For Harness Racing’s Interdominion It’s 10 years since Blacks A Fake and trainer-driver Natalie Rasmussen led and won the 2008 Inter Dominion, the last time the great race has called Victoria home. Story by Michael Howard • Images HRV
ace caller Dan Mielicki stated “The immortal, the champion,” as the horse many think the greatest of the modern generation secured the third of four Inter Dominion wins. There is no need for grandiose statements. The strength and depth of female excellence in harness racing is in the numbers.
“I think you have to rate it above Makybe Diva,” turf editor Bart Sinclair told The Courier-Mail in the wake of Blacks A Fake’s fourth Inter Dominion win from five attempts. “But Natalie has not only had the pressure of getting him ready but driving him as well. Also, being a female driver there is always more pressure because people are very critical of anything they do wrong. It is just an incredible performance . . . freakish.” Being a female, she also sits among a very small field at the head of affairs. Among reinswoman to salute in an Inter Dominion it’s a field of one. When it comes to trainers Natalie is only joined by Lorraine Nixon, who broke through with Yulestar in 2001. It’s perhaps an all-too-short list of female representation given the trots is a sport rich with talented ladies rewriting the record books. The Inter Dominion, which Harness Racing Victoria Chairman Dale Monteith labelled, “The greatest trots series in Australasia”, will peak with grand final night at Tabcorp Park Melton on December 15th. Rebranded ID18, the staging marks the start of a new era. A new trijurisdiction agreement will share the Inter Dominion between Victoria,
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New Zealand and New South Wales until 2026, having spent the past three years at Perth’s Gloucester Park.
And Victoria’s wealth of reinswomen and trainers are well positioned to launch this era with a proliferation of female representation, potentially adding a further name to the path blazed by Nixon and Rasmussen some time ago. Could it be Shepparton 27-year-old Rebecca Bartley, who stole a considerable portion of the limelight in the 2017 staging of the great race series when she and her mate ‘Murray’, on race night known as San Carlo, held off the sport’s heavyweights to win a heat of the series? “Here we are just two kids about to live that dream we have all dreamt about,” said Rebecca on the doorstep of last year’s Inter Dominion. The thought was always that Perth was a learning experience and 2018 would see a more experienced and better combination. San Carlo is considered a $17 chance in early markets. Emma Stewart, who trains near Ballarat, has issued a plan to direct reigning Trots Country Cups Champion Shadow Sax and prodigious talent The Storm Inside to the Inter Dominion. It would be a worthy addition to the shelves of the Stewart stable, which in 2018-19 set a new mark for the most training wins in an Australian season.
Great Western trainer-driver Kerryn Manning has climbed almost every trots mountain – could brilliant mares Ameretto or Our Golden Goddess deliver her an Inter Dominion?