FOUR Bathurst horses have earned a spot in the 2021 Inter Dominion Pacing Championship series, earning themselves the rare opportunity to race in front of a home crowd next month.
The most prestigious Australasian harness racing series will get underway at Menangle on November 27 before making its way to Bathurst Paceway for the second round on December 1.
The final rankings for the series were released on Wednesday, with the top 36 pacers booking their place in the heats.
Chris Frisby's former series runner-up Our Uncle Sam (ranked 22) is back for another shot, Amanda Turnbull's duo of Ellmers Image (24) and Bundoran (28) made the list and Steve Turnbull's Atomic Red (27) also features.
They will now be fighting for valuable series points over the heats at Menangle, Bathurst and Newcastle before the series concludes with the $500,000 finale at the Sydney track.
When campaigning to bring the series to Bathurst, club CEO Danny Dwyer had hopes that local representatives would be able to race in front of a home crowd - and he got his wish.
"When we first looked into being able to run the heats my first thought was 'It would be nice to have local horses running in it' and it's worked out perfectly for us with four local runners making the top 36," he said.
"I think the format of the three runs within a week can suit all those Bathurst horses but they're pretty tough and resilient, and most of them have been through it before. I don't think the travel and the three runs will be a big disadvantage to them.
"They're all used to racing regularly and hopefully it plays into their hands and it can see them get a spot in the final."
Our Uncle Sam leads the charge for the Bathurst bridge, looking to emulate his previous Inter Dominion Final appearance.
The former Group 1 champion is coming off a mixed Queensland campaign but has proved himself at this level in the past.
Amanda Turnbull's Ellmers Image is a former champion of the Inter Dominion Consolation and Treuer Memorial, and if he can recapture that 2019 form he'll be a chance.
Bundoran has reached Group 1 finals such as the Len Smith Mile and The Rising Sun this season but now he'll look to take a step up to the next level.
Atomic Red has lost just three of his 13 Bathurst starts and will hope to keep that strong record going in his home heat.
King Of Swing ($2.30) and Expensive Ego ($4) are far and away the two leading hopes for the pacers' series, according to the market, with Triple Eight ($10) considering best of the rest.
"With the Shirley Turnbull Memorial we've been able to get the best NSW runners to the track, but now we're going to see some of Victoria's best runners as well," Dwyer said.
"Picking up the likes of big Victorian names like Max Delight is great, and it really puts this field among one of the best to ever be raced at Bathurst - certainly on the new track, at least."
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