The opening night of the 2017 Interdominion series went almost exclusively to script.
The three favourites (Soho Tribeca, Lennytheshark & Chicago Bull) won in a very comfortable manner whilst the remainder of runners scampered to accumulate vital points as the series heads to Bunbury.
We saw very little other than what we already knew on night one but tonight looks to have the potential to open up more than a couple of cans of worms.
Tonight’s opener, to my eye, offers us plenty of interest despite Lennytheshark coming up a $1.30 favourite. The Victorian superstar, who reportedly ran one of the fastest ever last halves at Gloucester Park, looks in supreme condition and continues to somehow sneak under the radar whilst Lazarus and boom local Soho Tribeca steal the headlines and market favouritism.
From nine, Lenny will follow through in the running line and whilst he should be able to lead or breeze and win, plenty of interest lies in who will run second, third and even fourth.
New South Welshman Yayas Hotspot actually ran a good race on opening night despite his eighth place finish in a race that had little early speed and next to no pressure on the leader throughout. He gets his chance in this one with the ace draw and there would be very little doubt driver Lauren Tritton would be attempting and expecting to lead, either all the way or hand to Lennytheshark for the plum run.
Shandale was honest running third to Soho Tribeca and Lazarus and again gets his chance to run near the speed and earn more points.
Regardless of whether Yayas Hotspot leads or concedes to Lennytheshark, Galactic Star looks set for another prominent finish from his gate eight draw. Travelling three-pegs may mean Ryan Warwick will be driving for third but with the times that will be run up front, it almost ensures he will get a look at the line in the lane.
Jambiani is the other local who was jogging across the line in heat one and he also should use his gate (3) to advantage.
I fully expect Lenny to win but superstar reinsman Chris Alford will be best served to let the frontrunners sort out their order before circling the field. Listen to me, surely I am not telling ‘The Puppet’ how to drive!
1 Lennytheshark ($1.30)
2 Shandale ($6)
3 Galactic Star ($17)
4 Yayas Hotspot ($8)
The fifth of the nine-heat series looks a race in two with West Australian stars Soho Tribeca and Chicago Bull clashing, as they have numerous times before.
Soho Tribeca could not have been anymore impressive as he ran away from Lazarus and the rest of his rivals, scorching home for a 54.5 second last 800m and an 11m victory.
Chicago Bull, who probably had the easiest run of the night one winners, now has to contend with an inside second-row draw whilst Kim Prentice should be able to progress Soho Tribeca to the lead without too much worry. Former Kiwi Ohoka Punter may hustle early to secure a run behind Soho Tribeca but it would be remiss not to mention he did hold out the ever-improving five year-old a few starts back – so anything is possible here. Night one suggested Ohoka Punter is far far away from his best which has been publicly stated by Gary Hall Jnr. Devendra has another opportunity to secure a cheap run handy to the speed and could add significant value to exotic bets.
Chicago Bull has electrifying speed but some question his toughness so this looms as the perfect occasion for Gary Hall Jnr to send him to the breeze and go to battle with a horse that will be running quick, consistent sectionals. Should the Bull sit outside Soho Tribeca and win, well then, we may all be headed back to the drawing board.
Kerryn Manning’s Mr Mojito must utilise his handy alley (gate 4) to ensure he is a live hope to make the final entering night three of heats back in Perth on Friday night. I like the ex-All Stars gelding to be a far more threatening and tractable horse on the bigger Bunbury track.
1 Soho Tribeca ($1.20)
2 Chicago Bull ($4)
3 Mr Mojito ($41)
4 Devendra ($51)
The final heat to be run at Bunbury tonight looks like being the best with Lazarus again likely to be posted outside the leader doing work.
Tiger Tara ran a cracking race behind Lenny last Friday and he could seemingly benefit from a cushy run behind the leader but that would presumably be against Kevin Pizzuto’s style so expect the tough-as-nails Bettors Delight to lead all of the way and force those outside and trailing him to run along at a serious clip. Personally, I would concede to Lazarus and take the easy run but I’ve never been in charge of a Shetland pony let alone a winning hope in the $1.3 million Interdominion, so I’ll bow to your decision Kev!
Lazarus’ wide gate is far from ideal but he should be to the breeze quickly enough here and I expect Mark Purdon will have him far more charged than he did a few days ago.
Stunning four year-old Ultimate Machete sat outside and comprehensively beat Tiger Tara in the New Zealand FFA so I would expect Lazarus can at least mirror his younger stablemate’s performance.
Tiger Tara should again run second whilst emerging Victorian San Carlo will need to be unleashed nearer to the speed, particularly as he struggled with the small Gloucester Park circuit. Bunbury should suit him and it will need to as he needs to make tonight count.
Motu Premier ran a strong race to finish fourth in Lennytheshark’s heat so another top four placing looks in order. Major Crocker is the other knockout hope but without a front row draw he looks likely to need considerable luck or hectic speed to factor prominently.
1 Lazarus ($1.45)
2 Tiger Tara ($2.80)
3 Motu Premier ($12)
4 San Carlo ($12)