Stability at the summit of Harness Racing is not something we’re blessed with at the moment.
Star power is not an issue, keeping them on our tracks is.
Racing fans have seen three of the 2017/18 Grand Circuit season leaders take an indefinite or permanent break from Australasian racing whilst the fourth of the bunch has raced since the Miracle Mile in February.
The fifth of the top five is Chicago Bull, the diminutive star pacer from Western Australia.
Some have knocked Chicago Bull for not travelling but trainer Gary Hall Sr has intimated that he will be crossing the Nullarbor and tackling the big races in the east – maybe even as far east as New Zealand.
So, with Lazarus, Soho Tribeca, Heaven Rocks, Bling It On, Lennytheshark, Heaven Rocks, Have Faith In Me, Vincent and The Orange Agent (among others) gone for now or the foreseeable future, the landscape has changed and others are ready to take the mantle.
Here they are;
1 CHICAGO BULL
It’s been tough to know whether he was capable of being a factor in the most recent Hunter Cup or Miracle Mile but in the races he has been in, Chicago Bull has hardly put a hoof wrong.
He’s been back on his winning ways locally at Gloucester Park but we expect that. His big tests will be travelling east for targets like the Victoria Cup, New Zealand Cup and Victorian Inter Dominion.
He’s speedy and his toughness is underrated and with Lazarus, Soho Tribeca and co. off the scene, the stage is his to earn a million bucks this season and be a dominant force on the Grand Circuit calendar.
2 ULTIMATE MACHETE
Soundness issues are real but reports coming in from the All Stars suggest that Ultimate Machete is not far away. This stunning four-year-old will stay all day, making him an obvious NZ Cup, Hunter Cup and ID prospect.
A fit and firing ‘Mate’ would become the dominant stayer of the open class ranks. His obliteration of open class stars like Tiger Tara, Jack’s Legend, Dream About Me and Titan Banner a hiding from the breeze.
3 JILLIBY KUNG FU
No doubt his recent VicBred Series campaign was below par but Kung Fu was beaten by a future Power Rankings resident in Wrappers Delight.
You simply cannot disregard his Chariots Of Fire and Miracle Mile efforts no matter how much you want to knock his most recent runs.
The incredible 1:46.9 Miracle Mile has taken its toll on those who competed in it so here’s hoping this superstar four-year-old returns to his very very best.
It’s incredibly hard to place a three-year-old who clearly has not been fully tested but the optics tell you this guy is bound for something special. And many experts, perhaps led by astute trainer Shane Tritton, will happily tell you he’s on his way to becoming the top dog.
His only defeat in sixteen starts was a 1:56 mile at Menangle. He could run that on two legs nowadays! Alongside Chase Auckland (currently injured) he’s the next one up from a bunch of really exciting classic age boys.
5 SHADOW SAX
He overcame injury and went on a killing spree in the Victorian Country Cups season before proving his class overcoming Soho Tribeca in the Melton Plate.
He claimed a Group 1 victory in the South Australian Cup but has had a break since. With a few absentees, he looms as a real threat to win some very big races.
6 MY FIELD MARSHAL
There’s a big watch on this guy. His southern hemisphere record mile was breathtaking but we’ve seen nothing near that performance since. No doubt he’s a stalker and not a workhorse but his Len Smith Mile and Blacks A Fake performances left plenty to be desired. He’s been sent to eat some grass and there is no real reason why he does not have another Miracle Mile victory in him.
7 TELL ME TALES
Kerryn Manning’s star mare, Ameretto, would feel hard done by not to be the number one ranked female but such is the freak factor about this girl, Tell Me Tales lands at seven. It looked like right place, right time when she pinched the three-year-old VicBred Series from Petacular but since then the Tell All mare has become tougher and tougher and faster and faster!
Her VicBred four-year-old mares win was that of a horse going places and a berth in the upcoming ID is not beyond her. She’s the one I would want to be on this far out from the big mares races next year.
8 TIGER TARA
You can mount the case for and against case regarding this horse quite easily. Many think he’s been lucky with barrier draws in big races but could never capitalise in a big one whilst others will inform you just how hard it is to be as consistent and durable at Grand Circuit level as he has been.
He’s been placed in a Blacks A Fake, Victoria Cup, New Zealand Cup, Inter Dominion Final and punched his Group 1 ticket by winning the Canadian Club Sprint against My Field Marshal, Lazarus, Franco Nelson and San Carlo.
Ameretto has been a force since joining the Manning barn. Sure, she was talented and had accomplished plenty beforehand but at times under Manning, she has looked every bit as good as some of the premier male pacers.
Three starts back she handled the best girls in the Queen of the Pacific going 1:57.2 for the longer 2750m trip.
During her span of dominance, she reeled off eight wins from nine runs with the only ‘defeat’ coming in the way of a glorious second placing to Lennytheshark in the Victoria Cup.
The hard racing of an Inter Dominion series looks right up the alley of this daughter of Million Dollar Cam.
10 DREAM ABOUT ME
The injury bug has struck this brilliant mare but the barn is confident she’s on the up and up and at her best, perhaps even Ameretto and Tell Me Tales cannot get near her.
It’s been seven starts – and almost a year – since her last victory but that most recent victory just happened to be an Auckland Cup. Tiger Tara, an admittedly declining Christen Me, Titan Banner and Chase The Dream trailed in the Bettors Delight mare in that Auckland Cup.
As a young horse in Australia, she dominated everything in her path winning the Breeders Crown Final and New South Wales Oaks during a 12-race win streak to begin her career. At her very best – which is questionable whether she can recapture – this is a mare who could most definitely win an ID Final.
Next cab off the rank:
LET IT RIDE
BE JACK’S LEGEND
Ineligible through injury;