Fans lick their lips for the ultimate trotting showdown

The way the marbles fall can make great races even better and that certainly looks the case for Saturday night's Group 1 Sumthingaboutmaori Mares Trotters Free For All at Melton.

QUEEN ELIDA winning heat six of the 2023 Inter Dominion Trotters Championship at Albion Park
QUEEN ELIDA winning heat six of the 2023 Inter Dominion Trotters Championship at Albion Park Picture: Dan Costello/Racing Queensland

Queen Elida and Im Ready Jet were the two class runners in the field when acceptances were taken on Tuesday, and the random barrier draw couldn't have worked out much better for the neutral viewer.

"The Queen" received the outside back row gate of 13, while "The Jet" landed one to set up a serious showdown between the multiple Group 1-winning mares.

Queen Elida doesn't appear at her absolute best, but keeps getting the job done of late as she heads towards her big target, the inaugural TAB Trot slot race in New Zealand on April 12.

Champion driver Chris Alford has partnered the Brent Lilley-trained trotter to every one of her 34 career wins and will need to be at his best to navigate a path to victory from a difficult draw against a quality field of rivals. If he is successful, it will be Queen Elida's second-straight Sumthingaboutmaori triumph and eighth Group 1.

"I can't think of the last mare or filly that's beaten her in the last two years," Alford told Harness Racing Victoria's online program Burning Questions on Friday.

"The draw's not ideal, but I think she'll be too good."

The Anton Golino-trained Im Ready Jet made a mistake shortly after the start in last year's Sumthingaboutmaori and eventually finished second to Queen Elida, beaten just under 2m.

She will be driven on Saturday night by Nathan Jack, who has partnered her to four of her 23 career wins.

Im Ready Jet has four stablemates in the $75,000 feature – Egret, Visionary, Courmayeur and Revelstoke – while the Lilley yard will also be represented by Aldebaran Keepa.

The Sumthingaboutmaori is named in honour of the former Bryan Healy-trained mare, who won the 2004 Inter Dominion Trotting Championship Grand Final at Moonee Valley.