Baltic Eagle. Now he’s done one and could do the other. Soho Tribeca has been THE find of this Perth Inter Dominion series. As exciting as looked in the lead-up races, Prentice he is more confident now than he was before the series started of actually winning the final. “You think they’ll measure-up, especially the way he and Chicago Bull had been going and the times they were running, but you’ve never truly sure until you race the best,” he said. “That’s why that first heat when we took on Lazarus was so important. I was probably more relieved than excited to win it. “Just the way he did it so easily, enen though he had the draw and got to the front. It showed everyone he was as good as we think he is.” Soho Tribeca then posted a cosy second-round heat win at Bunbury before a second to emerging Victorian star San Carlo after he had to sit parked last Friday night. “He’s come through the heats really well and I wasn’t at all disappointed he got beaten the other night,” Prentice said. “I never doubted he’d cope with the three runs in a week to qualify and that’s how it’s turned out. He’s been great since and his work was outstanding earlier this week.” Prentice concedes the draw has set him a challenge. “You see barrier four and think ‘you beauty’, but then you see Tiger Tara in one, Lazarus in two and Chicago Bull in 10 (inside back row) and four starts to look a lot worse,” he said. “But I’ve got a horse at his top and he’s very versatile. Sure I’d love to have drawn to lead like Tiger Tara has, but if it’s a hotly contested race, which these races usually are, then everyone should get their chance. “My fella is tough, but he’s got good point-to-point speed as well.” So who is the horse to beat? “Lazarus, obviously,” Prentice said. “But it won’t be easy for him if he’s got to do most of the work. He’s a great horse, no doubt about it, but this track is a real leveller if you’re off the marker pegs the whole way. “Chicago Bull looks dangerous from his draw. Sure he’s going to need luck, but it looks like he’s going to get the easy run in behind Tiger Tara.” Beyond the final, Prentice is set to chase all the big races this season. “Yes, we’ll be going to races like the Hunter Cup and Miracle Mile,” he said. “I still think he’s on the improve and he’s going to get better and better for competing in these big races.”   Adam Hamilton

It's Inter Dominion final eve, so the rumours are flying thick and fast as usual. Most of them surround polemarker Tiger Tara’s wellbeing and/or tactics from the prized pole draw. Trainer Kevin Pizzuto has been sitting back and listening to speculation and theories all week. One he will knock on the head is that Tiger Tara is feeling the effects of five funs already in this past month as well as all the travel to and from NZ and across to Perth. “That’s rubbish. I’m telling you know he’s thriving on it,” he said. “I keep hearing how big a task I’ve set him, but he’s never been better. “I know this will be his sixth run for the month, but I’m telling you now he’s as good as I’ve ever had him.” So what about the tactics now Tiger Tara has draw most others dreamed about getting? “I’m not telling anybody what we’re doing,” he said. “We’ve got the draw which gives us all the options – leading or handing-up. Everyone can speculate, but nobody but Todd (McCarthy, driver) and will know until they let the gate go. “We’ve got a huge tactical advantage from the draw. Why would we show our hand?” Most expect Tiger Tara to hold the lead given his great front-running form and love for small tracks like Gloucester Park. If that happens, Chicago Bull gets the gun run on his back and the likes of Lazarus, Soho Tribeca and Lennytheshark have to jostle for spots outside him and in the running line. But, if Tiger Tara takes a trail, the race changes – big time. It would potentially put Chicago Bull back in an awkward three pegs spot. And then Lazarus, Lennytheshark and Soho Tribeca would be a chance of getting the lead, which would significantly boost their chances. In the case of Lazarus, you would think leading would make close to unbeatable. On one hand it’s surprising Pizzuto isn’t just declaring his hand and saying Tiger Tara is definitely leading and holding the front. On the other, by not doing so he’s got everybody guessing ahead of the best and most intriguing Inter Dominion final in modern history. Bring it on. Adam Hamilton

