Contrary to reports throughout Australasia Keystone Del will not contest Alexandra Park’s ‘Triple Crown’ starting on Anzac Day (April 25).
Trainer Nicole Molander confirmed with Harness Racing New Zealand today (Wednesday) that the son of Dr Ronerail would now go out for a “well earned” spell.
“We want him to bow out for the season on a high. He deserves that. We have spoken to all of his owners and they agree that what he has achieved so far this season is more than enough.
“Even though he’s come through his Great Southern Star races really well we don’t want to risk coming to Auckland and have him running there as a tired horse,” Molander said.
Keystone Del won his $50,000 elimination heat of the Great Southern Star at Melton’s Tabcorp Park on Saturday and then later that evening went on to beat Stent in the $300,000 final. Both were 1720m mobile Group One events.
Molander said the Anzac Cup, the Greenland Cup (May 2) and the Rowe Cup (May 9) were tempting. Her husband Dean even contacted the Auckland Trotting Club last week about lining the former Kiwi trotter up in all three races.
“We were never going to make a decision until today. Some reporters jumped the gun. The horse’s welfare always comes first and that’s why we waited until he returned home from Victoria (to New South Wales) before we made any decision on coming to New Zealand.
“He’s had 14 races this campaign and done a very good job for us. His welfare always comes first,” Molander stressed.
In those 14 races Keystone Del has won seven times and placed on five occasions. All up he has now won 15 of his 32 lifetime starts, placed six times and banked $517,429 for Molander and fellow owners P. T. Hall, M. J. Hall, and A. J. Molander.
His fastest mile rate of 1;53.9 was recorded when winning the Group One $100,000 Glenferrie Challenge at Tabcorp Park Menangle on March 2 this year.
“We would like to follow the same racing schedule as what we did with him last year. The Glenferrie Challenge is definitely on the radar because no trotter has won that three times in a row.
“The Southern Star is also part of the plan. As for New Zealand I think the Rowe Cup and supporting races could be a real possibility this time next year,” Molander said.
The 6-year-old bay gelding had nine New Zealand starts for trainer Tim Hall before being exported to Australia on November 14, 2011.
In fact he never won a race until his final two New Zealand starts – both of them within three days of each other at Manawatu in October 2012.
Molander said Keystone Del would now be spelled for a couple of months.
“He’s come back from Victoria in great condition. We’ll probably give him two months off and then get him back into training again, because he takes quite a bit of work getting him back to where he should be at,” Molander said.
Keystone Del was bred by P. T and M. J. Hall. He is the second of three foals out of the Aereus mare, Flipside.
By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)