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Inter Dominion heats preview

The Inter Dominion has traditionally been the jewel of Australasian harness racing and its toughest test. More recently the format has changed from a three-week series of heats and finals at one venue to a spread of heats across the two countries and one premium final. Debate rages as to which format is better, but one things for certain, heats night with all the qualifying races conducted within 90 minutes across five different tracks makes this Saturday one hell of a night for harness racing fans!

Analysing the fields between bottles of Singha is Aussie harness racing expert Ben Krahe. Follow him @benkrahe to read more of his wisdom on racedays.

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Preview of the heats of ID14

This year’s edition of harness racing’s greatest prize – the Inter Dominion starts on Saturday with the running of six heats all in the space of 90 min around Australia and NZ. The final will consist of horses that qualify from Menangle, Melton, Albion Park, Gloucester Park and Addington. Like or love it, this format WILL provide excitement for an hour and a half with a great final expected at Menangle on March 2nd. Below is a preview of each heat:

Heat 1 – Addington (NZ) – TWO qualifiers
A small but quality field of Kiwis contest the first heat. TERROR TO LOVE and SMOLDA look the obvious two to qualify here. I can see TTL leading with Smolda taking the trail on its back and from there it should be a procession. Unfortunately I can’t see this race being a great spectacle however the best two horses should be crossing the Tasman for the final. The winner WILL come from whoever can sprint best from the pair.

Heat 2 – Menangle (NSW) – TWO qualifiers
Currently Australasia’s best horse and Miracle Mile champ BEAUTIDE contests this heat. He is currently airborne and has progressed a long way from his FFA days in the Apple Isle. I can see him coming over and taking the lead pretty easily as the others won’t want to hinder their chance to qualify. He will be winning this without too much drama. Although drawn the carpark THE GOLD ACE is the second best horse in the race and could be the best chance to race in two weeks' time. Others with a chance of a place include TWO EYE SEE (well drawn) and TERRORWAY (expect big improvement).

Heat 3 – Melton (VIC) – THREE qualifiers
Good race this with RESTREPO looking guaranteed to run top three from the coveted pole position. A noted sit sprinter also with gate speed he can choose whether to lead or which horse to take a sit on and zoom up the sprint lane for an easy place and qualification to the final. CARIBBEAN BLASTER, on the contrary has drawn outside the second row, however this won't hinder this superstar who has run places at its last five starts including the Victoria, South Australian, Ballarat and Hunter Cups. Is there a more consistent horse in Australia at the moment? Those fighting for the third qualifying spot will include BITOBLISS (disappointing horse at this level), KEAYANG CULLEN (soft run behind Restrepo) and ABETTORPUNT (huge in the Hunter Cup last week) and IM CORZIN TERROR (although I’m not convinced with this horse yet at the very top).

Heat 4 – Menangle (NSW) – TWO qualifiers
Interesting race this with FOR A REASON currently about twos-on in pre-post markets. I’d be happy to risk him at this price. Yes, he won the Victoria Cup three starts ago, and two starts ago demolished an average field in the Goulburn Cup. However last week he was very plain when forced to do work. The obvious leader tonight is MACH BEAUTY who has come a long way from winning the Golden Guitar at Tamworth this time last year. He has abundant speed and with Lauren Panella back on board has the choice on whether to hold the lead or hand up for a trail. Either way , MB looks set to qualify for the final. The question mark is Kiwi FRANCO NELSON who has opted for a NSW campaign. He ran a creditable sixth in the Hunter Cup and that form is good enough to see him at least contend for a place here tonight. MAH SISH (again drawing the coveted pole) looks to be able to be behind Mach Beauty the whole way so will be getting a very soft run and a big place chance. The rest are FFA horses at best and can't contend.

Heat 5 – Albion Park (QLD) – ONE qualifier
By far the weakest heat, I’d be surprised if the winner can even run a place in the final. FOREVER GOLD will have the chance to either lead or be behind the leader and will have its chance to head south for the final. AVONNOVA was only an average horse in NSW but has grown a leg against inferior opposition up north . It is however flying at the moment and will be attempting to grab the lead and stave off the others. FIELD OFFICER is going ok. Having run some good races south but will have to make a mid race move in my opinion to have a chance. The rest are really making up the numbers and even if there is an upset here, I can’t see any of them bothering the big guns in a fortnight's time.

Heat 6 – Gloucester Park (WA) – TWO qualifiers
Unfortunately, the West’s heat is missing its champ and three-time ID winner Quinny (Imthemightyquinn). Nonetheless, this heat should provide plenty of interest although I doubt the winner of the final will come from it. DAVID HERCULES has been the medium of strong support in both the heat and final, however from the draw it may have its work cut out. LIVINGONTHEINTEREST looks well placed from the two draw and will be in the firing line the whole way. IM VICTORIOUS ran some very good races at Menangle earlier in the year and will be a worthy finalist should it make it. This heat looks to be the most even of all, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see an upset around this tight circuit. I won’t though be backing the winner of this heat to win the final.

SUMMARY
Looks a great 90 min of watching the best standardbreds in the country however not too sure about betting on these races as most of the faves should salute at fairly short odds. If you want to have a punt on the final however I think CARIBBEAN BLASTER ($12 available) is well worth a punt.

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