Ladbrokes Inter Dominion Countdown – November 21

As part of the countdown series until the running of the 2023 Ladbrokes Inter Dominion Championship at The Creek, Albion Park, ADAM HAMILTON will update the key happenings around Australasia’s premier harness racing event each week.

DEFENDING Inter Dominion champion Just Believe could be a “touch better” than when he won last year’s title.

That’s the word from co-trainer and driver Greg Sugars heading into his title defence at Albion Park, which starts on Friday week.

Despite a daunting three-race Swedish campaign and resuming from a spell, Just Believe was mesmerizing, beating his arch-rival Queen Elida at Bendigo last Friday night.

Sure, Queen Elida did plenty of work to find the lead, but Just Believe was first-up since June 17 and had to sit parked for much of the
race. He cruised away to win easily and smashed the 2150m Bendigo track record.

“Everything he’d shown us at home suggested he was at least as good, if not a touch better, than when he went away,” Sugars said.

“I’m very proud of his effort tonight. It wasn’t an ideal preparation, missing the run the week before and even his second trial where we wanted a solid hit out, there was only one other runner.

“But we were really happy with him leading into it and he backed that up with a super performance tonight.”

After winning the 2009 Inter Dominion, Chris Lang took Sundons Gift to Sweden without much success, but returned a better horse and
brilliantly defended his crown in early 2010.

History could repeat itself with Just Believe.

COULD Victorians Jess Tubbs and Greg Sugars win both Inter Dominion finals?

Just Believe is a deserved favourite in the trotting series, while Better Eclipse looks one of few threats to local hero Leap To Fame in the
pacing division.

Better Eclipse is already a dual Group 1 winner and, importantly, one of those was at Albion Park in last year’s Sunshine Sprint.

The five-year-old also ran second to champion mare Ladies In Red – and beat home Leap To Fame – in last year’s Group 1 Rising Sun at The

Better Eclipse is peaking at the right time with three wins from past four starts, including a dominant display at Bendigo last Friday

“He looked the class horse in that race, so I was happy to drive him accordingly,” Sugars said. “He won really well, it’s just the sort of
run we wanted heading towards Brisbane.”

IT is the decision everybody is sweating on … will New Zealand Cup hero Swayzee tackle this Inter Dominion pacing series?

Trainer Jason Grimson scratched the powerhouse stayer from last Friday’s Group 1 NZ free-for-all, citing the fact Swayzee was a bit tired
after his epic NZ Cup win three days earlier at Addington.

Since then, the five-year-old has been on a flight from Christchurch to Auckland, another from Auckland to Sydney and will face a long
road trip from Sydney to Brisbane ahead of Friday week’s opening round of heats.

Importantly, Grimson scratched a couple of his Inter Dominion entries earlier this week – Abouttime and Ideal Dan – but Swayzee is
one of six pacers the Menangle trainer still has in the series.

Swayzee’s last trip to Albion Park saw him stamp himself in the big league when he upstaged younger half-brother and local hero Leap To
Fame to win the Group 1 Blacks A Fake on July 22.

A rematch through the Inter Dominion would be mouth-watering.

You can understand Grimson using all the time available before making his final call on the series given the tight turnaround from NZ
to the start of the Inter Dominion.

AUSTRALIA’s leading driver Nathan Dawson is looking forward to contesting his first Inter Dominion series.

The 28-year-old is poised to top 400 wins for the season and holds a lead of more than 120 wins over his nearest rival, WA champion Gary
Hall Jr, in the national premiership.

“It’s been a great year and having the Inter Dominion here (Albion Park) to finish it is pretty amazing,” Dawson said.

“The way it’s shaping, I’ll have Hot And Treacherous, Uptown Beach Girl and Captain Shuffles as my drives in the pacing series and Adelle in
the trotters.”

The Ben Crosby-trained Captain Shuffles blazed a 1min51.3sec mile rate for 1660m winning at Albion Park last Saturday night, while Adelle
ran a good second to her Jack Butler-trained stablemate Funny Face on the same card.

Before then, Dawson will head to Victoria to chase the fifth Group 1 win of his career aboard the Graham Dwyer-trained Not As Promised in
Saturday night’s Group 1 Breeders Crown 3YO Trotting Final at Melton.

All going well, Dawson will also squeeze in a trip to Christchurch during the Inter Dominion to partner Not As Promised in the Group
1 NZ Trotting Derby at Addington on December 10.

CHAMPION trainer Emma Stewart won’t be part of this Inter Dominion.

A mix of long seasons and injury issues will see Stewart’s open-class stars stay home.

It’s disappointing after she and Clayton Tonkin had four of the 12 pacing finalists in Melbourne last year.

“It’s been a long season for us and many of our horses,” Stewart said

Hunter Cup winner Honolua Bay has ongoing hoof issues, Victoria Cup winner Act Now hasn’t fired in his two runs since that win, while
glamour mares Ladies In Red, Encipher and Amore Vita will focus on big races early next year.

Mach Dan looked the most likely to go, but owner Danny Zavitsanos opted against it.

“It’s been great to win his past couple, but he’s had plenty of racing and we’ve decided to give him a break and aim at the Hunter Cup and
another Newcastle Mile,” he said.

Another Victorian who won’t head to Brisbane is Chris Svanosio with his exciting four-year-old trotter Arcee Phoenix after he was a beaten favourite in his Breeders Crown final at Bendigo last Friday night.

“I’m going to freshen him up and look at the big races here (Victoria) earlier next year,” he said.

MEDIA star Brittany Graham is set for another busy Inter Dominion.

Graham provided one of the stories of last year’s Melbourne Inter Dominion with her trotter Majestic Harry and the pair are back to do it
again at Albion Park.

Graham juggled her role on Sky Racing with driving Majestic Harry last year and ran a fantastic fifth to Just Believe in the $250,000
trotting final.

The gelding has been good in three runs this campaign with a win and two thirds and caps his Inter Dominion preparation in race nine at
Albion Park on Saturday night.

Australasia’s premier harness racing event will take centre stage at Albion Park next month. Don’t miss your chance to be trackside at Queensland’s first Inter Dominion in over 20 years!

There’s a range of ticket and hospitality options available for each night. Click on the link below to view info and packages.