Who will pull the trigger and when? That is but two of the many questions looming large ahead of Friday night’s Perth Inter Dominion, with harness racing pundits pondering what will happen in the first 800m and how that will affect the last 100m. Mark Purdon, Kim Prentice and Chris Alford joined RSN 927AM program Gait Speed today when hosts Jason Bonnington and Blake Redden prodded for answers to the biggest questions. Their hopes have all drawn the front line outside pole marker Tiger Tara, but Purdon and Prentice intimated Lazarus and Soho Tribeca wouldn’t be running the gate. That would potentially open the door for Lennytheshark, the eight-year-old Victorian with genuine gate speed and strength, and Alford declared the fan favourite had the ability to lead, it was just a matter of whether they wanted to over the 2936m journey. “I’m pretty sure that if we pressed the button early (Lennytheshark) can cross Tiger Tara, but whether that’s going to be in the best interests of the horses later in the race is another thing,” Alford said. “We will go through all the scenarios and come Friday we will know where we are at.” Prentice, having suggested Soho Tribeca wouldn’t be in an early dogfight, instead urged Purdon to do the bulk of the work by advancing his favourite to the breeze and pressuring the likely leader. “If they go hard enough early, I wouldn’t mind popping around to the breeze,” Prentice said. “I don’t think the lead time will be that quick … but I really think Mark has to drive Lazarus (so that he) is eyeballing Tiger Tara at the mile.” For his part, Purdon said he expected Lazarus would be placed one out-one back or two back in the running, and he would then decide when to make his move. “You want it to be a staying test. It will just depend how it’s run when you make a move,” he said. “In the event if they do back off I’ll be making a move, if they don’t I’ll be waiting a little longer.” LISTEN: PURDON, PRENTICE AND ALFORD JOIN GAIT SPEED Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

The King of Gloucester Park has a plan to beat Kiwi champ Lazarus in Saturday's $1.1 million Inter Dominion final in Perth. And it involves going to sleep and then waking up mid-race. That is what Gary Hall believes is his only real option in the hottest harness race of the year on a track he has ruled for the last decade. Hall, who drives predominantly for his trainer father Gary senior, has won three Inter Dominions driving I'm Themightyquinn but his domination of Gloucester Park's major races extends to near-embarrassing levels. He has driven the winner of the state's premier race, the WA Cup, seven times and thinks nothing of bagging five winners at a metropolitan Friday night Gloucester Park meeting. And beating the Kiwis is nothing new to Hall, he has won more Grand Circuit pacing races than any other driver, his 22 victories eclipsing Lazarus's trainer-driver Mark Purdon's 20 wins. But for all his skills, Hall thinks they won't be required for much of the great race after his charge Chicago Bull drew one on the second line behind likely leader Tiger Tara. "It looks like I will be in the trail and I can just sit there and go to sleep for a couple of laps," says Hall. "There really won't be many decisions to be made until they start to up the ante over the last 1200m and then I have to work out when I try and get off the marker pegs. "If Tiger Tara stays in front and horses like Lazarus, Lennytheshark and Soho Tribeca all do some work around each other in those first two laps, then we have a great chance." But after thousands of spins around the Gloucester Park circuit, Hall admits to having one concern. "I'm pretty sure Tiger Tara will stay in front but the last thing I want is a tame early section of the race and then horses like Tiger, Lazarus and Tribeca being three abreast starting the last lap with no gap for me because they are so tough they may not stop." Lazarus is the $2.10 favourite with New Zealand TAB who have Chicago Bull as the $3.80 second pick. By Michael Guerin  

