Fears the new Inter Dominion date will savage the Auckland Trotting Cup look set to be wide of the mark for the second year running. Nominations for Alexandra Park's iconic race on March 7 close tomorrow and will contain many harness racing superstars set to compete at Menangle five days earlier.
When the Interdoms and its giant support card were moved to Sydney last year to clash with Auckland Cup week some critics thought it would ruin the Auckland Trotting Cup.
That could hardly have been more wrong last year though as I'm Themightyquinn beat Terror To Love and Bettor Cover Lover in the Cup, with all three having raced at Menangle five days earlier.
Plenty of trainers are keeping that option open again, with Mark Purdon having nominated both Adore Me and Smolda, who race in Sydney on Sunday week, for the Cup.
WA pacers I'm Victorious and Livingontheinterest have also been nominated while Luke McCarthy is likely to nominate The Gold Ace and possibly even For A Reason for Auckland, all four being in the Inter Final.
Most of those trainers will wait to see how their charges come through their March 2 races before deciding on the Auckland Cup, the barrier draw for which has now been pushed back to Monday night to accommodate them.
While ATC officials have every reason to be beaming about the Cup nominations, the sheer strength of entries for the Woodlands Northern Derby the same night is keeping numbers down. It already contains group one winners Maxim, Sky Major, Cyclone Prince and Tiger Tara as well the much-hyped Locharburn and Aldo Rossi.
"We are thrilled with the quality but would like some more horses because it is $250,000 and last season we saw a lower-grade horse finish fourth against a similarly hot field," said ATC racing manager Kevin Smith.
Meanwhile, super sire Bettors Delight produced the top lot for the third day running at yesterday's yearling sales in Christchurch.
Australian owner Merv Butterworth paid $100,000 for a Bettors Delight colt out of four-race winner Motu Pocket O'Jewels, narrowly topping a $95,000 colt by Rock N Roll Heaven from Lucinda Midfrew for Sydney owner Emilio Rosati to be trained by Tony Herlihy.