WILL Dan be the man, will the Chief take control or will there be an Idyllic sprint home? The barrier draw for the Bathurst Gold Crown Final is done but trying to pick a winner is no easy feat.
In fact just trying to nominate which runner in the Group 1, $100,000 final for two-year-old colts and geldings will lead into the first corner come Saturday night is a hard task.
It is a tantalising prospect and Gold Crown Carnival master of ceremonies Chris Gray can't wait to see what unfolds.
When the barrier draw was released on Tuesday evening, it had impressive heat winners Lochinvar Chief and Ideal Dan listed alongside each other in gates two and three respectively.
"The two and three are just going to go at each other, they are really going to go at each other because they are high-class two-year-olds both of them, and high speed two-year-olds," Gray said.
"Lochinvar Chief was really impressive and won his heat comfortably, as did Ideal Dan.
"So it will be a really interesting, red hot go to the first corner with those two horses side-by-side."
Barrier draws for the @BathurstClub Gold Crown Finals have been released ahead of an anticipated return to racing on Saturday night. The four G1 events will showcase some of the best young horses in the country. We hope to bring you the action from the track and on @SkyRacingAUpic.twitter.com/8jIArNIxl6— Harness Racing NSW (@HRNSW_Harness) March 24, 2020
Gray feels that it will be the David Moran trained and driven Lochinvar Chief - who clocked a 1:55.2 mile rate in winning his Gold Crown Heat by nine metres - who will probably start as favourite.
But Ideal Dan, who is unbeaten in his two career starts, comes from Emma Stewart's powerhouse stable and has star driver Amanda Turnbull in the gig is likely to be at short odds as well.
Then there is another heat winner who caught Gray's eye - Clayton Tonkin's Idyllic. He will go from the outside of the second row, but the MC warns not to write him off.
"I'd say Lochinvar Chief will be the favourite. He [Moran] knows how to win because he won the three-year-old Gold Chalice last year with Lochinvar Art, who has turned out to be one of Australia's emerging superstars," Gray said.
"But I was also really impressed with Idyllic, I thought that was a really tough run. He's another high class horse and if they go crazy in front, it brings him into it.
"If he gets an easier run in the early stages, Luke [McCarthy, driver] jumps on the back of something from the back row and slides down the outside.
"I'll change my mind a thousand times before the night, but I'd have a really good look at Idyllic."
Gray, like the Bathurst Harness Racing Club officials, has his fingers crossed that a temporary suspension of racing is lifted on Thursday to allow what shapes as an exciting finale to go ahead.
Harness Racing NSW suspended all meetings on Tuesday after it was revealed an industry participant who attended a meeting at Penrith had been in direct contact with a person confirmed to have contracted the COVID-19 virus.
The Bathurst club is likely to find out around noon on Thursday if the biggest night of their annual racing calendar goes ahead.
"I am hoping so, I'm thinking it's just precautionary at this stage, the measures they have taken they had to do," club chief executive officer Danny Dwyer said.
"They seem pretty confident, when I was talking to Harness Racing New South Wales today [Tuesday], that we will still be alright to go ahead."
READ MORE: Rocknroll Runa wins opening Gold Crown heat
It is not just the prospect of what will unfold in the Gold Crown which would make a cancellation of finals night a huge disappointment.
The barrier draw for the two-year-old fillies Gold Tiara Final has also paved the way for exciting racing.
Gray feels that Darren McCall's heat winner Girl From Oz deserves favouritism for the Group 1 prize even after drawing barrier six.
She won her heat in a 1:56.4 mile rate by more than 30 metres even after easing off over the final 100m.
Yet fellow heat winners Joanna (barrier three) and Orchid Stride (barrier five) have strong claims as well.
"Like all tiara finals it is really going to be a charge to the first corner to see who gets what," Gray said.
"You've got Amanda Turnbull on Joanna and David Miles on Orchid Stride then McCall on Girl From Oz, so you have got three really, really good drivers there."
Just like the Gold Crown, Gray pointed out that any early speed battle could also create an opportunity for other runners.
"That's not the end of it with those three, if they go crazy you've got other good horses sitting back there to see what goes on," he said.
"Look at what happened with Castalong Shadow [in the 2017 Gold Crown Final]. It sat back on the rails while the two favourites went hammer and tong then it came around them at succulent odds.
"I just think it's a high quality race across the board, you've got outstanding quality at the front and I'd guess Girl From Oz would be favourite, but there's Orchid Stride and if Joanna gets a sit, Amanda is a genius in the sulky."
At this stage the Gold Tiara Final is set go go ahead at 8.22pm on Saturday night at the Gold Crown at 9.20pm.
GOLD CROWN: 1 Cheetah Lodge, 2 Lochinvar Chief, 3 Ideal Dan, 4 Kashed Up, 5 Fear The Eagle, 6 Tasty Delight, 7 Radar Stride (emergency), 8 Tom The Curious (emergency), 9 Rickoshay, 10 He Aint Fakin, 11 Rocknroll Runa, 12 Idyllic.
GOLD TIARA: 1 No Motive (emergency), 2 Rockindownunder, 3 Joanna, 4 Marmitta, 5 Orchid Stride, 6 Girl From Oz, 7 Breivika, 8 Australiana, 9 Dangerous Hand, 10 Moreartsthanclass (emergency), 11 La Cabeza Gem, 12 Anntonia.
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