The Hawkesbury to Hunter Series unfolding well according to Newcastle HRC manager Wayne Smith. Photo by Amanda Rando
THE Newcastle Harness Racing Club could not be happier with the way this year’s Wandiyali Hawkesbury to Hunter Series has unfolded.
Three qualifying heats were run last week with the most impressive winner being the Mark Callaghan-trained Sky Diamond, which produced a whirlwind finish with Tom Ison aboard, coming from near last to trounce his rivals and score by almost 20 metres in a slick 1.58.4 mile.
Bevan Pringle drove the winners of the remaining two heats, the first being aboard A Paradigm Shift for trainer Kevin Warby and the second with Its Inevitable, a gelding he trains himself.
“We first started this series more than 20 years ago and ran it as a standing start race with heats and a final,” said Newcastle HRC manager Wayne Smith.
“The club then went away from that concept, preferring to run a single feature race and it just did not work.
“After being disappointed with the race, the board discussed the need to have a flagship series in the Hunter region and decided to go back to the former concept, but instead to run it under mobile start conditions with two sets of heats and a final over three consecutive Friday nights.
“And with those changes, the series has become an overwhelming success and we are stoked.
“Every one of the seven heats attracted full fields and, on paper, they have been very evenly graded.
“And judging by the three heats run last week, we should be in for a real treat tonight and then for next week’s $12,000 final, which should be extra exciting.”
The final four heats of the series open tonight’s nine-race program and talented reinsman, Tom Ison has drives in each qualifier.
His best chance of winning looks to be in Race 3 aboard the Roy Roots Jnr-trained Dragon Tattoo, which had been racing in stronger company at Menangle before returning to the Hunter and finishing a close third last-start.
Tom will also pilot two strong chances for his father Andrew, the first being Mollidor, which won two on the bounce at Tamworth before running second at Newcastle a fortnight ago.
They will then combine in the last heat with Sir Macador which, despite having to overcome an unsavoury draw (barrier 10), will figure in the finish.
The remaining heat (Race 2) is an open race with several chances.