Baileys Dream is injured and could miss the New Zealand Cup. Kaiapoi harness racing trainer Brendon Hill said a scan this Friday (September 10) will reveal the extent of the veteran pacer's leg injury.
Fellow open-class stablemates Power Of Tara and Tennis Ball resume on Thursday night (September 9). Baileys Dream could be the first major casualty of this season's New Zealand Cup.
The former cup runner-up has suspensory problems which may not only end his campaign before it has started but even ruin his whole season.
Trainer Brendon Hill says he won't know the extent of the damage until the giant pacer gets scanned on Friday.
"When it first happened the other day I thought we were in big trouble," said Hill yesterday.
"But when I looked at it today it seemed like it had improved.
"He is confined to a box for a while and we will know a lot more after Friday, but it wouldn't surprise me if he was out for a while being the sort of horse he is with his history.
"It is not a good place for a horse like him to have an injury."
The 9-year-oldgelding missed nearly a year of open-class racing before resuming last January and providing some terrific performances at the Interdominions in Australia.
But any leg concerns are a major problem for the big horse, who hits the ground so hard and races with his relentless style.
His loss would be a blow to a New Zealand Cup that is already minus, and Awesome Armbro from last year's line-up, while the Australian assault looks certain to be smaller this term, perhaps only Smoken Up.
The Herald understands the cup is set to be reduced from $1 million to $750,000, with only a ministerial rubber-stamping needed to confirm the change.
That reduction will make little or no difference to the final field, with the cup still worth more than any other pacing race in Australasia outside of the Interdominions.
Considering Addington's financial situation, the reduction not only makes sense but is really their only course of action.
While Baileys Dream may struggle to make it to the cup, his stablemate Monkey King has pleased Hill with his progress.
The defending champion had his second public outing for the season at the Addington trials yesterday, confirming the track there had taken no harm from Saturday's giant earthquake.
He finished fourth to Auditor General after starting off a 30m handicap in a 2600m standing-start heat, pacing his last 800m in 56 seconds, the final 400m in 26.4.
"It wasn't an ideal trial because they just walked and sprinted, whereas I would have preferred a more even tempo," said Hill.
"But I think he has come back better than ever.
"He looks great, feels strong and all we need now is some racing to get him tight."
Monkey King is weighing in at 442kg, between 7kg-12kg above his peak racing weight.
He resumes in the Avon City Ford Cup at Addington on Friday week and may take the path of least resistance to the New Zealand Cup on November 9.
"He will race next week and then at Addington on October 1 but then I might let him miss the Ashburton Flying Stakes.
"I might find another race in October and then the Cup trial."
Monkey King is certain to open the cup favourite when the markets are released, although with the nomination date being put back that market may not open until next month.
His stablemates Tennis Ball and Power Of Tara make their comebacks at Addington on Thursday night and they will be busier than the stable star.
"They are the type of horses who could also race in the Methven Cup and at Ashburton and handle it," said Hill.
"I am happy with them both but Tennis Ball now needs to stand up and show us he is a cup horse."
Champion trotter One Over Kenny will try to set a modern-day Alexandra Park record on Friday night.
The millionaire trotting mare faces a 65m handicap in the main trot in her first race since winning the Rowe Cup 16 months ago.
Trainer Tony Herlihy has confirmed One Over Kenny will start in the one-win-and-faster trot after the race she was originally set for was scrapped because of a lack of opposition.
"She needs a kick-off race somewhere and it is only a small field," said Herlihy.
"While it is a big ask, at least being that far back I can drive her how I want and not have to move too soon to put her in the race."
No horse has won off a 65m handicap at Alexandra Park since Idle Scott did on May 28, 1992.
He also won a week earlier off a 70m handicap over 3200m, beating Pride Of Petite, to whom he gave a 60m start.
By Michael GUERIN (Courtesy of the NEW ZEALAND HERALD)