More Invites To The Rising Sun

A trio of Australasia’s top pacers have been confirmed for the $355,000 Group 1 AQWA Constructions The Rising Sun.

Group 1 champions The Lost Storm and Merlin (Its Merlin when racing in Australia) will be joined by rising star Sooner The Bettor at Albion Park on July 13, joining Chariots Of Fire winner, Frankie Ferocious, as confirmed starters.

The Lost Storm solidified his status as one of the nation’s brightest prospects in late 2022, with victory in the Group 1 Vicbred 2YO C&G Final, before adding a second win at the top level with a dominant display in the Queensland Derby six months later.

He returned for his 4YO campaign earlier this month with a convincing victory in the Group 3 Melton Plate.

Merlin, who is considered one of New Zealand’s best pacers, will be looking for further feature success in Australia after taking out the Group 2 Light Horse at Menangle earlier in the month.

With more than half-a-million dollars in prize money, the Barry Purdon-trained four-year-old will be looking to add another Group 1 feature to the trophy cabinet following success in the Woodlands Stud Northern Derby in Auckland last year.

Stablemate Sooner The Bettor also continues to impress in Australia, having run second in both the Group 1 Miracle Mile and Chariots Of Fire at his last two starts.

“In only its fourth iteration, The Rising Sun has quickly become one of the flagship races on the Queensland harness racing calendar,” RQ Senior Racing Manager – Harness David Brick said.

“The interest in the race – both at home and abroad – is stronger than ever, and we are excited to see a number of New Zealanders and interstate runners make the trip to the Sunshine State to be a part of the Queensland Constellations.

“You only have to look at the race’s honour roll – headlined by reigning champion Leap To Fame – to see the quality of the race, and 2024 is shaping to be no different with four genuine superstars already locked in.”

In a change to the race format from previous editions, RQ and the Albion Park Harness Racing Club will issue up to eight invites this year.

The field will include at least two three-year-olds, the winner of The Queensland Sun and the balance of the field will be made up of nominations.

The Rising Sun will once again hold an additional $100,000 bonus for a three-year-old winner – while for the first time, a $25,000 bonus is on offer if a three-year-old runs second or third.

In line with RQ’s focus on innovation, the ‘pick your own barrier’ element will again take place alongside the existing preferential barrier draw for The Rising Sun, adding further intrigue to the race.

Throughout the Queensland Constellations, more than $4 million in prize money and bonuses will go on the line throughout five action-packed weeks of harness racing, including eight Group 1s and seven feature race nights.