Major shake up to series as Inter Dom returns to NSW

THE Inter Dominion is back.

After harness racing’s marquee event fell victim to Covid-19 last year, New South Wales will take its turn as host of the Inter Dominion this year – from November 27 to December 11.

More than $1 million in stakemoney is up for grabs, headlined by a gruelling 3009m Pacing Grand Final with a $500,000 purse at Menangle on December 11.

Despite pushback from some of the biggest names of the sport, most notably Luke McCarthy and Anthony Butt, Harness Racing NSW and Club Menangle confirmed on Friday, heats of the four-night series will definitely be staged in Newcastle and Bathurst.

Luke McCarthy (left) has some concerns with the set up of the Inter Dominion series.Source:Supplied

The series starts with 2400m heats at Menangle on Saturday, November 27, moves to 1730m sprint heats at Bathurst on Wednesday, December 1 and then Newcastle for 2030m heats on Sunday, December 5.

It is then back to Menangle for the Grand Final on December 5.

McCarthy, New South Wales’s dominant horseman, has openly voiced concerns about the amount of travel required by including lengthy return road trips to Newcastle and Bathurst during the already hectic and demanding racing schedule.

“Those trips are at least six-hour return trips for horses staying at Menangle, which most horses will. The Bathurst trip is especially hard, up through the hills and back,” McCarthy said.

“I’ve spoken to lots of trainers here (Australia) and in New Zealand who think it’s asking a lot of the horses. I know supporting our regional racing areas is important, but I think one of those long road trips would be enough when the horses have to race four times in 15 days.”

Wolf Stride and trainer driver Anthony Butt.Source:The Daily Telegraph

Butt said he would scale back his attack on the series because of the travel requirements.

“I was going to take my four best open-class pacers up (from Victoria), but I won’t know. I’m pretty sure I’ll just take one, Wolf Stride, who is experienced, seasoned and should be able to handle it. Boots Electric, Perfect Stride and Line Up can focus on other targets,” he said.

HRNSW chief executive John Dumesny said: “We are fortunate in New South Wales to have access to premium tracks across the state so it makes perfect sense to be taking the Inter Dominion qualifiers to Bathurst and Newcastle before crowning our champion at Australia’s best track at Tabcorp Park Menangle.

“But just as the Inter Dominion winner is the horse that proves itself and emerges across a range of distances, what we’ve looked to do this year is broaden the scope of conditions as well and that is why we’re taking it to our legions of fans in the regions as part of the qualifying process.”

Tough pacer Beautide and trainer/driver James Rattray won the last Inter Dominion Final held at Tabcorp Park Menangle in 2015.Source:Supplied

Plans are for three pacing qualifying heats across each of the three heat nights.

Pleasingly, there will be a trotting series alongside the pacing series with two trotting heats each night.

New South Wales Inter Dominion nominations close on September 27.

The last Inter Dominion final was held at Auckland’s Alexandra Park in December 2019 and won by the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-trained Ultimate Machete.

Sadly, he broke down straight after the final, never raced again – with a record of 14 wins from just 20 starts – and is standing at stud.

The last New South Wales Inter Dominion was won by the great Tasmanian stayer, Beautide, when he completed back-to-back victories, at Menangle in March, 2015.

Nominal Inter Dominion pacing favourite King Of Swing, winner of the past two Miracle Miles, steps out at Brisbane’s Albion Park tomorrow night.

He’s chasing more Group 1 success in coming weeks in the $100,000 Sunshine Sprint (July 17) and $250,000 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park.

Originally published asInter Dom returns as heats head to regional NSW

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