Day At The Track

Monbet all the rage in NZ Trotting FFA

07:00 PM 09 Nov 2015 NZDT
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Monbet could announce himself on the open class scene with a Group I win at Addington on Tuesday.
Monbet could announce himself on the open class scene with a Group I win at Addington on Tuesday.

Driving a favourite who is expected on to win on New Zealand Cup Day at Addington Raceway is nothing new for Ricky May but doing it with a trotter is.

May has won four of the last six New Zealand Trotting Cups but in 2015 his most talked about drive is in the Group I NZ Trotting free-for-all.

Greg and Nina Hope's rising star of the trotting ranks, Monbet, is yet to win in genuine open class company but he has been crunched into $1.75 favouritism for his toughest test yet. 

His price might be too short for some punters, but is not overly surprising given his blistering finish in the Ashburton Trotters Flying Mile and his cup trial, where he ran away from a handy field with ease.

May was all smiles after the trial and although he does not like to get ahead of himself, he did admit it was impossible not to take confidence into the race.

Also in Monbet's favour is his barrier draw of two for the 1950-metre mobile.

All signs indicate May will be looking for an early lead.

"Even right through last season we never really had a decent draw so we will be using it," Greg Hope said.

Monbet's last start was a fifth in Ashburton, when he made up stacks of ground on upset race winner One Over Da Moon and champion square gaiter Stent, who finished second.

"If we had have had a better draw I think we could have gone close," May said.

One Over Da Moon is second favourite at $3.75 and starts from the ace with trainer-driver Tony Herlihy not being drawn into whether he would look to hold the front.

"We'll just take it as it comes and see what pans out on the day."

Classy mare Habibti ($13) and duel acceptor Waterloo Sunset ($18) are the value in the race and there will be plenty of interest surrounding the first New Zealand start for Tim Butt's Swedish import Daryl Boko ($18).

Starting from the outside of the front line will make life difficult but the run will provide an interesting gauge of where Daryl Boko is at leading into Friday's $250,000 Dominion Handicap.

Meanwhile, Cran Dalgety's cup plans have taken a hit with the scratching of one time favourite Christen Me but he is hoping stablemate Bit Of A Legend, also scratched from the cup, may be some chance of upsetting the horse many regard as the next big thing in the Group III junior free-for-all.

Have Faith In Me, a $1.20 favourite from the second line over 2600m, will be running through stacks of multis but Dalgety said he will not get it handed to him on a plate.

Bit Of A Legend appears to be well over the odds at $13 with his form line deceiving because he has been blowing the standing starts.

"If the cup was a mobile start he would still be in it," said Dalgety who also has Art Union in the race as a $6 chance.

"He's been missing away but he's been going super after his mistakes."

Bit Of A Legend will contest the Group I New Zealand free-for-all on Friday.

Mat Kermeen

Reproduced with permission of  Stuff NZ   -   Check site here

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