Canterbury's 'Iconic Week' gets support

12:02 AM 20 Jun 2012 NZST
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Addington Raceway

Support for Canterbury's iconic week of celebration in November has received a boost with Christchurch Casino agreeing to continue its significant financial support to the two big harness racing and galloping events it was announced today (Wednesday June 20).

The nationally recognised Cup races will continue to be known as the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup at Addington and the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup at Riccarton Park.

These races and the five days of racing in November are an integral component of New Zealand Cup and Show Week in Christchurch where the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club, the Canterbury A&P Show and the Canterbury Jockey Club combine with the Christchurch City Council to present Canterbury’s biggest and brightest event.

This agreement continues the Casino’s involvement with both races and is a positive response to what has been a difficult period since the earthquakes.

Canterbury Jockey Club Chairman Jeff McCall said his Club was delighted to be a party to this announcement.

“So many things have changed forever in our city, it is so pleasing that the Casino has seen fit to renew their association with us and commit to the future”, he said.

New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club Chairman David Rankin echoed these sentiments “it would be easy to walk away at times like these but their commitment is a massive statement regarding the importance of the week’.

Barry Thomas, Chairman of Christchurch Casinos Limited said that the Casino is pleased to be able to continue its support

“Times are tough but this is Canterbury at its best and we feel privileged to be a part of it, a time when all Cantabrians can celebrate and present a positive message to the rest of the country”.

Christchurch City Council Mayor Bob Parker is delighted that the Christchurch Casino is continuing their long term support of these two key racing events in the New Zealand Cup and Show Week.

The Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup will be run on Tuesday November 13th with the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup on November 17th.

by Ged MOOAR

A TRIBUTE TO MONKEY KING

Sometimes the timing just isn’t fair.

If it was, Monkey King would have been retired in a blaze of glory 17 months ago, the undisputed hero of New Zealand harness racing and his departure from the Australasian stage would have saddened racing fans.

Instead, New Zealand’s richest ever standardbred eased into retirement last night. His connections finally conceding his battles with soreness that have lasted over a year.

It has been a long time since anybody considered Monkey King the star of the show because while his motor was still huge and his heart even bigger, his legs and body have been passed their use-by date almost since he won his second New Zealand in November 2010.

A string of failures since against horses who were often not worthy of even breathing the same air may have dulled Monkey King’s lustre but you don’t have to dig far to realise he deserves his place among our greats.

Never the biggest or the prettiest, the horse nicknamed Sam was often the fastest and the bravest.

A Derby winner at three, he won the Messenger and Harness Jewels at four.

These days such age group stars rarely go on to reproduce heroics deep into their careers but the care of trainers Steven Reid and then Brendon Hill meant Monkey King got an extended shot at greatness.

He took it.

Placings in the Auckland and New Zealand Cups at five and six later became wins in both races, with both his New Zealand Cup victories coming over Aussie legend Smoken Up.

His first NZ Cup success started a season of nearly unmatched superiority.

After the Cup he won the New Zealand Free-For-All and then paced 1:50.8 winning the Miracle Mile before all but clean-sweeping the Sydney Interdominions, taking the greatest Interdom hero of them all in Blacks A Fake to beat him in the final.

He returned to Auckland just five days later to win the Auckland Cup.

They were just some of 39 wins from 95 starts worth $3,487,401 in stakes, the richest amount ever won by a New Zealand-bred harness horse.

He developed from a one-sprint sensation as a young horse to a world class stayer and fans loved him because he was a physical underdog, small but tenacious.

Of course, those fans didn’t know what trainer Hill did.

“He is actually a bit of a prick,” laughs Hill.

“He is a grumpy old bugger and would have a bite or a kick at you if you give him the chance.

“But that is just him. His attitude. He knows how good he is.” Which was very, very good.

Monkey King

Breeding: Sands A Flyin-Tuapeka Vale.

Trainers: Steven Reid (Oct 2005-Feb 2009), then Brendon Hill.

Drivers: Ricky May, Steven Reid, and Todd Mitchell; Peter Ferguson and Tom Cowan (one drive each).

Owner: Cavalla Bloodstock.

Record: 95 starts, 39 wins, 23 placings, $3,487,401 in stakes.

Career highlights: NZ Cup (twice); Auckland Cup; Miracle Mile; NZ Free-For-All (twice); Easter Cup; NZ Messenger, Harness Jewels (4yo); Woodlands Northern Derby; Nobilo Flying Stakes; Pelorus Classic; Hannon Memorial.

by Michael GUERIN

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