Hello all, the countdown to the NZ Cup continues to wind up. Some intriguing harness racing unfolded last week and I'm sure there's more to follow across the next seven days.
- Fly Like An Eagle is the big story coming out of the weekend from a NZ Cup perspective. He ran 3.52.8 for the 3000m of the Methven Cup. Only has gone quicker for the race (0.2 quicker)t. A fantastic run by Fly Like An Eagle after being scratchy early and no doubt the connections have a much greater appetite for the NZ Cup after the initial nomination being more of an afterthought. The win of Fly Like An Eagle should see him soar up the rankings too. As a multiple Group 1 winner and now the winner of a Group 3 Handicap he has claims to jump straight into the top 15. Currently 18th. Rankings out around 9.30am tomorrow morning.
- On the Methven Club, their total turnover of $1,517,000 yesterday was the biggest harness turnover to date this season and well exceeded industry budgets. The $4000 Brown Pub Punter of the Year Comp came with an interesting story too. A man weighing 65kg, soaking wet, took down The Whale and other punting luminaries. Nigel Armstrong the man behind the burgeoning Westview Racing name was going all-in on his own horse, Montecrengle, who finished second in R9. Luckily there was an amount dripped through to place on his horse. That collect of $288 went each-way on to Trip’s On Me in Race 10 who obliged (at $29.30) and capped off a great day for Carl Middleton also who trained the runner-up Barney’s Girl and impressive winner of race one, Another Love. For the second time in two weeks classy trotter Armbro Demon has not handled the last bend on raceday.
- A return to form for Nigel McGrath. After a pretty lean run last season the West Melton trainer hit back over the weekend. Democracy created a huge impression winning at Addington in 3.10.0 (class record) in the 1-Win junior drivers’ race. Mach Banner at 3.12.0 held the previous class record. Not many break 3.10.0 at Addington for the 2600m mobile in fact Democracy’s was the eighth fastest 2600m at Addington ever. Those that have broken 3.10.0 include; , Mainland Banner, Sammy Maguire, Highview Tommy, Tact Lizzie, Desperate Comment and Sly Flyin. The all-comers record is shared by Highview Tommy and Desperate Comment at 3.08.5. Other winners for McGrath over the weekend were Classiesistar and Hotshot Anvil.
- Caribbean Blaster was good in the Melton Plate (G2) at…Melton on Friday night but succumbed to Chancellor Cullen who has impressed greatly since his shift across the Tasman from Ken Barron’s stable. Sneaking into the race as a maiden Chancellor Cullen took full advantage of his two draw and some early trouble to led most of the way. Chancellor Cullen ran a sizzling 1.55.4 mile rate for the 2240m. Caribbean Blaster was game in second but could not match the winner. Despite the defeat Caribbean Blaster has shortened into $9 for the NZ Trotting Cup. That makes him third favourite!
- Pembrook Benny showed great dash with his win at Auckland on Friday night. He’s definitely heading the right way after solid run first-up at Auckland a fortnight prior. Jarcullembra was heavily backed on Friday night and came up a luckless second. He’s going the right way too. An investigation was opened and adjourned into the drive of Simon Lawson in that race on Clive Bromac. It wasn’t a great weekend for the Geoff Small team with Zenola Seelster not making it to Methven on Sunday due to flight delays into Auckland, which eventually forced the cancellation of his flight south.
- Premier racing back at Addington Friday: the feature will be the Glenferrie Farm Canterbury Classic. Anthony Butt will line up all three of his Cup prospects. Choise Achiever resumes as does Stunin Cullen, while Mah Sish looks continue to build on his promising start to the season. Full list of noms: , Choise Achiever, Gold Ace, Highview Tommy, Jarcullembra, Mah Sish, Ohoka Texas, Pure Power, Sleepy Tripp, Stunin Cullen, Sushi Sushi, Terror To Love, Zenola Seelster.
- Exciting undercard clash at Addington: The 2 to 3-Win race on Friday night will pit many talented horses against each other. Those highly rated in the race include: Alta Christiano, Christen Me, Classie Mach, Pemberton Shard & Raging Bull. 18 noms, interesting to see how it finishes up.
- The Canterbury Park Trotting Cup too promises to be a great race despite the potential dominance of I Can Doosit. Here are the noms: Clover Don, Dr Hook, I Can Doosit, Ima Gold Digger, Jaccka Jack, Musgrove, Quality Invasion, Savona, Sovereignty, Stig, Stylish Monarch, Vulcan.
- Group race-winning two-year-olds from last season Franco Nelson and Boom Gate clash at Ashburton trials tomorrow. Good numbers there with 96 going around. Just 30 at Franklin trials but some very well-bred stock looking for their qualifying tickets.