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Crunch time for great eight

Gift horse: Cherokee’s Ironman is the one to beat

The island’s eight fastest ponies will battle for Champion of Champions supremacy during this weekend’s 2017-18 harness season finale at the Bermuda Equestrian Centre.

Four qualifying heats will take place today at the Vesey Street racetrack, with the four fastest ponies on average time advancing to tomorrow’s final.

The draw to determine the qualifying groups and track positions was scheduled to take place during last night’s Calcutta Dinner held at Spanish Point Boat Club.

Cherokee’s Ironman is the defending champion and again the horse to beat having posted the season’s fastest time of 1:02 flat in January.

However, Arnold Manders’s gelding is facing stiff competition from ponies such as Simsfield Hardtimes, Gold N Glory and Pocket De Gold, who have all come to within at least a fourth of a second of his time this term.

Itsallaboutme, Reel Patrol, Google Me and Custard the Dragon are among the horses with an outside chance of a shot at the title.

Gold N Glory, the fastest two-year-old, and rival gelding Simsfield Hardtimes are ranked second going into the today’s qualifying heats having both recorded the season’s second fastest time of 1:02/3.

Pocket de Gold, who is the half-brother of Gold N Glory, is the third highest ranked horse having broken the mare’s record and set a lifetime best of 1:02/4 last month.

Reel Patrol holds the Bermuda-bred two-year-old and overall Bermuda-bred records.