Two more runners locked in for The Great Square

Victorian horseman Chris Svanosio is looking forward to breaking new ground in his harness career this winter with a star trotter from his team the latest invitee for the inaugural Haras des Trotteurs The Great Square.

Svanosio – who trains and drives his stable star – will head north with the promising Arcee Phoenix after accepting an invite this month.

The first ever The Great Square will be held at Albion Park on Saturday, July 8 as a brand-new Group 1 $150,000 trotting feature for three and four-year-olds, which carries a $25,000 bonus if the race is won by a three-year-old. 

Alongside Arcee Phoenix, fellow Victorian Courage Stride has also been confirmed as a starter for the race, with champion trainer Chris Lang accepting an invite.

The trotters were both placed in Harness Racing Victoria’s Vicbred Super Series for 3YO Colts and Geldings at the end of last season.

Since then, Arcee Phoenix has gone on a tear, winning his last four races in stylish fashion.

It will be the first time the Svanosio stable travels north for a Queensland Constellations campaign.

“It is fantastic to now know that we can plan everything around coming to Queensland with Arcee Phoenix,” Svanosio said of the coveted invite.

“We will now have him here on the big night as good as we can.”

Racing Queensland’s Senior Harness Racing Manager David Brick is pleased to see some quality runners being locked in for The Great Square ahead of its debut. 

“The 2023 Queensland Constellations continues to attract some of Australian harness racing’s biggest names,” Brick said. 

“The excitement continues to build for this new Group 1 race, and the confirmation of Arcee Phoenix and Courage Stride will only serve to build the anticipation. 

“We are expecting a high-quality race at Albion Park, and we look forward to unveiling further acceptances as we draw closer to July 8.” 

Victorian horseman Chris Svanosio driving the promising Arcee Phoenix.

Courage Stride was Group 1-placed in his two and three-year-old campaigns and Lang is eager to grab a black-type victory for his trotter in the Sunshine State.

“It is always an honour to be invited when they think your horse is that good,” Lang said.

“He has shown as a two and three-year-old that he is up amongst some of the best ones going around of his age.

“He has come back as a four-year-old very strong and he won a free for all at just his second attempt, which is not an easy thing for a young horse to do.”

Arcee Phoenix is unbeaten this year and Svanosio is keen to get to the Sunshine State.

“We have been wrapped with him, touch wood, he has had a perfect preparation,” Svanosio said.

“We brought him back into work a little bit earlier than we usually would have because of the race in Queensland.

“He had a great season last year, competing against the best three-year-olds but he has had to take a step up this year and we are now hoping that he can prove that he has up there at Albion Park.”

Kiwi import Harry Stamper was one of the first invitees to The Great Square but connections have opted to no longer take up the invite after initially accepting.

Talented three-year-old filly Rockinwithattitude has also been locked in for The Great Square.

By Jordan Gerrans