FINAL FIELD A$1.1million Inter Dominion, 2936m mobile 1am Saturday (NZ time) 1: Tiger Tara (1) 2: Lazarus (2) 3: Vultan Tin (3) 4: Soho Tribeca (4) 5: Galactic Star (5) 6: Lennytheshark (6) 7: San Carlo (7) 8: Shandale (8) 9: Have Faith In Me (9) 10: Chicago Bull (1 second line) Emergencies: Ohoka Punter, Devendra, Major Crocker, The Bucket List. Kiwi pacing champion Lazarus has scored the barrier draw trainer Mark Purdon wanted for Friday’s A$1.1million Inter Dominion Final in Perth -- but with one slight complication. Lazarus is set to start favourite for the annual trans tasman pacing grudge match after a track record heat win last Friday night and drawing exactly the marble Purdon wanted. “I didn’t want barrier one or 10 (second line) or to be too wide so barrier two is perfect,” said Purdon. But that is tempered by the fact hard-running rival Tiger Tara has drawn the ace and looks the likely leader, a position from where he downed Lazarus in their heat at Bunbury last Tuesday. And stalking the pair will be local West Australian speedster Chicago Bull, who is the only horse drawn on the second line and looks set to follow Tiger Tara throughout. This entire Inter Dominion series has been dominated by horses saving ground on the marker pegs, with eight of the nine heat winners leading and the other coming from three deep on the markers. So not only does it look likely Lazarus will have to race in the running line and cover 10 lengths more than Tiger Tara but then hold off any late charge from Chicago Bull. Purdon was typically relaxed about the verbal sparring that lies ahead, not even attending the barrier draw function in Perth, preferring to instead work on his horses.  “I am just taking the horses for a little swim to keep them fresh but Laz getting two was a lot better than any of the other draws,” he said upon learning the draws.  “I don’t think he would be ideally suited to trailing so I didn’t want 10 and I am not sure he would have had the gate speed to hold the lead from barrier one.  “But what will happen in the race we will find out on Friday night.  “All I can control is looking after the horses and they are all well. Laz jogged his win on Friday and I can’t believe he actually broke the track record, he could have gone two seconds faster.  “He is settled in here now, enjoying his work and at this stage exactly where he needs to be.”
 Purdon and training partner Natalie Rasmussen also have Have Faith In Me in the final, which will be run at 1am Saturday NZ time, with the Australasian mile record holder surprising by qualifying in the last spot after a huge second to Lazarus on Friday.  “He has improved a lot during the series and it is great to have him in the final in what could be his last race for us,” said Purdon.  “He is under offer and if he passes all the vet tests he could be sold by Wednesday, but he would still race for his owners, the Dunfords, in the final.” Rasmussen, who has five Inter Dominion training wins and four driving, is still considering whether to make the trip to Perth to partner Have Faith In Me but she looks more likely to stay home and drive at Alexandra Park, with local reinsman Chris Lewis to partner the stable’s second stringer. Michael Guerin

Harness racing driver Todd Rattray's dream of driving in the final of the 2017 Inter-Dominion is over. Devendra made a bold bid for glory in his third and last Heat of the Series on Friday night but could manage only two points to miss the final by the barest of margins. Going into the final round of heats Devendra was well placed, rated seventh on the qualifying list with 17 points for the Series. The result of Heat 7, the heat proceeding Devendra's, couldn't have turned out better for the Tassie champ. The first and second placegetters Chicago Bull and Tiger Tara were already ahead of the eight-year-old gelding on the series points tally and only Shandale and The Bucket List moved into contention. As Devendra moved up behind the mobile the consensus was anywhere in the first five would most certainly move the former dual Championship Heat winner into the $1.1 Million Final. In the Sky-Channel pre-race interview with Gareth Hall, Todd declared he thought he could lead with Devendra, the problem was  Rebecca Bartley driving pole-marker San Carlo ($2.80) had the same plan and the aid of the inside draw. As the arms on the Mobile drew back both drivers put the foot down, as they stormed into the first turn Devendra had almost crossed, but San Carlo continued to be desperately driven in an effort to defend the peg line. As we know only too well in sport and in life itself, it can come down to a game of 'inches'. Todd was forced to grab hold and sit outside the leader, that last metre required to cross safely just eluded Devendra and it would finish up costing him a place in the Series Finale. Lennytheshark quickly moved to the death seat and in turn Soho Tribeca moved forward to give the 2015 Championship winner a trail, shuffling Devendra back to second last at the bell. The pressure was at its highest in the final lap with only the top fancies ensured safe passage to next weeks 'Big Dance'. Devendra moved out three-wide at the turn but couldn't claim that vital extra point required to qualify, finishing at the tail. The Final Heat result also went the way that would have favoured Devendra but the damage had been done. When the night came to a close Devendra was one point short of claiming outright tenth and the final berth in the field, finishing in a four-way tie for tenth position. The Inter-Dominion Organising Committee retains the right to select a finalist in the case of a tie and chose Have Faith In Me after running second in Heat 9 to Lazarus, leaving Devendra as the second emergency. As for Todd,  I have no doubt he has replayed the race over and over in his mind since eleven o'clock last night, with any number of thoughts that included the most used word in sport - 'IF'. Decisions are made in a split-second and you live or die by them, that's the nature of sport at the highest level. Todd has the right people around him, it's very easy to say and much harder to do, but he needs to take the positives of the experience without being weighed down by the what if's. One thing for is for certain the 2017 Inter-Dominion Series would have lit the fire burning within this highly talented and committed young man. To come home, work harder and stronger, learn more and think even smarter, confident in his own ability and of experiences learned in the last seven days, a deeper understanding that there is still a higher level to aim for and much more to achieve. Shane Yates for Tasracng

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